With such a big show as Geneva, the companies wheel out their senior execs and make all sorts of proclamations, promises and a little piffle.
Saab’s been no different and whilst the stories have all been covered here, it’s been on a story-by-story basis. It’s time to pull it all together, sum it up and express some thoughts….
Saab BioPower 100
Not as sexy as the Rinspeed BioPower 9-5 to look at, but it still has the best tail lamps EVER! The BioPower100 won’t go into production as it appears in Geneva, but it’s been an important vehicle for Saab to show off it’s prowess with ethanol and turbocharging, and this has recently shown itself to be a major factor in Saab’s continued existence.
Saab are providing much-needed engineering expertise in these areas. As the investment in Biofuel science is increased over the next few years, Saab has placed itself in a valuable position at the forefront of the automotive application for this fuel.
The BioPower100 concept has shown what Sab can provide in terms of power per litre of engine displacement and that’s going to mean big things for small engines in the future.
The 9-3 BioPower Range
This was always going to happen – it was just a matter of when. And what – as in ‘what will be the effect on sales of the 9-5?’
The 9-3 BioPower range will face some good demand amongst those countries that already have an E85 infrastructure. This is still a limited market, but a growing one with several major players implementing E85 in the next year or so.
By going with a full BioPower capable range in Europe, Saab have again positioned themselves well in terms of having a nice, green drivetrain. Now it’s just the rest of the product that needs enhancement and greater exposure. MY2008 will hopefully see to that.
With the very generous concessions for ‘green’ cars in Ireland I’d expect that Hirsch are working on a 9-3 BioPower ECU package right now so that Irish buyers can spend their savings on making the car go that little bit harder.
Hirsch already have a 1.8 upgrade for the gasoline version that pushes performance from 150hp to 195hp, s a BioPower versions should be quite the bomb when it arrives.
The Extra Model
Carl Peter-Forster came out and said that Saab would quite likely pushed over the bar and into (regular?) profitability when it receives an extra model in the near future. This extra model he’s talking about isn’t something new (like most of this news, actually) – it’s most likely the 9-4x SUV.
They’re claiming forecasted global demand at the high end of around 40,000 units, and with it being aimed primarily at the US market and built in neighboring Mexico, they’ll avoid the dollar/euro problem that’s been plaguing most European manufacturers selling in the states.
Lob this one in with “the extra model”, above.
Jan-Ake Jonsson confirmed that Saab would also be benefitting from the Two-mode hybrid system that GM is currently developing with DCX and BMW (that should make you happy, PT!).
It’s been mentioned liberally in the press over the last 18 months that GM’s first application of the two-mode hybrid system will be on its big money-spinners – the SUVs. I’m quite sure that we’ll be able to count Saab in on this too and that the 9-4x will be the prime beneficiary of this system.
Never say never, though. A time could well come when we’ll see a Black Turbo 9-3 BioPower Hybrid with XWD.
I’ll take a SportCombi, thanks!
In an article featuring some comment from Jan-Ake Jonsson in Dagens Industri earlier this week, it was reported that the new generation Saab 9-5 could be ready as early as Autumn 2008, as a MY2009 vehicle. This is definitely news as the replacement 9-5 had long been forecasted as a MY2010 vehicle.
This gelled well with some Djup Strupe information I’d received a couple of weeks prior relating to the earlier-than-expected takeover of the 9-5 engine plant in Sodertajle by Scania.
Just yesterday, there was also some news (link in Sweidsh) that the 9-5 gearbox plant in Gothenburg will be changing. The report claimed that there’s no decision to close it down, but that the 9-5 would be replaced and as the 9-5 gearbox is the only thing that’s manufactured there, there wouldn’t be any new work coming.
The bottom line seems to be some changes in the wind as production for the new 9-5 gets geared up for Russelsheim and geared down in the various places of part manufacture in Sweden.
Thanks to Carljohan, Tom and ctm for contributions this week