Archive for July, 2001
Posted on 24. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Photo Credit: Saab Automobile
Saab 9-5 in the rear-view mirror
The Saab 9-5 sedan was first launched in 1997. It broke new ground for Saab. It was the first large car Saab had launched since the 9000 hatchback in 1984 – and it was a sedan, not a hatch.
The Saab 9-5 effectively underscored Saab’s commitment to the upper medium premium sector, offering a highly individual alternative to other premium rivals, with performance and safety top of its agenda.
The engine line-up was an all-turbocharged affair. There were two four-cylinder Ecopower units with 2.0- (150bhp) and 2.3-litre (170bhp) capacities as well as the world’s first asymmetrically turbocharged V6 engine, a 3.0-litre with 200bhp. Engine management was by Saab’s own 32-bit Trionic management system, along with Direct Ignition for each of the cylinders to enhance performance and reduce emissions.
But it was the standard safety levels, based on Saab’s real-life safety strategy, which really catapulted the 9-5 into the limelight. It featured an impressive central safety cage with exterior crumple zones that deformed along pre-set load paths. These latter channelled impact energy away from the Saab’s occupants, while remaining ‘non-aggressive’ to any other vehicle or pedestrian involved in the collision.
Safest car tested by EuroNCAP in 2000
It also featured Saab’s pioneering interactive head restraints to minimise whiplash injuries (SAHR), and innovations – based on its aircraft-building heritage – such as the facia ‘night panel’. Activating the night panel cut out visual distraction at night, except for the speedometer, only providing the driver information on a ‘need to know’ basis. The result of such a high level of safety engineering was the first ever EuroNCAP four-star rating and the accolade as the safest car EuroNCAP had ever tested up to then.
Saabs have always been renowned as highly agreeable long-distance driving machines, the combination of effortless turbo power, supremely comfortable seats, and a well-designed facia based on aircraft thinking underpinning the experience. To this Saab engineers added extra functionality on the 9-5 that was characterised by typically thoughtful Swedish design, such as the sculpted simplicity of the head restraints.
Items included the elegant cupholder, which folded out vertically from the facia, before pirouetting horizontally to provide a drinks receptacle. Or the dual-zone heating system, which created one zone for the driver and another ventilation zone for the front and rear occupants. Or the chilled glovebox. Or the fan-assisted ventilated leather seats, the first time these had been available on a car. Or sun visors that could be extended to cut out distracting low-level sun glare. Or an award-winning anti-theft system that still outfoxes criminals and defeats security experts. The list goes on.
Extra versatility arrives with the launch of the Saab 9-5 SportWagon
The Saab 9-5 range was extended in 1998 with the launch of the wagon variant of the 9-5 sedan. Although the car was designed to carry extra loads, the emphasis was on providing an exceptionally sporty drive. Like the original sedan’s low Cd factor of 0.29, the wagon featured a highly competitive 0.31 Cd.
Typically, the wagon was engineered to Saab’s exceptionally high standards and featured plenty of innovations. These included tie-down cargo racks designed for aircraft use. They were so strong they could even support the car’s weight if hoisted up by a crane. Or the sliding wagon floor to ease loading and unloading of heavy items. Or the ‘light pool’ load-area illumination provided by the wagon door in its open position. As with the sedan, the list goes on.
Aero provides sporting flagship
The current Saab 9-5 line-up was completed in 1999 by the launch of the no-holds-barred Saab 9-5 Aero sedan and wagon with a blistering 2.3-litre High-Output Turbo (HOT) four-cylinder engine that boasted a tarmac-melting 230bhp, 350Nm torque and 0-100km/h in 6.9seconds. Oh, and a turbo overboost facility, tooâ€¦
This wound torque up to 370Nm for a 20second burst to give more assured and safer overtaking. Even so, fuel consumption was still impressive at 9.5 litres/100km for the manual sedan version.
Featuring a lowered and firmer riding chassis, the Aero came with standard traction control, 17-inch Aero alloy wheels and aerodynamic body styling.
Original Saab 9-5 – key points
* First launched as a four-door sedan in 1997 with choice of 2.0-, 2.3- and 3.0-litre engines
* Safety was a priority, resulting in the first ever four-star EuroNCAP result
* Pioneered anti-whiplash safety head restraints (SAHR)
* First to market with an asymmetrically turbocharged V6 petrol engine
* Joined by wagon version in 1998
* Aero sporting flagship arrived in 1999 with 230bhp HOT four-cylinder engine with overboost facility. Available as sedan or wagon
Posted on 23. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Photo Credit: Saab Automobile
Saab 9-3 Anniversary celebrates 25 years of turbo
The 25th anniversary of the Saab turbo concept is celebrated in the new Saab 9-3 model year by the Saab 9-3 Anniversary – a special edition with enhanced Saab attributes and attractive detail features.
In the practical CoupÃ© or five-door body of the Saab 9-3, exceptional roominess and versatility are combined with a high standard of sporty performance. The chassis communicates clearly with the driver by immediate, distinct signals and behaves consistently in all situations. The engine range comprises four turbocharged petrol engines and a turbodiesel, and spans ratings between 125 and 205 bhp.
9-3 Anniversary with boosted Saab attributes
The Anniversary edition of the Saab 9-3 now being introduced to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Saab turbo concept underscores the sporty temperament of the practical Saab 9-3.
The Anniversary special edition is a development of the Saab 9-3 SE and can be powered by any of the Saab 9-3 engines. The standard features of the Saab 9-3 SE include a colour-matched front spoiler, rear bumper skirt and sculptured sill covers. This aerodynamic package was originally designed for the Aero models and give the car high aerodynamic performance in the form of low lift forces on the axles and good high-speed stability.
The distinctive exterior modifications of the Saab 9-3 Anniversary compared to the SE are the new five-spoke, 16-inch wheels of a design inspired by the turbocharger turbine wheel. The aluminium alloy wheels contribute to low unsprung weight for quicker steering and braking response, and ensure more controlled behaviour in situations such as sudden swerving manoeuvres.
The interior of the new Saab 9-3 Anniversary is dominated by upholstery with a bright combination of leather and fabric in a grey and beige colour scheme. The association with the 25th anniversary of the turbo concept is expressed by the word “turbo” embossed in the leather upholstery. The upholstery design of the 9-3 Anniversary recurs on the leather trimmed door sides. The 9-3 Anniversary is optionally available with full leather upholstery in the same colour scheme and with the same type of anniversary embossing. The leather used in the Saab 9-3 Anniversary is of a new type that makes a modern, sophisticated impression.
The sporty appearance of the upholstery in the 9-3 Anniversary is matched by the carbon fibre dashboard that underscores further the sporty nature of the turbo model.
Saab 9-3 Aero with anniversary upholstery
The carbon fibre dashboard of the new Saab 9-3 Anniversary edition is also available for the Saab 9-3 Aero with the 205 bhp 2.0 Turbo Ecopower engine. The standard leather upholstery of the 9-3 Aero is also embossed with the word “turbo”.
The Saab 9-3 Aero was introduced only a year ago, after substantial upgrading that included an assertive front spoiler, side skirts and a sturdy rear bumper casing. The 17-inch alloy wheels are standard on the 9-3 Aero, and so is the Traction Control System (TCS). The front seats of the 9-3 Aero are provided with extra padding at the front of the seat cushion for extra thigh support. The backrest sides are also of special design to ensure even better lateral support.
New bodywork colours, better economy and improved child safety
As from autumn of 2001, all Saab 9-3 models are available with two new bodywork colours – Polar White solid paintwork (not on the Aero) and Hazelnut metallic. Another change on the new model year is that the Saab 9-3 with the 2.0t Ecopower light pressure turbo engine delivering 150 bhp now has a manual gearbox with modified reduction ratios for better fuel economy.
The Saab 9-3 Convertible is now also fitted as standard with the same type of Isofix child seat mountings as those introduced in the remainder of the Saab 9-3 range a year ago. The Convertible model also has factory-fitted provision for a wind deflector that can thus be retrofitted quickly and inexpensively.
Saab 9-3 with unique range of engines
The Saab 9-3 is unique by being produced only with turbocharged engines. Turbocharging enables the engines to deliver full torque at the speeds the engines are normally run. Maximum torque is available within the engine speed range of 2000 – 3000 rpm, which allows for fast and safe overtaking.
The basic power unit of the Saab 9-3 is a 2.0-litre light pressure turbo engine delivering 150 bhp, which is followed by the 185 bhp 2.0 Turbo with the torque of the classic turbo engine, the 205 bhp 2.0 Turbo (standard power unit of the Saab 9-3 Aero) with a sportier performance, and the Saab 2.2 TiD turbodiesel delivering 125 bhp and offering a well balanced combination of performance, motoring comfort and low fuel consumption.
Posted on 18. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Photo Credit: Saab Automobile
Unique command car makes rescue work more efficient
The West GÃ¶taland Region of Sweden now has at its disposal a unique command car capable of fast communications with all units that are involved when major accidents and disasters occur.
“It means that it’s now easier for us to organize rescue work, making optimum use of the available resources,” says Per Ã–rtenwall, the senior medical officer at the West GÃ¶taland Region’s emergency services unit.
The new command car, a converted and specially equipped red SAAB 9-5, is the most advanced mobile liaison center to be found anywhere in Sweden. Its base is the West GÃ¶taland Region’s emergency unit, where experienced doctors and nurses specially trained to deal with disasters and to mount major medical operations are available round the clock, all the year round.
“Experience gained from major accidents and disasters reveals that the rescue work is very complicated and involves numerous participants. You have to have fast communications with alarm centers, the emergency and medical services, the police, and various organizations and government agencies,” explains Per Ã–rtenwall.
Such communications call for advanced computer support, since the people concerned use various platforms. Control over air/sea rescue operations, for example, is exercised via radio networks quite different from those normally used by the ambulance service.
The command car has ordinary two-way radio, communication radio on the VHF band, GSM and NMT 450 mobile telephony, portable radio, computers, GPS-based map-reading support and navigational systems. The car can be integrated into wireless networks, communicating with ambulances on the scene of the disaster. The screen of the navigational system can also be used as TV for monitoring the media.
The new car, which is registered and marked as an emergency services vehicle, can get around quickly both on the ground and in the air.
“The command car can be transported by a Swedish Air Force Hercules to a disaster site where the command function needs reinforcement,” says BjÃ¶rn BerglÃ¶f, who is responsible for special vehicles and motor sport at Saab Automobile AB. “Extra eyebolts have been welded onto the car so that it can easily be lashed down in the aircraft. It also has a connection point to take an external power supply, so that its equipment will work during the flight as well.”
The car has been tailored to order by Saab Automobile AB in TrollhÃ¤ttan, and the communication arrangements have been evolved by Hogia RÃ¤ddningssystem AB in Stenungsund. This firm has supplied 85% of Sweden’s ambulances with communication equipment.
Posted on 18. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Photo Credit: Saab Automobile
Kjell BergstrÃ¶m to head technical development at new Fiat-GM Powertrain Joint Venture Company
Kjell BergstrÃ¶m, who is currently Vice President Powertrain at Saab Automobile, has been appointed Vice President Product Engineering at the new Fiat-GM Powertrain Joint Venture Company. He will be responsible for the development of engines and gearboxes for Saab, Opel/Vauxhall, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo cars.
The new company, which will count roughly 27,000 employees, covers GM powertrain operations in Europe and Latin America and all Fiat powertrain operations. It comprises a total of five development centres and 19 production plants in eleven countries, and has an annual production capacity of 7 million engines and 6.6 million gearboxes. Head office for the new company is in Turin, Italy.
Posted on 18. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Photo Credit: Saab Automobile
Saab Advanced Concept Center develops future car concepts
At the Saab Advanced Concept Center in TrollhÃ¤ttan they develop future concepts. The Center has grown into a great asset for Saab when it comes to studying and realizing ideas for to forthcoming cars. Stylists, technical people and brand developers work there side by side with their sights set ten years ahead in time.
The Saab Advanced Concept Center, usually called the SACC, has been in place at TrollhÃ¤ttan for rather more than two years. Underlying this very special unit is a Saab ambition: it wants to be able to develop and push future concepts at a very rapid pace with totality focused thinking. So it’s not a matter of developing systems for their own sake but rather of aiming at applications that will be required.
“The fact that we have the resources and the strength to work fast is one of our great advantages,” in the opinion of Joel Danielsson, who is the manager of this cutting edge unit at Saab Automobile. ” What makes it possible is that we have the know-how and all the resources that are needed for in-house development work. When it comes to knowledge and technology we’re pretty well self-sufficient.”
By its very nature, none of the work in progress at the SACC has become visible to the world at large. But on the other hand that’s only natural, since we’re working about ten years ahead of progress in general. In practice this means that the first results that will be seen up in real cars sold to customers won’t come into view until around 2010.
“But smaller parts of our work are already being introduced in current car projects -. models due to go into production in a year or just a few years,” says Joel Danielsson. “The successor to the Saab 9-3 is one example.”
One of the most important points of departure for the technicians at the SACC is the question of how future customers want their cars to be designed and what functions are to go into them. For that reason we keep right up to date on futuristic research.
In a way, the SACC has become a `think tankÂ´ for future studies. This is where stylists, engineers and brand developers assemble and assimilate around the same table and around joint projects. All told, then, it’s very much more than a location for future studies for the three distinct communities.
“People who work here in this special environment get on famously with each other,” continues Joel Danielsson. “In this unit we look ahead far into the future and investigate the prospects of changing and improving our cars in the long term. It’s a pattern that works really well.”
The first – outwardly visible – results of the SACC’s work are due to go on show at the IAA international motor show in Frankfurt next September.
Posted on 09. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
25 years of turbocharging
The Saab 99 Turbo was the first Saab turbocharged model. The initial run of 100 cars of this model was produced in 1977, and these cars were driven mainly by Saab?s own engineers and test drivers, and also by a number of selected private persons.
When the model was launched for general sale as a 1978 model, the impressive 145 bhp from the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine of the Saab 99 Turbo had already become acclaimed. Calculations showed that a six-cylinder engine with equivalent performance would have been about 50 kg heavier, and its fuel consumption would have been 30 percent higher.
This introduction served as the launchpad for Saab’s development of turbocharging technology, and this work is still ongoing. Saab is now unveiling the Saab 9-3 Anniversary special edition – the latest production development of the turbo concept.
When the turbocharging concept was first launched on a commercial scale, the benefit it offered was the surge of power that was ?on tap? for the 10 ? 15 percent of the motoring time when it was actually needed. During the rest of the operating time, the engine has the same fuel economy as an engine without turbo. The turbo does away with the need for large displacement and many cylinders to achieve a high engine output for situations such as safe overtaking and high average speeds on long journeys, without the downside of continuously high fuel consumption.
The turbo concept became an immediate success and was quickly adopted by other car manufacturers. Back in 1979, the world?s carmakers had five turbocharged models in production, but the total gradually rose to 66 in 1984, 90 in 1987 and 93 in 1990.
Turbocharged cars were being made even before the first 100 Saab 99 Turbos were produced in 1977. Very short runs of the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, Oldsmobile Jetfire, BMW 2002 Turbo and Porsche 911 Turbo had been equipped with exhaust-gas driven turbochargers that followed the principle invented back in 1905 by the Swiss engineer Alfred J. BÃ¼chi.
Saab contributed to the development of turbocharging to meet the needs in everyday motoring by equipping the turbocharger with a wastegate. The wastegate controls the boost pressure delivered by the turbocharger, to make the engine behaviour suitable for everyday motoring.
Turbocharging also proved to be part of the solution to other problems facing the world?s carmakers. In the early 1980s, new production processes and growing economic pressure led to petrol quality changes. The margins of safety to pre-ignition or ? knocking? that could cause engine damage were reduced, while car engines were designed to delivery more power.
Saab counteracted the risk of knocking by introducing the Automatic Performance Control (APC) system that ? listens? to the engine and lowers the turbocharger boost pressure as soon as it detects harmful knocking. This system would not have been as effective without interaction with the turbocharger.
As predicted by Saab, turbocharging also proved to be one of the keys to reduced exhaust emissions. The turbocharger improves the engine efficiency by putting to use the excess energy in the exhaust gases to increase the amount of air flowing into the cylinders. This reduces the fuel consumption and also improves the combustion efficiency. A turbo engine is more ? clean-running? than a naturally aspirated engine, and thus needs less complicated and heavy equipment for exhaust emission control.
Commercial success leads to further development
Saab produced its 100 000th turbo car back in 1983, and every third Saab produced in that year was a turbo. And the turbo concept was being developed at an accelerating pace. Still in 1983, Saab unveiled a development of the turbo engine that included double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Four valves can pass more fuel/air mixture and more exhaust gases than two valves. The engine is more efficient, and the four-valve arrangement also makes it simpler to optimize the design of the combustion chambers to achieve better combustion and cleaner exhaust gases.
Another environmental benefit of turbocharging was that it assisted in lowering the engine sound level. The turbocharger turbine blades ? break up? the sound before the exhaust gases reach the silencers, which can thus be made simpler and lighter.
Computerized turbo power
Saab?s development of turbocharging technology also brought about other design features in engine technology. In 1985, Saab introduced the Saab Direct Ignition (DI) system consisting of a compact cartridge that contains all the components of the ignition system. The DI system is a fully computerized, capacitive ignition system that has no moving parts or cables, and that also has other refinements such as the burst of sparks that burns away any moisture on the spark plug electrodes if the engine should fail to start first time from cold.
Within the space of less than ten years, Saab unveiled a succession of engine developments based on turbocharging technology ? the APC system, four valves per cylinder for family car engines, and the Saab DI system. In the mid-1990s, Saab introduced the Ecopower umbrella concept for its range of engines. This was on the back of yet another new feature based on turbocharging technology ? the Saab Trionic system.
The Saab Trionic system is based on a microprocessor capable of carrying out two million calculations per second. The processor is programmed with the ideal operating conditions of the engine as the basic reference. The Saab Trionic system then controls the electronic fuel injection system, the ignition, the throttle setting and the boost pressure, so that the engine will always be running as close as possible to its ideal conditions.
The Saab Trionic system also analyses the combustion after every ignition by measuring the ionization in the cylinders. The measurement reveals whether the fuel/air mixture has been ignited and burned correctly. If not, the system adjusts the amount of fuel injected, the ignition timing and the turbocharger boost pressure.
Saab Variable Compression
In March 2000, Saab Automobile AB unveiled a major item of world news that emerged from the turbo concept ? the Saab Variable Compression (SVC) engine.
SVC is an engine concept that enables the engine fuel consumption to be radically reduced, but without impairing engine performance. The combination of smaller engine displacement, high boost pressure by means of a compressor, and a system for varying the compression ratio enables the SVC engine to use the energy in the fuel far more efficiently than today?s conventional automotive engines.
The mechanical compressor used for supercharging is engaged and disengaged by the engine management system. The compressor delivers a maximum boost pressure of 2.8 bar, which is higher than the turbo system used by Saab today. Saab engine designers decided on a compressor instead of a turbocharger because there is currently no turbocharger on the market capable of delivering the high boost pressure and having the fast response needed by the SVC engine.
By supercharging the engine ? which means forcing more air into it than it would be capable of drawing naturally ? more fuel can be injected and burned efficiently. The engine thus exerts a higher force during every piston stroke, which results in a higher torque and higher power.
This design offers greatly improved opportunities for combining high performance with low fuel consumption and low exhaust emissions. Compared to today?s conventional engines, the SVC concept enables the fuel consumption to be reduced by up to 30 percent under normal motoring conditions.
The ability of the SVC engine to use new fuels in the future is probably its most important feature, rather than its low fuel consumption. Due to the variable compression ratio, combined with supercharging and a high-capacity engine management system, the engine can run on practically any liquid fuel.
Turbodiesel with novel turbine technology
Turbocharging technology from Saab was applied to a new engine type when the company introduced its first diesel engine two years ago. The engine displacement is 2.2 litres, and turbocharging enables it to deliver 125 bhp. Turbocharging technology has now surged ahead in the new Saab 9-5 3.0 TiD. The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine of the Saab 9-5 is one of the world?s most advanced diesel engines and has pushed forward the boundaries of environmental adaptation and performance.
The Saab 3.0 TiD is an entirely new turbodiesel with intercooler. The engine delivers an exceptionally high torque of 350 Nm at 1800 rpm and develops 176 bhp at 4000 rpm ? values that can match those of the upgraded 2.3-litre High Output Turbo (HOT) engine in the Saab 9-5 Aero.
25 years of development of the turbo concept at Saab from the early high-performance 8-valve engine have resulted in an entirely new range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines matched to the preferences of many different motorist categories. Emerging engine concepts such as the SVC engine also demonstrate that supercharging and turbocharging will continue to be part of the answer to the new challenges facing engine designers.
Posted on 09. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
Exhilarating and safe summer motoring
Summer is the season for a host of activities: open-air adventures, long trips and unplanned outings. All of these activities make different demands on the qualities and comfort of the car. New accessories for the car widen the scope for enjoying the warm, bright season of the year. Seriously tested accessories produced by the carmaker will keep the inherent safety standard of the car intact.
Comfort in summer
The interior comfort can easily be assured by fitting a roller blind for the rear window. Pull down the blind to cut down the heat from the sun when the car is parked, and the air conditioner will then be able cool down the interior more quickly. Various types of cup holders for the dashboard, the centre console and the back seat backrest will also make the journey more comfortable.
Food for the picnic is best stored in the ‘Fire ‘n Ice Box’ that plugs into a 12-volt outlet in the dashboard or the luggage compartment. The Saab ‘Fire ‘n Ice Box’ can be preset to any temperature between +5 and +65Â°C (41 – 149Â°F). The box has a capacity of 8 litres (14 pints) and is easy to carry. It is well insulated and will stay at the preset temperature for several hours after it has been disconnected.
The Convertible offers every opportunity for enjoying warm weather and cool winds. An elegant, transparent wind deflector designed for fitting behind the front seats is available for making a long journey even more enjoyable. The wind deflector reduces draughts and improves comfort. An easy-to-fit sunroof wind deflector with the same function is also available for cars with sunroof.
More luggage space
The utility of the car for summer outings and long journeys can be enhanced by fitting a load carrier for ordinary luggage, bikes, surfboards or whatever else you intend to take on your journey. And special mountings, load stops and extensions for wide items will ensure that whatever you take, you will be carrying safely. A roof box will vastly increase the load-carrying capacity of even a hatchback and will protect the contents in any weather.
Good load carriers and accessories are protected against corrosion and degrading UV light. Load carriers that have been developed by the maker of the car will often also have been crash tested.
Secure the cargo and ease the work of loading
The luggage compartment of a car is seldom as fully as it is just before the summer holidays. The luggage compartment of a hatchback in particular is much easier to pack if the car is equipped with a sliding load floor. Saab is one of the few carmakers to offer a sliding load floor that becomes part of the ordinary floor when not in use. This can carry a load of 200 kg in the withdrawn position (and can be used for seating under the open tailgate) and is colour-matched to the interior. The sliding load floor allows full use to be made of the smart, flexible load securing lugs in the original floor of the Saab 9-5 SportWagon .
A cargo net and cargo guard, with or without cargo space divider that separates the luggage compartment into two equal halves for different uses, are other examples of how the Wagon can be adapted to meet specific transport needs. Accessories of this type also improve the standard of safety for the occupants by separating the interior from the luggage compartment.
Straps for securing the luggage to the standard lugs in the luggage compartment are another item designed to improve motoring safety. The straps are tested to withstand a load well in excess of the load-carrying capacity of the car. Accessories that affect safety are best bought from authorized dealers who market genuine accessories.
In addition to the protective nets, the range also includes a number of practical nets and storage boxes for the luggage compartment sides, floor and parcel shelf. These are designed to hold small items securely and neatly in place.
A matter of safety
Once they are fitted to the car, all accessories become an integral part of the car. So they will also affect the performance, comfort and safety of the car. Accessories that are developed and tested along the same guidelines as those applicable to the car as a whole will have the right quality in terms of material, durability, useful life and crash safety, and also in terms of fit.
The design of genuine accessories from the carmaker will not only harmonize with the appearance of the car and match its colour, but will also enhance the appearance of the car in many ways, in addition to boosting its functionality.
Posted on 04. Jul, 2001 by Ryan.
An expanding market for a premium range of turbo diesels
Saab has a tradition of producing exceptional turbocharged petrol engines rather than turbocharged diesels. Its three major markets reflect this focus – Sweden, Great Britain and the US are spark-ignition strongholds, although new taxation forces within the UK might change Britain’s emphasis.
Nevertheless, much of Europe is focused more closely on the diesel market, where diesel powertrains are far more widely accepted. Even countries that were once resistant to diesel-fuelled power – such as Germany – are now embracing diesel products. In the period 1997-1999, the percentage of diesels in the German premium sector grew from just over 20 per cent of sales to just under 40 per cent of the sector.
In countries such as France and Belgium, the premium diesel market is substantially greater, accounting for almost 80 per cent in the same period. It’s a demand that’s accelerating – one that Saab must meet in order to increase its brand presence in European car markets.
Saab’s first step to meet this customer demand came in 1998 in the shape of the four-cylinder 2.2-litre TiD, which was introduced on the 9-3 model. But there was still no engine for the 9-5 in the upper-medium premium diesel market. Until now.
This all changes with the launch of two turbo diesel variants for the new Saab 9-5 range: at the executive performance end is the all-new 176bhp 24-valve 3.0 TiD V6 engine; at the economy end of the performance range is the uprated 125bhp 16-valve 2.2 TiD four-cylinder engine. This unit will be available on the new Saab 9-5 later in 2001.
“With the launch of two turbo diesel engines for the new 9-5 range, Saab will be able to capture a bigger slice of the premium sector in Europe,” comments Chip Wilkerson, global brand manager for the Saab 9-5. “I don’t think you can underestimate its importance for us. Previously, much of Europe was closed to us. That all changes. We now have two exceptional turbo diesel options for the new, sportier Saab 9-5 range. It should significantly increase our European sales penetration.”
The customer for the new Saab 9-5 range
What type of customer will be considering the new 9-5? Saab appeals to premium-car buyers who want a car with a strong brand image, but a car that doesn’t automatically confer a label or pre-judge the owner.
Typically, owners will be affluent but fully alive to the value represented by Saab cars. They also want a sporting car offering extra versatility – particularly in the case of the new 9-5 SportWagon – that conforms with their dynamic lifestyle. Buyers tend to be entrepreneurs, designers, architects, senior executives or dynamic salesmen that stand outside the mainstream and want a car that reflects these very individualistic values.
Naturally, a key audience is the existing Saab customer. The new Saab 9-5 range offers a new driving proposition to those existing owners of the current 9-5 or Saab owners wishing to upgrade from the previous 9000 model.
Aside from established Saab converts, the new Saab 9-5 range will also attract premium aspirers, attracted to the brand’s blend of sporting ability, practicality and value. Typically, these buyers currently drive a mass-market car.
Finally, the new Saab 9-5 range will appeal to premium-car drivers (Audi A6, Volvo S80 and BMW 5-series) with a fuller and wider product offering, underscored by the new range of turbo diesel engines. In particular, the wagon’s extra versatility is likely to be very seductive to this sector.
The new Saab 9-5 range’s market – key points
* New turbo diesel engines allow Saab to target hitherto untapped European premium diesel market
* New Saab 9-5 represents an enticing blend of sportiness, versatility and good value
* Fuller product offering will appeal to existing Saab owners looking for their next car
* Greater choice of options and engines makes new Saab 9-5 range a compelling consideration for existing premium buyers looking for a newer premium product choice
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