For many, many years, Saab existed only on the quality of it’s two or three current models of the time. Whether it was the 96, 90 and 900 back in 1980, the 900 and 9000 of the mid eighties or the 9-3 and 9-5 of more recent times. They existed, albeit sans profits in some years, but they continued on nonetheless.
Via SaabCentral, this article at The Car Connection has renewed the speculation about Saab’s future once again. As some of the SC commenters note, the prospect of Saab being sold off is feared by some and welcomed by others. Here, in my little corner of the world, I think Saab is better off in GM’s hands for the time being and that selling off prior to 2010 would be doing an injustice to the continuing development that’s currently going on there. The only selloff I’d welcome at this point would be one to Porsche.
The article centres around the fact that there may be no new models released until 2008.
After the imminent release of an updated 9-5 sedan, the automaker will go at least two years without any major new addition to its lineup. "Getting through the next couple years is going to be a challenge," Spenchian acknowledged. Brands "with new models get all the attention and buzz," he said. Even so, Spenchian said he believes that Saab should be able to maintain momentum with the addition of special editions and the support of a new marketing program.
Now, before we all panic and flee the sky that’s supposedly falling on our heads, let’s take a quick look back and see what was planned for 2006-2007. These two years have been left without a new release primarily because of the cessation of the relationship with Fuji Heavy Industries, more commonly known around automotive circles as Subaru.
This change in status has meant the demise of the B9 Tribeca-based 9-6x. Are we to lament this as a bad thing? The Car Connection would have us believe so. I’d beg to differ.
The Tribeca is uglier than a bashed crab and trying to shoehorn it’s derivative into the Saab lineup would have only earned more industry derision a-la the fallout from the 9-2x and the 9-7x. So, the question is: Is having no new releases between now and MY2008 better or worse than having 1 bad release in that period?
The 9-6x was the only new release planned between now and MY2008. There was a possibility of a smaller SUV, the 9-4x, but the earliest that was pegged for was sometime in 2007, which could well have turned out to be a MY2008 release anyway.
Again: is it better to release no new production models or 1 bad one? I’d say that in Saab’s precarious circumstances they’ve made the right decision in canning the 9-6x. And it’s not as if there won’t be any new products to aspire to in the in-between times anyway.
The Geneva Motor Show in March could see any one or combination of up to three new vehicles in development: the new 9-2 based on the same platform as the Opel Astra, the 9-4x SUV and the now-more-likely-than-ever new Sonett concept vehicle. Out of these, the 9-2 and 9-4x are likely starters for the 2008 model year, perhaps slightly later in the case of the 9-2.
So, is the sky falling on our heads? Hardly. Patience will have to be exercised for some, but it should have its rewards. What’s going to be of utmost importance is that Saab get these new models right when they finally come.
In the meantime, we may have to content ourselves with the excellent 9-3 and it’s three variants, the yet-to-be-thoroughly-discovered 9-5, the reportedly capable 9-7x and the black-sheep-seeing-out-its-contract 9-2x. All these and the various special editions such as the 20th Anniversary Convertible coming soon (that’s the "Cerulean edition" to you pommy folks).
Given the many various Limited Edition 900’s that marked the 1980’s and early 1990’s, I think these could give us enough entertainment in the meantime whilst we drink in the snippets of information that come to the surface about the new stuff around 2008. Bring it on.