Rumourmill: Trying to make sense of it all…..

UPDATE at the end of this post.

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There’s been a fair bit of news coming in over the last 36 hours or so. If you’re on the front page of the blog right now (as opposed to coming via a link or a search engine) then scroll down to read it all. Some of it is accompanied with reliable timeframes and some of it isn’t.

I thought it might be beneficial to dig into the archives, apply some new information and then try to sort it all out.

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This much we can establish as fact: Saab will launch a MY2008 vehicle at the Saab Festival in Trollhattan, Sweden, in June 2007. The US debut for this product will be at the Saab Owners Convention in Michigan in August 2007.

The US-debut information came in the form of a press release from Saab USA in my inbox this morning. The follow-up information about the Swedish debut was a response to a question I asked about it all.

So that’s solid.

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The remaining question is: Which vehicle will be making it’s debut at this time?

There’s three options on the table.

1) A new 9-5

2) The 9-4x

3) A reskinned and updated 9-3

So let’s look at each in turn…

A new 9-5

The Saab 9-5 was updated late in 2005. This re-skin hasn’t met with a wave on enthusiasm and the model is basically being propped up by Biopower sales in Sweden.

Saab know this and there has been recent talk of bringing the new model forward and even making it at the Trollhattan plant as GM’s Russelsheim plant wouldn’t be ready to handle the new model in time. Auto Motor and Sport and Auto Express both wrote articles earlier this year claiming a 2008 debut for the next 9-5.

The problem: We’re talking about the debut of a market-ready car here, a debut in mid 2007, just 8 months or so from now. It’s hard to believe that development on the next 9-5 could be so far along already.

The next 9-5 was scheduled for 2009 or 2010. Bringing it forward may mean late 2008 as a definite 2009 model, but a new 9-5 in 2007 maybe a little too optomistic.

The 9-4x

The latest info we’ve had on the 9-4x indicated a debut in 2008 as a 2009 model. This was touted as being highly reliable information and based on further correspondence with the source I’m inclined to believe it.

The 9-4X will be on sale in the spring of 2008 as a 2009. Around march or april of 2008. This comes from an extremely reliable source. Some specs are as follows: the 2 engines – the 2.8v6 250hp and a new 300 hp turbo. The vehicle will be produced in Mexico for all markets.

Further, I’m also inclined to think that Saab will debut the 9-4x in the United States. I’ve heard nothing to suggest this, it’s just my own thinking. The 9-4x is squarely aimed at the US market, is reported to be produced in Mexico and let’s face it, GM wouldn’t mind establishing a little ownership in it’s own backyard.

A re-skinned 9-3

The 9-3 range has gone almost unchanged since it’s debut in MY2003, save for the addition of the SportCombi. It could well be time for a re-skin of Saab’s best-seller. Rumours on the iSaab forum, reported here yesterday indicated that this could be on the way.

– The 9-3 will get a face-lift and a crossover based on the 9-3!…… The aero-version will get 4 wheeldrive maybe other engine-options also will get it…

I also received this in comments earlier this year:

i have seen the facelift of the 9-3 due next year, the real facelift is very very beautifull, this photograph is horrible

…..about which I enquired further and received this reply:

I have seen the photograph in the factory in sweden. Its far more sportier en better looking then the current 9-3. it will come out in september 2007. I’ve seen it last year in November (i.e.2005), so its a little difficult to say how it looks like but they have done a great job with it.

Further to all this, I received the following in my inbox just today, from a Djup Strupe I’ve heard from previously. It’s totally contradictory to the 9-5 information above (and quite sadly so), but gives a fair bit of detail about a reskinned 9-3:

….someone had mentioned about a Special Edition 9-5 [and] they are correct, that will be later in the ’07 calendar year. However as it relates to 2008…..all we have to look forward to is the revised 9-3 front and back design and the late intro of AWD.

The worst news is for the 9-4X and 9-5 which have both been pushed back an entire year individually. Calendar year 09 for 9-4X and a year later for the new 9-5.

…..the info we were told today on a nice big power point chart sadly confims the truth (at least for now). And as both you and me know Saab usually does not bring out a new model on time anyway. Mr. S stated due to significant styling changes to the 9-5 as the main reason for the delay…… He was adamant about the info on the 9-3 combi in regards to the AWD. And we will have the 9-3 AWD before any new 9-5.

And to mention the restyle on the 9-3 is sweet. Aero X front end (smaller grill however) but lights and tailight treatment about 95% the same. The feeling is that hopefully there will be enough excitement with the design ethos of the 9-3 that when the 9-5 and 9-4x hit it will be a more cohesive “family look” – but at a more aggressive version than on the 9-3.

This raises the very important and as-yet unresolved issue of AWD on the 9-3 range. Both the iSaab comment and this story are both mentioning AWD for the 9-3, which was supposed to be incapable of AWD on it’s current platform. I’m awaiting some more information as to what this setup might entail.

I’ll throw this photo up again just for interest’s sake. Let me say in bold, capital letters: THIS IMAGE IS NOT REAL. IT’S A PHOTOSHOP IMAGE FROM A REGULAR COMMENTER HERE ON THIS SITE NAMED WOODZ. It’s just an interpretation – OK? WooDz’s idea of what a 9-3 might look like with some Aero-X front end mixed in.

9-3MY09%20copy.jpg

The news above is pretty sad for any hopeful 9-5 buyers, but I have to add that it’s unconfirmed information at this point. This particular Djup Strupe has understandably used a pseudonym and a non-corporate email address. As there’s no photos I’m therefore unable to trace the validity of the information, but….

….the timing ties in with some other information I received and previous email correspondence with this person has been just as interesting and seemingly reliable.

Conclusion

If there’s one model I feel like we can reliably rule out, it’s the 9-4x. I think the timing of early 2008 is quite probable, as is an American launch.

The 9-5 is the one I want this launch to be, but I just don’t think the development phase has been long enough, especially for a flagship model that just has to be right. And wouldn’t a model of its importance debut at a big international motor show rather than a Saab-centric festival?

Therefore, my money is on a 9-3 re-skin. It’s significant enough to make an impression. It’s Saab’s sales leader and the various Festivals next year will be suitable occasions for its debut, followed by an appearance at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September or thereabouts.

That’s the analysis from my perspective. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome in comments.

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UDPATE:

The 9-3 re-skin it is. Tools for pressing the bodyparts will arrive in March 2007 and production of these parts will commence 2-4 weeks later.

Bring it on!!

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19 Comments

  1. Wasn’t saab 900 gen II first shown in Trollhattan simmillar to an owners convention?

    The talk from isaab.net comes also from a source that has proved to be right in the past.

    The 9-5 hasn´t it’s “ugly” american cousine been seen on the road? If so couldn´t that mean that it is only final testing this winter left?

    To call a reskinned 9-3 a new modell is a lot of talk and less action…

  2. Wow, solid analysis and terribly disappointing about the 9-5. The family and I are thinking about a European trip next summer, and I was looking forward to possibly seeing the debut of the new 9-5.

    Oh, well.

  3. With respect to the 9-3, I think that the car’s current nose is attractive and distinctive. It’s the rest of the car – especially the profile – that could be any European economy sedan.

  4. I agree with Gunnar. The profile of the 9-3 could pass for a Chevy, Ford, Honda, or whatever. Let’s have something distinctive.

    Take for instance the Cadilaab/Saabilac. The body is a Saab but the front and back say Cadillac. What’s next? One body style for all GM models but you get to apply the name & badge stickers of your own choosing?

  5. I think the 9-3 has needed a face lift since the day it was introduced. All to boring profile and back. The front is Saab and kind of nice in a tame way, but it’s not very distinctive.

  6. The only thing I can say is that every possibility is quite disapointing in terms of competitiveness of the brand. Because it demonstrates de incapability of Saab to develop new models and catch its rivals, demonstrate its capability of impact and be innovative.

    Why I say that?? well……if they choose to launch the new 9-5, then the 9-3 it seems it will be delayed, not only the reskin, also the new EPII model, also the 9-4x, and any other project, roadster, coupe or anything else. Then the 9-3ss will have the same or very similar life cicle of the old 900/9-3 or the actual 9-5, with two, three or four reskins but without any impressive and astonishing improvement.

    If they launch the 9-3ss 2th reskin, then they will delay the 9-5, 9-3ss and other projects……the 9-5 will be incredibly uncompetitive, another reskin of the 9-5?? pfffffff, for the brands image its just horrible.

    If GM cancelled the 9-3ss crossover version in 2003, why they will give the ok now?? at one as much two years of the new model?? Do you think that GM is going to invest the money? Its also true that the model is done, in 2000 Saab made an agreement with Haldex to be the supplier of Saab for AWD systems.

    The 9-4x build in Mexico?? that’s a joke??!!!!!! GM criticise Trollhattan because it only uses less of the 60% of its capacity, and now this?? They close sodertalje, what will be next?? build Opels Astra in Trollhattan and in few years the low added value that gives to build Astras, the plant will be closed to move the production to Poland, China or anything else….

    There is one detail Its taking me nervous…..If GM Powertrain close the Sodertalje engine plant, then if the 9-5 will be delayed where will be build the B205 and B235 engines?? few months ago GM anounced that moved part of the production of B207 engines to Kaiserlauten to concentrate the production of Sodertalje in Biopower engines.(http://www.trollhattansaab.net/archives/2006/05/correction_sort.html)

    some rumors appeared that GM was considering to close the Plant, and now finally we have the response…..but then where they are going to build the 9-5 engines?? if Kaiserlauten is going to build onlye B207 engines, then that means that the new 9-5 with B207 and V6 2.8 engines are ready to production. I am not sure that. But I thing that if GM decided to clos Sodertalje I thing it will be effective as soon as possible, months, 1 year??? and the B205-B235-Bipower?? in Kiaserlauten?? GM investing in that factory to build an engine 1-2 years?? I don’t thing so.

    Greetings

  7. The sales manager at my local dealer (US) recently told me that AWD was going to be added to the 9-3 line up for ’08. He wouldn’t comment on a reskin.

  8. 9-3 re-skin — great!

    9-5 delay — disappointment!

    Eduard: GM will figure out the logistics — they are still the largest auto company in the world for crying out loud! The 9-4x in North America makes perfect sense — Mexico, US, Canada with NAFTA it makes no difference theoretically. The 9-4x is a car that’s aimed specifically at our market, so why not make it here?

  9. Eduard, You’ve got me thinking it’s hopeless–I’m going out to the barn and shoot myself–LOL!
    Actually, GM killing the 9-3X really bugs me a lot. They said they would build it and didn’t. Saab could have been the leader in the field. Oh well, eggsngrits makes some good points (regretfully).
    Gotta go, got to get back to my wine and cheese dinner, I’m feeling better already…

  10. My god that photoshop of the reskinned 9-3 is hideous! Cars in this class are meant to look classy, as do the Audi A4, BMW 3 and Lexus IS but this thing has about as much class as a Lada.

    I have said ot before and I will say it again “GET NEW DESIGNERS” as the current designers are ruining the brand image. Witness that disaster called the 9-5!

  11. Zippy, take a pill please.

    It’s just a photoshop by a reader here, posted to give some visual flavour to all the words. No need to sack the designers just yet.

  12. Based on the facts about how well the Aero-X was received all over the world off course SAAB’s designers must take that feedback into account when they start to roll out new or reskinned cars. Regarding the photoshoped 9-3 above I liked it alot and I really hope future SAABs will follow the Aero-X design language. Who wants SAAB to be another “classy-look” BMW, Audi, Lexus or Merc? The carworld is overflooded with that kind of cars. SAAB has always been different, and I don’t think future SAABs should follow in other carmakers footprint when it comes to design. SAAB should still focus on different cars with innovative solutions combined with a premium quality standard. I think the carworld expect SAAB to still be somewhat different.

  13. Ok, I only think it should be fair as to explain what I was showing on a very rough Aero-X style 9-3.

    1. Obviously the new grill
    2. I made the lower air-intakes less pronounced, however; retained the outlines of the original concept to create a distinct cut between the lower and upper sections of the car.
    3. The side strips have been removed to give a cleaner scandinavian look and so draws your attention to the grill.
    4. The Wing Mirrors give a deep contrast to the rest of the car and offers something different the the normal Colour-Matched mirrors we see so often today.
    5. The wrap-around windscreen.
    Alot of manufacturers seem to be copying Micheal Mauer’s 9x concept with Matt-Black A-pillars. My Idea is a One-piece screen surrounding the A-pillars, disguising them behind smoke-edged glass.

    The picture took me about an hour. It’s intention is to get the mind working and smooth out the rough working.

    BTW. if you’re interested you can get you thoughts around a 9-3 SportCross

    http://www.sennelagercars.com/images/saab/concepts/9-3CUV.jpg

    FYI. I’m a sales manager, not a car designer. (for our sakes, Thank GOD)

  14. I am so sorry to be so pessimistic, but if you take a look at the last 10-15 years of Saab and specially the last 6 years, with the cancellation of all models and projects of saab after the 9-3ss, that gives a pessimistic view and idea of what GM is doing with Saab and how many bad decissions it made. 9-2x, V6 diesel in the 9-5, the 9-6x, cancellation of the 9-5 and premium platform. And how is unable to enter in new segments…..

    But also, since GM it seems that finally reorganized all its operations with a global vision, Saab is integrated in that organization, there are bad things, but also many good opportunities for Saab to take advantage and leadership in GM engineering and organization, and for this reason I feel that in few years we are going to see very good products from Saab and good news, but also some bad news that will give an idea that Saab is loosing its “swedishness” and exclusiveness”, but I hope that GM will take care about it and be able to recover the Saab brand image.

    That feeling, everytime when Saab is ready to anounce a new product or important news, few days or hours before the announcement, connected to internet hours and hours, awaiting any possible info, pic or something that gives light to the issue…….thats something I would like to feel again.

    greetings

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