The big story this week has been the word filtering through that Saab would get a new, smaller car based on the same platform as the Opel Astra. Possibly a two seater, there could be a concept for showing as early as March next year at the Geneva Auto Show.
I’ve published a bunch of times here at Trollhattan on the wish for a smaller, entry level model to join the Saab lineup and it was also a theme that came through relatively frequently in the Tell GM About It campaign. Not that these had anything to do with the model plan whatsoever, but it’s great to see a convergence of manufacturer’s designs with customer’s wishes.
The latest news that got emailed to me overnight (thanks Johan and Martin) was from Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper (in Swedish). This report is going so far as to say that production of the car, which it names as the 9-2, will be in Trollhattan starting 2010 and will be in the order of 150,000 units per year. That’s a fairly bold claim to say the least as Saab has sold around 120,000 or so units on average for the last few years. Production of 150,000 units of ONE model in five years? As I said, a bold claim – but one I’d be over the moon to see fulfilled.
UPDATE: thanks to ctm in comments for ironing this one out – the 150,000 units per year is for total production of all vehicles that will be produced in Trollhattan by 2010, which makes more sense. (end update)
More production news
Carl Peter-Forster has been at an Auto Industry conference in Stockholm and he brings bright news about Saab’s capacity to start turning a profit again – and soon. The cost-cuts implemented over the last few years have started to have their desired effects. Where it was once modelled that Saab would have to produce well over 200,000 units per year to become profitable, this has now been revised downwards to well under 200,000 per year.
“We believed break-even for a premium brand like Saab was well over 200,000 units,” Forster said. “We now know that that point is well below 200,000 units.”
Forster told Reuters that cost cuts of more than 100 million euros ($117.2 million) had been pushed through at Saab, in part by cutting staff at its plant in Trollhattan in western Sweden, lowering the point at which the firm could turn profitable.
“Because of greater integration we were able to take a couple of fixed costs and overheads out of the business,” Forster said.
Some Trollhattan thoughts
I’d like to echo ctm’s thoughts in comments (he’s writing them faster than I can write this post!!)
This is all great news for Saab and for the Trollhattan plant, the future of which was in doubt beyond 2010. GM has given some more clout to the recent claims that it’s committed to developing Saab as it’s premium global brand. The addition of this new smaller Saab, as well as the 9-4x crossover vehicle will expand and solidify the Saab range of vehicles and make the marque more competitive and desireable.
The building of GM’s science centre and the Saab Brand centre in Trollhattan (press release here) further exhibit this commitment and lend some assurance to the fact that these upcoming models will be developed with Saab’s heritage and DNA built-in to the products.
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades…..