Sunday Snippets

Howdy y’all.

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Via 1985Gripen and AutoblogGreen comes the news that GM are investing a bucketload of cash in their Toledo, Ohio plant to make a new six-speed automatic transmission.

The Saab connection? The transmission is to be used in GM’s front-wheel drive midsize vehicles, which will most likely include the next generation Saab 9-3 and depending on which was they choose to go with it, the next generation Saab 9-5 as well.

Don’t keep an eye out for this one, though. Production of the transmissions isn’t scheduled to start until February 2010.

Building components so far away from their final place of assembly isn’t all that unusual. I believe the V6 engine inserted in the 9-3 Aero in Sweden is built in Melbourne, Australia, using a head cast in Mexico.

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Thanks to Ryan for this link, which discusses both the new OnStar campaign that’s coming (get the ‘star’ treatment!) and the old OnStar service that’s about to be shut down, much to the chagrin of around 500,000 customers.

The old network is an analog network that phone companies are not required to support starting 2008. Those 500,000 are analog customers angry that their service is going to be switched off without any compensation or rebate on getting the hardware needed to upgrade their service.

Many Saab customers, of course, are angry about OnStar for a whole other reason…..

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The word around Trollhattan is that the 9-3 BioPower is proving to be so popular in the Swedish market that Saab employees have been told that they will have to wait until somewhere between October and December for their company vehicles in order to satisfy customer demand first.

That’s a great sign, though it will be interesting to see what that means for 9-5 sales in Sweden, which have been stronger than 9-3 sales since the BioPower introduction a few years ago.

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Autoweek are covering the decision to shift to a “GM Premium” setup in the UK market, whereby existing Saab infrastructure will be used to market, sell and support Cadillac, Hummer and Corvette brands in the UK in the near future.

The coverage is fairly damning, too, really.

Despite U.K.-specific models with right-hand drive, such as the BLS, the CTS sedan and the SRX, sales have barely broken 600 cars in two years. Kroymans can’t even furnish figures for 2007 because dealers haven’t provided the numbers. Some 300 cars sit unsold.

That’s a selection of models over a two year period moving just 600 units.

How much is Cadillac costing to market in Europe again? And what could that money do for a new 9-5 and a quicker-to-market 9-1?

Thanks Richard and ctm

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