A couple of items have just hit the local news sites here in Oz. Both have been written in the Fairfax Press’s automotive section called Drive.
The first article is one with lots of juicy Jan-Ake Jonsson quotes about the forthcoming 9-4x and 9-1, as well as a little about the age of the 9-5:
“The crossover will have more passenger car characteristics than SUV characteristics,” says Jonsson. “Of course it’s got to be raised [in height], it’s got to [look] a little rugged, and it’s got to have some of the [cargo] capacities that a sports utility also has, but not necessarily the extremes of the utility [in those areas].”….
….“All-wheel drive will be a critical part of every future Saab development,” says Jonsson. “The next-generation 9-5 will also have an enhanced version of XWD.”….
….“Cross Wheel Drive in the compact segment … is more a question of customer demand,” says Jonsson. “In the smaller segment, it could be too expensive from a customer point of view.”….
….“We are never, ever going to do a 9-2X again,” says Jonsson. “It’s as simple as that. It was a serious mistake.”….
….“The 9-5 by now should have been replaced, absolutely, if you look at the life cycle,” says Jonsson…..
It’s a good read and highly recommended.
After observing the work they’ve done on the 9-3, which really can’t be overstated enough, I’m really feeling quite bullish about what Saab might be able to achieve with these new vehicles in the next few years.
The second piece is based on the first. It’s an article on the Drive blog by the same author as the news item.
What does the Saab brand mean to you? The quirky alternative to the more mainstream luxury offerings from Germany? A company whose engine strategy is focused almost entirely on turbocharging? A car maker trumpeting a world of ethanol-powered vehicles?
I ask because it’s not absolutely clear whether General Motors, which owns Saab, knows how to answer this question itself.
I personally think that GM is getting a better understanding of what it’s got at Saab now that it’s become more involved with it. Yes, they’ve owned it 100% since 2000 but they weren’t really involved with it until they saw the red ink caused by the development of the 9-3 SS.
The blog article deals with Saab’s need to get profitable and the question as to whether the 9-4x and 9-1 will help them to do that. Personally, i think that they definitely will. Some Saab insiders are now seeing pictures of the 9-4x and are talking about it in very positive terms, especially for the US market. As it’ll be made in Mexico it won’t suffer the exchange rate problems that imports from Europe are dealing with, either.
Feel free to lob on over to Drive and tell them what the Saab brand means to you in their comments section.