Saab Getting Bigger Than Ever - 9-2X, 9-7X article [Archive] - SaabCentral Forums

: Saab Getting Bigger Than Ever - 9-2X, 9-7X article

24th March 2004, 01:25 PM
Article to chew on, while you wait for the 9-2x and 9-7x.
Saab Getting Bigger Than Ever
Will the 9-2X, 9-7X boost volumes above the 150,000 mark?

By Marty Padgett

March 22, 2004

The addition of the Saab 9-2X sport wagon and 9-7X SUV don't merely mark a big occasion for the tiny Saab brand. The twin births, staged a year apart, are a brand-changing event, say execs in San Diego for the first media drives of the Subaru-derived 9-2X.

"We are in the midst of the single largest product offense in Saab history," says Deborah Kelly-Ennis, Saab USA president.

Until this year, Saab's lineup at most has been based on two architectures - the 9-3 sedan and convertible are new this and last year, while the 9-5 sedan and wagon are in their golden years.

Simply put, "we have too few cars," says Saab president Peter Augustsson.

Augustsson says that, looking ahead, the company's future growth is going to come from some unusual places - like the American Midwest and Japan. Those new models in the immediate product plan will come not only from global GM architectures but from GM alliance partners that will provide Saab with major shortcuts to beefing up its product lineup.

Numbers rise

Despite the two-model lineup, Saab's sales have strengthened in the U.S, reaching an all-time record of 47,913 vehicles in 2003. Worldwide, the brand's tally went higher than 132,000 units, only about 500 vehicles off an all-time record.

U.S. volumes should increase about 7000 units this year with the addition of the 9-2X, Augustsson says. The first Saab built outside Europe - it's sourced from Subaru and built alongside the rally-bred Subaru WRX wagon - the 9-2X goes on sale by June. A North American vehicle only, the 9-2X will max out at 227 hp, same as the WRX, not the 300 hp of the WRX STi model Subaru sells. Saab asked for that hot version but was denied by Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries. No Saab 9-2X sedan is planned, and no front-drive model is in the pipeline either, since Subaru long ago switched its lineup to all-wheel drive entirely. A 165-hp non-turbo version is also in the launch plan.

Next year Saab adds the second vehicle not primarily engineered in Sweden, the 9-7X SUV. The sport-ute is a version of the mid-size SUV built by GM here in the U.S. and marketed as the Chevy TrailBlazer, Buick Rainier, and GMC Envoy. Saab's version wears a unique front fascia with the rear styling of the outgoing Olds Bravada. The engines will be pure GM, including Saab's first V-8. If the notion of a V-8 doesn't fit well with the brand image, Saab execs say their marketing studies indicate the second and third vehicles in Saab owners' garages are most often V-8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees. The 9-7X arrives early in 2005.

Next year's wave

The product wave keeps rolling in the second quarter of 2005 with the Sport Hatch, which is "75 to 80 percent correct" as shown in concept form, according to Augustsson. The wagon, derived from the 9-3, will sport a turbo V-6 engine, and may be available in its model cycle with all-wheel drive.

Beyond those vehicles, Saab is planning a new crossover vehicle of undefined size and engine displacement. It's widely expected that the new Saab vehicle will share its architecture with other GM alliance partners, possibly Subaru and Buick, according to some reports. This week's Subaru spy shot on TCC provides more information on a seven-passenger Subaru crossover that could bear on Saab's plans. Unconfirmed reports have also suggested that Chevy's Nomad concept from the Detroit auto show could be sent to Europe wearing Saab badges. And in a case of fair turnabout, Saab could end up building a Euro-only Cadillac off the 9-3 architecture at its plant in Sweden.

With the new product arriving this year, Saab expects 140,000 sales worldwide in 2004. And for the future, the brand is looking to China to expand what currently amounts to a few hundred sales per year. The brand will establish five or six dedicated showrooms in the Middle Kingdom this year and hopes to eventually expand sales there to about 5000 units a year. Manufacturing in the country would be a long way off, but GM's strong presence in the country could play an important role for Sweden: "Manufacturers that are serious about being in China will have to produce in China," Augustsson adds.

It's a sort of a GM Marshall Plan for Saab, which has fought for luxury credentials all the while fighting for bigger sales volumes. The next 18 months should show whether the new Saabs will complement GM's alliance strategy - or reveal the flaws in it

28th March 2004, 01:14 AM
seems as though maybe 10-15000 9-2's will be built, if that. probably less than 10.

2nd April 2004, 06:43 PM
I'm not really bothered by SAAB partnering with Subaru. They are two quality car makers, (even if it is pretty weak that the 92x is simply a rebadged, facelifted Impreza...

What disgusts me are the 9-7x plans. GM needs to learn a lesson from Ford and let their premium car brands run themselves, and not force their ****ty hardware on them.

The GM truck platform is eveything Saab is not. I was pissed when they put the GM V6 in the 9-5, but building a saab around that horrible horrible GM platform with a terrible american V8 makes me want to puke.

Thats it. I've said enough.