When I posted a few days ago about my personal preference for the next new Saab to be called the 900 rather than the 9-3, I was expecting a little bit of controversy and criticism – and it certainly came to pass. I think we had a pretty good and robust discussion, though, and it was good to hear people’s thoughts on the idea.
I’d like to tackle a couple of themes running through the comments and perhaps narrow the discussion down a little bit.
Firstly, I’d like to tackle one misconception that was mentioned. This is a fair assumption on Steve’s part, however…..
With Swade’s status as an employee, I’m assuming he has seen more details of the design. Perhaps he sees something that we can’t yet appreciate.
Actually, I haven’t. The Saab Design studio is a mere 200 meters or so from where I sit, but I haven’t visited there yet. I know that if I see the vehicle it’ll be really, really hard for me to not talk about it. So I’ve made a conscious decision to keep away for the time being. I know a little bit more about the car than the average Saab nut right now, but I’ve not gone to see it for myself.
So with that out of the way, what about a few of the other themes that came through in comments?
Saab should change the range of names to …..
I don’t suggest, nor think, that there’s any value in changing the entire Saab nomenclature. That would require an extraordinary marketing investment and time that we just don’t have. And aside from that, as I mentioned in the original piece, I actually like the 9-3, 9-5, 9-4x way of labelling vehicles. It’s logical, sensible and it looks good on the cars. I’m not writing this with the idea in my head of changing the whole setup.
What I’m suggesting here is that Saab retain the 9-* nomenclature for the entire range, except for the vehicle that will replace the 9-3. I’m suggesting that we change that one and call it a Saab 900. So, when that vehicle comes out, we would have the 900, a 9-5 and a 9-4x.
I’m just thinking out loud here, but perhaps Saab could retain the 9-3 name for this new vehicle, but use the 900 name for a performance package? Maybe in conjunction with the Aero tag? So you have a 9-3 Linear and 9-3 Vector (or base and Premium, if that’s the way it’s going to go), then move up to the 900 Aero for the top model? Just a quick thought on the side.
I know it will be a point of contention for many to have two different naming conventions: 9-* and 900. But is it that much of a problem, really? Step outside the regimented initial thought process for just a moment and I think you’ll see it can work quite easily. The naming convention remains the same except for one model, which uses a classic Saab nameplate.
IMHO, It’s not that hard and still way more understandable and coherent than a bunch of unrelated alpha-based names.
Saab should look forwards, not back
A fair call, but I’m not convinced that it’s right in the context of what I’m suggesting.
I’m not suggesting that Saab should track down the tooling for the original 900 and start building it again. That’s re-tracing one’s steps in a manner that can only lead to oblivion.
What I’m suggesting here is that the 900 moniker still has a lot of value, and that value is better being unlocked and used for the company’s benefit, creating connections between former owners and the new vehicle. It’s better than that value only being saved for retrospective pieces and owners’ gatherings.
If what I’m suggesting is so wrong, then why do we have the Mini today, the Fiat 500, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Dodge Challenger, the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro, and of course, the continued existence of the Porsche 911. It’s a mix of successful older badge names attached to new vehicles that carry on the heritage and help to build links with former owners, or new owners who idealised the original cars in their youth.
They key, once again, is to have the right car. If the replacement for the Saab 9-3 has those key Saab features that we all hope for, that combination of performance, utility, safety and comfort/luxury that the 900 did so well, then why not adorn it with Saab’s most purchased and most revered nameplate?
Thanks again for your input and thoughts. I don’t know what’s actually going to happen with the naming of the 9-3 successor, but it’s nice to toss around this idea and perhaps the people who will actually make that decision are reading this and considering the issue.