Some good news

I had to lift this one for posterity.  Kudos to Edusaab for picking it up.  It’s from Automotive News Europe, subscription only.

Saab refocuses on product lineup
Delays over, brand to get more models from US, Japan

By Wim Oude Weernink
Automotive News Europe / March 21, 2005

Saab is focusing on its products after losing the argument with
owner General Motors about whether future models must be built in
Sweden.

This month, General Motors Europe said the next-generation Saab 9-3 and
Opel Vectra will be built starting in 2008 at the Opel plant in
Russelsheim, Germany.

Saab’s main plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, had bid against Russelsheim
for the program, but lost. GM Europe said Trollhattan will build
specialty models, including the 9-3-based Cadillac BLS.

In a sense, building the next 9-3 in Germany is just a continuation of GM’s policy of globally interchangeable plants.

Two US-market-only Saabs — the 9-2X and the 9-7X SUV — are already assembled outside Sweden.

Saab CEO Peter Augustsson was a staunch defender of the "Swedish-ness"
of Saab, so it was hardly surprising when GM announced he would leave
the company. News of his departure came days after GM chose
Russelsheim.

"Peter has done a lot for Saab, but he had been considering leaving the
company since last August," said a source close to Saab. Augustsson,
51, will start his own consultancy.

With the plant’s future decided, Saab managers are trying to get the
brand’s advanced product programs back on track after repeated delays.

"All these political rumors in the past have caused much delay in
product development and marketing strategies," said Ad Janse, chairman
of the Saab world dealer council. "We may have lost two years."

Dealer council’s task

On April 21-22, the dealer council will meet in Sweden for the first
time under Jan-Ake Jonsson, a Saab veteran named the brand’s managing
director. He is based in Sweden. But the new chairman of the Saab
Automobile board is Carl-Peter Forster, president of GM Europe.

Saab believes the current 9-3 portfolio has the most short-term
potential to boost volume. Saab will add a 9-3 sports wagon this
spring.

Said Janse: "It could generate 60 percent of 9-3 sales." Saab dealers
also want the 9-3 all-wheel-drive version promised three years ago.

GM had delayed a decision on a next 9-5. So the current 9-5 will get a face-lift this autumn to extend its life.

Forster said GM will create a global Saab crossover vehicle.
Front-drive is no longer a core value for Saab. "But agile, predictable
handling definitively is," he said at the Geneva auto show.

"Unlike the Saab 9-2X and 9-7X, which were developed half-way into the
base models’ life cycles, the crossover Saab is a brand new
development," said a source, adding that it is at least three years
away.

The Saab 9-6 comes first. A GM Europe source said: "closer to 18 months than two years."

Saab’s future brand image will include distinctive design.

"We will see and feel the aero heritage in next-generation Saabs,"
Forster said. He promised a return to the wraparound windshield: "It is
like the canopy of an aircraft. How can you possibly give that up?"

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2 Comments

  1. STOP KILLING SAAB, RE-INSERT FEEDING TUBE NOW>>!!!!! OR SELL SAAB TO SOMEONE WHO CARES.

    Okay now I am really mad!!! GM will not give SAAB a REAL platform for a real crossover/SUV
    (ie: SRX), AND is going to pull Saabs off the line at Trollhatten to assemble Caddillacs(??!!) that will not even get back to the states?!?!? Their motivaton could not be more clear.. .Re-Build Cadiallac at ANY costs, kill anything that is a distraction (see: Saturn, Oldmobile, maybe now Buick).

    All of this is beyond the pale, SAAB needs a home run!! and the bean counters at GM are starving it to death So the can justify removing it’s feeding tube. Where are the GM-Middle America right-to-lifers when we need them…??? When I heard that GM was thinking of selling Saab I was thrilled.
    Sell it someone who cares.. ANY ONE…

  2. Some more good news, Debra Kelley-Ennis just quit as SaabUSA chief !

    http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=416880#post416880

    Saab Cars USA gets new chief

    By KC Crain
    Automotive News / March 31, 2005

    DETROIT — Jay Spenchian is the new head of Saab Cars USA, replacing Debra Kelly-Ennis.

    Spenchian, 46, has been the marketing director for the Cadillac CTS, XLR and SRX.

    Kelly-Ennis is leaving GM to become the chief marketing officer for liquor firm Diageo North America, which owns brands such as Baileys and Dom Perignon.

    The change takes effect April 1.

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