Saab 'developing diesel hybrids' to rival PSA's

Published: 01 November 2010

Saab has been caught testing a 9-3 with a diesel hybrid engine, according to press reports in Sweden. It seems that France's PSA won't have the diesel-hybrid market all to itself.

A reporter from Automobil magazine spotted a 9-3 prototype refuelling at a petrol station in Trollhattan as he returned a test car to the factory. The car was labelled with hybrid stickers and had a boot full of batteries.

Over to the eyewitness on the ground

'As the car is refueled and the co-driver gets out to open the luggage compartment, I noticed a hefty collection of batteries, but my cameraphone wasn’t fast enough to take a picture,' said Automobil's eagle-eyed reporter. 'I walk closer and see a sign in the rear side window saying “Hybrid”, and now things get really interesting. When fueling is completed, the car is started and it becomes clear that there is a diesel engine that is being adapted for hybrid technology. I look up the car on Sweden's register and indeed it is a diesel. It has automatic transmission and came into service in April 2007.'

CAR has previously been told by Saab engineers that they are working on hybrid solutions, indicating that they wouldn't pursue a single technology. At the time we presumed that suggested a biofuel system would be possible, but it now looks as though a diesel hybrid is in the pipeline. Which makes sense for Saab's important European sales.

Can a small manufacturer like Saab really pull off all the technical development required?

The news indicates that tiny Saab appears to be making a good headway into future product development. Already this autumn it has shown a 9-3 EV and announced a petrol engine supply deal with BMW, which will supply the 1.6 petrol turbo for the next 9-3.

Saab top brass insist that collaboration is the way forward; could a deal with Peugeot-Citroen be on the cards? The new 2012 Saab 9-3 is lining up to be a very interesting proposition indeed.

Thanks to Saabs United (www.saabsunited.com/2010/10/report-saab-working-on-diesel-hybrid.html) for the tip-off!

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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