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Saab heads for hybrid power

Date: 08 December 2006

Saab's next generation 9-5 - due in 2009 - could be the first car from the General Motors Europe stable to benefit from hybrid power.

The 'two-mode' system with a clever gearbox - being developed alongside DaimlerChrysler and BMW - is so named because it is designed to work well at both high and low speeds, unlike some current hybrids.

Roger Johansson, vice president GM Powertrain Europe, said the system offers the greatest fuel and emission-saving benefits on larger cars and with the Saab 9-5 executive saloon and estate currently the biggest car GM Europe sells, the hybrid system is strongly tipped to go into the Swedish flagship model first.

Johansson told BusinessCar the petrol/electric system would be "smaller, with very neat packaging and beat all current hybrid systems".

He didn't rule out the possibility of diesel/electric hybrids from GM Europe in the near future either. The next 9-5 is three-to-five years away but is described excitedly by Johansson as "very radical and fantastic".

Meanwhile, Saab fleets can look forward to a major facelift of the 9-3 at the end of 2007 and a smaller new car dubbed 9-1 in 2008 with what some insiders are describing as "sporty Merc A-class proportions and character", rather than a direct Audi A3 or Volvo.