Big thanks again to ctm for translations of these.
Anyone who’s delved into the world of Saab ownership, or more specifically old Saab ownership, would realise how important the Swedish identity of the car is to its personality.
I first got into Saabs because of the turbocharging and the extraordinarily comfortable seats, but once I started to research the brand I came to realise how smart these cars were and how a small country like Sweden had done so much for the automotive world and marveled at the fact that they’d done it having very little history with cars.
The idea of Saab not having a full and proper presence in Sweden is therefore pretty unpalatable for many. Despite there being little coverage of it recently, the 9-3 and 9-5 are still slated to be moving to Russelsheim. Production in Trollhattan is only guaranteed at this point up until 2010.
So it’s with some hope and optimism that we receive this from Rick Wagoner in an interview in the Swedish Press:
GM boss Rick Wagoner give some unexpected support to the Swedish Saab factory. In an interview with SvD, he underlines the importance of having production of Saab in Trollhättan.
– “I think it’s important for Saab to have production in Sweden.”
It’s positive news for the 3 000 employees that now are building 9-3 and 9-5. The production is guaranteed to 2010, but right now the factory is in a competition with four other GM factories to produce the next smaller family of cars – among them a smaller Saab.
– “It shows that Rick Wagoner understands that the soul of the brand is in Sweden,” says Jan-Åke Jonsson.
At the auto show, the 9-3 BioPower is debuted. On the big GM press briefing yesterday, it was a 9-3 BioPower Convertible that was presented first on the stage – before the new cars from Opel and Cadillac. There is no doubt that he is supporting Saab. But the Swedish brand has not enough models.
– “We have en aggressive agenda for Saab ahead of us,”, says Rick Wagoner.
An aggressive agenda and a maintained Swedish manufacturing presence. Music to my ears. Of course, it’s just words at this point and what has to happen is actions. The road to [insert bad consequence of your choice] is paved with good intentions.
But this is good and let’s hope it comes to fruition. I’m just speaking for myself here, but more than anything else, a Saab needs to be a Saab – and to me that means it has to be Swedish.
There’s also a quick look at the new 9-3 BioPower in the Swedish press. Given the tax benefits that the bioPower cars enjoy, they’re a natural choice for companies looking for a vehicle.
This article takes a look from that perspective and navigates a little of the confusion over engine choices.
The best company car? Well, a short drive with the new Saab 9-3 1.8t BioPower is enough to convince me. But it’s harder to understand Saab’s complicated engine strategy.
When driving the 2 litre engine in the 9-5 on E85, the effect is up 20% – from 150 to 180 bhp. When driving the 2 litre engine in the 9-3 (for some reason named 1.8t!) on E85, the effect is up only 17% – to 175 bhp.
One could believe that the reason for this is that first engine is from Södertälje and the second one from Kaiserslautern, but that’s not the case. The reason is that the 9-3 already have the choice of an ordinary engine at 175 bhp – and that makes it impossible to sell a stronger version for SEK 3.700 less.
The new E85 engine in the 9-3 is available in all three model lines (SS, SC and convertible). Compared to the ordinary engine at 150 bhp, the E85 version costs SEK 7.000 more. Despite this, Saab expect that 60-70% of the sale to be the BioPower while the rest go for the diesel and only a few for the ordinary version.
I’m really positive to the new engine. It’s responsive, it’s quiet, is drivable all over the revs and gears. 80-120 km/h takes 13.9 sec with automatic transmission.
You feel directly that turbo is a technology that is superior to almost everything else.
No problem at all? Well, the fuel consumption gives you headache. I got 1.56 litre / 10 km average with active driving on open roads. On the other hand, you have to multiply with 0.7 to compare with gas. That’s 1.09 litre – still a high figure for the ethanol car.
– “It tends to go down after the engine has been used for a while,” was the comforting words from Saab boss Jan-Åke Jonsson.
This continues the reams of positive press Saab have been getting in Sweden recently. There’s a lot of positivity over Saab’s increased role in GM’s alternative fuel strategies and engineering.
Long may it continue!