Notes from Frankfurt IAA – day 1

Howdy all. What a day!
All the top brass at Saab and Koenigsegg were in attendance, including some representatives from Beijing Automotive. I got a chat with most and am hoping to catch the ones I didn’t speak to already, tomorrow.
Proper interview notes will be written in the coming days. For now, though, here’s a bunch of thoughts arising from various observations and conversations through the day.
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In case you hadn’t seen them, the Saab Official Videos from today are available at their Youtube page.
Both are well worth a look.
And to add a touch of personal excitement, I got to meet The Man With The Incredibly Smooth Voice today. Charming chap wearing pink braces.
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From what I can tell, the BAIC deal is going to be a total win-win-win for everybody concerned. Whispers say that when they talk about minority ownership of the Koenigsegg Group, we are talking around the less-than-25% mark.
For that, BAIC get access to Saab development in ensuing years, Koenigsegg and Saab get the finance they need to tie the deal up, but they also get another unexpected and rather large bonus.
Think of it this way – Koenigsegg’s business plan for Saab never included increased sales in China. Anything extra they get from China is just gravy on top of what they’d already planned for themselves.
But what are they going to make in China to take advantage of this, I hear you say? Well, there’d be a whole bunch of old 9-5 tools laying around when the new one comes online, won’t there?
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Speaking of 9-5 tooling, word is the first truckloads arrived in Trollhattan last Friday.
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Here’s the rear control area in the 2010 Saab 9-5. As you can see, there’s climate controls there, as well as entertainment controls. The screens on the headrests can show a DVD from the dashboard entertainment unit, or you can plug in something like a Playstation using the inputs below.
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Do not – not even for a minute – underestimate the significance of today.
If there were two words I could use to desribe the mood at the Saab stand today, they would be comeraderie and determination. This is a group of people who over the last 6 months or so have been tried by fire. The spirit at the stand is overwhelmingly positive.
The people I spoke to today were all kind enough to acknowledge Saabs United as a good community, which was gratifying for me, but should also be gratifying for you.
They make the cars, but I came away with a definite feeling today that we are all in this together. As the people who make up the community here, you should all be justifyiably proud and take your slice of today away with you.
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Funny anecdonte from today #1
Imagine arranging your flight to Frankfurt at a bargain price, only to find that there’s two airports called Frankfurt, and the one you’ve landed at is 100 miles away from Frankfurt itself!!
Fortunately, Robin was able to get on a coach (and a train) and make it to the show with 4 minutes to spare before the launch of the Saab 9-5.
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The rather massive sunroof on the Saab 9-5. It’s the biggest Saab’s ever had.
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The new BioPower engine in the Saab 9-5 is the first direct injection engine that Saab have had. It may well be the first Direct Injection E85 engine in the world, too, though we’re not sure on that just yet.
I didn’t get to speak to Saab’s Powertrain guru Kjell ac Bergstrom today, but will hopefully pin him down later in the week in Trollhattan.
This engine is an all new development in the GM engine family, a fact that should be underlined for Saab. The group of engines that Saab have unveiled today with the Saab 9-5 is also the largest group of engines that Saab has ever had at launch of a new car.
And there are more to come, too.
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Below are some different grilles on the Saab 9-5.
The first grille is a regular grille that will come on most of the cars that come out of the factory.
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The second grille, below, is what your front will look like if you choose the active cruise control option. This is the option that maintains your distance with cars in front.
You can see the plate in place above the Saab wordmark badge. Behind that plate is the radar for the active cruise system.
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If there’s something to perhaps be a little down on, it’s the fact that a lot of the desireable equipment now available on the 2010 Saab 9-5 is going to be optional. You’re going to have to tick a few boxes to get this stuff and that means parting with some cash.
I had a good chat session with Andreas Andersson today. He’s the product manager for the 2010 Saab 9-5, an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly guy, and I’ll transcribe that chat and present some more 9-5 stuff in the coming days.
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My Bard Eker gag for CvK.
“Do you ever tease Bard Eker for driving a ‘cheap’ car – his Ferrari”
“Oh, sometimes…”
I had a good chat with Mr Koenigsegg, who is a very personable and likeable chap. He was totally unfazed by the media scrutiny and criticism of the way they’ve handled themselves. They had a job to do, and they were busy doing it.
Hopefully I’ll get some face time with Mr Eker tomorrow.
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There were a lot of people watching the 9-5 reveal who’d had a design interest in the past. Anthony Lo was there, Taras Czorny was there (9-3 Sportcombi and Hirsch stuff), Andrew Dyson was there (9-4x), Mark Adams (2008 Saab 9-3) and even Michael Mauer was spotted in the crowd.

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Funny anecdote from the day #2
I took a shot this morning of the Saab stand, including the eatery. There was one guy there eating breakfast, as you can see.
Saab stand at Frankfurt
10 minutes later, this gentleman (whose name I shamefully cannot remember) came up to me and showed me an email he received on his iPhone from a colleague at Saab. The title of the email was “Our Man in Frankfurt” and in the email was that photo 🙂
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Finally, for today, here’s an angle of the 2010 Saab 9-5 that I just love. There’s more than a little Saab 99 in the rear windshield and boot area of this car.
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Have a good day.
I’m looking forward to getting up tomorrow and doing it all over again.

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