Saab Designer Anthony Lo On the Saab 9-X BioHybrid

Posted on 27. Mar, 2008 by in 2000-2009, 9-X BioHybrid, Designers, Russelheim, Germany

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

I recently participated in another installment of the GM Next chat with Saab Designer, Anthony Lo. Anthony Lo joined Saab Automobile AB in October, 2000, as chief designer for Advanced Design. Lo has lead the design of the Saab 9-X, 9-3X, 9-3 Sport Hatch, and Aero-X, 9-4x, 9-X BioHybrid concept cars.

I was very interested to hear many of his responses to the questions posed: Please keep in mind that the order in which the questions posted did not necessarily sync up with all answers, so please use your own intuition.

Here is the full chat transcript below:

NoSpeaker: Anthony Lo, Director of Advanced Design, General Motors Europe
Region: North America
Date: 25 – March – 2008
Time: 10:30 –11:30 a.m. (EST)

SME: Anthony Lo, Director of Advanced Design, General Motors Europe
Date: 2008-March-25
Time: 10:30 –11:30 a.m. (EST)

A.Lo.Moderator:
Hello everyone, I’m Dave Roman, Director of GM Europe Technology & Design Communications, and I will be your moderator for this webchat session. Anthony has arrived and he is logging into the chat right now. We’ll get started in a moment.

SaabHistory.com:
What are your thoughts on the Saab 9-X BioHybrid?

Anthony.Lo:
Good morning! The 9-X BioHybrid is our vision on what a compact size Saab would look líke.

SaabHistory.com:
On model nomenclature: Why was the Saab 9-X reusing the 9-X again, instead of 9-1x?

Anthony.Lo:
As it remains as a concept, we would like to reuse the 9-X nomenclature.

SaabHistory.com:
On Technology: What will be making production (ie. Solar Panels, etc.) and do the solar panels on this car actually work this time or is it just theoretical?

Anthony.Lo:
The hybrid system is announced for production on future GM vehicles. On the solar panel, we are working on several studies on how to improve battery performance and solar is one of them. The panel itself does not work on the concept.

ViggenConvertible:
The new 9-3 reborn looks like a Saab again, if only from the front half of the car. If it had a hidden 9000 style Hatch on it, I would buy it. I couldn’t help but confuse it with the side of a a Chevy Malibu I saw the other day. When will Saab cars look like Saab cars again?

Anthony.Lo:
Saab brand is all about progressive design. We must look at what is best for the brand from a design perspective.

Anthony.Lo:
The rear end of Saab cars always generates a lot of discussion. We always consider appropriate themes and design cues but do not fix on any particular solutions.

SaabHistory.com:
On ViggenConvertible’s question: Will we see a true forward hinged hatch again? I heard the rumor was that there was supposed to be one in 2002 alongside the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan, but budgets cut that out of the equation. Please speak to this.

Anthony.Lo:
The forward hinged hatch was never in the plan in this generation Saab 9-3.

bizhaoqi:
Can you provide any information regarding the progress and timeline of the new 9-5?

Anthony.Lo:
We are working on it but we have no specific information to share with you.

bizhaoqi:
Can you tell us what platform the new 9-5 and next 9-3 will be built upon?

Anthony.Lo:
The 9-5 will be based on our Global Mid Size architecture and it is currently being developed in Europe.

ViggenConvertible:
It appears there is much empahsis on Front Facscia to create that brand. When will the rest of the car have a focus again? (I apologize if this sounds like a rough question)

Anthony.Lo:
The 9-4X Biopower concept is a clear sign that we are focused on delivering a complete product. You will be surprised when you see the new 9-5.

SaabHistory.com:
On Exterior Design: Why did the 9-X BioHybrid not include a C-pillar like the 9-3x concept car?

A.Lo.Moderator:
We are getting a lot of questions and Anthony is responding as quickly as possible, so please hang in there with us. Thanks.

Anthony.Lo:
The C-pillar, like the rear end, are controversial. We would like the window graphic to fit the theme and the solution we have on the 9-X is the best fit for the upright rearend.

Guest_53a8:
Any chance of a TDI making its way to the US?

Anthony.Lo:
We continue to look at diesel for the US market but no decision has been made so far.

ViggenConvertible:
Anthony, what is your relation to the Saab brand. What Saab cars have you owned and loved?

Anthony.Lo:
I have driven various Saabs since I joined the company in 2000. I am passionately involved in all the past and future Saab projects.

SaabHistory.com:
Why doesn’t the rear tail gate open up? Why wasn’t it a sloping hatch like the Aero-X?

Anthony.Lo:
There was a mechanical problem in the tailgate and it will be fixed soon. We want to create a concept that is beautiful to look at without compromising on interior space and flexibility. The ‘Shooting Brake’ style rear end is the best solution.

SaabHistory.com:
On Interior Design: The interior looks unfinished, any reason for this?

Anthony.Lo:
The interior is finished. We are continuing to work on some of the functionality issues.

SaabHistory.com:
ViggenConvertile: Good question on the front vs. the rest of the vehicle. On other future models: Will Saab fully utilize its own concepts in the the future for their own products, rather than use them for other models in the GM lineup?

Anthony.Lo:
I am not sure if I understand your question correctly. Saab concepts are developed for Saab brand only. It is a good question. It would be a good solution to follow the Mazda strategy but it has to make financial sense.

SaabHistory.com:
“Will there be any more design elements that will be applied to future Saab products from both the Saab 9-3X as well as the Saab 9-3 Sport Hatch Concepts since the 9-X was used for the 9-X BioHybrid?”

Anthony.Lo:
I have answered that question earlier.

SaabHistory.com:
Good morning and thanks again for the NYIAS

Guest_53a8:
Will XWD be incorporated into the next generation of Saabs? Do you see it as a pervasive theme across the model line?

Anthony.Lo:
I am not in a position to answer technology applications in future products. I will be happy to answer any design questions.

SaabHistory.com:
On working with Saab / GM Design: Please discuss the differences and nature of the GM Design Center in Germany in comparison to the Saab Design center formerly in Sweden.

Anthony.Lo:
Our Design Center in Sweden is creating the long term vision and define what are the important elements that we should incorporate in future Saab products. They are also involved on concept car development. All products are finally executed in Germany.

99 9-3HOT:
I see we have one Talladega owner on…is Saab planning to set another world endurance record like the ones set in the 80’s and 90’s? And if so, will there be a special edition?

Anthony.Lo:
Our colleagues in Saab Marketing will be in a better position to answer your question.

SaabHistory.com:
Do you speak with longtime friend and former designer, Michael Mauer?

Anthony.Lo:
I meet him from time to time in car shows.

bizhaoqi:
Will the interior of the 9-4X Biopower concept be making its way to production in future Saab models?

Anthony.Lo:
Directionally, the interior of the 9-4X is very close to what we have considered for production.

SaabHistory.com:
Anthony, to get clarification on your statement, are you stating that Saab does not have the budget to include a fastback like combi hatch at this time? Is that also why it was not included in the 9-3 SS lineup in 2003?

Anthony.Lo:
I am not familiar with the decision made at the time.

bizhaoqi:
Can you speak to some of the design decisions you have had to make during the development of the new 9-5?

Anthony.Lo:
I am not in a position to comment on the new 9-5

ViggenConvertible:
How much freedom does GM give you to design a car? Do they place limits on particular parts of the car (like the rear half) to the platform, and allow you to design other parts?

Anthony.Lo:
GM’s global architectures are designed with a lot of bandwidths for design freedom. The bandwidths are developed in conjunction with our regional design centers in the Advanced phase.

bizhaoqi:
Can you give us an idea of what portion of new Saab design is coming from long-time Saab designers versus new/young designers fresh to the brand?

Anthony.Lo:
All our designers have strong connections to the Saab brand and are very familiar with the history. I think we have a good balance of designers in the team to develop truly distinctive Saab products.

SaabHistory.com:
Anthony Lo, I was under the impression that there was a Saab “Brand” in Sweden which isn’t an actual facility, and that the only design center is the GM Design Center in Europe.

Anthony.Lo:
Saab Brand Design is located in the Pixbo studio in Sweden. It is a fully equipped digital studio.

A.Lo.Moderator:
We are on top of our end time for this webchat, so please hold any additional questions. There are several questions in the queue that Anthony will continue to answer, so stick around a little longer. Thanks.

SaabHistory.com:
Will the rear c-pillar be cleaned up before production on the 9-4x? It looks about 80% complete there.

Anthony.Lo:
The 9-4X is a concept and directionally close to what we plan to include in the future line up. We continue to look at all potential new segments that Saab are not present today.

bizhaoqi:
Thank you very much for your time–I for one am very excited about Saab’s current and future direction

SaabHistory.com:
Do you factor in specific GM parts that are part of platforms when designing Saab vehicles, whether those are concpets or production?

99 9-3HOT:
Thanks again for your time Mr. Lo. I love the brand and look forward to the direction it goes in the future. While giving a nod to Saab’s heritage, you and the team have come up with some very cool designs over the past year.

Anthony.Lo:
Of course we do.

SaabHistory.com:
Is there at Saab design center in Pixbo used as a design center in concerp with the GM Design Center in Russelheim, Germany?

Anthony.Lo:
The Saab Design Center in Pixbo is part of GM Europe Advanced Design that I am responsible for. They are participating in all Saab concept developments.

SaabHistory.com:
“Thanks for your time today, and I appreciate you answering these questions. I plan on sharing them on my website, Saabhistory.com just like I did before.”

Anthony.Lo:
I have got to run! Thank you all for participating in the chat! I need to go back to design some more great Saabs!

A.Lo.Moderator:
Thanks again, everyone. If interested, this webchat transcript will also be posted to our GMNext.com website within the next day or so.

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