Archive for April, 2001

Designer visions and imagination will visualize the future Saab brand

Posted on 27. Apr, 2001 by .




Designer visions and imagination will visualize the future Saab brand

In the next couple of years, the Saab brand of the future will be visualized in a series of concept cars, and the company’s design department is determined to make them really strong. Michael Mauer, the new head of Saab design, and his department are profoundly involved in the development of these concepts.

“I see lots of opportunities, a strong image, a strong heritage, a reputation for safety and performance and, what’s more, unique design within Saab of today,” he says. “Saab cars have always been perceived as unique and I believe that we should move on in that direction,” he says. “That’s why we’re going to design strong image carriers beside the basic programme. You’ll soon see creative models that underscore the Saab values and bring forward the characteristics of the brand.”

Michael Mauer is of the opinion that anyone can design a concept car without a message. “Coming up with a nice shell is rather easy. All it takes is some styling and design cues, and that’s what almost every manufacturer in the industry is doing today. The tough point, however, is to realise concepts that really bring forward the essence of a specific brand. From that perspective Saab has a great opportunity.”

Saab to build even more on design
Michael Mauer regards Saab as a design oriented company, and he believes that the key to future success is to build even more on design. “Saab cars are fun to drive, they’re safe and the product quality is good. But the area where an automotive brand really can differentiate itself is emotion and design, and we are moving in that direction. This will be highly apparent with the concept cars to come.”

Creativity is now one of highest ranked interests within Saab. The company’s designers are encouraged to use all of their visionary and imaginative skills, along with the skills of the engineers and the marketing people, to come up with brand focused concepts.

“The Saab brand is our point of departure and therefore we need to use flexible architecture solutions that allow us to realise creative ideas about future products from Saab. The architecture for the Saab 9-5 successor will be designed in the city of Gsteborg, Sweden, and that offers a superb opportunity for us to implement our ideas in future Saab cars.”

Smooth design process leads to less exciting results
“Creative processes are not necessarily smooth ones. On the contrary, my opinion is that smooth design processes often lead to less exciting results. The process of working and re-working a concept is crucial. Engineers and designers often have different opinions about what’s right and wrong, good and bad.”

“I encourage this type of process since I know it will result in very exciting cars from Saab,” Michael Mauer ends.

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Alf Persson – Saab's most expensive employee ever

Posted on 06. Apr, 2001 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile


In the service of safety: Alf Persson – Saab’s most expensive employee ever

Alf Persson, 47, is by far the most expensive of the more than 10 000 employees at Saab Automobile. During the past 12 years, he has cost the company more than half a billion kronor (SEK 500 000 000), salary and oncosts excluded. But this extravagance is by no means due to his negligence. On the contrary, it is the result of him being very efficient and careful. Alf Persson is the Work Supervisor at the Saab Crash Test Laboratory.

“This is the price we pay for taking crashworthiness seriously. We never rest on our laurels. On average, we crash one car every other day to make sure the safety of our cars will keep on improving. There are no shortcuts to the standard of safety that Saab cars provide,” says Alf.

Saab crash tests tripled in ten years
Alf Persson began his crash tester career in 1989, and has so far been involved in demolishing more than 1500 cars. In addition, he has run more than 1000 sled tests on sub-systems, such as units consisting of seat and door side. The crash test programme at Saab has grown dramatically since Alf began working at the crash track.

“When developing the second generation of the Saab 900 in the early 1990s, we ran 19 different types of crash test. Nine of these were stipulated by legal requirements. In the work on todayÕs Saab 9-5, we ran more than 60 different crash tests. During the same period, the number of legally required crash tests had risen by 3 to a total of 12.”

The reason for this substantial increase in the number of crash tests at Saab is obviously the need for simulating the sequence of events in real-life road accidents. To be able to build cars with ever-improving safety, the crash tests must be continually developed. But is it really necessary to run expensive crash tests even with all of the sophisticated computer simulation facilities available today?

“The deformation of the body structure when subjected to a certain load can be simulated relatively accurately. But it is much more difficult to simulate sufficiently reliably the movements of the occupants inside the car following a crash. The movements of the dummies and the injury values they record are best ascertained in actual crash tests,” explains Alf, and continues:

“Our work on developing crashworthiness has three cornerstones. One of these is crash testing, the second is early computer simulation that gives us quick a means for establishing the right concept and being able to run more accurate tests, and the third consists of studies of real-life road accidents. Accident studies can be used to demonstrate how the car and all of its protective systems perform in reality, and they also give us valuable information on the order of priority of accident types for which test methods must be developed.”

Pole crash test based on reality
“A test method that has been developed on the basis of experience gained from accident studies is the pole crash test that we run both head-on and against the side of the car. This is a type of crash that we have found to be relatively common and that involves only parts of the body structure, which causes the impact to be more concentrated to just one area,” describes Alf.

Another, more familiar Saab test is the moose crash test. In Sweden, an average of more than ten collisions between cars and moose occur every day. Since the early 1990s, Saab has therefore been running a crash test in its ordinary range of tests in which the car travelling at 70 km/h collides with a 380 kg moose dummy. Saab began developing the moose crash test together with the Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) back in 1981 and is now evolving, still with the VTI, a new version of the “moose”.

Saab tests always stricter
The demands in the in-house Saab tests are always stricter than the legal requirements. An example is the testing of the seat belt system in which a heavier dummy (101 kg instead of 78 kg) and a softer seat are used in the in-house Saab R16 test than those in the legally stipulated ECE R16 test. This results in more deflection of the seat, which causes more slack in the seat belt. Together with the heavier dummy, this causes higher and more convincing loading on the seat belt.

One of the more spectacular crash tests that Alf was involved in running was a roll-over test performed in 1990 on a Saab 9000 CS in the 7 metre wide and 3.5 metre high tunnel leading up to the crash barrier.

“We were in the course of developing a test method for roll-over accidents. The car stood on a sled that we accelerated up to almost 50 km per hour before tipping the car. It did three and a half somersaults and ended up on its roof. While doing this, it tore down a camera that was mounted in the roof of the tunnel, but the test was otherwise successful.”

The test led to one of the roll-over test methods used by Saab today. It was, however, never repeated in the tunnel. When the Saab 9000 CS was launched in 1992, it had a substantially strengthened C pillar section, which resulted in the best-ever roll-over protection in a Saab car up to that date.

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Environmental thinking permeates Saab Automobile

Posted on 03. Apr, 2001 by .



Photo Credits: Saab Automobile


Environmental Class 1, energy savings, recycling, environmentally appropriate product development …

Environmental thinking permeates Saab Automobile

* Energy consumption cut by 25 percent over ten years.
* From 2002, no combustible materials will be dumped – everything will be sorted and recycled.
* From 2003, new contracts will be concluded only with suppliers who conform to the same environmental demands as Saab Automobile.
* Saab now produces five Environmental Class 1 variants instead of only one.

Saab Automobile is one of the world’s first car makers to have product development, purchasing and production grouped under the same environmental management certificate to the ISO 14001 international standard.

“The demands for this way of certification are much stricter,” says Bo SwanZr, Environmental Manager at Saab Automobile. “Due to this collective approach, environmental thinking permeates the whole of the company. All sectors of the company pull in the same direction. Raw materials and other resources are used more efficiently, and suppliers follow the same path.”

The environmental impact of the factories and cars is being reduced by the steady improvements to the environmental work on all fronts. Steady improvements are a long-term undertaking and a focal element in the certification. Measurable targets are continually being followed up and matched to new targets.

One objective was to have one Environmental Class 1 car variant that has a lower environmental impact and merits lower vehicle tax for the car owner. This has already been surpassed, since we now have five Saab variants with this classification. The EU environmental demands on emissions and fuel consumption must obviously also be met.

“The target we will attain by the turn of the year is to have reduced the company’s energy consumption by a total of 25 percent over a ten-year period,” says Bo SwanZr. “From the same date, all combustible waste will be sorted and recycled instead of being dumped.”

Environmentally harmful waste and solvent emissions are continually being reduced.

“Our attitude towards solvents in the factory is the same as the attitude most people have to them at home. Water-based paints are much less harmful to the environment and human health. In addition, we do our best to work smartly in order to minimize waste, and we plan our production so that the we use a minimum amount of paint.”

A maximum of the raw materials we use must go into the product and a minimum is to go to waste. This results in lower costs and more efficient use of existing resources. The same principle is applied in Saab product development.

“A design that’s right first time is the key to the minimum possible environmental impact during the entire life cycle of the product,” says Lars Olsson, who is in charge of the Technical Development Department. “This influences the entire chain from development and production, up to regular use and recycling. Moreover, environmental thinking cuts costs and improves efficient use of resources in the company.”

ISO certification also affects the suppliers. From 2003, all new contracts will be concluded only with suppliers who have approved ISO 14001 environmental management systems. This will assure Saab Automobile of the greatest possible observance of environmental issues.

For further information, please phone
Bo Swanér, tel nos: +46 520 85415 (direct line) or
+46 705 28 11 91 (mobile)

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Production Concept