JAJ sees the future

Jan-Ake Jonsson, as well as recently being in Oz (see below), has also been in Atlanta for the launch of the 2006 model 9-5. The following was published by Wards Auto, but supplied to me by Saab. As I’m totally stuffed after a day of painting, window-cleaning and banging nails, this is perfect content for me. No thinking, just read and enjoy.

Jan-Ake speaks, and Trollhattan listens:

Jonsson says despite the recent Kerkorian-fueled flare-up in speculation about Saab’s viability, the niche-appeal Swedish automaker and GM “agreed” late last year on a 5-year business plan for Saab “that includes significant investment” in the Saab franchise.

That investment includes, among other things:

Development of a cross/utility vehicle that is “a little more passenger-car-like” than the GM truck-based 9-7X SUV Saab currently sells. “It’s a development from scratch,” Jonsson says of the future CUV (likely to share a front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive platform with other GM vehicles). “It’s going to be a global vehicle.”

A potential new model line below the 9-3, currently Saab’s entry point. This model, probably a hatchback called 9-1 or 9-2, would tilt in global markets at the increasingly popular premium hatchbacks such as the Audi A3 or Volvo C30, shown at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Saab officials are stoked regarding a concept vehicle to be shown at the upcoming Geneva auto show. The concept, fronting an aggressive new styling direction, could presage the premium hatchback or the CUV, although Saab sources refuse to provide details.

An all-new 9-5 flagship in 2008 that puts the current model to rest after more than 10 years in the market. It and a new 9-3 will be based on the next generation of GM’s Epsilon FWD/AWD platform. Jonsson confirms both new models will offer AWD as an option, because “if you want more (engine) performance, you’ve got to have all-wheel-drive.”

Jonsson says Saab also is working to craft a more consistent image for the brand, after years of mixed messages

A five year plan. New models and best of all, AWD.

I like Jan-Ake. I like him a lot. Seems like a fairly straight shooter. He gave the 9-7x’s fuel economy a bit of a bagging last year. I like a man that can admit the shortcomings of his own company. He’s generally the type of guy that’s capable of fixing them rather than glossing over them.

I just wish he’d looked me up while he was here in Oz.

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6 Comments

  1. A five year plan is to be welcomed, if that is a serious commitment.

    The problem is that GM has been rumoured to be introducing an Audi A3 competing 9-1 or 9-2 model about three times over the last six years – and each time nothing has come of it.

    Crying ‘wolf’, anyone?

    Further, back in 2000 when the Saab 9-X was launched, we were told that it was the first of five Saab concepts over the next five years. Well, we had the excellent 9-X, the excellent 9-3X and the mediocre 9-3 Sportwagon concept which was just a Mauerism of a pre-existing design. Then Mauer left for Porshce and no more concepts, …until Monday!

  2. John,

    You are correct in that new models were promised (and concepts launched) since 2000 and not much has materialized on those premises, other than the new 9-3 SS/SC/CVT, rebadged 9-2X, the 9-7X and a “refreshed” 9-5. But remember that in the past five years, Saab Global, Saab USA and GM Europe (and GM itself) have seen SIGNIFICANT changes in corporate upper management, corporate directions and (re)commitments, financial and market share turbulence, yada yada yada, the list goes on. It would almost be hard to recognize the current GM and Saab from what they were like in 2000. Ironically I think GM’s recent misfortunes will prove to be the source of their own strength in the years to come. Like the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. GM’s history of being a global leader is being missed dearly and they desperately want to reclaim that title, in North America as well as globally. As we’ve seen in the past 25 years, complacency has set in at GM which led to its current fate. But one only has to look at the history of Pearl Harbor to see that when commited, the US can and will fight back with all its might. Saab, ironically, is lucky to have such a huge resourceful and strong-willed backer such as GM. I think the next 5 years will be the most exciting period for Saab.

    Cheers.

  3. I’m happy they’re finally making announcements about what we’ve been speculating for a while now. I’ll be even happier when it actually comes out. That’s great if the new 9-5 is coming out in 08 because as nice as the current one is, it’s outdated by newer designs, especially the new Volvo S80. Less talk and more action. Once Saab gets some new products of their own, they’ll get some customers in the showroom.

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