The next generation Saab 9-3 will introduce the Swedish maker’s first hybrid drivetrain, senior company officials confirmed during a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, a system that will provide an electric alternative to the current, mechanically-driven Saab Cross-Wheel-Drive system.
The new system will use the current Saab V6 to drive the front wheels of the new 9-3 but a motor and clutch assembly to power the rear wheels, explained company managers during a discussion of future product programs.
The hybrid drivetrain is expected to yield a number of advantages, including both improved mileage and better performance. But it will also eliminate the need for a driveshaft running from the 9-3’s transverse-mounted engine to the rear axle.
The new 9-3, due to launch in 2013, will primarily operate in front-wheel-drive mode, several product managers explained. But when additional power is needed, the hybrid system will add torque from the rear axle. The electric motor will also be used under less-than-optimum driving conditions as a sort of independent all-wheel-drive (or, as Saab prefers cross-wheel-drive, system).