The Swedish Saab company, makers of the Saab 900 car, have always been known as innovators in the design and production of automobiles. Saab was one of the first family cars to offer turbocharging, now widely copied; and all Saabs since the first one, built in 1949, have had front-wheel-drive, now rapidly becoming an auto industry standard.
The 1982 Saab 900 models mark another first for the Swedish car maker, as almost all 1982 Saabs will be equipped with revolutionary Pirelli P8 low rolling resistance tires.
According to the Italian tire pioneer, the Pirelli P8 is as much better than the conventional steel belted radial tire as the latter is better than the old bias-ply tires. The rolling resistance of the P8 is reported to be about 20 percent less than that of a regular steel belted radial.
What this means to the driver is improved efficiency, i.e. lower power consumption required to propel the car at a given speed.
The energy delivered by an automobile engine is, of course, designed to move the car. However, a lot of this energy is lost between the stroke of the engine's piston and the actual movement of the car. Four factors actually have a bearing on the dispersal of this energy: One is the weight of the vehicle that has to be propelled; another, the frictional losses in the power train itself; another, the aerodynamic drag of the vehicle; and the fourth, the resistance offered by the tires. The automotive industry has long been working on all of these factors, lowering the weight of the cars, improving aerodynamics, reducing friction; and also trying to reduce the tires' rolling resistance.
Ways to reduce tire resistance have been sought through different rubber compounds, increasing tire inflation, and other means. The problem has been that up to now most of the actions have had a negative influence on another very important function of the tires: the performance, ride comfort, and road holding, especially on wet pavement.
Pirelli has overcome these problems by making a rather wide tire, like high performance tires; using the most elastic rubbers capable of quickly springing back into shape after deformation and of gripping the road well enough on both dry and wet roads; and by designing a completely new tread pattern, relying on blocks and transverse grooves instead of longitudinal ribs.
The Pirelli P8 tires have been exhaustively tested, both on Saabs and on several other makes of cars, with fuel savings reported up to as much as 4 per- cent, depending upon vehicle and type of driving. And what's equally, or more; important is that the economy features of the tires have not been reached at the expense of performance or safety.
All 1982 Saabs, now arriving at Saab dealers throughout the country, are equipped with Pirelli P8 tires, except for the Saab Turbo three-door sports sedan, which instead uses the high performance Pirelli P6 tires.