Saab History On the All New Saab 9-5 World Premiere

Posted on 18. Sep, 2009 by in 2000-2009, 9-5 NG


Photo Credit: Saab History

As an attendee of the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this week thanks to Tynan’s Saab & JMK Saab, I had the opportunity to see the all new Saab 9-5 and interview those that are responsible for shaping the future of Saab Automobile and the products. Without this timely support, I would not have had the opportunity to cover this experience here on Saab History for us.

This being my first time at the show, I could not believe just how large in scale the entire complex was as I made my way to the Saab Automobile stand. The only pit stop I made en-route was to the Porsche stand to meet two former Saab employees, both Steve Janisse who did PR for Saab in the U.S. as well as Michael Mauer, who was responsible for the first start to Saab’s concept car era from the 9-X, 9-3x to the 9-3 Sport Hatch Concepts. It was a pleasure to meet with both of them as I invited them over to the Saab stand to see the press conference.

2.jpgArriving early on Tuesday morning to the stand, I noticed a clean display much like we’ve seen in recent auto shows complete with Saab 9-3x models in arctic white flanking the stage, three unrevealed 9-5s in cylinders with the SAAB word mark prominently displayed throughout the LED video signboards that encompassed the platform.

Immediately after setting up my gear, I began taking some raw footage on my camcorder while also taking photographs with my camera. In addition to this work, I made the necessary steps to setup interviews early on prior to the press conference that took place just after lunchtime. The first interview I had was with Knut Simonsson, global director of sales & marketing which was quite good and I really appreciated his directed answers to each of my questions. The other interview I had prior to the launch not long after was with Simon Padian, the Saab brand design chief, where I enjoyed learning about his 20 year design history with Saab in addition to what this new product for Saab will mean in terms of practicality to consumers.

21.jpgAt 1:30pm sharp, the press conference began with Saab Automobile’s Managing Director, Jan-Ã…ke Jonsson who spoke to a large crowd who gathered around the Saab stand. About mid-way in the conference, JAJ handed over the microphone to an Asha Ali, an up and coming singer in Sweden who sang “The Time is Now” as the all new 9-5 was unveiled to the audience. As I covered this launch, it was inherently clear to me that this event was more about the new era for Saab Automobile, the company, than the car itself. The all new 9-5 premiere in all of my dialogue and understanding at the show, seemed to only represent a mechanism to facilitate this new era. In comparison to the last product launch for Saab which took place last year for the 9-4x BioPower, that launch was more about the car, versus what I experienced this year in Frankfurt. Without a strong emphasis on the all new Saab 9-5, and its details inside and out, the opportunity to spend time reviewing it as a stationery non-operational fixture on the Saab stand would not be appropriate. Furthermore, one cannot review a vehicle at an auto show, only a proper test drive under real driving conditions would permit this, should the opportunity arise in the not so distant future.

Immediately following this press conference the media encircled the vehicle making interviews, photos and other aspects virtually impossible, so I took that opportunity to try setting up more interviews for later in the afternoon/early evening. The first of those interviews, I had setup with our old friend Anthony Lo, who no longer works for Saab, hence the audio-only interview. I really enjoyed meeting with him once again and interestingly enough, I also ended up meeting with two other designers that also previously worked with Saab on the Aero-X concept cars as well as the 9-3x production car, Taras Czornyj and Alex Daniel. After speaking with all three of them, it was immediately clear to me that the new era for Saab over the course of the year, took its toll on Saab Automobile’s design department direction. This toll involved Saab Automobile’s designers moving back to Sweden since departing from GM Europe’s Design Center in Germany, and unfortunately as a result, many chose to stay with Opel in Germany instead for job security reasons including many key designers for the Aero-X and other concept cars. This was another one of these clouds that seemed to be present at the show that I picked up on and I guess it’s a natural byproduct for a company that was forced to go through a 6-month reconstruction process.

31.jpgAs the crowds began to clear away from the Saab stand, my interviews scheduled earlier, continued with Andreas Andersson who spoke about the all new 9-5’s technology packed into this new premium segment for Saab Automobile. This interview, although brief, reminded me of the fact that this new product for the company was all about what it offered in terms of features, a product filled with options that apparently were necessary to compete in the premium segment. This premium segment has been an area that over the past twenty years, Saab Automobile has been actively pursuing under GM control. Meeting with Kjell-Ã…ke Eriksson, newly appointed Managing Director of Saab Sweden, I learned about what this new vehicle needs to do for Saab and how many opportunities the company hopes it will provide for them in terms of future growth. The final interviews for the day involved, a quick discussion with BÃ¥rd Eker, co-owner of the Koenigsegg Group as well as a longer interview with none other than Christian Von Koenigsegg, CEO of his company and Koenigsegg Group who gave insight about why they chose to take on ownership of Saab Automobile.

end.jpgThis was the first auto show I had attended where there was a message sent to the public through the press conference and other messages in each interview I had the opportunity to experience, where there appeared to be a subtext and some subtle communication about what the show was really about that did not hit me until I gathered all of my facts and information learned from the entire experience as a whole.

I saw the Saab premiere at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show representing the beginning of a new era for Saab Automobile and in parallel, showcasing the all new 9-5 as a symbol that clearly represented the end of an era under GM ownership and control.

A sincere thank you to those that shared their time in providing us with the interviews to learn about what is taking place with Saab now as well as what to expect in the future as Saab Automobile continues to depart from GM as part of this process to independence.

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No Responses to “Saab History On the All New Saab 9-5 World Premiere”

  1. Ian Glenday

    20. Sep, 2009

    Thanks to you and your sponsors for getting this done and in front of Saab dealers, indies and owners. There is much insight collectively from all your interviews. Many thanks to the folks from SAAB and Koenigsegg who shared as much as they did. I feel the future is much brighter for all of us with significant interests in SAAB.

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  2. Tom

    21. Sep, 2009

    There’s a great article on the cars tech here:

    Make sure you get it circulated so the word gets out to the people who thinks tech in terms of bhp.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ryan

    22. Sep, 2009

    Ian, Thanks!

    Tom, Torque is more important than bhp, and as Saab people we should know that by now. 🙂


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