Saab hybrid, er, news…..

UPDATE: thanks to Albert, in comments, it’s apparent that the writer from Auto Motor and Sport either mis-translated the article, or added some stuff in that wasn’t in the original German report.

Make sure you bear this in mind as you read on.


ctm has provided us with a translation of an article originally appearing in Automobilwoche and then posted at Sweden’s Auto Motor and Sport.

Exciting, if somewhat fishy news:


It’s now confirmed that General Motors will develop a hybrid version of the Delta platform, which new models from Opel and Saab will be built from. The technology is similar to that found in Toyota Prius, but there are also plans for a plug-in hybrid.

Next generation Opel Astra will be shown in the autumn of 2009 and go on sale in 2010. It will be based on the new Delta platform, a very flexible one that also will find it’s way to the new Saab 9-3, 9-5 and probably even the 9-1. (Not so sure about that part, AM&S – Delta for the 9-5 and 9-3??? – SW)

At the Detroit auto show in 2005, Opel presented a diesel-hybrid concept of the Astra. GM is currently working on the new Astra that will available as hybrid in 2010.

According to auto industry news site Automobilwoche, a “trusted source” has confirmed that the Delta platform from ground up is prepared for a hybrid powertrain with a powerful electric engine together with a combustion engine. This is basically same the way the best selling hybrid, Toyota Prius, is constructed. According to the information, the hybrid will be available right from the beginning of the new Astra. Saab 9-3, the sibling to Astra, will be presented some years later. (again, this is quite fishy – SW)

According to the Automobilwoche source, work is under way to adapt the platform to GMs E-Flex system, a system were the batteries can be charged both from the power grid and from a generator powered by the combustion engine.

The Delta platform will be used in a number of different GM models. According to the Automobilwoche source, up to 13 models are planned for the next 2-3 years.

Hybrid versions of both Opel Astra and Saab 9-3 will be sold in the US (more fishiness – SW), a market with a growing demand for hybrids. Opel Astra, sold as Vauxhall in the UK and as Saturn in the US, will be built in Germany, the UK, Poland – and Trollhättan. GM is investing about 4 billion USD into the production plants, with hopes to raise efficiency by about 30 percent.


Make of this one what you will.

The talk of hybrids coming isn’t so new, but this ‘confirmation’ is. We’re getting it third-hand here, though, so hopefully some time in the near future someone within Saab will Djup Strupe some info into the TS inbox.

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  1. Well, I buy that GM is working feverishly on hybrids, and that plug-in hybrids are a big part of that. But . . .

    1. The US twin to the Opel Astra is the Saturn Astra. These cars are in the 9-1 class, not the 9-3 class.

    2. The first GM plug-in hybrid will be the Chevy Volt. I’m sure the Volt will be the exclusive platform for that technology at least right at the start.

    3. Other hybrid technology will make it to Saab. It’s a question of when and where. IIRC there have been rumors about an electric motor/power assist feature on the next 9-5. Which sounds kind of like a hybrid to me, but I’ll bet dimes to dollars it’s not a plug-in hybrid. (A heavy car like the 9-5 is not a good candidate for driving on batteries alone for any length of time).

  2. I’d be really surprised if they were to use the same platform for both the 9-1, 9-3 and 9-5. Using a compact architecture for medium and fullsized cars seems a bit far fetched when they have the Epsilon 2 platform coming next year (?). It is all probably just a hiccup (or incompetence) from the author of the article.

  3. This doesn’t “jive” with what I’ve read.

    First of all, the next-gen 9-3 and 9-5 are of course slated to be on Epsilon2, not Delta. This is why production is being moved to the Opel facility in Russelsheim, where the Vectra (also based on Epsilon) is made. If the 9-3 and 9-5 were going to be based on Delta, why would they be moving Astra production to Trollhattan, but moving 9-3 and 9-5 production to Russelsheim? Doesn’t make sense.

    The 9-1, like the Astra, is supposed to be based on Delta, so I can see that one being produced in Trollhattan.

    All the E-Flex (including the Chevy Volt and Opel Flextreme) hybrids are based on Delta. This leads me to wonder if perhaps the Opel Flextreme (or even the Chevy Volt) may be produced in Trollhattan sometime in the future.

    Regarding the Saturn Astra, Greg, I just recently read that it’s supposed to be manufactured in the U.S. The Opel (and presumably Vauxhall) versions will be manufactured in four plants worldwide, including Trollhattan.

    Also Greg, I don’t think that a 9-5 hybrid would have to have a “zero mode” feature (which enables one to drive solely on electric power). There are plenty of hybrids out there without a “zero mode”. I’m also sure that the 9-5’s rumored electric motor would be as a power-boost as you mention, not as a gas saving feature.

  4. The quote is incorrect. Nowhere in the article in Automobilwoche is there any mentioning of the 9-3 or 9-5.
    This is what they say: “Die Delta-Plattform bildet unter anderem die Basis für den Opel Astra und das künftige Saab-Einstiegsmodell. „Auf dieser Architektur bauen 13 verschiedene Modelle auf“, verriet der Entwickler.” Translated: “The Delta-Platform forms the basis for the Opel Astra and the coming SAAB entry model. On this architecture 13 different models will be built said the engineer.”
    So they refer only to the 9-1.

  5. albert,

    When I translated the article from Swedish to English I had my suspicion that it was either a very bad translation and/or an automated one from German to start with, and that AMS had their own unsubstantiated comments thrown in here and there.

  6. It’s nice to see that some of Saab’s hybrid/electric work is safety related (as one would expect) as shown by this U.S. patent application.
    Excerpt: “The object of the invention is to eliminate the above drawbacks of the known battery units for electric-powered and hybrid-powered motor vehicles and to propose a battery unit for such vehicles in which the individual battery cells in the battery unit are positioned such that the battery unit is flexible in a vehicle collision and the unit is collapsible by displacement and the battery cells which can be suitably caught.”

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