PARIS - Saab Automobile last week presented a new direct-injection engine system to several of its competitors, including DaimlerChrysler and BMW, in an effort to market the concept.
The new system, Saab Combustion Control, reduces an engine's fuel consumption and emissions by mixing exhaust gases into the combustion process.
Saab plans to equip one of its own vehicles with the system in three or four years.
But before Saab moves ahead, company insiders say it needs to find a supplier to manufacturer a key component - an integrated spark plug and fuel injector. They add that suppliers do not want to take on unique new parts such as this unless they have high-volume potential.
The obvious solution for Saab would be to get its parent company, General Motors, committed to use Saab Combustion Control. But Saab officials believe the high-technology, high-priced system is a better fit for the premium market. That is why Saab met with DaimlerChrysler and BMW.
Hans Demant, head of product development for GM's Adam Opel subsidiary, agrees with Saab's strategy.
Although Demant is considering Saab Combustion Control for Opel applications, he says he is not worried about a competitor getting the same system. Even if another automaker decides to use Saab Combustion Control, Saab and GM will be at least a year ahead of that competitor, Demant said.
Saab Combustion Control uses variable valve timing to dilute the air-fuel mixture with exhaust gases without disrupting the air-to-fuel ratio, 14.6-to-1. Saab says the system provides a 10 percent increase in fuel economy.