Saab’s already done the plug-in……

This ain’t news to Bob Lutz, but it will be to some of Fastlane’s readers: Saab has a plug-in 9-3 Convertible.

In his latest posting the GM Fastlane blog, Bob Lutz talks about the development of the new Hydrogen fleet that GM’s looking to establish with a view ahead to a time when the hydrogen infrastructure is more established and able to support the profitable large scale manufacture of hydrogen vehicles.

He also briefly mentions that hydrogen isn’t the only arrow in GM’s fuel-strategy quiver. There’s also E85 and the upcoming two-mode hybrid system (which, incidentally, has been added to the aforementioned Saab 9-3 Hybrid Biopower Convertible to be shown at the Paris Motor Show later this month). Then he drops this little nugget:

We are also studying plug-in hybrids, and will have more to say about those soon. The whole key there is the development of significantly improved battery technology. But rest assured I truly believe that electric-drive vehicles have a real future in this country and around the world

More to say about [plug-in hybrids] soon??? Is there a remote possibility that Saab will be allowed to unveil the plug-in capability of the 9-3 Convertible Hybrid in Paris later this month?

A little bit of backstory for those who aren’t familiar:

Back in March 2006, Saab unveiled a hybrid 9-3 Convertible at the Stockholm Motor Show. The car has batteries in the back, electric motors to the front and rear wheels, is capable of running on E100 or gasoline, or any mix of the two. That’s what the official press releases told us.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the official press release was a re-draft of an earlier release that included the plug-in capability of the car as well. Any references to the plug-in functionality were removed in the official release.

How do we know this?

Well, someone in Sweden made an error and circulated the first draft of the press release, the one that mentioned the plug-in capability of the car. This was first uncovered by Robert Collin of Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper and I reproduced the story for the english-speaking world. Click here to read the original Trollhattan Saab story.

Shortly after that, a few enterprising Googlers found links to motoring publications that ran the original press release rather than replacing it with the edited version. I have a screendump of one of these services with the original release – click here to take a look or click here to go to my original story on this original, unedited press release.

Regular visitors to this site may remember when this story first broke and ask: Why is he persisting with this?

Well, Saab deserves the kudos.

Saab’s always been an environmentally conscious automotive entity and the addition of plug-in capability would be a perfect fit for the brand image, especially in Europe where they’re already a leader in the manufacture of vehicles running on environmentally responsible fuels. Sweden is the leading market in Europe for E85 availability and the Saab 9-5 Biopower is the biggest ‘green fuel’ seller in this market.

It went unnoticed in many circles in the last weeks that Australian political pioneer, Don Chipp, passed away recently. In the 1970’s, Don Chipp established the third major political party here in Australia, The Democrats. The mission of that party was provide a third voice in Australian politics that would keep watch over the policies and legistlation introduced by whichever party was in power. By doing so, they would “keep the bastards honest” (his words, not mine).

Perhaps it’s a pipe dream that Saab will be allowed to unveil this technology first, but one can dream – and keep a record like this just to “keep the bastards honest.”

I’ll await the Paris show with interest.

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