Encouraging Saab news at Edmunds

Edmunds Auto Observer has been participating in the Saab 9-3 launch events and they’ve put together a post full of encouraging Saab news:

Saab Automobile USA executives also claim owner General Motors is beginning to understand how to manage the niche brand….

….because of the increasing “globalization” of virtually everything .. consumers will increasingly gravitate toward brands that evoke strong images of heritage or national origin as a way to satisfy their desire for more “context” for their purchases…

I couldn’t agree more. It’s Knut Simonsson (executive director, Saab Global Sales and Marketing) saying this, by the way, so I’m still left hoping that his appreciation for Saab’s potential is making its way “upstairs” within GM as well.

Saab expects this kind of strong identifier will become increasingly important in a consumer future that is moving towards dispassionate products and anonymous brands, Simonsson says.

Music to my ears. Isn’t that why we’re all into Saabs? A great driving experience provided by a unique brand?

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Model news:

– Previously, when talking about coming models, all the talk has been about the first priority being the 9-4x. This is the first time I’ve seen a new 9-5 being mentioned as the first and main priority.

– The debate and guesswork goes on about what platform the 9-4x will be on. This article is punting on an expanded version of the Epsilon platform. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this mentioned, either. It’s all totally pointless, but I’ve now heard Epsilon, Lambda, Theta and Sigma all mentioned in relation to this vehicle. In the end, I don’t really care. I’d just like it to be good.

– Steve Shannon mentioned that the new 9-5 and 9-4x will most likely arrive in the US around the same time – 2009/2010. Both have previously been slated as 2009 models from intel gathered here recently.

– Following these two, Saab will further expand with a smaller entry level vehicle, but once again they’re being very tight lipped about it.

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This isn’t from the Edmunds site, but I found it interesting nonetheless. It’s from a French site. I’ll try and translate the article shortly. I just felt prompted to show it given the mention of a small Saab.

Saab Aero-X Sonett

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17 Comments

  1. It looks like it’s all engine…. A Z3/Z4 Beamer in Saab skin……. Someone finally realized what the stereo-type of a beamer was 😛

  2. The M coupe might have been the basis for the photochop. Give it more Saab characteristics and maybe a lift-off hardtop and it will be superbad.

    Sigma can definitely be ruled out for the 9-4x, it’s exclusive to Cadillac.

  3. I would rule out Lambda for the 9-4X- it’s simply too large, IMO.

    An expanded version of Theta seems to make sense; or perhaps something based off of Epsilon.

  4. I think it has potential. Renderings always seem to come out a little disproportionate, but it has some nice aspects to it. Aero-x styling and a hatch.

  5. jchan – Wikipedia says the 9-4x will be Theta-based along with the BRX. Apparently, it will be a “premium Theta.” On the other hand, Wikipedia seems to think that the 9-4x will be about the same size as the 9-7x, so they could be completely wrong. I can see the 9-4x being about the size of the old Saturn Vue (my mom used to drive one of those, it wasn’t very big), but who knows, Saab may end up with an all Epsilon lineup for a little while :p

  6. You guys need to stop looking at Wikipedia – I myself have been a member since 2002 and with the credentials and history I have can easily make that Epsilon.

    So it’s not like this was a Saab Sverige press release. Wikipedia is more or less junk on subjects like that.

  7. Hum… based on the Opel GT? We know that platform.

    The rumour is that when Mauer designed the Saturn Curve -yes, why Mauer? Check it’s Aero-X wheelarches and hood, and the black A-pillars- they were thinking of doing a Saab version of it (just like later they decided to do a Saturn/Opel thing, instead of the Saturn/Saab thing).

    Well: what matters is that in the end, SAAB didn’t like rear wheel drive, so they tried to modify the platform to have AWD. They managed to do it, but they ended with no space for the fuel tank (9 liters, if I recall right).

    So that’s why there is no Kappa platform/Opel GT SAAB… 🙂

  8. if saab made a small roadster… would it even be worth it to make it fwd? it couldnt be rwd its a saab right? but what about awd? whats the point of a small roadster if it ain’t gonna be light?

    Would anyone buy a fwd 9-1?

  9. Small roadster ? Why they do not talk with the guys from raceabout – there is link – they used the saab 2,0 turbo in their 2002/03 protoype – the other link is valmet. This is one serious lotus elise concurrent. Much hotter than opels gt or bmw z3/z4.
    But i don’t expect a uncompromised car like that from saab. I prefer a 9X, with its clear design lines, the possibilty to travel with 4, having room for enough travelgear. Somethinh liek the new lotus europa S, but as a 2+2.
    Concerning the pic ‘retouché par ordinateur’, the AeroX-front just doesn’t match the VW EcoRacer back with its ugly rucksack

  10. if somone can make a hot small fwd sportscar i bet its saab. the 9-3 is probalby one of the best handling fwd cars i the world, then it shouldn´t be a problem making a small two-seater fwd, 200hp and Re-Ax could make it fun, but of course the Aero would be xwd and 40-60 extra horses.

  11. I would like to see a new Sonett and I would absolutely love to drive one, but I’m not sure a small sports car is Saab’s cup of tea. First Saab needs to make a great new 9-5 (the flagship of the Saab fleet), a 9-4X SUV contender, a new 9-3 for the masses and a 9-1 for the newcomers. Then if they have a great deal of money to waste, they can make the Sonett. I sure hope to see a new Sonett one day 🙂

  12. Having seen the Opel GT with a lousy, manually operated hood, unexisting trunk space and an generally overweight construction, I seriously hope Saab will leave that one alone.

    About the 9-4X platform: If it’s built on an epsilon, wouldn’t that give us the rumoured 9-3X (instead of 9-4X) ?

    There has also been rumours about the 9-4X to be built in Mexico. Does that say anyone ‘in the know’ anything about the platform ?

  13. If Saab is serious about small cars, they need to take a HARD look at the competition. The New Volvo C30 is getting raves from the press, VW practically invented the modern small car, and the Japanese have years of honing and refining their small cars and squeezing every bit of cost out of them. It is a very difficult segment, to say the least.

    If Saab is looking to a 9-1-type vehicle, I hope that they take a serious look at differentiators — turbo diesel, bio diesel, removable hard top that allows for additional storage space, etc. There HAS to be a difference. A good one.

  14. Wilfried is right (his first comment), I think. According to the article regarding what we’ve been calling the 9¹, “The new subcompact Saab, says Shannon, will key on three elements: “breakthrough” design, sporty driving characteristics and strong functionality and utility”

    That would seem to rule-out a strict two-seater to me as a two-seater wouldn’t provide “strong functionality and utility”. I’m thinking the rumors about the 9¹ having some unique new configuration may be true. Perhaps it will be a pseudo-‘vert like the 9ˣ was. That kind of a removable roof system would also qualify the car as having “breakthrough design” as Mr. Shannon puts it. Making a BMW M-Coupe, 1-series, or Z4-clone wouldn’t be “breakthrough design” or offer utility and functionality.

    As much as I’d like to see an XWD-equipped variant of the 9¹ you’d have to wonder if this would detract from 9³ sales. The 9¹ is supposed to slot-into the SAAB lineup as an “entry level” (read not only smaller, but also less-expensive) vehicle. The base 9³ in the U.S. starts at USD28.4K. They will have to keep the price of the 9¹ safely lower than that. If XWD is added-in the price will likely go up the same amount as adding XWD to the 2008 9³ ($2000).

    I’m no expert, but I’m thinking that a FWD 9¹ is going to have to start around $25K, or roughly the same price as a Subaru WRX. Since it’s a SAAB, it’ll have to have near-luxury appointments, such as standard leather seats (unlike the base BMW 1-series). Add the fact that it’s to be manufactured in a country with high labor costs (Sweden) as well as a high Kronor-to-Dollar ratio and it’ll be quite a challenge to build a car to sell in that price range while still turning a profit. Plus, once options are added-in the price will quickly encroach into 9³ pricing territory. I don’t envy them.

    Far be it for me to be negative, but when Mr. Simonsson brought up that the 9⁵ had a record sales year last year I scoffed. It wasn’t pointed-out that it wasn’t on the strength or viability in the marketplace of the vehicle itself, it was because for a long time it was the only BioPower vehicle offered for purchase in Sweden. When the BioPower 9³ came-out 9⁵ sales in Sweden sagged. Exclude Sweden from the sales numbers and I’m sure the 9⁵ had far from a record sales year. This is why I think it would have been a good strategy for the 9⁵ to be the BioPower launch vehicle in the U.S. rather than the 9³.

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