Just prior to the Saab Owners Convention last month, I offered an opportunity for you to post questions that you’d like answers to, from the Saab personnel that would be present at the event.
We don’t have answers to all of them, but we do have info that Gripen’s provided both in articles and in comments, as well as the video from the Roundtable discussion, provided by Saabhistory. Some of them I can answer from checking out a few past posts and other resources and I’ll do that where I can.
Gripen, if you’re reading this and have anything to add, please do. You can slot it in comments of email me and I can slot stuff in.
I won’t be asking further with Saab USA or Saab Sweden at this point in time. They’re busy enough trying to sell current models without having to worry about me badgering them with questions about the future. Where I can get a delegate to press event, that’s a time that some of these questions can be asked, but once the event finishes I think it’s best to leave them alone.
Saab 9x asked:
Of the Turbo X’s to be built, maybe they can divulge how many, of the 2,000, will be wagons and how many will be sedans?
No answer on this one as yet. I’ll mail it off to Saab Sweden and see if they can give us an idea. But I have a feeling that they’ll make up the mix according to feedback they get through customer orders. The production line is pretty flexible and the running gear should be pretty similar in both cars.
Please ask what the status is on the 9-5? When will we see it? What are its characteristics etc? ….and are the ventilated seats going to be available in the 9-3 or the 9-5 only.
There was nothing specifically mentioned about the state or timing of the new Saab 9-5 during the roundtable discussion at the SOC. I’ve provided everything I know about the timing etc at a recent post about Future Model Timelines. In short, I’m expecting we’ll see it (officially) early in 2009, with a release later in the year.
one thig I’ll add to this, though, is that in talking about the Aero-X, Steve Shannon mentioned that there’ll be various things from that concept applied to future Saabs. We’re already seeing that in the styling cues applied to the 2008 Saab 9-3. He did mention that there also may be interior cues from the Aero-X coming through in future Saabs. One of the things that I’ve heard from several Saab people who’ve recently seen previews of the next 9-5 is that much of the Aero-X interior styling has been applied in the new 9-5. I don’t know what, specifically, but there’s a distinct similarity there, from what I’ve heard.
There’s nothing in the 2008 Saab 9-3 brochure with regard to ventilated seats and they’ve been a 9-5 feature only in the past. Heated seats are part of the cold weather package in the 9-3.
Several people asked for any info on the coming smaller Saab, currently referred to as the Saab 9-1. Jeff, for example: Personally, I’d like some info on the 9-1, so anything you can get on that would be awesome.
From the roundtable discussion:
Steve Shannon indicated that Saab are very keen on that market segment i.e. below the 9-3. Saab are quite keen on reinventing the entry level space, where models are usually quite plain and sold on price rather than features and design. Saab want to enter that segment with an iconic design that’s sporting Saab and maintaining Saab’s traditional practicality as well.
Will the introduction of the XWD system see Saab re-entering the rally circuit or any racing, even if it’s just an official sponsorship?
Steve Shannon said that racing was now at the point where it was “go big or go home”. Whilst the XWD system is extraordinarily capable, the cost of competing is so high now that Saab would have to commit huge sums to do it with no guarantee of a payoff. He intimated that they’d look at opportunities to compete as they arose but didn’t foresee that happening.
Any chance for a more potent version of the Black Turbo for ‘09?
This wasn’t asked and I’m not sure it would have received a useful answer anyway as they’re all about the 2008 model right now.
My answer would be that there isn’t much chance of this, that the Turbo-X is slated as the launch vehicle for XWD and it’ll be a 2008 vehicle only, hence no enhanced Turbo-X for 09.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be other performance Saabs in 09 or beyond with XWD that are tuned higher than 280hp. As this is the first release for the XWD system, I’d suggest that if it goes well in terms of reliability etc, then it’d be quite possible. But that’s just me.
Can you tell me about the BioPower variant of XWD availability in the U.S.?
Gripen heard that BioPower is due in 2009, though there was no mention of whether it would come with XWD. What was mentioned is that it would be a 200hp output, meaning a setup with less power than the current 2.0T. As XWD is coming Aero form only at first, with the 2.0T to receive it later in 2008, there has to be some chance that by 2009 a BioPower model could be ready for it.
The con against this: XWD will likely take a slight mileage hit because of the extra equipment in the drivetrain. Given BioPower’s already-lower mileage, this might be a barrier to it being applied to a BioPower model.
Several people asked about the plans (if any) for the Saab dealer network.
SS indicated that they have a pretty tried and true method of analysis regarding dealerships. That’s to say, when registrations in an area get to a certain number, they know that a percentage of those people won’t be happy about travelling over X-miles to buy or to service their car. When registrations cross that threshold it becomes viable to look at a new dealership in the vicinity.
Saab are currently happy with the number of dealers they have in the US, though ot necessarily with the standard of service at all dealerhips. Like any population, there’s a distribution amongst dealers with a number being excellent at what they do, the majority trying their best and overall being satisfactory at what they do, ana a number that…..need training.
Saab have around 80 standalone dealers with showrooms designed to a specification and Saab are very pelased with that. Property prices are increasing, though, and it’s increasingly difficult to establish a new dealer when your competing with other retail outlets that may want that land. Hence, SS outlined the model going forward that would see Saab-Hummer-Cadillac dealers being set up where new dealerships are established.
Eggs n Grits asked:
What work has been done to improve reliability of the new 9-3 over the old model?
Again, this wasn’t asked to Saab USA directly, but I think we can draw on some anecdotal evidence and probably draw a conclusion.
Most of the issues that I’ve heard about with the 03-06 Saab 9-3 have had to do with materials, trim and electrical problems. I haven’t heard of a rash of engine or gearbox failures, for example, or an endemic problem like the sludging issue with the 2.3 engine. The 2008 Saab 9-3 has over 2000 changes made to it and it builds on the interior changes made in 2007.
Those interior changes did away with a lot of the electrical systems that were occasionally causing problems. They also dealt with some of the looseness inside the cabin and the degradation of interior materials on the dash that we hear about from time to time. Buttons peeling etc. The extra insulation inside the 2008 model also really makes a difference in terms of quietness.
If those interior issues made up a significant part of the complaints people had when they fill out their JD Power or Consumer Reports forms, then we should really start seeing Saab do better in these ownership surveys in the years to come.
Having said that, I’m still a fan of the old button dash.
Definitely want to know when a diesel will be available in the USA. That is going to become a key selling point in a few years.
SS indicated that diesel isn’t on Saab’s radar for the US at the moment and he was quite explicit about why. It’s an emissions issue and a cost issue.
Saab have diesel available in Europe but the stricter emissions laws in the US, specifically in California and the states that adopt Cali emissions laws, these laws make it too expensive to bring the emissions from the Saab diesel down to acceptable levels.
Doing so would mean a price premium on the car that consumers in the US would not accept. In Europe, diesel fuel is cheap enough compared to gasoline to make it worthwhile and consumers will pay the price. This isn’t the case in the US, however.
They still have their eye on diesel, but he doesn’t see it happening.
My take: can you release a 40-state compliant TTiD in the US? It may be a way to get greater access to those states that traditionally don’t know much about Saab. The TTiD is a brilliant engine.
Ted, the question about DI hasn’t been asked – sorry.
Several people asked about Hirsch in the US market.
The answer received in the past has featured things such as emissions and compliance with other US regulations.
This is one issue, however, that I think I can email SaabUSA about. Will let you know what I hear.
There were several more questions and I’m sorry that I haven’t got around to everything. If there’s more to add then i’ll do so and re-elevate the post to the top of the queue again.