Auto Express and the Saab 92

There’s been a fair bit of buzz in comments about a story written over at Auto Express in the last few days. I addressed it in comments once, but the buzz has continued on another post and it’s gathered some momentum, so I figured I’d better address it here on the front page.

The AE story is about the proposed Saab 92 and it reads as follows:

Saab, BMW to build 9-2

A fresh start and now a fresh partner. Saab has revealed that it will link up with BMW to build the new Audi A1-rivalling 9-2. Plus, new boss Victor Muller has confirmed the Swedish brand will make a stylish coupé based on the 9-3.

Auto Express uncovered the plans to share technology during an exclusive interview with Muller at the recent Saab Festival in Trollhattan. “We could build the 9-2 on our own, but that wouldn’t make sense,” he said. “Thanks to the crisis in the industry, everyone is willing to share everything. So Spyker couldn’t have bought Saab at a better time.”

The firm is likely to tap into BMW’s planned joint project with PSA Peugeot Citroen to produce a front-wheel-drive chassis – this will underpin the next MINI and a version of the new 1-Series. Given Saab’s front-wheel-drive history, the sports-focused platform is a good fit.

I can tell you that there was indeed an AE reporter at the Festival. Several SU readers took rides with him in the new Saab 9-5. I can tell you that he did indeed get some personal facetime with Victor Muller during the Festival, at least once that I can confirm and maybe more.

However, I can also tell you (from the autoreply I received when I emailed him about this issue) that this same reporter was on vacation when this story was written, so it’s not likely that he’s written the words appearing at that link.

I was suspicious about the detail in this story when I first saw it. The quotes in the story don’t mention any of the detailed claims they make. All Muller says is that it wouldn’t make sense for Saab to do it on their own when companies are willing to share technologies, which is something he’s been saying for a while now. There is no mention of BMW in the quote and if BMW was mentioned in the question that drew the quote, then they don’t mention this, either.

There is certainly nothing there to support a headline that says Saab, BMW to build 9-2.

Concerned about the details in this story, I emailed Victor Muller for a response. Victor’s response was that he was disturbed with the article, livid about it, actually. He hadn’t mentioned BMW at all in any interviews and that he felt a need to take action on this.

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Conclusion……

If there are talks of this nature with BMW, VM would want coverage of those talks minimised until they are completed and announced, so there is that angle to consider.

I think there’s been enough written about potential discussions with BMW to indicate there have indeed been talks of some sort taking place. Where there’s this much smoke, there’s some fire. My initial and continued belief, however, is that those talks have concentrated on engines, not on the sort of complete package that’s alluded to in the AE article.

Bottom line……. I think that in writing this article, someone at Auto Express has got a little creative with how far they can use a quote and in doing so, they’ve drawn some conclusions that are as yet unwarranted, unsupported and at face value, denied flat-out by Victor Muller.

UPDATE – Oh crap. Now Autoblog are writing about it, too. Now every scraper blog on the planet will pick it up, despite the scepticism that Autoblog themselves heap on the issue.

Memo to Saab – this is why you need your own online presence that can capably deal with this sort of stuff.

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