EEP European Environmental Press

Saab and Volvo Attracted to Hybrid Cars


Courtesy of EEP European Environmental Press

This year, Saab engineers, in collaboration with the Engineering College of Lund, carried out simulations and built a hybrid version of a Saab 9-3 as part of the government's Green Car project. According to Tommy Lindholm, Saab's project leader, the hybrid prototype is almost completed; only further testing remains to be done. The trial will provide data on running the car, and will provide training for Saab engineers. The goal is to launch a hybrid model commercially when there is sufficient demand.

It takes four years from the decision to create a hybrid model to its appearance on the market. Interest in hybrid cars is especially strong in the United States and Japan, where consumers are prepared to pay more for a car that uses less fuel. The additional cost of a mass-produced hybrid car is about 1600-3200 euros.

At the same time, Saab will test the combination of the hybrid engine with a battery that can be recharged from the mains, a “hybrid plugin”. This battery should be available around 2009-2010. The possibility of using the car in town as an electric car will considerably reduce fuel consumption. The success of Saab's ethanol-fuelled car could result in an ethanol version of the hybrid or hybrid-plugin car. Tommy Lindholm believes that the additional cost of combining the techniques are minimal.

Volvo is also considering the technique of hybrids and the plugin alternative. “We must study all the alternatives for reducing consumption of fossil fuels,” says Malin Persson of Volvo. She notes that in Volvo's major markets, demands are different. In the USA, hybrid cars are popular, in Germany GPL cars, in the UK liquid air, and in Sweden ethanol.

Moreover, Saab and Volvo are required to meet objectives set by the EU for reducing CO2 emissions. An agreement signed by the EU and the European Car Manufacturers' Association, the ACEA, aims to reduce CO2 pollution from new cars by 25% in 2008 (120 g per kilometre) and by 140 g per kilometre in 2012. The European Commission is threatening legislation if the industry does not seriously address the question.

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