A few years back Saab, together with fellow Swedish automaker Volvo, formed an alliance with a number of utility and technology companies to further the development of new hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. However, since both automakers were subsequently put up for sale by their respective owners, the original plans for a new generation of environmentally friendly vehicles was put on hold.

Now, with Saab in the relatively safe hands of Spyker, there’s a newfound focus on accelerating plans for the electrification of the automobile.

At the U.S. launch of the new 2010 Saab 9-5, CEO Jan Ake Jonsson revealed that the automaker was planning to start trials for a new fleet of “100 percent electric vehicles” that will be based on the next-generation 9-3. The trials are to start in the first quarter of next year and will be deployed at various global locations.

The latest trial is being run together with Massachusetts-based Boston-Power, a producer of lithium-ion batteries, and Electroengine, a Swedish firm that converts regular internal combustion driven cars into electrics.

"The main purpose is to draw technology from this test fleet, technology that we can then incorporate quickly," Ake Jonsson revealed to Inside Line. "The key target short-term is to drive fuel consumption down. You can electrify certain portions of the vehicle."

Electric vehicles aren’t the only green technologies Saab is planning; the automaker is also looking at alternative fuels and downsized engines.

As for the next-generation Saab 9-3, check out our report over at MotorAuthority.com for more details.

[Inside Line]