We all love the Aero X - the Saab supercar that was never built! Another study remains somewhat in its shadow. It was the much more important concept car for the future of the brand. We are talking about the Saab 9-X BioHybrid, which was presented in Geneva in 2008.
To understand the story behind the concept, you have to delve deeply into the past of the Saab brand. 1990 entered GM with 50% in Trollhättan, 10 years later, the Americans took over the remaining shares. GM let Saab run on the long leash, or the Swedes simply took their liberties. According to the reading, and from which side you look at what is happening.
Saab needs a third model series
The relative freedom had advantages and disadvantages. Saab could indeed use in the GM shelves, but the required investment did not materialize. 2005, 15 years after entering, it was in principle still there where you had started. A third series? Nothing! Still two series, manageable quantities, and little perspective. The picture should change under Carl Peter Forster, President of Saab and General Manager of GM Europe since 2005. The overdue integration of Trollhättan in the overall Group started and connected to a large investment program.
For Saab, the changes were painful. Competences were handed over to Rüsselsheim, employees dismissed, Trollhättan became the second choice location. The design department was particularly hard hit. Large parts were moved first to Gothenburg, later also to Rüsselsheim. In the stablebacka remained a hull team that did not have much influence. As needed, GM and Opel Designer were taken to Trollhättan for weeks or months to provide assistance.
It was against this background that Saab created the most beautiful studies, such as the Aero X and the 9-X BioHybrid Concept. The man behind both vehicles was Anthony Lo, then Director Advanced Design GM Europe. Lo had started 1990 at Audi, joined Mercedes three years later in the new studios in Yokohama. There he met Michael Maurer and followed him to Trollhättan in the year 2000. When Maurer switched 2004 from Göta Älv to Porsche, Lo remained astonished at GM and became Director Advanced Design.
GM Design brings the most beautiful Saab studies
That Lo Saab had understood, you can see in his designs. The 9-X BioHybrid Concept is Saab through and through. The passenger compartment resembles, in the best Saab tradition, a cockpit. The renunciation of door handles and exterior mirrors further enhances the aircraft's impression. Retractable cameras transmit the events into the interior, which makes the study disturbingly topical. What was planned before 11 years, that is now reality at Audi and other manufacturers.
Likewise the engine concept. An 1.4 liter turbo and 4 electric motors plus lithium ion batteries provide the drive and 215 Km / h top speed. Today's plug-in hybrids drive with similar parameters. 105 grams CO2 If the Saab emits 100 kilometers in E85 operation, it can naturally also fill up with fossil fuels. With a length of 4.42 meters, the 9-X Hybrid Concept aimed at the premium models of the compact class.
A special highlight, and without chance in the series, is the active aerodynamics of the concept. The diffuser on the underbody and a spoiler on the rear adapt to the respective speed and thus provide additional contact pressure and efficiency. As a further small extravagance, the study carries a continuous LED signature on the front. In series, this detail went 10 years later on the Hyundai Nexus, And, as with the 9-5 NG, so the tail adorns a light bar. The distinguishing feature for the last Saab generation.
9-X BioHybrid Concept = Saab 9-1
A small series was painfully missed at Saab for years, they could have procured the necessary volume of the brand. Based on GM's then fairly new Delta platform, the concept car was far more than just a study, it anticipated many elements of the never-before released Saab 9-1. 2010 or 11 would have come to the compact Saab without financial crisis 2008 and the subsequent GM bankruptcy 2009.
In hindsight, it remains to be noted that GM needed 15 years to understand Saab and develop investment will. The years between 2005 and 2008 were not enough to change fate and make up for lost time.
Under Spyker's direction, work continued on a small Saab, half-hearted, without the resources needed, but that's another story. The Saab 9-1 would have competed against Audi A3 and 1er BMW, and he would have brought life to the compact class. Today's success of Volvo shows that cars from Sweden are welcome alternatives to German premium monoculture. The 9-1 based on the 9-X hybrid concept would have been different. Polarizing, more advanced, ahead of its time.