Saab Automobile’s Opportunities For Success

Posted on 05. Sep, 2008 by in 2000-2009, 9-3xc, 9-4x, 9-5 NG, 9-X BioHybrid, Innovations

Saab Automobile has been a leader in innovative thinking through their technologies ever since their early beginnings back in 1947.

Although things have been tough for them sales wise over the past few years, they will finally begin to see some strong new product introductions by the fall of 2009, but is it too late?

I want to begin with the idea of the Saab 9-1 / Saab 9-X BioHybrid because as Steve Shannon pointed out at the Saturday night dinner at the recent 2008 Saab Owners Convention, it was the first concept evidently built on a “compact premium” platform, so it can be produced as-is and is not a one-off like the prior concept cars, so why the delays and uncertainty? The need is certainly there so just build it!

Secondly, we have the Saab 9-3 XC or Cross-Combi, produced in Trollhättan, Sweden, that has been rumored to be debuting this fall as a direct competitor to the Audi Quattro, Volvo XC and Subaru Forrester. The interesting piece about this segment is that Saab should have had this back in 2002, but the project was halted due to GM at the time, stopping all product development in order to reel in costs.

The Saab 9-4x, the successor to the 9-7x, will be coming by the fall of 2009, produced in Mexico for the North American market as a cross-over as we’ve seen in the recent production photograph, very close to the concept vehicle shown in January this year, however that’s all we know at this point. I was specifically told at the 9-4x BioPower concept car’s launch in Detroit, that it will come with a turbocharged 4-cylinder and be touted as the halo vehicle for E-85 in North America. Although there’s been much speculation in the media of this vehicle coming in with a non turbo larger engine, I am optimistic that what I was told couldn’t be anything other than the truth and that we’ll see a 4-cylinder turbocharged crossover when it debuts. If anything other than that is actually produced, what’s the point, really?

Lastly, we have the new 9-5, shown as a rough design sketch also at the 2008 Saab Owners Convention, it also appears to be debuting just after the Saab 9-4x. It should be interesting to see what becomes of this launch because as old as the current 9-5 is, (10 years), this model to be produced at a GM Europe factory in Germany, must deliver as sales for the current 9-5 are totally flat. I worry that the idea of a larger premium sedan for Saab is another pointless exercise at this time as they should be focusing on smaller vehicles, which brings me to my last point.

There Saab Automobile is, with three out of four products set for launch by the fourth quarter of next year. So here’s the question, as Saab has traditionally been a company all about small “rightsized” vehicles, why wouldn’t the smaller premium compact segment be introduced prior to the 9-3 XC, 9-4X and New 9-5?

If GM is committed to seeing the Saab Automobile brand succeed, why not introduce a vehicle that is actually in demand? I question the need for more gas guzzling large vehicles such as crossovers and premium sedans.

I am also deeply concerned that these three vehicles although nice, won’t significantly contribute to turning the sales around for Saab Automobile as the 600 pound gorilla in the corner of the room (a small premium “rightsized” hatchback) would.

Having read this, what are your thoughts? I have included a poll below to see what you think Saab should focus on first, so let’s see what the results show over time.

Update: As of Saturday, September 6th, I am seeing the following votes:

# New 9-5 (52%)
# 9-1 / 9-X (35%)
# 9-4 X (10%)
# 9-3 XC (3%)

I would like to ask those who have voted for the new 9-5, why did you choose this? Was it because you believe Saab really needs a new 9-5, or that you may own a 9-5 and would like to see and/or own the new version?

What Model Should Saab Introduce Next?

View Results

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