Travel notes – Day 3

Before touring the factory today, I had to find it. Just finding Saab itself was a challenge for a guy with a substandard map in a LHD car (I drive RHD) on the wrong side of the road. I thought I was lost at one stage and turned around, but some directions from a gracious local told me I was on the right track and just didn’t go far enough.

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Getting to factory facility was one thing. Finding the right place to report in was another. I pulled in at the first carpark I came across, which just happened to be outside the technical division. Model 408 (the internal name for the MY08 9-3) is quite out in the open here, and sure enough I happened to pull up next to a Pepper Green Metallic MY08 9-3 Aero Sports Sedan in the carpark. There was a red MY08 Convertible driving along the road outside the factory and once I found my way to the reception area, there was a black MY08 Convertible parked outside. 5 minutes after meeting Christer at reception, we were walking back to his office and were passed by a Saffron Yellow MY08 Convertible, which also looked quite striking in person.

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Out of respect for my hosts, I didn’t take pictures of these, but I can tell you that Pepper Green looks great, and the black convertible was stunning. The rear lights on the Pepper Green sedan looked much better in person, though I still worry a little about how they’ll look on lighter cars. They’re certainly a bold design move, which I gathered was the intention as I spoke with Christer through the day.

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Inside the factory, I also saw a new 9-3 with the front lamps illuminated. Again, no pictures (not allowed, but I wouldn’t have anyway) but it’s only a few days until you see them for yourselves.

They look fantastic.

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One thing that Christer was quite frank about was that the Trollhattan plant is a GM production resource. Like many of you, I tend to feel quite sentimental about this iconic piece of Saab history, but reality has hit home here with a thud.

The plant will be used for production of other cars in years to come, but Christer also seemed quite optomistic that there will always be some Saab production here too.

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Over lunch, we also spoke about the publication of various spy shots of the new 9-3. Saab accept the fact that in a modern age with swift electronic capturing and movement of images and information, there’s a high likelihood that things thay’d prefer to have kept quiet will be recorded and shown.

There’s a limit to this however, and some images have been provided by people that may be at risk of some legal action. The images that seemed to bother Saab the most were the complete Convertible images in Auto Motor and Sport magazine.

I mentioned, and Christer agreed, that I always have to keep sources protected and anonymous, but anyone passing on information should realise that it can, in some instances, be harmful to the company and risky for the person passing on the information.

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Over all, Saab seem to be quite pleased to have the blog around. This was a huge relief for me as I know there’s plenty of potential for me to cause them some headaches sometimes.

They’ve been a little surprised and quite appreciative for the passion there is evident in the various sites and forums out there, something they acknowledge is a bonus for them compared to many other brands (esp the other Swedish brand)

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This evening I took a tour around Trollhattan with Mats, one of the regular visitors to the site. It was great to get out and see some of the broader surroundings of the city – places I’ll get to again in the next few days so I can photograph them, film them and post them on site.

Mats also took me around to show me where all the other Saab facilities are around the town. It’s not all just in the central factory area. I’ll get these as well so you’ve got a fuller understanding of Saab’s presence here.

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One amusing thing that Mats pointed out was that Trollhattan is the location of Volvo’s smallest dealership, which I think is quite appropriate.

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14 Comments

  1. The last thing you want to do is upset your hosts, but I wonder what their stance on when the “appropriate” circumstance would arise where one could acceptably publish a photo of an as-yet-unreleased car?

    I can understand publishing a picture of a car from a helicopter at a company test track or something would be out of the question.

    However, if a car is out on public roads with no attempt whatsoever to disguise what it is (not even removing company logos and badging) isn’t that almost an invitation to take a picture to show everyone?

    In the age before new technology and digital cameras SAAB found it in their interest to go to extravagant lengths to create the “Toads” (http://saabmuseum.com/toad/index.html) to hide the design of the SAAB 99 while testing it. Why would they not go to similar, if not greater lengths to disguise their cars today if they don’t want pictures to get out?

    It seems unfair to blame enthusiast bloggers and auto magazines for publishing pictures of undisguised cars on public roads.

  2. Agree. I think cars out on public roads (even in Lappland in the middle of the night) are fair game.

    Swade, you havn’t told us anything about the car you got this morning…

  3. Swade, you must feel like a kid in a candy store at the moment! Dont you find Sweden hellishly expensive though? I have been to Stockholm three times and almost had t take out a second mortgage to pay for my trip.

    Having said that, you are seeing the 08 9-3 at the same time as the world press gathers for their first look. And I cannot think of a better ‘reporter’ than you to bring us this new car.

    zippy 🙂

  4. Swade,

    first of all, it’s good to know you’re there to cover the anniversary first-hand and to provide us with your entertaining reports from troll city.
    Of course, we can’t wait to see the new 9-3, and, as far as I am concerned, to hear any available news what is going to happen to the old 9-5. Will there be any changes to that model? Are we going to see a Biopower Aero or some other interesting stuff? What about the new colours?
    You mentioned a pepper green 9-3. Is it a dark or a light green?
    Let’s hear about these things!
    Anyway, enjoy your stay in Sweden and

    have fun

    saabista

  5. I understand your not showing pics of the car until the “official” unveiling in a few days out of respect for your hosts (and the fact that they’re on SAAB property, so it’s out-of-bounds), but can you at least tell us whether the speculation about “light pipes” on the headlight and taillight assemblies was true? Or if the headlights and fog lights are directional? You mention you saw the lights lit up.

  6. in mentioning all the robotics and showing the raw materials waiting to be assembled (again, with lots of robotics), it seems easy (in a weird or wrong kind of way) to view the manufacturing process as cold, sterile, and irrelevent, in terms of country of origin (or “robotics”).

  7. Saab9x, too true. Should it matter if a good percentage of the car is built by a robot in Sweden or anywhere else for that matter. Which sort of puts a twist on the belief the Saab’s should be swedish built. When you think of the build quality of the 9-2x. You don’t hear stories of them falling apart and why should we. Subaru is certainly a well respected manufacturer afterall.

    Somebody asked if the new car will have adaptive headlighting. I have on good authority that the option will be (for UK that is) Adaptive lighting will be an optional extra on either the Halogen or Xenon lights that you madel comes standard with. You will NOT be able to order Xenon lights if you car does not come with them in standard specification. So from What I understand the Aero model in UK will have a the adaptive Xenon lights as an option. All other models will have adaptive halogens. If you don’t order an Aero you cannot have Xenon headlights.

    As for the new signature lighting (the strip above the headlights). These are LEDs and they do light up.
    Hence the term ‘Daytime driving lights’.

    Hope this helps..

  8. Woodz – I find that hard to believe – at least for the US market. People would have a field day if they had to pay an extra 6k for Xenon lights which are getting very standard on most cars here. Of course you get so much more on the Aero, but man, I hope your source is wrong.

    Swade – Having worked in the press/media for years, I’m sure your gesture of secrecy out of respect is much appreciated by Saab. But I’m anxious to know – did you take a look inside the MY08s?

    Are the interiors the same?

  9. News feed from yesterday @ svt.se regarding eco cars ranking…

    _____________________

    http://svt.se/svt/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=22620&a=843164&lid=puff_843167&lpos=lasmer

    The best eco car of the year chosen by the organisation Gröna Bilister (Swedish organisation “Green Motorists/Car Drivers”)

    Published 4 of june @ svt.se.

    The first place is shared when the organisation Gröna Bilister today released its list for the best eco-friendly cars of the Swedish market for 2007 (Twenty o-seven) . The complete list:

    (news feed/video @; http://svt.se/svt/play/video.jsp?a=843187)

    The bio-gas car Fiat Punto Bi-Power is the winner cause of high energy efficiency. Ford Focus FFV, the winner of last year, is according to Gröna Bilister the best ethanol driven car. These two cars receive high marks for low exhaust emissions and good safty.

    This year there are more environmental friendly (eco) cars in the Swedish market than ever, the sales is predicted to reach all time highs. The ranking produced from Gröna Bilister is completely independent of interests from within the cars segments.

    To be accepted for evaluation a car must fulfil some basic requirements. First of all the car must possess low emission of environmental and health damaging substances. On top of this the car should demonstrate low impact of the climate changes along with low fuel consumption and high crash security.

    Ranking of most eco-friendly cars by class:

    (Stated as most eco-friendly with emission of carbon dioxide (gram/km).

    Small cars
    1. Fiat Punto 1.2 Bi Power, 58
    2. Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, 116
    3. Citroën C1, 123
    3. Peugeot 107, 123
    3. Toyota Aygo, 123

    6. Mini Cooper D, 131
    7. Citroën C3 Hdi, 134
    8. Seat Ibiza 1.4 Eco-Tdi, 137

    Small mid size section (place correct label here for me Swade)
    1. Volvo C30 F, 61
    2. Toyota Prius, 115
    3. Audi A3 1.9 Tdi E-power, 134
    3. Fiat Grande Punto, 134
    5. Peugeot 207 1.6 HDi FAP, 143

    6. Mercedes A 160 CDI DPF, 146
    6. Volvo C30 1.6 D, 146
    8. Skoda Octavia 1.9 Tdi, 149
    9. Volkswagen Golf Tdi 105, 151
    10. Mitsubishi Colt 1.1 MPI, 153

    Large mid size section (place correct label here for me Swade)
    1. Ford Focus 1.8 FFV, 58
    2. Peugeot 307 Bioflex, 62
    3. Volvo S40/V50 1.8F, 63
    4. Saab 9-3 BioPower, 64
    5. Volkswagen Touran 2.0 EcoFuel, 80

    6. Honda Civic Hybrid, 123
    7. Citroën C4 1.6 HDi EGS, 134
    8. BMW 120d, 146
    8. Peugeot 307 1.6 HDi FAP, 146
    8. Volvo S40/V50 1.6 D

    Large cars
    1. Opel Combo 1.6 CNG, 66
    2. Saab 2.0t Bio Power, 75
    3. Mercedez E200 CNG, 85
    4. VolkSwagen Passat BlueMotion, 151
    5. Citroën C5 1.6 HDi FAP, 160

    6. BMW 318d DPF, 166
    6. Mercedes B 180 CDI, 166
    6. Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi FAP, 166

    Family estates
    1. Opel Zafira 1.6 CNG, 70
    2. Volkswagen Caddy 2.0 Ecofuel Life, 81
    3. Mazda 5 2.0 TDCR DPF, 187
    4. Renault Grand Scenic 1.6, 198
    5. Toyota Corolla Verso 1.6, 201

    6. Toyota Corolla Verso 2.2 D-4D 180, 202
    7. Mazda 5 1.8 Comfort, 212

    ____________

    [b]Pär[/b]

  10. Saab9x – I do agree that the manufacturing process of any car might be viewed as “cold”, but isn’t the most important step design? It’s the initial planning phase that all the inspiration, passion and devotion is put into a cars design. Then, yes, the robots just do as they are told.

  11. Ah, yes, the robots simply do what they are told … however, there is still the human element involved. How else can you explain the huge difference between a VW built in Germany and one built in Mexico?

    Now the difference between similar factories in Germany vs. Sweeden vs. Finland vs. Austria may be pointless to differientiate, but there is a point where the work is not completely portable.

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