Swedish Snippets

Big thanks again to ctm for translations of these.

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Anyone who’s delved into the world of Saab ownership, or more specifically old Saab ownership, would realise how important the Swedish identity of the car is to its personality.

I first got into Saabs because of the turbocharging and the extraordinarily comfortable seats, but once I started to research the brand I came to realise how smart these cars were and how a small country like Sweden had done so much for the automotive world and marveled at the fact that they’d done it having very little history with cars.

The idea of Saab not having a full and proper presence in Sweden is therefore pretty unpalatable for many. Despite there being little coverage of it recently, the 9-3 and 9-5 are still slated to be moving to Russelsheim. Production in Trollhattan is only guaranteed at this point up until 2010.

So it’s with some hope and optimism that we receive this from Rick Wagoner in an interview in the Swedish Press:

GM boss Rick Wagoner give some unexpected support to the Swedish Saab factory. In an interview with SvD, he underlines the importance of having production of Saab in Trollhättan.

– “I think it’s important for Saab to have production in Sweden.”

It’s positive news for the 3 000 employees that now are building 9-3 and 9-5. The production is guaranteed to 2010, but right now the factory is in a competition with four other GM factories to produce the next smaller family of cars – among them a smaller Saab.

– “It shows that Rick Wagoner understands that the soul of the brand is in Sweden,” says Jan-Åke Jonsson.

At the auto show, the 9-3 BioPower is debuted. On the big GM press briefing yesterday, it was a 9-3 BioPower Convertible that was presented first on the stage – before the new cars from Opel and Cadillac. There is no doubt that he is supporting Saab. But the Swedish brand has not enough models.

– “We have en aggressive agenda for Saab ahead of us,”, says Rick Wagoner.

An aggressive agenda and a maintained Swedish manufacturing presence. Music to my ears. Of course, it’s just words at this point and what has to happen is actions. The road to [insert bad consequence of your choice] is paved with good intentions.

But this is good and let’s hope it comes to fruition. I’m just speaking for myself here, but more than anything else, a Saab needs to be a Saab – and to me that means it has to be Swedish.

sources:

http://www.e24.se/dynamiskt/verkstadsindustri/did_14769603.asp
http://www.e24.se/dynamiskt/verkstadsindustri/did_14775826.asp

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There’s also a quick look at the new 9-3 BioPower in the Swedish press. Given the tax benefits that the bioPower cars enjoy, they’re a natural choice for companies looking for a vehicle.

This article takes a look from that perspective and navigates a little of the confusion over engine choices.

The best company car? Well, a short drive with the new Saab 9-3 1.8t BioPower is enough to convince me. But it’s harder to understand Saab’s complicated engine strategy.

When driving the 2 litre engine in the 9-5 on E85, the effect is up 20% – from 150 to 180 bhp. When driving the 2 litre engine in the 9-3 (for some reason named 1.8t!) on E85, the effect is up only 17% – to 175 bhp.

One could believe that the reason for this is that first engine is from Södertälje and the second one from Kaiserslautern, but that’s not the case. The reason is that the 9-3 already have the choice of an ordinary engine at 175 bhp – and that makes it impossible to sell a stronger version for SEK 3.700 less.

The new E85 engine in the 9-3 is available in all three model lines (SS, SC and convertible). Compared to the ordinary engine at 150 bhp, the E85 version costs SEK 7.000 more. Despite this, Saab expect that 60-70% of the sale to be the BioPower while the rest go for the diesel and only a few for the ordinary version.

I’m really positive to the new engine. It’s responsive, it’s quiet, is drivable all over the revs and gears. 80-120 km/h takes 13.9 sec with automatic transmission.

You feel directly that turbo is a technology that is superior to almost everything else.

No problem at all? Well, the fuel consumption gives you headache. I got 1.56 litre / 10 km average with active driving on open roads. On the other hand, you have to multiply with 0.7 to compare with gas. That’s 1.09 litre – still a high figure for the ethanol car.

– “It tends to go down after the engine has been used for a while,” was the comforting words from Saab boss Jan-Åke Jonsson.

source:

http://di.se/Index/Nyheter/2007/03/08/224433.htm?src=xlink

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This continues the reams of positive press Saab have been getting in Sweden recently. There’s a lot of positivity over Saab’s increased role in GM’s alternative fuel strategies and engineering.

Long may it continue!

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4 Comments

  1. I watched the documentary film “Who Killed the Electric Car” last night on DVD. Though it’s a “documentary”, it’s very biased (corporations, gov’t, oil companies BAD, EV advocates GOOD), so be aware of that going in and take it with a grain of salt. It was still an interesting and informative movie. (and remember I’m a treehugger…) 🙂

    The reason I’m bringing this up because I find it remarkable that in Sweden the government is doing the right thing for the environment by giving tax breaks to individuals and businesses for buying small, efficient cars and for using less-polluting fuels like ethanol to wean the country off fossil fuels by 2020.

    In the U.S. HUGE tax breaks are given to businesses who buy large, heavy vehicles to keep the “big-three” automakers’ lobbyists happy because the auto manufacturers make more profit per unit of large truck and SUV sold. CAFE laws are all skewed in favor of flex-fuel vehicles also. If a huge GMC Yukon SUV is flex fuel the gov’t gives GM credit for the ethanol capability and counts the vehicle as getting 30 mpg!?!?

    These finer details weren’t mentioned in the film (the tax break for large vehicles was though). If you’re interested in watching it, it’s available to watch over the web for free at peekvid.com.

    It’s interesting because the film claims that hydrogen is a total scam, and they’ve got a pretty convincing argument.

    The movie’s practically worth watching just to see a GM EV1 electric car smoke a Mazda Miata and what looks like a Mitsubishi Eclipse from a dead start. The whine from the electric motor is pretty sweet too! The Mazda pulls ahead first with the Eclipse in second and the EV1 in third for only a split second and then the EV1 dusts both of them! Nice. 🙂

  2. Swade

    for info, a BBC story in Geneva and the gathering pace of hope for Saab in GM……

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6422811.stm

    Saab additions

    After years of scant attention from the US parent company, GM’s Swedish subsidiary is also being given a boost.

    Saab’s engineers are pushing the envelope, and an example of this is on show in Geneva: a specially modified 2.0 litre Saab Biopower concept car with 300bhp, equivalent to a 4.0 litre car according to Saab’s engineers.

    Saab has made a splash with its E85 biofuel cars in recent months – that is, cars that run on a mixture of ordinary 15% petrol and 85% ethanol made from plants.

    GM is buffing up its credentials with eight launches

    “We look to the European Commission to help create a strong policy framework to develop the E85 infrastructure,” GM’s boss Rick Wagoner says.

    “In 2007, we’ll stay focused on moving from turnaround to transformation… and a key element of our strategy is our drive for environmental and technology leadership.”

    Now that the ethanol-powered cars have boosted Saab’s green credentials, there are hopes that it can make it as a successful luxury marque in Europe, where its leading rivals BMW, Mercedes and Audi are working hard to reduce average emissions from their fleets.

    Mr Wagoner is keen for Saab’s model line-up to be broadened – perhaps as early this spring, with new models including a 4×4.

  3. Swade,
    Regarding where Saabs are built, I wouldn’t be surprised if GM isn’t playing one location off against another in an effort to keep production costs down. Keep the folks in Trollhattan guessing, and see what concessions they will give. That is fairly common in the industry – VW does it in Germany, threatening to move production elsewhere unless the German workers give them concessions.

    As for 1985 Gripen’s comment above about the GM EV1, the problem with electric cars isn’t acceleration, it’s battery capacity. So what if an EV1 can out drag a Miata? A hundred miles down the road the EV1 will be sitting along side the road, discharged, while the Miata cruises away. Until the battery capacity can in some way match that of a liquid fuel car, then no one will want to buy them. Few people want to spring for a car that they can commute in, and then buy another one to take out-of-town trips in.

  4. I’ll concede that electric cars don’t have the range of gasoline cars, but the range they do have is not insignificant.

    The EV1, for example, using NiMH batteries could be recharged to 85% capacity in about an hour. Now that’s not nearly as short a period of time as a stop at the gas station, but if more people had known this, maybe they wouldn’t fear being stranded in the middle of nowhere for 8 hours until their car was recharged. In fact, the total charge time (to 100%) was around 4 hours, not 8.

    Personally, I can’t remember the last time I drove my personal car more than 75 to 100 miles in a single day (the range of the late model EV1). If I had an EV, on the rare occasion I had to take a long road trip somewhere, I’d just rent an IC car.

    The newer Lithium battery technology promises to be even better, if they can get the price down.

    I’m pretty excited about the new electric cars with “range extenders” like the Chevy Volt and the upcoming (diesel) Ovlov C30 hybrid concept.

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/02/01/volvo-c30-plug-in-hybrid-concept/

    What my point about the race against the Miata is the common misperception that electric cars are slow like golf carts (and therefore not fun for a motorist) is just not true.

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