9-4x is coming

Jay Spenchian has been speaking with Wards Autos…..

Saab Automobile U.S.A General Manager Jay Spenchian tells Ward’s a Saab CUV, which could take the 9-4X name, will slot in for the truck-based 9-7X SUV after parent General Motors Corp. updates its midsize SUV platform that underpins the vehicle.

“We’re going to continue with the 9-7, and there will be slight overlap with the 9-4, or whatever we (decide to) call it,” Spenchian tells Ward’s here at Saab’s largest U.S. dealership. “One will be going away as the other one is coming in, and there will be very little overlap…..

….“The price range (for a 9-4X) is going to be very close, like right on top of the 9-3,” which ranges from $27,570 to $43,320. “Here (in the U.S.), it’s not going to be real expensive,” Spenchian says. “I think some of the styling cues you see on the Aero X (concept) you’ll definitely see on that vehicle,” he adds.

The timing they mention in this report is really discouraging. Previously, we’d heard that the 9-4x might be a goer for late 2007 as a MY2008 release. This was an earliest-case scenario with 2008 as the more likely time. This report’s mentioning late 2009 as a release date, by which time there’ll quite likely be jet cars and Star Trek style transporters.

If this is GM’s idea of investment in new models, it leaves quite a bit to be desired. Saab has sooo much potential for growth, but the 5-year plan they ‘committed’ to recently is looking thinner and thinner every time there’s some news released.

By this schedule, they’re of a mind that the 9-7x has 3 or 4 more years life in it, and that the next new release will be re-platformed 9-3 and 9-5.

Are they serious?

But wait, there’s more…..on the 9-2x replacement.

Elsewhere within Saab’s product lineup, Spenchian says there are no plans to directly replace the Subaru Impreza-based 9-2X, Saab’s smallest entry that goes away at the end of the ’06 model year.

But with the small-car market revving up in response to escalating fuel prices, a compact is something Saab continues to review.

“A lot of people are trying to get into that segment because its price range could give you a lot of volume,” he says. “But it comes with caveats that you have to do it right.

“If you can’t execute well, you’re better off not being there. Globally, it would definitely make sense. Whether it makes sense in the U.S., I’m not sure. But we’ll continue to look at that.”

I’ve gotta say, Saab as a global entity would be absolutly nutso to overlook the 9-2. the fact that they haven’t got a genuine vehicle in that segment right now is reprehensible. To not produce a model like that in what can only be a time of escalating fuel prices would just be lunacy.

Sure, the US may not bite at it, but in Europe it’d go down a treat. This is a US article interviewing the US head-honcho, so I guess it’s half expected that the hose would be applied, but that entry level vehicle has got to come.

And it’s got to be a killer.

—–

Check this out:

Saab this year released the 5-door 9-5 SportCombi, a refreshed 9-5 sedan and continues to offer the 9-3 SportCombi, all of which are available with a 250-hp 2.8L turbocharged V-6.

If the whole article is as accurate as this one line, then there’s a good chance we’ll be driving 9-4x’s that convert into Aero-X’s at the touch of a button. And we’ll be doing it next week.

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27 Comments

  1. Here is my realistic suggestion.

    —-
    Saab MY2008 Expedited Rollout

    Saab 9-1 (True Hatchback reborn)

    * Platform independant/ Not Shared
    * Full All-Wheel Drive
    * Turbocharged
    * E85 Hybrid, but can run on conventional gasoline.
    * 3 and 5 Door variants

    Note: Saab has all of this technology now, thus there is no reason whatsover why they cannot use it.

    Marketing/Advertising advice: Use Step #2) Customer Retention, Safety, and Fuel Efficiency to sell this Saab. Intermix old Saab 99, 900 videos connected with present customer testimonials how they owned Saab 900s in the past and they were safe and they are glad that Saab brought back the 900 in a safer and more fuel friendly model.

    If saab runs with this, they will get a lot of former owners back into the driving seat and sell a lot of cars.

    This car needs to be available as MY2008, available in early fall of 2007 as the earlier rumors indicated, anything later will be detrimental.

    The photo attached came from elsewhere, but with more a defined hatch like the C900, then it’ll be just fine.

    – Ryan

  2. What happened to all the talk of a 9-2/9-1 coming out based on the next-gen Opel Astra (Opel Astra OPC)?

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/photos.cfm/photoid/3050715.001/country/gcf/Opel/new-2006-opel-astra-opc
    http://www.automobilemag.com/auto_shows/2005_geneva/0503_opel_astra_opc/
    http://www.rsportscars.com/eng/cars/astra_opc.asp

    That should be relatively inexpensive to implement and would allow SAAB to start selling these within a couple of years while they build a homegrown one should they decide to do so.

    I don’t know, SAAB doesn’t look like they have any more direction than they did a couple of years ago. All the promised products are getting pushed out further and further into the future or dropped altogether.

    GM’s really riding this ethanol thing and SAAB’s uniquely positioned to take advantage. The problem is I don’t think this strategy is going to work in the U.S. in Sweden you have easier access to ethanol (in the form of E100 at that!) than in the States. SAABs are selling like hotcakes there but if their big selling point in the U.S. is going to be ethanol they might as well put a “closed” sign in the window of the dealers now…

  3. Swade, have you registered the domain name “RusselsheimSAAB.net” yet? (Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Try saying it out loud. It’s even hard to say!)

    Don’t bother because at the rate SAAB’s going they might not make it to the big move.

  4. 1985Gripen,

    You are again always right on!

    Everyone is saying the same thing.

    One can wonder what is going on with this GM thing whereby they are Bating and Switching Saab like lemmings.

    Saab, do something, get the 9-2/9-1 whatever that re-released fuel-efficient 2300/2500 pound Hybrid/E85 vehicle out now.

    However, that being said GM is forcing Saab to keep making the Trollblazer and now a 9-4X CUV. These vehicles are not fuel efficient and use lots of gasoline to run.

    It’s also ironic that everything that the Swedish Saab, seems to be negated by GM’s actions here.

    Saab was and should also be a small car company (small being in the size of the car), not the company itself.

    I feel like the only thing is going on here.

    OIL=CASH=GM

    Saab was an independant company for independantly minded and intelligent people.

    Intelligent and Independant thinkers do not buy vehicles that are directly dependant upon large quantities of oil, period.

    Smart people = Smart Decisions.

    I remember an old Ad from Saab’s in the 1980’s when Saab was at their best, and particularly when the ad was relevant to the actual vehicles being produed.

    “SAAB THE MOST INTELLIGENT CAR EVER PRODUCED”

    What do we do?

    I think we should all write letters to Saab up in Detroit ASAP with our consistent proposals as a last-ditch effort to save the brand.

    As the current lineup is looking leaner by the minute and GM gave Saab 5 more years to prove itself by 2010, we need to act now!

    We are Saab’s Extended Family as they put it, so let’s start showing them our strength!

  5. 1985 Gripen, et. all;

    If you can remember in 1996, GM made the EV-1 that was completely electric and it was killed because in 2000 GM was in the process of buying General-AM that produced the Hummer. With the Hummer rolling out in full force, there is a lot of business to be made.

    No wonder GM made, Saab launch the 9-7x and the 9-4x CUV, there is still a lot of business to be made in both raw materials given their size and with fossil fuel to be tapped.

    The mystery is starting to unravel as to why Saab is going in the direction it is, GM has special interests.

    I would have never thought of seeing an SUV or any other variation from such an intelligent and progressive company.

    I guess GM has to move their production facilities to Germany, because Sweden wants to be independant of oil by the year 2020. It’s now Obvious why GM is pulling the plug on all things Swedish, with the last to go being the design center that designed the Aero-X. Sweden is and has always been trying to do good and we all know that the best finish last.

  6. Ryan,
    I like the letter writing idea, but I don’t think it will work unless we can achieve a critical mass number of letters. Otherwise, they’ll just go to /dev/null. I don’t know if there is a sufficient number us concerned enough to reach that number–I sense a lot of apathy, me included.
    I’m beginning to think the best hope is for GM to try and pull everything from Sweden so the Swedish government intervenes (if even possible). I think I’d be happy if Scania or Volvo (or even Saab Aerospace) bought Saab back and just concentrated on a two-model lineup. Or even if GM just let Saab make one true, all Saab, all Swedish model.

  7. Ted:

    Volvo is owned by Ford — no independence there.

    As far as the 9-1 or 9-2x succeeding in the US, I think that it would. The 9-2x is a niche product anywhere — an all-wheel-drive station wagon (combi, whatever) with some upscale touches. This isn’t the type of product that will sell well here(easy to say now).

  8. Eggngrits:

    The 9-2x did not sell well because almost “everyone” realized that it was a rebatched Subaru, correct? It wasn’t selling well because of that and not because of its size, I would have to believe. It couldn’t have been much if any smaller than the original Saab 900.

    If it did not sell well because of its size, then the American public must be getting dumber which is sad, but possibly true which makes me curious about the rollout of a smaller car..

    I have to doubt the American public is that dumb, so onward and upward with positives towards a 9-1/9-2 .

    Ted Y:

    I remember hearing somewhere that if Saab doesn’t do well by 2010, the Swedish Government will buy them back. I find this hard to believe know that GM has integrated their cancerous technologies in Trollhatten, and Saab is 100% integrated into the GM schema. However, when there is a will, there is a way.

    Here are some scenarious that are rated from most likely to highly unlikely, although possibly all are unlikely but I thought I’d mention them.

    1) By 2010, Saab gets taken back by Sweden because they don’t make the sales numbers that GM wants.

    2) Scania wants a stab at Saab

    3) Saab Aerospace wants to re-merge

    I think that 2 is highly doubtful given that A) Saab Aerospace wanted to separate with Saab when Saab joined GM in 1990.

    Remember this video of Saab joining GM?

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-543254725211593841&q=saab+duration%3Amedium

    B) I also think that Scania is not interested, but who knows if they could take on a venture like this, but this is the exact e-mail I received a few years ago from a SCANIA rep in Sweden. Did you know that SCANIA has an office here in the U.S., but they don’t sell SCANIA vehicles in the U.S.?

    Original E-mail

    Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXXX

    I have got your question regarading Scania’s independence forwarded to me from Helena Vikholm.

    It was Investor, the owner of Saab-Scania, who decided to divide the two companies Saab and Scania into independent companies. One reason to that was that there were on synergies between Saab’s consumer products and Scania’s

    The process started In 1990, I think, when Investor sold half of its stake in the Saab car to GM. In 1995, Scania and Saab (the remaining part of their operations)t became independendet and a year later listed on the stock market..

    Scania has no interest in buying Saab.

    Best regards

    Hans-Åke Danielsson
    SCANIA
    Head of Media Relations
    Public Relations
    SE-151 87 Södertälje
    Sweden

    Telephone: +46 8 553 856 62
    Mobile phone: +46 70 346 88 11
    Telefax: +46 8 553 855 59

    There should be some sort of grassroots push for Saab to work on the 9-1 and/or 9-2.

    I think we’re all agreeing on the same things here as I mentioned earlier, so with that, we need to draft a letter that we can keep sending to Saab, eventually one will slip through the cracks.

    Think about it, people kept slamming the 9-7x (still do) and then Bob Lutz created a blog for him to respond to the 9-7x comments on a positive note.

    Eventually hard work pays off and with regards to Saab, it’s worth it for us, otherwise we would not be talking about it here.

    -R

  9. Here is Scania USA’s contact info.

    Scania USA, Inc
    Address: 121 Interpark Blvd, suite 601, 78216, San Antonio, Texas
    Mailing address: 121 Interpark Blvd, suite 601, 78216, San Antonio, Texas
    Telephone: +1 210 403 0007
    Fax: +1 210 403 0211
    E-mail: contact@scaniausainc.com

  10. Ted Y I can see where you are coming from as regards your comment on

    (Saab should) “Just concentrated on a two-model lineup. Or even if GM just let Saab make one true, all Saab, all Swedish model”,

    I know what you mean but speaking from a Saab only dealer it would kill me, we need volume. The 9-3 is getting a little long in the tooth I know the interior face lift is just weeks away but it does not go far enough to address the problem that has being the 9-3 biggest problem and that is cheap plastics. The 9-3 had such a great chance to be a great car, it’s 75% a good car but that 25% just lets it down so much. As a drivers cars it is fantastic an as SG said and I have to say the

    “SAAB (9-3), THE MOST INTELLIGENT CAR EVER PRODUCED”

    It is, but to a point, intelligent yes, that’s why they have move the SID display for MY07 people where sick of there INTELLIGENT car telling them how bad it is. I’m being a little hard there but if you do ever get the chance to chat and work with a Saab technician on a new 9-3 you will be just be gob smacked with how clever the car is. It’s like buying a cheap pair of walking shoes and trying to walk 10 miles, you know it can be done, the shoes will do the job but you know it’s just going to be painful at the end.

    “Saab was an independant company for independantly minded and intelligent people.”

    I know it’s not an independent company but there still are a lot of independantly minded and intelligent people living and working and trying give saab the products it needs to fulfill what we all know is its great potential.

    Smart people = Smart Decisions.

    Yes but there is a bit missing to this as regards saab No Money = No R&D(cheap shoes) = Bad Cars(sore feet), so no mater how independently minded and intelligent minded you are in either building or and this is the important bit buying you cannot see the future in saab with this long road its taking, cheap shoes never last.

  11. SG,

    You touched on the size of cars in the U.S. They certainly are bigger here than anywhere else in the world!

    Conspiracy theorists claim that the oil companies, the auto manufacturers, and the federal gov’t are in cahoots to keep it this way. While I don’t believe this, it certainly doesn’t help when the federal gov’t uses safety as one of the reasons for not recommending stricter CAFE laws.

    I remember a federal gov’t official (sorry, I don’t remember who) saying the gov’t doesn’t recommend increasing fuel economy standards by going to smaller cars because they’re not as safe as larger ones. That seems to me like a statement not backed-up with any data or fact…

    That sure is good news for the “big three” (GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler) who make much more profit margin off a large gas-guzzling SUV than an efficient small passenger car.

    The auto manufacturers’ lobby even got the federal gov’t to waive many pollution and CAFE requirements on SUVs and pickup trucks because they’re classified as “commercial vehicles”. Seriously. Go to http://www.fueleconomy.gov (an EPA’s website) and try looking up what the fuel economy (or lack thereof) of a Hummer H1 or H2 is. Can’t find it? Oh, that’s because they’re “commercial vehicles”! What a crock!

    There are many small cars sold in other markets around the world but not the U.S. Why? Audi had the A2, BMW has the 1-series, VW has the Polo, and MBZ has the A-class. Why don’t we have these in the U.S.? I’m guessing U.S. DOT won’t approve them.

    And, I’m afraid the American public IS that dumb. 🙁 (as an American I feel I’m qualified to form an opinion on this…). We elected Bush… TWICE. (okay, don’t want to start a political argument here, but with his approval ratings in the 30 percentile range here in the States and much worse outside the States I felt pretty safe with that joke…)

  12. 1985Gripen,

    Very true, all you indicate as usual.

    Do you remember when the current President because of pressure from GM just after their merger with General-AM, he allowed huge tax-writeoffs for large SUVs, namely the Hummer because they were classified as commercial and/or farm vehicles.

    I’d like to see a dusted H2 Hummer next to a John Deer somewhere in Iowa or Nebraska.

    Most of these sales were for urbanites who own McMansions.

    This is the #1 reason why the Electric car died.

    If you have not watched already.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6923835633598627078&q=who+killed+the+electric+car

    So Americans are that dumb, what shall we do if “our car company” is being handcuffed by GM, seriously?

    I feel like a large intervention is necessary rather than sitting and watching the drama unfold with Saab until 2010.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I am obsessed with fighting complacency with this situation with Saab.

    – R

  13. SG,

    I have seen those coming attractions for the “Who Killed the Electric Car” documentary (while in the theater waiting to see the excellent documentary An Inconvenient Truth). The problem I have with what I’ve read about that documentary is that the facts are presented in a very biased manner. The filmmaker had an agenda (much like the criticism of Michael Moore’s films as activist cinema) and that was to make the large auto companies look like conspirators with the oil industry in killing the electric car. Why did GM even bother to produce the EV1? They were doing it at a financial loss. It reportedly cost them (and the federal gov’t in the form of subsidies) over $1B to develop the EV1. What portion of that investment do you think they made back?

    I know the timing of the EV1’s destruction coincided with the purchase of the Hummer name from AM-General, but this proves nothing. There is a big profit margin in the Hummer. Not so for the EV1. It was a money-loser.

    The fact is, most folks (outside of some hardcore afficianados) didn’t want to lease a car (remember, you couldn’t BUY one) for which they’d have to install a special charger in their garage to have a range of only about 100 miles, and which took 8 hours to charge. The car just was not an ideal replacement for a conventional car. For short trips, okay, but not as a conventional car replacement. What if you’re away from home and the battery charge runs out? You have to find a local public charger (good luck) to be towed-to, then sit there for hours on end waiting for it to charge.

    Too many factors contributed to its failure in the marketplace. Remember too that it was only leased in I think three states (Calfornia, Arizona, and Florida) as the batteries can’t handle cold weather.

    And I’m saying this as a recent self-professed “greenie”. There are some promising technologies out there in EV, but they’re a few years off. Until they can bring the price and the charging time down and the range up, nobody’s going to want to replace their existing car with an electric. They also need a viable EV with more than two seats for families.

    As for your suggestion about the “grassroots” effort, I’m a bit skeptical. What was the last successful grassroots campaign on any front? Swade had put together a huge book of suggestions for GM from SAAB owners and went to the considerable expense of snail mailing them to GM. As far as I know he never got so much as a courtesy response.

    The way to get GM’s ear: be a shareholder of a LOT of shares. They don’t listen to their customers, just the shareholders who look at the bottom line. Can they make more money selling a SUV (like the 9-7X) or a small car like the 9-1? The SUV for sure. More profit margin! You could sell two SUVs and make more money than selling three small cars probably. It’s not about volume, it’s about profits.

  14. 1985Gripen,

    Your statement is exactly the point that movie was making. GM is not making the right choices for the people and certantly not for the planet.

    As I reference the quote from An Inconvenient Truth.

    “Those Gold Bars really look good, but…”

    GM is looking at the Gold bars, but ignoring the inevitable fate of the people and the planet if they keep this going.

    So if we move forward about saying that GM doesn’t take anything we send them when it comes to SAAB, unless we are a shareholder with a LOT of shares.

    This may be a stretch, but why can’t we start an organization called the SAAB INSTITUTE and start taking donations with which to buy shares and then get the media and press involved and start a movement.

    That could be the grassroots effort that directly feeds into buying stocks (many), so that the spokesperson for that organization can get into all of those “closed doors” meetings and start moving things like Ghosn and Jerry York, etc.

    Seriously. It’s painful to just sit back and discuss this much further if we’re not building measurable movement towards an ultimate goal.

    2010 will come sooner than we think.

  15. Ryan:
    I don’t think we’d get enough money collected for the SAAB INSTITUTE to be effective sharewise, but maybe it’d garner enough attention in the press to have an impact on GM and generate increased interest and sales for Saab, maybe a good idea. I wonder how many agree.

  16. Just noticed the last comment was 5:14 AM Swade’s time. Maybe he’ll wake up soon and add his two cents worth to the comments;-)

  17. 1) By 2010, Saab gets taken back by Sweden because they don’t make the sales numbers that GM wants.

    NOT gonna happen. Period. Sweden is not France or Cuba.

    2) Scania wants a stab at Saab

    Scania is partly owned by VW and they do not want Scania to invest in Saab Automobile. When Saab-Scania existed, it was because of Investor – the Wallenberg family investment company – not because cars and truck have any synergy.

    3) Saab Aerospace wants to re-merge

    Saab Aerospace has no interest whatsoever in the car industry. It’s like merging Coca Cola and Exxon just because they both work with liquids…

  18. CTM,

    Good points.

    That Scania Rep could have been misinformed about why they do not want Saab.

    2) Scania wants a stab at Saab

    Scania is partly owned by VW and they do not want Scania to invest in Saab Automobile. When Saab-Scania existed, it was because of Investor – the Wallenberg family investment company – not because cars and truck have any synergy.

  19. All,

    Here is a question for people to answer. Why can’t the Wallenberg company (INvester AB) buy back Saab from GM?

    Saab A.B. is a unit of the Swedish investment group Investor A.B., the hub of the financial empire of the powerful Wallenberg family.

  20. This should probably be my last post here today on this thread. 🙂

    —-

    Here is a blast from the past in 1989 where Invester had Saab sell half of the company to GM in 1990.

    COMPANY NEWS; Fiat Called Set For Bid to Saab

    Article Tools Sponsored By
    SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
    Published: November 30, 1989

    LEAD: Fiat S.p.A., the Italian car maker, is prepared to offer more than five billion kronor, or about $780 million, for 51 percent of the car division of Sweden’s Saab-Scania A.B., Swedish Radio reported today. Quoting unnamed sources, Swedish Radio said the Wallenberg family, which is Saab’s largest single shareholder, was willing to let Saab sell a majority stake in the division.

    Fiat S.p.A., the Italian car maker, is prepared to offer more than five billion kronor, or about $780 million, for 51 percent of the car division of Sweden’s Saab-Scania A.B., Swedish Radio reported today. Quoting unnamed sources, Swedish Radio said the Wallenberg family, which is Saab’s largest single shareholder, was willing to let Saab sell a majority stake in the division. But unspecified issues must still be overcome and no agreement appears imminent, according to the report.

    Saab, which also makes trucks and aircraft, has been seeking a merger partner for the division. It has been losing money, and the company believes it is too small to survive in the increasingly competitive world car market.

    Fiat, one of Europe’s largest car makers, is interested in Saab to expand its presence in the luxury car market. The companies have a long history of cooperating in marketing and development.

    Talks about a possible merger between Saab and the Ford Motor Company ended in October.

    A spokeswoman for Fiat, which is based in Turin, said the radio report had been premature. She said the companies were negotiating but had not reached an agreement.

  21. Final Posting today.

    To set the record straight, the Wallenberg set a deal in 1989 to sell half of Saab in 1990 to GM.

    In 1996, the Wallenberg family set a deal with GM to buy the remaining 50% in the year 2000.

    “The Wallenbergs’ new strategy and their financial acumen were on display this spring when they sold half of Scania, a thriving truckmaker, for $2.7 billion in one of the largest initial public offerings ever traded on the New York Stock Exchange, a shrewd deal that fetched a far higher price than expected. In June they took another step away from manufacturing by agreeing to let America’s General Motors, already a fifty-fifty joint partner in Saab Automobile, take up to 100% ownership by the year 2000.”

    Here is the source.

    http://www.time.com/time/international/1996/960812/corporations.html

  22. If only it had been Fiat… Swedes and Italians always work good together for some reason… And Saab would have had diesels for 15 years now…

  23. First I want to congratulate ctm for the best comment ever made on this website:

    Saab Aerospace has no interest whatsoever in the car industry. It’s like merging Coca Cola and Exxon just because they both work with liquids…

    What a great way to start my morning.

    I’d maintain my position that GM are currently the best option for Saab’s future, but only if they invest in the model line.

    One of my concerns is that SaabUSA is trying to revive Saab’s fortunes in the US through marketing rather than product. I’d be happy if they cut their marketing budget in half and used that money to develop better indicator/wiper stalks for all Saabs.

    Saab can only improve it’s lot through improved product. It’s that simple.

    I think we will see a 9-1 come in the future and the market is definitely there, even in the US. We’re talking 4 or 5 years out and the market for these cars will definitely expand. Toyota and Honda will make it expand.

    Saab needs to be there when it does.

    I’ll cover more in a proper post on the issues.

    As to shareholder activism, I think ted probably had the most relevant thing to say when he mentioned collective apathy. Who would run such a collective and be responsible for the funding etc? Not me, that’s for sure. I’d take the money and spend it on the Viggen 😉 and if you trust anyone on the internet with your funds then you’re quite likely a worse decision maker than GM’s bottom-rung beancounter.

    GM is a public company with a responsibility to make profits for it’s shareholders (yes, I know there’s other responsibilities to other stakeholders, but primarily this is what it’s all about). If they decide that gas-guzzling SUV’s are the best option due to profit margin then they’ll live or die by that decision.

    Saab, as a wholly owned subsidiary, will live or die by the quality of it’s product and unfortunately, they seem to have less say in the nature or timing of their product than the purists amongst them would like. If they die then hopefully someone better will pick up the pieces and allow the innovative thinking to re-emerge.

    Just my 0.02c

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