Frankfurt Motor Show Update

UPDATE – I’ve elevated this to the top of the site for all the Europeans that will be waking up in the next few hours. But five hours ago…..

And thanks to MarkoA for this link – a sneaky preview of the SportCombi Turbo X

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It’s night time in Germany as I write this and Rayman has checked in before catching some Zzz’s and getting ready for the big Saab breakfast tomorrow – Turbo X time!

Tonight was all about Opel, and specifically the Flextreme concpet car. Flextreme is Opel’s take on the e-flex platform that was first showcased with the Chevy Volt early this year.

There’s a bunch of pictures after the jump. Now, over to Rayman:

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The GM unveiling of the new Opel Flextreme is now done. We were busy getting our refreshments 🙂 and now its time to state the most interesting stuff from today.

As I wrote earlier GM is really pushing on the whole green issue. This years IAA will probably be the most environmentally minded of all time. You could even work on Fuel Cell powered workstations every where. The event took place right in the heart of Frankfurt/Main where GM rented a former Railroad station depot especially for this event.

There really were masses of people. It almost seemed like the whole GM-Family was out there. After an hour of “meet and greet” Bob Lutz took the stage and was really happy with the actual outcomes on GMs “green work”. He said that there might be lots of solutions out there in solving the CO2 and fossil problem but that GM is planning to become a part of the solution as well. He then explicitly came to E85 [BioPower/Ecoflex] and it was obvious that Saab made quite a good decision on starting up with E85 and that it is relevant to markets in the short term.

Afterwards it was interesting to hear and see what they think of being the future GM emphasis. Forget Fossils, welcome the electric propulsion. Their cars will all end up using batteries in the mid term, whilst using fossils only for empowering the battery! Take the Toyota Hybrid concept and turn it around. It will be interesting to see what kind of cars could be designed, when you actually have the freedom to use more and more space within the platform. Monocabing, butterfly doors – all this will be new to GM cars [even though they spoke of Opel / Vauxhaull as pack leader].

If so, that is what came to my Saab oriented mind, Saab could really use these technologies and then be as innovative on the platform structure as they like to be design wise. There are rumours of a really special next incarnation of the 9-3 convertible after 2010 but after seeing what GM is planning, I can now imagine what they mean. We have to stay tuned on this! The next Saabs could be more like Concept cars on the road and then they are even more desirable and can evolve into the brand we would like them to be. I left the unveiling with positive feelings!

A short note on the similarities between Saab and Cadillac [especially on the interior]:

We think its wasted money and could be spent more intelligently, and Bob Lutz gave a response on the issue that I do not like: The media might compare Saab and Cadillac but the customers rarely do. There are areas where differentiation gets you nothing and is very costly. There are areas where, if designed in a fairly neutral way, it can be suitable for a wide array of applications.

Instrument clusters and controls, door trim panels and seats are where you need to differentiate design language. Okay. Maybe won’t have to live with the same radio as the rest in the future. Didn’t some people say that the next 9-5 is going to have a thrilling interior??

Up next is the Saab Breakfast ? GM executives told me it will surely be better than the breakfast in the Hotel. By the way, the Steigenberger Airport Hotel in Frankfurt is extremely nice! I like the hotel rooms, as they have a Scandinavian look and feel to it! The accommodations granted by Saab and GM seem to be on a high standard where ever you go.

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Here’s some pics that Rayman snapped off during the unveiling of the Flextreme:

Opel Flextreme

Opel Flextreme

Opel Flextreme

Opel Flextreme

Opel Flextreme

Opel Flextreme

If you’re wondering what these are, sticking out of the back of the car like that. There’s a storage space there for you enviro-conscious people to stick your Segway-type scooter thingy.

Isn’t it more enviresponsible to walk?

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I think that rating the accommodation should become a standard part of the coverage from one of these events now. I’ve received two accommodation stints from Saab in the past – in Brisbane for the BioPower/Diesel release where I stayed at the Brisbane Hilton, and in Trollhattan as part of the Saab Festival.

Here’s some pics of Rayman’s digs in Frankfurt. Niiiiiice. Esp the bathroom.

Hotel

Hotel

Hotel

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17 Comments

  1. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for some great coverage, Rayman! This kind of thing is right up my alley and something I’d like to see SAAB heading toward (bold new alternative fuel drivetrains). Hopefully the strong influence of Opel through GM Europe will allow SAAB to pursue some of the same technologies, but remain unique in its own right. I’d like to see some E-Flex SAABs, both diesel and BioPowered.

    Rayman, if I can make a request: I haven’t read anywhere an estimated fuel economy number for the Flextreme. Can you find out that info for me? I’d be very interested.

    BTW, I’m a treehugger, but I don’t think you’d catch me in public on a Segway. Nerd alert! 😉

  2. Great coverage, looking forward to some Turbo X face pics.

    (Also, I can’t see a Segway and not think of Gob from Arrested Development.)

  3. 1. segways are cool, or at least mine is;

    2. that bathroom has some good, clean lines. very stylish;

    3. that’s going to be one heck of an auto show; and

    4. i hope lutz doesn’t get too drunk on “parts sharing.” i don’t mind that my saab’s “factory” coolant cap reads, “gm” (on the inside), but i’m not crazy about saabs, sharing with other brands, the same door handles, cup holders, or other stuff i’ll easily notice.

  4. Is it a 99, Brendan? The little bit of wheel peeking out looks like a directional Aero wheel like on the Turbo S from the 1990s. I hope there’s a 99 there, though. It deserves the kudos (and yours deserves to be on the road!)

  5. Yep, I just rangs Hans and he confirms that Sven told him Helga’s sister Frau Schmitt saw an 87 SPG driving in….

    So there you have it!

  6. @ Gripen – the Flextreme is all about batteriepower! You will only use fossils to charge them. But whilst driving on Diesel f.e. the car will slip out 40g/Km of C02 – which is about 100g/Km lower than what the EU expect cars to be in the near future. So a car like this would need about 1,5 to a max 2l diesel [or anything else] …

  7. rayman146: thanks for the info. I do realize that’s how the E-Flex platform works though. The fact is, however, that although it is technically an EV, there’s still a way to calculate equivalent mpg (or miles per kilometer, or liters per 100 km, or whatever). That’s what I’m interested in. I mean, comparing it to a regular ICE car, how much more efficient would this system be?

    Richo: I don’t think you’re being very politically correct. It’s referred to as “gaydar”. 😮

  8. No no no Gripen, Gaydar is the attraction of the car as a whole, a measure as to whether it attracts a certain type of happy man. A Gayometer is quite different. A Gayometer has a dial and can be manipulated from light to extreme.

  9. Richo: LOL! It isn’t the most “manly” vehicle ever released, is it? The addition of a pair of Segways doesn’t help its case either.

    I don’t like the look of it, but I definitely do like the drivetrain. I like when companies “think different” and “make their own road”. 🙂

  10. No, you probably know the whole story, Saaboy. It appears that GM swept-in at the last minute (perhaps even the night before the Stockholm Auto Show, where it debuted, opened) and ordered SAAB to glue-shut the SAAB badge on the rear of the car behind which the plug-in charging port resided.

    The car was shown as the world’s first ethanol-capable convertible hybrid, but any reference to the fact that it was also a plug-in hybrid was omitted from the press release.

    There’s no telling why GM did this. Perhaps they didn’t want to detract from this Opel Flextreme which is also a plug-in, which would have already been on the drawing board then?

    The SAAB hybrid was a bit disappointing to me personally in that it was using the hybrid powertrain to improve performance (called a “Power Assist Hybrid”), rather than primarily to reduce fuel consumption. The hybrid system isn’t there to increase fuel economy, it’s there to boost horsepower.

    Technically the SAAB hybrid was SAAB’s first all-wheel-drive car (not counting the 9-7x as that was a truck and not counting the 9-2X as that was a Subaru), and only all-wheel-drive convertible to date.

  11. Sorry, change “it’s there to boost horsepower” in my last post to “it’s there to boost torque

    Also, the SAAB hybrid did indeed have a “zero mode” where it would run on pure electricity and being an E100 car it was capable of emitting zero fossil fuel CO₂, so I will credit them with that much. The fact that they used a 2.0T engine and put the torque-increasing electric motor on top of that though shows that they were less interested in “rightsizing” the engine than getting the performance out.

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