Archive for 'Innovations'

Automatic Performance Control (APC): Saab Innovation

Posted on 18. Dec, 2007 by .


Automatic Performance Control is a Saab innovation that started in 1980 that was first implemented in all 1982 Saab 900 Turbo models.

In the promotional video above, although in Swedish, illustrates the engineering and practicality of the Saab APC system in a 1982 Saab 900 Turbo.

1980: APC – Growing concern for the environment and reduced emissions led to the development of APC, Automatic Performance Control. APC enables the engine to run on fuels with a lower octane rating, with no loss of efficiency and durability. This is achieved using combustion process monitoring to control the turbocharger.

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Saab Traction Control : Saab Innovation

Posted on 20. Nov, 2007 by .


The Saab Traction Control innovation is designed to best distribute the drive force to the wheel that has the best overall grip, ultimately complimenting the reduction of slipping while accelerating on slippery surfaces.

The initial Saab Traction Control system was first introduced in 1992 on Saab 9000 Turbo models and 9000 CD models and the system always-on, and no off switch. I

It was on the 1995 9000 model that the system where a newer modified system included a switch to disengage the Saab Traction Control system or (TCS).

Please take a look at the video below that does a good job describing this new system for 1992 model year Saab 9000 turbos.

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Saab Trionic : Saab Innovation

Posted on 19. Nov, 2007 by .



The Saab Trionic innovation is an advanced engine management system that measures all areas that are part of the combustion process. This Saab trionic system also measures ionisation within each cylinder of the engine block while the car is running. The information gained from these measurements in the trionic system, ultimately control the turbocharing, fuel injection and ignition systems.

Saab Trionic was developed by Saab Automobile back in 1991. It was first implemented in the 1994 model year Saab 9000 as well as the new generation Saab 900 models.

There have been three types of Saab Trionic since the very beginning, starting with Saab Trionic 5. Saab Trionic 5 was first implemented in the Saab 9000 as well as the new generation Saab 900 series. The second type of Saab Trionic system installed in the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5’s included the Trionic 7 system. The Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan platform including the SportCombi use the latest version of Trionic called Trionic 8.

For more information as to the details of each of these systems, please consult a well seasoned and trained Saab service technician.

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Ventilated Seats : Saab Innovation

Posted on 17. Nov, 2007 by .



The ventilated seat in a car is a world’s first for Saab Automobile and this innovation was first implemented in the Saab 9-5 and continues to be available as an option today.

ventedseats1.jpgPower-ventilated seats-a world first

The new Saab 9-5 continues to offer heated seats as an option, both for the front and rear occupants. But, when the weather is hot and sticky, the Saab 9-5’s optional electrically-ventilated seats are there to deliver maximum comfort.

The innovative ventilated seat option for the Saab 9-5 is an auto industry first. Two flat electric fans in each front seatÑone in the seatback and one in the lower cushion-extract warm, humid air that is normally trapped between the person and the seat upholstery. The fans operate in three operator-set speed modes, drawing warm air through the perforated seat leather and venting underneath the seat.

The heated and ventilated seats contribute to safe driving by keeping the driver more comfortable and alert especially on long trips. Previously used only for premium buses, trucks and construction equipment, where driver alertness is particularly critical, this is the first time that power-ventilated seats have been offered in a passenger car.

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Saab Night Panel : Saab Innovation

Posted on 16. Nov, 2007 by .


Film Credit: Saab Automobile USA

The Saab Night Panel, formerly known as the Saab Black Panel as depicted above in the 2005 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan television advertisement for the U.S. market, is a notable Saab innovation derived from the aeronatics industry.

The Saab Black Panel was first developed in 1993 and first introduced into the New Generation Saab 900 (NG900) which continued until 1998 until that model ended. Beginning in 1999 the name was changed to “Saab Night Panel” for more clarity. The Saab Night Panel was implemented in the 1999 9-3 as well as the 9-5 and continues to be integrated into both the Saab 9-3 as well as the 9-5 today.

The Saab Night panel as illustrated by the two photos below show the night panel before and after it has been switched on.


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I leave you with a quote from Saab Automobile AB that describes the Saab Night Panel function:

This function blacks out the instrument panel, apart from the speedometer. This reduces the risk of distraction while driving at night. All the systems still work in the background and the appropriate guage or lamp will light up when the driver’s attention is required. A good example of our aircraft heritage.

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Saab History Launches Section on Saab Innovations

Posted on 16. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credits: Saab Automobile AB

Saab History Launches Section on Saab Innovations

Saab Automobile has continues to prove that they are a leader when it comes to firsts in the industry. It is about time that these industry firsts and other innovations are best represented in an an easily accessible and intuitive format.

In an effort to promote these innovations, Saab History has launched an entire section on the website devoted to Saab Automobile’s innovations past and present.

This section will be easily accessible on the right-hand navigation panel titled “Innovations” identified with a graphic of an iconic innovation, the Turbo.

I have compiled the list of Saab’s innovations below so that I can begin to populate it. Within the list below you will notice innovations that are hyperlinked. These hyperlinked innovations indicate that they are currently included on the site within the innovations section. As time permits, I will continue to populate this list and hyperlink the remaining innovations so that this work-in-progress will reflect all innovations to date and all innovations will reside in the innovations section.

This list again is a work-in-progress, so if you see areas that you can contribute to either in content such as descriptions or photographs, videos, etc, please contact me.

Saab Innovations from 1947 to Present:

1947: Transverse two-stroke engine, front wheel drive, sturdy safety cafe, aerodynamic low drag design

1955: Three Cylinder engine, tubeless tires – (Needs description)

1958: Safety Belts – Saab was the first car manufacturer to introduce seat belts as standard. From the very start, Saab played an active part in the development of safety components – in-house as well as in co-operation with subcontractors.

1963: Dual Brake Circuits – The diagonally split brake system reduced the risk of losing brake power in the event of damage to the system

1967: Collapsible Steering Column – With Saab’s design, the steering column does not penetrate the cabin in a head-on collision. Compared with other similar designs this has the advantage of not affecting the driver’s ability to steer the car even after an accident

1969: Headlamps switch off with ignition – Driving with headlamps in the daylight is a documented safety enhancement. The automatic on/off switch eliminated the risk of discharging the battery by accident.

1969: Ignition lock between front seats – The traditional position of the ignition key caused severe knee injuries, even in minor accidents. Placing the ignition lock between the front seats gets it out of the way. Furthermore, the position is logical, adjacent to the seat belt lock, handbrake and gear lever.

1970: Headlights wash and wipe – Rain and dirt can remove 90% of headlamp illumination. Saab’s simple yet unique solution was to create a wash and wipe system, which later became a legal requirement in many countries.

1971: Energy Absorbing Bumpers – With conventional bumpers, even a minor collision could result in costly repairs. With energy absorbing bumpers, collisions at speeds up to 8km/h require no repairs at all.

1971: Electrically Heated Seats: A major comfort enhancement. Originally it was developed from a health perspective; sitting in a cold seat is not good for anyone. Today, this Saab innovation is a part of the standard equipment in almost any car.

1972: Side Impact Protection – Saab was the first car manufacturer to introduce reinforcement members in the doors, in order to provide side impact protection. Surprisingly enough, the Saab was for many years the only car that offered this added safety.

1976: 3-Way Catalyst Converter – To comply with rigorous emissions regulations, Saab was one of the first car manufacturers to use a Lambda sensor controlled 3-way catalyst converter. Today, this is naturally a standard feature on all Saab cars and continued development work is being carried out to maintain and improve our position in this field.

1976: Turbocharging – Saab was the first car manufacturer to develop a turbo engine with the reliability and durability that is required for everyday use. Turbocharging provides increased output and huge torque at low and medium revs, without the usual increase in weight, cost and fuel consumption.

1978: Cabin Air Filter – Allergies are an increasing problem. The quality of the air is very important for people who suffer from hay fever or other allergies. Our electrostatic cabin air filter removes pollen and other particles, down to a size of 0.004mm from the incoming air.

1980: Automatic Performance Controll (APC) – Growing concern for the environment and reduced emissions led to the development of APC, Automatic Performance Control. APC enables the engine to run on fuels with a lower octane rating, with no loss of efficiency and durability. This is achieved using combustion process monitoring to control the turbocharger.

1981: Split-field Side Mirror – This Saab innovation eliminates the blind spots when looking to the rear. Simple, inexpensive and subsequently standard de facto.

1982: Asbestos-free Brake Pads – Saab was probably the first car manufacturer to take advantage of the new materials to replace asbestos.

1985: Direct Ignition – By the direct ignition system, Saab eliminated the ignition cables and distributor. Each spark plug has a separate coil which produces a firing spark voltage of 40,000 volts. The result is improved combustion and better cold-starting performance.

1988: Saab Traction Control (TCS) – Reduces the risk of skidding first installed in the 9000 CD

1991: Saab Trionic – Saab Trionic was developed in-house and is still one of the world’s most advanced systems for engine management. It measures all the parameters which play a significant part in the combustion process. The data is used for real-time control of turbocharging, fuel injection and ignition. The system also includes ionisation measurement inside the cylinders while the engine is running.

1991: Light Pressure Turbo – With the light pressure turbo, Saab has introduced turbo technology for standard cars with a less pronounced performance profile. Light pressure turbo is used to optimise driving characteristics and overtaking performance.

1991: CFC Free Air Conditioning – By tradition, the coolants used in air conditioning systems were of the CFC type – efficient but with a documented harmful effect on the atmosphere. In the early 90’s alternatives became available and Saab was one of the first to introduce this as standard.

1993: Saab Safeseat – The Saab Safeseat was introduced as a safety design philosophy. The aim is to ensure that all the interior safety features interact correctly and provide maximum protection.

1993: Night Panel – This function blacks out the instrument panel, apart from the speedometer. This reduces the risk of distraction while driving at night. All the systems still work in the background and the appropriate guage or lamp will light up when the driver’s attention is required. A good example of our aircraft heritage.

1995: Ecopower – Saab’s engine development does not simply focus on performance. Power should be instantly available but not at the expense of economy and environmental concern. Ecopower is the collective name for our efforts in this field. Turbo, ignition, engine management and catalytic converters are not treated as separate units, but are optimised to create a harmonious power source.

1996: Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR) – The number of whiplash injuries would decrease dramatically if all cars had head restraints that were shaped and correctly positioned. That is why Saab has developed the Active Head Restraint. It automatically takes up the correct position in a rear-end impact and controls the movement of the head and vertebrae.

1997: Electronic Brake Force Distribution – To optimise the effect of the brakes, this function distributes the correct amount of the force to the front and rear axle
respectively. It is sensitive to the load distribution in the car and, unlike a traditional reduction valve, it does not reduce the total amount of available braking power.

1997: Ventilated Seats – Saab 9-5 is the first car with ventilated seats. As a compliment to air conditioning this provides an outstanding level of comfort and helps the driver to stay fit and alert.

1997: Comsense – Saab introduced a system that reduces the risk of distraction by briefly delaying incoming phone calls and lower priority alerts when the brakes or turn indicators are activated. This helps the driver to stay focused, for example when turning, overtaking or approaching a crossing.

1997: Saab Cup Holder – A sleek cupholder design to keep liquid cannisters safe and secure from flying through cabin and out of the way in an accident.

1997: Asymmetric Turbocharged V6 – The Saab 9-5 was the first car in the world to be equipped with an asymmetric turbocharging system. This engine concept uses one turbocharger on the front cylinder bank, driven by exhaust gases from only those three cylinders. The single highly-responsive Garrett GT17 turbocharger delivers compressed air to all six cylinders in both cylinder banks. Combined with a boost pressure that reaches only 3.6 psi (0.25 bar), this technology allows a patented boost control system that eliminates the need for a wastegate. The advanced 24-valve 3.0L turbo V-6 engine uses a narrow angle of 54 degrees between the cylinder banks. The engine’s strong maximum torque of 229 lb.-ft. at only 2,500 rpm, available all the way up to 4,000 rpm, provides useful performance to reduce passing times and avoid potentially hazardous situations. The high torque also allows longer gearing, which improves fuel economy and reduces engine noise at speed.

1998: Cargo lug system in the 9-5 Wagon – (Needs description)

1998: Sliding Load Floor 9-5 Wagon – (Needs description)

2000: Saab Variable Compression (SVC) – Saab launched an entirely new engine concept named SVC. Owing to the SVC engine’s unique design, it offers performance on a par with units twice its size but with the fuel consumption of a small engine. The SVC engine is a 5-cylinder 1.6 litre unit producing 225 bhp and it delivers no less than 305 Nm of torque.

2002: Saab Combustion Control (SCC) – The Saab Combustion Control (SCC) system is a new engine control system developed to lower fuel consumption while radically reducing exhaust emissions, without impairing engine performance. By mixing a large volume of exhaust gases into the combustion process, Saab’s fuel consumption can be reduced by up to 10 percent, and exhaust emissions lowered enough to comply with the California Ultra Low Emission Vehicle 2 (ULEV2) requirements, set to take effect in 2005. Compared to today’s Saab engines with equivalent performance, this will reduce the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by almost half, and will cut the nitrogen oxide emissions by 75 percent. The SCC system is based on a combination of direct injection of gasoline, variable valve timing and variable spark gap.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) – Saab’s ESP works like this: it assists the driver in the direction of his steering efforts. If he goes into a corner on which there is less grip than he had anticipated, resulting in an oversteering slide as the tail starts to lose control, the ESP system applies brake force to the outer wheels to nullify the yaw rate of the car and gently bring the car back into line. In that way it complements the driver at the wheel, rather than aggressively offering help at the last available moment. The new Saab ESP system also works when a slippery road causes the car to understeer – when the nose of the car starts to push wide instead of following its intended course. ESP offers just enough brake-force control to help bring the car back into line, because too much assistance might suddenly switch the car from an understeer to an oversteer situation.

2002: ReAxs System – Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan was introduced with a chassis geometry system that ensures smooth interaction of the steering, front suspension and multi-link rear axle. ReAxs enables the rear wheels to steer slightly when turning, helping the car move in the intended direction. It provides crisp steering feedback and contributes to enhanced driving stability in curves.

2003: Cargowing – Serves as a spoiler when lowered. When raised it becomes a functional rack for special holders to carry objects such as skis and snowboards.

2003: CargoSET – A function introduced for Saab 9-3 Convertible that automatically expands the luggage capacity as you raise the soft-top. The space occupied by the folded soft-top becomes available for luggage, providing a total of 380 litres.

2004: Saab Alcokey – The Saab “Alcokey” concept includes a small mouthpiece in the car?s key fob. A transponder communicates with the car?s electronic control unit, preventing the engine from starting if a breath sample from the driver is found to contain alcohol above legal levels.

2005: Saab BioPower – An 85% Ethanol Powered / 15% powered engine – (Needs description)

2006: Saab E100 BioPower – The Saab BioPower 100 Concept, showcases the first production-based turbo engine to be optimized for pure, eco-friendly bioethanol (E100) fuel. The result is a level of performance never seen before from a road car using this fuel.

2006: Saab BioPower Hybrid – The innovative Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept, delivers zero fossil CO2 emissions, enhanced performance and a range of energy-saving features by combining the use of pure bioethanol fuel and electric power generation for the first time.

2007: Saab TTid – (Needs description)

2007: XWD (Cross-Wheel Drive) – A Saab/Haldex AB innovation, the most advanced all-wheel drive system in the world.

2007: Saab Driver Attention Warning System


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Saab XWD “Cross Wheel Drive”: Haldex 4.0 System

Posted on 14. Nov, 2007 by .


Photo Credits: Saab Automobile AB/Haldex AB

In the next few weeks, we will be hearing more about the XWD system from Saab Automobile with the Turbo-X as the vehicle that will be showcasing this XWD technology. The Turbo-X XWD will be launched in the United States at the Boston Auto Show, beginning on November 27th and will be at the Boston Convention Center until the 2nd of December.

In August I test drove a 2008 Saab 9-3 XWD prototype shipped over by Saab Automobile Sweden for the 2008 Saab 9-3 Drive event here in Washington, D.C. As part of this driving experience, I also managed to get that test-drive filmed in order to share that experience. I think you will find it interesting if you have not already seen it.

If you would like to find out more detailed information on the Haldex XWD in addition to the press release below, I have also provided detailed downloadable pdfs that cover the technical specifications of this technology.

Here is an updated press release on this technlogy from the Swedish Company, Haldex, from Saab Automobile USA

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Helping Drivers Keep an Eye on Safety

Posted on 02. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

Helping Drivers Keep an Eye on Safety

Trollhättan, Sweden – Saab’s Driver Attention Warning System is a development project designed to counter two of the most common causes of road accidents: driver drowsiness and inattention at the wheel. It alerts the driver by using a combination of text and voice messages, or vibrations in the seat cushion, as soon as the risk of drowsiness or inattention is detected.

Unlike other similar systems, the Driver Attention Warning System does not rely on measuring an erratic change in the steered direction of the vehicle. It is designed to detect the onset of drowsiness or inattention, rather than the immediate consequences.

It utilizes two miniature infra-red cameras, one installed at the base of the driver’s A-pillar and the other in the center of the main fascia, which are focused on the driver’s eyes. The image from the cameras is analyzed by software that deploys a series of alerts when the pattern of eye-lid movement indicates the onset of drowsiness, or when the driver is not looking at the road ahead.

Infra-red imaging is used to ensure good performance in all day and night light conditions, and even if the driver is wearing dark glasses.

Drowsiness Detection

The system uses a sophisticated algorithm, against which the driver’s rate of eye blinking is measured. When the cameras detect a pattern of long duration eye-lid closures, indicating the potential onset of drowsiness, a series of three warnings is initiated.

In the first instance, a chime sounds and a text warning message “Tired?” is displayed in the main instrument panel. If the driver’s eye-lid movement does not immediately revert to a normal ‘wide awake’ pattern, a speech message “You are tired” is then delivered through the car’s audio system. If there is still no response, a stronger warning tone and the message, “You are dangerously tired – stop as soon as it is safe to do so!” will come over the audio. This can only be cancelled when the driver presses a reset button in the fascia. The system is then immediately reactivated.

Inattention Detection
The cameras are also able to monitor the driver’s eye-ball and head movement. As soon as the driver’s gaze moves away from what is defined as the ‘primary attention zone’ – the central part of the windshield in front of the driver – a timer starts counting.

If the driver’s eyes and head do not return to the ‘straight ahead’ position within about two seconds, the driver’s seat cushion will vibrate. This will stop once the position of driver’s eyes and head are consistent with the vehicle’s direction of travel.

The processing of the infra-red image is sufficiently accurate to detect when the driver retains some peripheral vision of the road ahead – such as while looking in the rear-view mirror, the door mirror or turning a corner – and will consequently allow a slightly longer time to elapse before activating the seat vibration.

Real-life Safety

The Driver Attention Warning System is a logical extension of Saab’s real-life safety philosophy. It takes account of what the driver actually does behind the wheel, rather than what he or she should be doing.

The system, installed in a Saab 9-3 SportCombi, is the work of the Human Vehicle Integration team at GME Engineering in Trollhättan, Sweden. It is part of a development program, Intelligent Vehicle Safety Systems (IVSS), supported by the Swedish government and involving the national Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).

“It is a fact that many drivers do not stop and get out of the car if they are feeling drowsy. So we are now trying to help drivers to help themselves,” says Arne NÃ¥bo, head of the Human Vehicle Integration team, which specializes in driver ergonomics and managing the interface with in-car ‘infotainment’ systems for Saab cars.

“This system also helps prevent a dangerous habit we call ‘cognitive capturing’. For example, the driver can become too absorbed in searching for a favorite CD, programming pre-sets into the radio or trying pick up a screaming baby’s dummy from the floor.”

The Saab 9-3 Sport Combi development car will now participate in an eight-month field trial program supervised by the Road and Transport Research Institute.

The car is fitted with a wireless GPRS 3G modem that will download data every minute to a web server at Linköping University, where the performance of the system will be analyzed. A group of volunteers will each drive the car for a month, the first week with the Driver Attention Warning System switched off for comparison purposes

The trial is part of a development and validation process that could see the system become available in future Saab cars. In commercial production, only a single camera is likely to be required and this would be completely concealed behind the car’s main fascia.

Saab is a division of General Motors Corp. Saab Automobile USA is the importer and/or distributor of Saab 9-3, 9-5 and 9-7X automobiles for Saab Automobile AB, Sweden. In 2007, Saab celebrates 60 years since first being introduced to the automotive scene as the vision-turned-reality of 16 aircraft engineers. Visit for more information.

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Production Concept