Archive for 'Sweden'

Interview with Sweden’s King Carl Gustav on Environment

Posted on 23. Apr, 2008 by .

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As a follow-up to the previous posting on Earth Day, here is an interview on NBC’s Nightly News with Sweden’s King Carl Gustav on the Environment.

This interview also interestingly enough, discusses King Carl Gustav’s interest as a car enthusiast while an environmentalist.

I would be interested in your thoughts about your own interests as a Saab owner or enthusiast that wants to make a significantly positive impact on the global environment.

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Saab History Celebrates Earth Day – April 22nd, 2008

Posted on 22. Apr, 2008 by .

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April 22nd, 2008 marks Earth Day, a day in which we need to celebrate the wonderful world we are so fortunate to be living in. This day is celebrated in the spring in the Northern Hemisphere and in the fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

In today’s heightened awareness of our natural environment around us, every day is and/or should be “earth day”. Today, however, we should take a moment to stop, think and see if there is just one more thing we can do to drastically change the way we do things in our daily lives.

While watching television this past evening, I watched a wonderful series on the local network here in the United States titled “Greening the Planet”. This segment focused on Sweden’s objectives to be off of fossil fuels by 2020, with just 12 years to go and making significant headway.

I hope you enjoy this film, as much as I did. This film for me, harkened back to my not so distant memories while living near the Stockholm, Sweden region some years ago. I can honestly say that while living in Sweden, I felt as though I was really living in a cutting edge environment that took the natural environment extremely seriously.

I was pleased to watch this show, although I am waiting for King Carl Gustav of Sweden, who originally owned a Saab 99 limo when he visited Boston in the late 1976, to replace that other Swedish brand that was shown in the film, with a BioPower Saab in order to reconnect with the Saab Automobile brand once again.

During the coming days, I will be focusing on “greening” our daily lives and will be showcasing that here on Saab History.

In the meantime, please read more about the history of Earth Day via Wikipedia, it’s an interesting read:

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Saab History’s Former Residence – Trollbäcken, Sweden

Posted on 01. Apr, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History

In 2003 & 2004, I lived in a small town by the name of Trollbäcken, Sweden, not to be confused with Trollhättan, Sweden, the place where the first SAAB 92 was manufactured. While Trollhättan is located on the Western part of Sweden just north of the large city of Göteborg, Trollbäcken is located on the Eastern part of the country just South of Stockholm. I should also add that while Saab Automobile got their start officially as an automobile manufacturer in 1947, Trollbäcken was also established that same year.

There were a lot of similiarities in Scandinavia, and more specifically, this region of Sweden in comparison to New England. New England is where I grew up, the same region where SAAB USA began, and with these similarities, the transition was not as a challenge as one would have thought it would be.

The many activities that I have come to expect in New England, in my opinion were even more prominent in this area of Sweden. From bicycling & sailing in the summers to skiing & ice skating in the winters, and so I began to really see myself living in this region indefinitely as you will read below, but again there were differences.

Land:

Trollbäcken is part of Tyresö, which is a municipality that has a population of just over 40,000. It is 15 km south-east of Stockholm. By public transportation you can reach Tyresö in twenty minutes from Stockholm City and by car it takes you about 15 minutes. This hilly and rocky landscape was created by earthquakes and faults approximately 15000 million years ago and by the inland ice nearly 10,000 years ago. The village of Tyresö came to be populated with human inhabitants just over 5,000 years ago. Obviously this country is a lot older than the United States and you can see that in the landscape wherever you travel.

Here is a wonderful quote from the village in which I lived called “Tyresö”

land.jpgNatural scenery – Tyresö s greatest asset

“The beautiful natural surroundings, the fine hiking areas, the closeness to both lakes and the sea”. This is what many residents answer when asked why they have chosen to live in Tyresö. From the top of Tyresö’s highest hill, Telegrafberget (85 m above sea level), it is possible to see the steep cliffs of the Brevik peninsula, open sounds, islands, a chain of lakes connected by rapids, large deep forests, and meadows and pastures with grazing animals.

Tyresö has large open-air recreation areas and nature reserves with a flora and fauna of even national interest. Tyresö also shares part of Tyresta National Park, which is unique in its closeness to a metropolitan area.

People:

people.jpgThe people in Sweden, and of course especially as we get closer to goods and services in city centers such as Stockholm in this case, were very literate and well educated. That being said, I noticed an overall equality in terms of economic share across the board and education as well. The have and have nots dialog is not quite the disparity we have here in the United States and in my opinion, that is a good thing. I guess it goes to say that with an annual budget and over 50% of that budget being spent towards public mandatory education, you can’t go wrong. I also found that in my daily encounters whether for business or leisure, the friendliness was there although one had to make an attempt to take initiative to communicate with others, as in my opinion, Swede’s do tend to not go out of there way too often, but I found this was more of a cultural phenomenon although there were exceptions. Generally speaking though, I found that a strong ability to trust and be trusted with Swedes.

A good book I read about Swedish culture and social interaction in Sweden was a book called “Modern Day Vikings, A Practical Guide to interacting with the Swedes”.

Culture:

tyreso.jpgVisitors and locals have full access to Tyresö’s two libraries. One of the libraries that I visited frequently was at Tyresö Centre and was thoroughly refurbished in 1999, so I had the priviledge of using this new facility which was very convenient to other goods and services in the region. When business is in full swing at the centre, this library also acts as a cultural haven and venue. Close to the church and school of Kumla, is the Trollbäcken library, which was recently named Library of the Year. Both libraries have a rich selection of literature for children, young people and adults, complete IT equipment, WIFI, and halls for exhibits and lectures. I found the staff very friendly and helpful for those non-native Swedish speakers, although I was persistent in speaking Swedish wherever I could. I still have my library card for when I return some day!

Forellen, the assembly hall of Forellen School in Tyresö Centre, is also a cinema with over 330 seats. Here most films worth seeing are shown, so it is not necessary to go to Stockholm to see them. Forellen also has matinees with films and theatre performances for children. Although I did not get the chance to go see many movies, I did read wherenever and whenever I could to continue my thirst for learning the Swedish language.

Tyresö Bygdegärd, close to the castle and the church, was originally a school from the 1870s but is now a community centre for celebrations and other gatherings.

The variety and volume of ongoing cultural events over the year really separate this village from those much farther out from the city of Stockholm, but also make it a perfect location for those that want to feel close to nature without being too far from their goods and services.

simhall.jpgHealth & Recreation: Throughout Trollbäcken, there were numerous indoor and outdoor pool systems complete with gymnasiums and saunas as well as plenty of additional outdoor tracks and recreational fields free to use for the public.

My favorite locations were both the Tyresö Simhållen, as well as the nearby Erik dalsbadet.

It is important to note that all citizens as well as visitors receive “free’ socialized healthcare from Sweden.

architecture.jpgArchitecture: Having previously worked in the architecture field for a number of years, I have developed a strong appreciation for Swedish modern architecture & design. I think that the building methods and engineering applications in many cases are more harmonious with nature and as I see, many countries are now starting to adopt these methods today.

I was particularly fond of the residential architecture even in my immediate neighborhood as the homes were “appropriately” sized, the proportions were right and the “form followed function” much like the Saab automobile.

Education:

education.jpgAs I have mentioned, apparently it is mandatory that all villages spend at least 50% of their annual budgets on compulsory education.

This education system for the elementary and high school levels, is also free for the undergraduate level in Sweden. With priorities like this, it is no wonder that Sweden continues to lead in this area. I also think it is worth mentioning that education transcends all industries including automotive as everyone in Sweden who wants a driver’s license has to go through a rather rigorous theoretical and practical test driving program including ice driving, which is apparently equivalent to that of those in the United States attempting to go for a pilots license.

Food: falu.jpgInitially, I had some reservations in terms of different for different sake, but then I came around. My breakfasts or “frukost” usually involved a diet of yoghurt with a muslix mix. My favorite lunch usually involved Knäckebröd with cheese & ham (ost och skinka) with the FALU brand, now defaulting to the WASA brand offered by Whole Foods stores stateside here in Washington, D.C. Dinner on the other hand consisted of a wide variety, but I usually found my home with a plethora of choices in fresh fish including an abundance of salmon and herring.

Communications:mobile.jpg Amazingly enough, my move to Sweden also involved my first use of a digital mobile phone since previously owning an old analog one back in 1997 when I lived in Massachusetts. The 3rd Generation GSM network in Sweden was thorough and never once did I have a problem under tunnels in the subway (Tunnelbana) or elsewhere in the country. During my time in Sweden, I had a pay-as-you-go card called the Comviq Kontant Kort which worked well, and was far superior to the T-Mobile plan stateside as it did not charge you for receiving phonecalls. I also thought that it was equally impressive that there were never any visible telephone poles and lines as they were all designed well underground, far more progressive than what we have in the United States. I guess this is obvious since Sweden leads the world in telecommunications technology with companies like Eriksson.

Transportation:bus.jpg Although there were plenty of Saabs in close proximity to my daily life in Trollbäcken, Sweden ranging from the 96, rare 99 models, to even unique modern Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans, the public transportation system was especially impressive. Every other day of the week, I headed into the city of Stockholm to take Swedish classes with other visitors or immigrants by taking both the bus & train system. While the busses were modern and sleek of the SCANIA make, the trains were even more progressive and efficient. During my entire stay in Sweden, I never waited more than 9 minutes to catch either a bus or a train and when they state that they will arrive at 9:00am sharp, they will be there.

biking.jpgOutside of the public transportation system, I had the great opportunity to fully explore all of the paths and trails that were so well designed and layed out in Sweden for walkers and bicyclists as the bicycle is 2nd or 1st in terms of the main form of travel in Sweden depending on who you ask. Where in the United States, bicycling is generally still today unfortunately referred to as a leisure activity, bicycling in Sweden serves as both and is placed in a respectable and supportive infrastructure that those choosing to go this route, are not made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable by an impending automobile infrastructure system.

Taxes: Approximately 50% of your taxes goes towards funding these systems and services each year, but in comparison to what we see and have in the United States with an outdated communications infrastructure, a crumbling and obsolete transportation network to increasingly high and unrealistic education costs, to list a few, Sweden begins to show their strengths by design and management. I guess you pay for what you get.

saab.jpgAll in all, I really enjoyed my time in the village of Tyresö of Trollbäcken, Sweden. The land, people, culture, healthcare, education, food, communications and transportation system were all important factors for my moving to Sweden in the first place. In my opinion, although I appreciate where I grew up in New England, these aforementined factors were mostly far superior to what I have been accustomed to in the United States. These factors alone are contributing to Sweden’s progressive movement as a global leader that other countries now aspire to learn from.

Source: http://www.tyreso.se/templates/Page____5668.aspx


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Scandinavian Collaborative Hybrid Projects In The Works

Posted on 17. Mar, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

I have recently been made aware of more projects that are in the works addition to both the Saab 9-3 BioPower Hybrid Convertible, and the Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept.

The press release below indicates that Saab and Volvo are collaboration with Sweden’s electricity provider, Vattenfall, and will be doing quite a lot of continued research and development on hybrid technology.

This is really good news.

Please read below:

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Together with electricity provider Vattenfall, Saab Automobile, ETC and the Swedish state, Volvo Car Corporation is launching a joint broad-based research venture to develop spearhead technology in the area of plug-in hybrid cars. Sweden will be the arena for the field tests.
[…]

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Sweden Serves As Ethanol Model — The Detroit News

Posted on 25. Feb, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History / Caption: Taken from Hot Air Balloon at 1,000 feet during 2007 Saab Festival

This just in regarding Sweden’s ongoing developments with E-85 (Bio Ethanol).

Sweden Serves As Ethanol Model — The Detroit News

By David Shepardson
Feb. 11, 2008

WASHINGTON – Sweden has embraced ethanol unlike any other country outside Brazil, and the Nordic nation’s example may help the United States in its quest to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

How committed is Sweden, a small country with just 4.2 million cars?

Last year, it began converting beer, wine and hard alcohol smuggled into the country into biofuel used to power trucks and buses. Many Swedes attempt to bring alcohol home because taxes are lower in continental Europe. In 2007, Sweden turned 180,000 gallons of alcohol into biofuel.

Some vodka distilleries are switching to ethanol production, said Bo Andersson, a Swedish native and General Motors Corp.’s vice president for global purchasing, and some paper mills in northern Sweden are working to develop cellulosic ethanol.

“Sweden has made a major commitment to ethanol,” Michael Wood, the U.S. ambassador to Sweden and a Flint native, said in a recent interview in Detroit.

Michigan officials, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, are looking to Sweden for guidance and see the push for alternative fuels there and the transformation in various industries as something that could be emulated here. The governor made a trip to Sweden last year and has praised the country’s commitment to alternative energy. She said Michigan must follow suit and is planning a summit of Michigan and Swedish energy leaders later this year in Michigan.

“To understand the connection between renewable energy and jobs, just look at Sweden – a country with striking resemblances to our state: the same size population, similar geography with two-thirds of their land covered by forests, a strong automotive sector,” Granholm said. “Sweden set high goals for their use of renewable energy. The result? They created over 2,000 businesses and 400,000 jobs in their renewable energy sector – 400,000 jobs.”

The United States has about 121 million drivers and just more than 1,200 E85 pumps, mostly in the Midwest. By contrast, Sweden has 5 million drivers but more than 1,000 ethanol pumps, in part because of a 2006 Swedish law that requires stations to have an alternative fuel pump.

Last year, Ford Motor Co.’s Volvo unit and a U.S. hedge fund invested $10 million in an experimental cellulosic ethanol plant in Sweden.

At the Detroit auto show last month, GM announced it had invested in Warrenville, Ill., cellulosic research firm Coskata Inc. In December, 80 percent of the vehicles sold by GM’s Saab unit were flex-fuel capable, said Christer Nilsson, a Saab spokesman in Sweden.

“The approach has been to coordinate all actors to start the journey at the same time, marching together,” Nilsson said. “The cars are of no need if there are no pumps and vice versa.”

About 12 percent of vehicles sold in Sweden in 2007 were E85 models, versus an expected 6 percent in the United States.

Sweden has also taken financial steps to encourage E85 vehicles that the United States hasn’t. Those vehicles qualify for a 20 percent tax break and many local governments give flex-fuel vehicles free parking. Those benefits have been extended to gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles in some U.S. cities, but not to the 6 million flex-fuel vehicles on the roads today.

Last March, the Swedish government also gave flex-fuel vehicle buyers a $1,500 rebate and there is no tax on E85 at the pump. Granholm has called for the elimination of Michigan’s $0.12-cent per gallon tax on E85.

Some automakers in Sweden have pitched in, too. Volvo gives customers a rebate when they trade in a gasoline-vehicle for a flex-fuel one in Sweden.

Further evidence of the commitment is the pressure by some political parties in Sweden to ban any non-environmentally friendly car from being sold after 2015.

The rest of Europe is starting to embrace ethanol, though outside of Sweden there are only 375 E85 pumps. Scottish whisky distilleries want to make ethanol out of waste material. Last year Great Britain opened its first ethanol plant from sugar beets, while France wants 7 percent of all its fuel to come from ethanol by 2010.

The United States has taken a different approach to getting ethanol to the pumps. The energy bill boosting fuel economy standards that became law in December requires the nation use 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol, but it doesn’t regulate how to get there.

Americans spend $1 billion a day to consume about 388 million gallons of gasoline. In 2006, Americans used 5.4 billion gallons of ethanol. Under the new law, the U.S. must use 9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2008.

The quick ramp up of ethanol use has drawn concerns from one of the energy bill’s main authors, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate energy and natural resources committee. “Early year biofuel requirements could be too aggressive,” he said.

Since the vast majority of ethanol in the United States comes from corn, diverting more corn to ethanol has led to its price more than doubling.

“If we cannot produce enough ethanol and biodiesel to meet these aggressive mandates, while maintaining food and fuel prices that consumers can afford, the biofuel industry will be tarnished,” Bingaman said last week. “The cost of failure is high.”

But Bruce Dale, a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan State University and an expert on ethanol, said Congress was right to set tough goals and the United States can learn from Sweden.

“Otherwise, we’re going to muddle along for a long time,” Dale said. “How much longer do we want to be dependent on $100-a-barrel oil that’s crippling us?”

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The Saab Ice Experience in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Posted on 14. Feb, 2008 by .

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Film Credit: Lowe Brindfors

The Saab Ice Experience is in full swing in Northern Sweden in a town called Jukkasjärvi, Sweden at the world famouse Ice Hotel as mentioned earlier with Saab’s Move Your Mind theme.

This Ice Hotel takes in millions of visitors from all over the world each year to enjoy an ice experience unlike anything else, where among other things, they spend their nights sleeping in a hotel made with over 100 million liters of water, below minus 5 degrees centigrade.

In the film above, Yngve Bergkvist, the CEO of the Ice Hotel, who spoke in person back in April of last year at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., gives us a nice welcome in Swedish to this hotel and all of the features. This introduction is followed by a nice interview with Saab Automobile design chief, Simon Padian where he describes his involvement in designing the automobile exhibit that features the Saab Aero-X Concept Car on Ice at the Ice Hotel.

The Saab Ice Experience in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Take the tour through Saab’s Move your mind-room at ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, far above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. The installation highlights various aspects of the Saab brand. And it does it with lights, sound and, of course, ice. The entire installation is made of ice and features, among many other things, a full scale replica of the Saab Aero X. See it before it melts.

For more information on the Ice Hotel, please visit their website directly.

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Family Johansson: Three Generations of Saab History

Posted on 12. Feb, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

You think you have some Saab History? Here is a wonderful piece about the Johansson family of Sweden from Saab Automobile Sweden. This past summer, I personally met with member of this family, Peter Johansson, who is the engineer responsible for the new Saab Haldex XWD system this past summer in Washington, D.C. at the 2008 Saab 9-3 Drive Event. While attending this event, I got the chance to test drive the prototype he designed that included Saab’s new Cross-Wheel Drive’ at a closed airport landing strip as part of the event that began at the House of Sweden.

This writeup below reminds me of my most recent experience visiting a family with a rich Swedish Heritage and Saab History, the Jacobson family of Sports Car Service. Sports Car Service is located in Wilmingon, Delaware, which by the way, is the first port of origin for Swedish immigrants to the United States.

Please enjoy the great addition to Saab’s History here on Saab History with the writeup below on the Johansson family.

Family Johansson: Three Generations of Saab History

The launch of Saab XWD is a remarkable chapter in the family history of Peter Johansson, one of the chassis engineers responsible for the development of the system.

It was Peter’s father, Sigge, a former member of the competition department at Saab, who came up with a design in the 1980s for a limited-slip differential to use in rally cars. He took out a patent and eventually sold the rights to Haldex in 1987. Now, two decades later, that original design forms the basis of the electronically-controlled LSD that his son has worked with in the development of Saab XWD.

In fact, the family connection with Saab goes back even further, right to the beginning of the car company. Peter’s maternal grandfather, Tage Flodén, now a robust 88 year-old, started work for Saab Aircraft as a toolmaker in 1945 and transferred to the newly-created car division in 1949 to make tooling for the first Saab 92 production car.

Through three generations, the extended Johansson family therefore spans the history Saab as a carmaker; from tooling up for its first production car to the launch of its latest product technology. “It’s a bit like a family business for us,” says Peter, 45, whose own seven-year-old son, Simon, is already showing a healthy interest in cars.

Sigge, now 74, was also an accomplished race and rally driver with Saabs in the 60s and 70s, even fitting a turbocharger to a racing Saab 96 V4.as early as 1973. But it was his determination to improve traction and handling that prompted him to pursue his own design for a limited-slip differential.

“Saab suggested that my father should take his design to Haldex for development,” says Peter, also a keen racing driver in his own right who once beat a very young Ayrton Senna in a karting race in Sweden. “At that time, Haldex were not involved in the car industry but they could see the potential of this differential and decided to pursue its development.

“Dad has been for a ride in one of our test cars and was pretty impressed by what we have done with the XWD system. Obviously, we have come a long way from his time by adding four-wheel-drive and all the control electronics that were not around in his day.

“Both my father and grandfather can look back to when Saab was a much smaller company and I don’t think either of them ever imagined it would grow into the big international brand it is now. It is a story that the three of us feel part of, something that is very close our hearts.”

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Saab Creates Living Brand Experience at the Ice Hotel

Posted on 11. Feb, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

This just in from Saab Automobile AB Sweden

Saab Creates Living Brand Experience at the Ice Hotel

Jukkasjärvi, SWEDEN — The Swedish premium car brand, Saab, has created a truly all-encompassing brand experience that opens its doors to the public today.

Housed within the one and only hotel made of ice, the ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, the ‘Saab Move Your Mind Room’ allows the public to experience Saab – the brand, its spirit, tonality and core values through innovative design installations made wholly from ice.

1202586_300.jpgDesigned and created by Saab chief designer Simon Padian and leading ICEHOTEL designer TjÃ¥sa Gusfors, the installation was inspired by Saab’s core brand pillars – progressive design, responsible performance and sporty driver focus. Drawing inspiration from these core brand values and from the award-winning Saab Aero X concept car, the installation showcases Saab’s heritage in design innovation and independent thinking.

“The Saab Move Your Mind Room is designed to be a journey, a flow, a pulse which aims to disrupt and challenge visitor perceptions of what is normal or expected,” Padian explains. “The installation is designed to create an audiovisual experience that defies the visitor’s senses. We hope that the public will find it thought-provoking and feel more engaged with the Saab brand.”

Visitors are encouraged to walk through an ice suite featuring Saab brand values and showcasing Saab’s design heritage. Highlights include an ice sculpted Saab Aero X and impressive light and sound sequences.

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. For the 2008 model year, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar standard on the entire Saab line-up. Additionally, all new Saabs have no-charge scheduled maintenance, and the Saab 100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. Visit www.saabusa.com for more information.

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Production Concept