Ahead of the times - Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept

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.

9-4X BioHybrid Concept on turbine rims in front of the turbines in the old power plant in Trollhätta
9-4X BioHybrid Concept on turbine rims - in front of the turbines in the old power plant in Trollhättan. Image: Archive saabblog.net

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.

Against this background of all things, 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 started at Audi in 1990 and three years later switched to Mercedes in the new studios in Yokohama. There he met Michael Mauer and followed him to Trollhättan in 2000. When Mauer moved from Göta Älv to Porsche in 2004, Lo, to the astonishment of the industry, stayed 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.

22 thoughts on "Ahead of the times - Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept"

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    No offense and of course you have understood everything correctly! Was meant anyway with a small wink. Sometimes it just feels good to pretend - albeit silently or alone - to be aesthetically superior to the bling-bling SUVs (Saab) - even a bit deliberately artificial. Especially since no herb seems to have grown against the prevailing since the turn of the millennium SUV trend. It's more fun than just looking silently at these black blocks and not seeing anything.

    And emotionally connected we are with our Saabs so all in all, so that one certainly in some way of "love" (not only to the blog, as recently several times by some readers expressed) can speak. As Mrs. Faßbinder recently put it: she has a similar relationship to her two 900ers as to a pet! 🙂

    And why did God invent for transport tasks (on paved roads and not in the field) because finally the station wagon - and why he was then poured by the "dear trolls" in a perfect and aesthetic form? (9-3 SC and 9-5 SC chrome eyeglasses and 9-5 NG SC)?

    In this sense and with several wink I wish from tomorrow already a nice weekend with and in the chrome glasses! 😉

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      Yes, you also have a nice WE.

      What you should not forget is that an SUV today also only the terrain qualities and the ground clearance of any of the older Volvos has. In the basic engine that things have indeed often not even more all-wheel drive. Even Land Rover now offers 2 by 4 to ...

      The fact that many people think and believe they need an SUV today also has to do with the fact that all other cars are now only optimized for the motorway. But even there does not always everything. As soon as you approach a rest area, you risk losing your front apron to the curb while parking ...

      I sometimes have to drive dirt roads myself. With my old Gothenburg I can do stuff with 100 stuff and do not even think about potholes. In the SAAB 9-5 I have on the same way despite extreme concentration and several evasive maneuvers already with Tempo 20 to 30 the feeling that I would disassemble the poor car completely in all its parts.

      What is sustainable and what overall balance looks better? Is it a world, nor the most lonely farm in France, Sweden and Germany has in a wide tarred purchase, supply and driveway, or a world in which one simply a car with 2 cm longer suspension travel and ground clearance can buy ? 10 Km Teerweg vs. 2 cm travel ...

      I never thought I'd ever express myself sympathetically to SUV drivers. But of those things is really something to it. The deeper all other cars are placed, the more ...

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    Nice that you can read several times the contributions here. They are exciting enough and you tend to capture only touches on the first reading ...

    The Saab 9-4X BioHybrid (!) Or the caption had escaped me. It is here in addition to the concept car so also casually to a production-ready (?) Prototypes. How close are the end of the VM era / bankruptcy and a launch of Saab BioHybrids apart?

    I have seen 9-4X and the new 9-5 SC on the dealer tour. The SC would have become my next car. Would they have come as a BioHybride and when would it have been different? Which specification was targeted, how would the vehicle data have looked? And do I even want to know or does that hurt too much?

    Yes, yes, I think I want to know ...

    The individual automobile traffic is in transition. The political handling of the topic is amazingly national. Who would have thought that Germany and France could treat the topic E 85 in the opposite direction under the common roof of the EU?

    But it works. So what the drive concepts and fuels of the future look like is far from over. And if the vision of the Saab engineers outlives and survives the bankruptcy of the brand, then Saab is still shaping the future posthumously, somehow still talking. Exciting. Yes, I really want to know!

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      Yes, I noticed that too! And yes, I want to know that too - despite my quality as a famous SUV hater! Dear Tom, there may to some additional information? It would be interesting to know, despite the very sad aftertaste, what was possibly in the starting blocks for 9-3 and 9-5.

      And at Saab I don't want to be like that with regard to SUVs… 🙂 For a really decent “tirade” against SUVs (so the comment from Herbert H., about which I was very happy :-)) I will offer again separately Set the opportunity. I'm a little late, now this blog article and the comments have already been overtaken by a newer one. (Thank you very much for these many extremely interesting articles in such a short time!) But there will soon be another reason for a wonderful all-round blow against SUVs, for example on the subject of sustainability! 🙂

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        On this topic (SUVs) I would not process me ...

        I understand what you mean and there are very unpleasant types (both cars and drivers). But there are SUVs and drivers too, to whom I have nothing to blame, who pay attention to traffic and who actually use their vehicles for transport tasks that can handle an SUV better.

        For me, composure is typical SAAB (driver) and tolerance suits us better than “hate”. And are not we all depend at least if we get to them, in a narrow street a cyclist? Or the cyclist when he meets along a narrow forest path pedestrians make room for him?

        When it comes to sustainability, an SUV driver could also target the convertible group. If one puts the transport capacities (5 to 7 seats vs. 2 + 2, trunk volume and towing capacity) into relation with the consumption of resources, a convertible does a damn bad job. The fact that you could have had a station wagon with AHK on the same platform also underscores where the priorities lay. Pure (and open) driving pleasure!

        That's totally okay too. I just wanted to kindly remind you that we are all sitting in a glass house before you lift the stone and throw it ...

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          Yeah, sure, there's some truth in it - but I sometimes allow myself something to be illogical spirited and maybe a tiny bit. Only in the inner circle, of course, and somehow we are the yes all times, right?

          Where I can let the transport argument hardly apply, usually you only see individual drivers and often drivers (Pooh as misogynistic, myself am one, but always imagine, these are the typical dentist wives) sitting in the giant monster, which then always have the Mafia glazing and the model without indicators. Then all of a sudden the brakes are applied for no apparent reason - and the inclined Saab convertible driver directly behind, who can't see anything again, asks herself: Is there a traffic obstacle in front of it or did the lady just spontaneously discover a shoe shop again? 😉

          On the one hand I am concerned with this safety aspect of “being unable to see anything in front of and through” and on the other hand with the aesthetic impertinence of these things. I cannot report significantly more negative things about the driving style of the drivers (apart from the fact that many of them apparently do not fully master their vehicle, for example when parking or in narrow motorway construction sites, I see again and again). No flashing etc. are by now unfortunately widespread. On most rabid me appear here in the city the way the smart driver.

          And with regard to transport / sustainability, I find station wagons a lot more sensible and aesthetic, but they are - thanks to the SUV mania that has swept over from the USA - unfortunately dying out. For example have recently heard that VW Passat wants to hire. Incidentally, here in the west of HH it seems to me to be the most widespread SUV model of the Porsche Cayenne, followed at some distance by the biggest models from BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Volvo (I don't burden my brain cells with all the great ones X Q or otherwise model designations). Everyone always brand new. Their sustainability is likely to still be very questionable ...

          Nothing against appropriate companion for farmers, foresters, veterinarians, jungle safaris, etc. But here in the city? Since tuts certainly a combination as well. But I forgot: We have in HH so many dirt roads, extreme slopes, rough terrain, torrential Wilbäche without bridges ... 😉

          Sorry, now I've puked myself up a lot! 🙂 But that's about it on the subject. Hopefully it reads ever someone ...

          PS The Saab convertible has a really huge trunk (with the roof closed), which is impressive every time! You won't believe what we've already put in there, e.g. meter-long flower boxes, etc. (But there will be an additional 9-3 SC soon.) And on vacation we (or unfortunately I) always take loads of clothes and other Klimbim with - and when you arrive and are off the autobahn, you unload everything and can cruise openly on site. This is only possible with the space saver Saab convertibles.

          Conclusion :: I LOVE SAAB and the blog and still HATE SUV (not their driver)! 🙂

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            HATE & LOVE ...

            ... I reserve the right people who have one of both feelings deserved. If the inflationary use of these two and the most extreme of all the words not spilled from the USA to Europe? Perhaps coinciding with the SUV wave whose origin you locate there, too?

            I don't like that. The milder form with all its nuances, little more or less, possibly not at all to dislike, should be "the old world" is necessarily obtained. Just an idea.

            Otherwise, I had already said everything that came to mind about SUVs or SUV haters ...
            So I stay with you. My conclusion is and remains the desire for more tolerance and less hate.

            I think I already understood her correctly. But do we know reliably that the SUV, which is currently meeting us in the inner city, understaffed and on paved roads, never serves any purpose? And even if that's the case and most SUVs are likely, what would give me the right to scare everyone else off the same ridge and hate them all in unison?

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    Great article and especially pictures that I did not know. Would have become a great car. Are there actually pictures of the 9.3, which was announced for 2012.

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    such an 9-1 would have been optimal, a compact everyday Saab, as many would not have had to switch to a foreign brand. Did not it also mean that an 9-1 based on a Mini Cooper should have been created?

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      Saab-Spyker wanted to build an 9-1 with (BMW) -Mini engine based on the Phoenix platform. There were already prototypes. And BMW planned the production of mini's in the former Saab factory and a Saab on mini basis. But that's another story, with the 9-X BioHybrid is not directly related.

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        "But this is another story (…)"

        Great. The current story was exciting and enlightening. Great pictures. Many Thanks. And it's great that it's still far from everything. That you can look forward to more SAAB stories (and pictures). Perfect.

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    The form so subtle, coherent, powerful, elegant. The sloping front view perfect for me. The technology Bio = vital, today more than ever. It stimulates me to consciously behave myself so sustainably, that we do not cry for others, but give our best ourselves.

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    A great topic, nice that Tom brings the concept cars from the sinking. We younger Saab drivers know them a maximum of the museum. Before 11 years, the license was still far away 🙂 Please continue and bring more!

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    Very interesting article. It's great that Anthony Lo saw and developed the possibilities of Saab. Unfortunately, the management in USA was not convinced what to do with Saab. But good to know this history.

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    Oh, how cool would have been my car from the exterior. Great alternative to the established vehicles of the compact class. The interior has decided to me too much digital, too much Bling Bling. I drive analogously and like analogy easy.

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    Well, lean 11 years later, the concept car top would be up to date. A pity, so many good approaches and nothing became reality. SAAB is missing, still.

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      My thumb ...

      ... (high) you have, for this comment. I miss SAAB and there have been so many good approaches ...

      On the other hand, I wonder more and more often whether this fine brand would have had a chance in this often unfashionable world? What is the best of all possible approaches if the political framework is not right?

      What would be "11 years later (...) top of the line" on a BioHybrid if there are no more biofuels (in Germany)? And that although there are a number of cars on the road that could fill up with E85 or bio-diesel ...

      The CO2-neutral operation of all diesels and “gasoline engines” suitable for ethanol had long seemed within reach. We made one (or several) role (s) in reverse. But hey, the German economy and government revenue has very been good, right?

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        Yes, I also have the thumbs up for this comment or both! I would not have had to send it out, just about the same content, if I had read yours before.

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          Nice that you have your own comment online!

          The overlap and duplication of content lies in the nature of things. Do not we (subscribers) all receive an e-mail at the same time? Are not we all reading and writing at the same time?

          And yet we do not all write the same thing. Your comment with the current view of F and the latest prices for E 85 there (from 0,59 € / liter - unbelievable!) I would otherwise have missed a lot. Please never let one of my comments or any other comment discourage you.

          It would be a loss. By the way, your recent tirade against SUVs was already almost prophetic quality. At least I had to think of your comment, yesterday when I let Mrs Cooper that she and the rest of the world had lost a beautiful SAAB 900 than economic total loss to a research SUV drivers ...

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      If it had had too much digital and bling bling, I would have decided after a long 🙂 test drive. In any case, a great drive concept, bioethanol as a hybrid!

      But would it have changed anything about the rigid energy policy / clientele policy for the German auto industry in Germany? Would there still be bioethanol to buy from us? Rather questionable. I still hope that the French energy policy will rub off on D. Whenever I feel like a mixture of bad mood and anticipation for the next vacation in France, I look at the official French fuel price website. Yesterday evening it was time again: ZT E85 is offered at more than 1.000 petrol stations for 0,59, the price goes up to max. about 0,70. And sales are said to have increased by 25 percent last year, also thanks to the approval of an inexpensive techn. Retrofit box for normal petrol engines. Maybe we should go out on the streets with yellow vests and protest FOR the French fuel price policy and its transfer to D? 😉

      Far too many “would”, “would” and “should” - unfortunately unfortunately! And Saab not I lack only still, but more and more - every day! 🙂 Perhaps one should hope for a new development through Koenigsegg after all (a tiny bit)? A Saab repair shop of my confidence found the other day not far-fetched ... 🙂

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