Jan-Ake Jonsson – get ready to officially hand in the moniker of running GM’s global premium brand in it’s home market. It’s not that you won’t be running it there anymore, it’s just that Saab can no longer claim that title or the potential that goes with it.
Edmunds Inside Line are running an article that details my worst fears, that GM really are pushing for Cadillac to be expanded worldwide as GM’s top tier premium marque – and with a full range of uglies in the kit as well.
In brief, GM will be expanding the Cadillac lineup to include a 12 cylinder behemoth, a new smaller SUV and a compact car. The framework for the SUV is most likely the same as that which will underpin the coming Saab 9-4x, as we’ve already heard.
General Motors’ Cadillac brand is in the process of a major product overhaul that will usher in a new look, as well as a number of new models, for the premium brand.
The sweeping transformation is a key element of GM’s blueprint to build Cadillac into a truly global luxury brand that can compete with such European stalwarts as Mercedes-Benz and BMW in nearly every size and price segment…..
…..By 2012, Cadillac will be offering a range of vehicles on four different RWD platforms, starting with a new compact architecture known internally as Alpha. An updated version of the Sigma platform underpins the ’08 CTS, while the next-generation DTS luxury sedan and a new V12 flagship sedan known as the XLS will be built on the upcoming Zeta platform. The replacement for the XLR roadster will share the new C7 platform with the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette.
Cadillac also plans to add a new midrange crossover vehicle, known internally as the BRX, off a premium version of the all-wheel-drive Theta platform. Suppliers refer to this new platform by the code name TE.
The Alpha platform will be almost Epsilon sized, so it looks like GM’s perhaps going to go RWD for Cadillac and FWD/XWD for Saab and Opel.
Not only are Cadillac getting all the new models, they get first use of the new engines as well. You may remember that at the Geneva Motor Show, Gm announced the development of a new diesel powerplant that will be first used in the 2009 Cadillac CTS, despite the fact that a new Saab 9-5 is expected that year.
There’s also news (thanks Mike) that Cadillac will get first use of new direct injection technology too. This will give the 3.6 litre Caddy a Saabesque boost from 255hp to around 300hp with no added displacement.
Perhaps Saab will be allowed to debut new environmentally friendly floor mats some time in the future.
This Caddy deal is a very ambitious plan, one with Bob Lutz’s name all over it and one with several potential outcomes. Given Cadillac’s lack of acceptance everywhere except for the US, they had really better know what they’re doing.
What it means for Saab, of course, is that it will (at best) play second fiddle in GM’s global premium stable and quite likely take the crumbs that fall from Opel’s and Cadillac’s table.
I’m not sure what the Swede’s tradition of taking lemons and making lemonade is, but I hope it’s a long and storied one.
I had an email a week or so ago about this very topic – Saab’s placement in the market – which made some modicum of sense.
With the recent and continuing Opelisation of Saturn in America it may be that GM bundles Saturn and Saab together, with Saab being the premium/performance arm of this Euro offering for the North American market. This situation already exists in Canada and given that Saturn has a good reputation for service, it could be a bonus for Saab.
This would tend to make some sense, though it’d be at odds with some other markets in the world, where GM are looking to set up a premium arm dealing Saab, Cadillac and Opel from the same outlets.
That’s what’s evolving here in Australia as well as in some European markets, too.
Fair warning – write down the date … the way I feel right now as I’m writing all this, if the next 9-5 is not a genuine and real Saab I may well be off to Alfa for good with just a vintage Saab left as a memory of what once was.
The 9-5 will be that big a barometer as to where GM is taking Saab into the future.
GM are playing chicken with an entire brand and it’s customers. I really, really hope they know what they’re doing and aren’t filled with overconfidence.