I swapped emails this afternoon with a guy I hold in very high esteem over in Sweden. We were chatting about the alleged 9-4x mules that have been making news in various motoring news services over the last few days.
The pics and story first appeared on Left Lane News last week and I covered them at that time. Here’s the final email I wrote in my conversation this afternoon about the photos of these mules:
Is there anything really newsworthy in here though? That’s what I was wondering, and why I haven’t said much about it. Here’s why:
a) The vehicles were spotted a few months ago on the back of a truck. So the vehicle pictured isn’t new. It’s just a recent sighting.
b) Who really knows what it is? The photographer has come out saying it’s a 9-4x, but is it really? In your experience, are the photographers themselves all that accurate when they send out a description? How do they know it’s a 9-4x?
c) this is the point that really makes me suspicious about this: I’ve been reading a lot of stuff saying that it’s on a modified version of an existing platform, or even a combination of two platforms. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose in having a global platform? They develop these global platforms so that they can be used for multiple applications and presumably, so that tooling in more than one factory is possible, thereby reducing costs etc. Having a unique one-off platform, as is being reported by some sites, seems to be completely out of line with this global philosophy.
What do you think about it?
Aside from all that, there’s nothing we can learn from these photos about the actual 9-4x. Not from what I can see. If they are what the articles say they are, 9-4x mules, then all we know is that they’re testing 9-4x chassis and engine, which we’d expect them to be doing anyway, right? There’s nothing we can tell about what it’ll look like, what the interior will be like, etc.
Sorry to be rehashing email conversations here, but I think that sums up my thoughts on these mules pretty well.
Since that conversation, I’ve been informed that mules of a similar description, i.e. 9-7x on one end and Trailblazer on the other, have been seen in the Trollhattan area. So contrary to my doubts about them, it’s quite possible that Saab are testing a 9-4x mule. But then again it’s also quite possible they’re playing around with the XWD system for any number of GM’s future vehicles.
The point is, they’re mules, and as I said above, the fact that they’re testing them is exactly what we’d expect with the 9-4x a year or so away. These vehicles tell us nothing more than that.
And if you haven’t seen the images I’m referring to, Auto Motor and Sport have some nice, big, un-watermarked pictures for you to look at.