Saab’s first hybrid car will be based on its new entry-level 9-1 compact, which is due to enter production in 2010. CEO Jan Ake Jonsson hinted at the development of the new baby Saab last month and claimed it would be targeted at premium small hatches like the BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Now, a GM insider has revealed that the same hybrid system planned for the new Opel Astra will also be used in the future Saab.

Speaking with Automobilwoche, the source also revealed that a hybrid 9-1 will be available from the start of the model’s product life-cycle. Product planners are keen to launch the new car in the U.S. and are already testing a prototype camouflaged under the sheet metal of an Opel Astra. Expect to see styling influences taken from the Saab Aero-X concept car (pictured) used on the new 9-1.

The new car will feature a conventional two-mode hybrid system with an electric motor mated to either a diesel, petrol or biofuel internal combustion depending on which market it’s heading to. The system allows the electric motor to be used during stop-start driving and initial acceleration, with the internal combustion engine only kicking in during high load.

The hybrid 9-1 will also feature new nano-based lithium battery technology, which last twice as long as conventional nickel metal hydride batteries and exhibit rapid charge and discharge characteristics as well as longer lifetimes.