More info on the Saab ‘9-2’

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.

From Reuters:

“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…..

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11 Comments

  1. They got it a little bit wrong there. Forster (head of GM Europe and chairman of Saab Automobile) held a press meeting in Stockholm today. The news is all over the place. What he said was:

    1) The Saab plant in Gothenburg (gearboxes) will probably close in a few years time. Decision will be made in three months time.

    2) The production of the next 9-5 will probably move to Rüsselheim (same as for next 9-3).

    3) There are plans to start building another Saab model in Trollhättan. No word about what model (the new cross-over? the new Sonett? will the new cross-over be called 9-2 or 9-4?). This, together with other models produced there (including Cadillac), will give Trollhättan plant a volume of 150.000 cars per year.

    4) GM now thinks that Saab will profitable with a volume under 200.000 cars, and that it will happen soon (next year?).

    5) A new brand-center for Saab will be built in Sweden. No decision were (should be in Gothenburg or Trollhättan me thinks).

  2. Forget to add, that I think this is good news. They are making clear that Saab is a Swedish brand, that design and other stuff will remain in Sweden. This, together with news over the past days about a new “sonett”, is good beacuse it shows ther is a plan for the future and GM are willing to make investments in the Saab brand. By making the plan public, there will be more confidence in Saab as a brand. Now, I can’t wait til the first spy shots of the new “sonett” show up here… 🙂

  3. I read the Aftonbladet article as implying Trollhattan plant will produce a projected 150,000 vehicles a year in 2010, which includes the new 9-2, plus the 9-3SC, Caddy BLS and whatever other new Saab and Caddy models may be announced between now and 2010 (9-4X ? Caddy SUV ?). I don’t believe the article was implying the 9-2 itself is projected for an annual 150,000 production/sales target.

  4. Ken, you’re right. It was an unfortunate translation error / misread by one of the guys that graciously provided the article for me overnight. Updated paragraph has hopefully clarified that.

  5. What I’ve heard is that initially the next 9-2x will be based on the Vauxhall Astra VXR but will be 99ified. The next 9-2x is to be the sucsessor to the 99.

    The current Astra VXR is FWD with a 2.0L 16v DOHC Turbo Engine, also a lot of reviewers complain of torque-steer. Sounds like a good base for a Saab 🙂

  6. More comments this morning (in Sweden, that is) from the press meeting yesterday. Seems the he (Forster) made same “off the record” comments that there will be a 9-2 and that it will be a Saabified Opel Astra and built in Trollhättan. Astra is not a bad car. Maybe a way to get a smaller and cheaper car to attract new buyer? At least, In Europe that will make sense. But it’s a though segment, and they really need to make a true Saab out of it.

    That, together with a cross-over (and that should be 9-4 then?) and new 9-5 and 9-3, makes four new models whitin 5 years. And, there is also the new “sonett”… And not a SUV in sight… :))

    But this seems to be comments that is not on the official agenda yet.

  7. Well if Saab manage to get the 9-2 astra-saab chassi sorted as well as they’ve managed with the 9-3ss I’m sure they’ll have a real VW GTI threat on their hands….

  8. The 9-2 will in that case be based on the new Astra from 2010. This means that saab and opel will work together with the construction. Last time they did an excellent work with 9-3 and vectra. Finally almost evry news from saab is good ones.

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