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Auto Show

General Motors Corp. adds the Saab 9-X Air BioHybrid concept car to its roster of vehicles to be shown at next month’s Paris auto show.

The car is a design study exploring what a future convertible from the auto maker’s Swedish subsidiary might resemble.

Journalists in Detroit received a sneak peek of the 9-X Air earlier this week.

GM distinguishes the 9-X Air BioHybrid with what it calls a “canopy top” and “wraparound glasshouse.”

The concept car “breaks the mold of conventional convertible design,” GM says, “by offering 4-seat accommodation within the close-coupled proportions of a sports car.”

Other exterior highlights include prominent rear pillars, which act as mounts for the fold-flat top and anchor a separate, recessed rear screen.

“Top down, the 9-X Air is designed to offer fresh-air motoring free from buffeting,” GM says in a press release today to announce the car. “Top up, it assumes the look of a true coupe.”

The 9-X Air shares a powertrain with the 9-X BioHybrid, a 3-door concept coupe GM unveiled at the Geneva auto show earlier this year. The 1.4L 4-cyl. Saab BioPower engine combines turbocharging with hybrid technology and E85 capability.

The next-generation hybrid system first shown on the 9-X BioHybrid replaces a conventional alternator with an electric motor/generator, belt-driven from the engine’s crankshaft.

The electric motor provides an extra boost of instant torque when needed and restarts the engine after stops. It also improves efficiency, GM says, by allowing a longer fuel cut-off during deceleration and braking.

Additionally, the electric motor acts as a generator to recharge the battery and support the vehicle’s electricity demands.

Although the engine can consume gasoline, GM says it has optimized the direct-injection powerplant for E85 and the gasoline/ethanol mixture’s higher energy content. With E85, the engine delivers 207 lb.-ft. of torque (280 Nm) across a power band of 1,750 to 5,000 rpm.

With E85, GM estimates combined-cycle fuel consumption at 37 mpg (6.4 L/100 km) and carbon-dioxide emissions at 105 g/km. The Europe Union would like to cap CO2 emissions at 120g/km by 2012.

The 9-X Air will be joined in Paris by global premiers for production versions of GM’s all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact car and Cadillac CTS SportWagon, as well as the Chevy Orlando 7-passenger MPV concept built on the Cruze’s new platform.

The 9-X Air represents the sixth concept car from Saab since 2002.