- Founded as Saab’s UK importer in October 1960
- Celebrating with rising sales and new products
- Entire product line-up to renewed by end of 2012
Saab Great Britain is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week with rising sales and growing confidence as the Swedish premium carmaker enters a new era of independence.
Exactly 50 years ago, Saab Great Britain Ltd was founded to import and distribute Saab cars as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Saab-Scania group. Half a century later, it now represents a UK market that has grown to become Saab Automobile’s largest in Europe outside Sweden.
Saab GB reaches this milestone in its history only eight months after Saab Automobile was reborn as an independently-run business following its sale by General Motors to Spyker Cars NV of Holland.
As a result Saab GB, now based at new headquarters in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, is celebrating its 50th birthday with renewed confidence in the future, backed by a Saab business model that is as innovative as the company’s automotive products. The benefits include:
Last month, more than 1,200 Saab cars were sold in the UK, an 11per cent increase against September last year.
New Model Roll-out
Sales are expected to grow still further this year with the introduction of the full new 9-5 saloon range. Voted among the best new cars for 2011 in US Time magazine, Saab’s new flagship model comes with choice of six turbocharged engines, ranging in power from 160 to 300 hp, with CO2 emissions as low as 139 g/km.
The latest 9-3 range has also been given cutting-edge appeal. Saab engineers have honed its turbo diesel engines to deliver class-leading CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km, with exceptionally low combined fuel consumption of 62.8 mpg. In terms of CO2 per unit of horsepower, the new 180hp 1.9-litre 9-3 saloon raises the bar for efficient performance in the compact segment. It is not only exempt from vehicle excise duty but it is the most powerful sub120g saloon on sale in the UK. For both private and fleet customers alike, it offers a frugal, tax-efficient solution that’s also fun to drive.
Next year, Saab will expand its product range to include the new 9-4X, its first crossover vehicle, and the anticipated 9-5 estate car. Following the launch of an all-new 9-3 range in 2012, the ‘oldest’ model’ in the Saab product line-up will be this year’s new 9-5 saloon.
Forging new business partnerships
Saab Automobile is already putting in place an entrepreneurial business model that will fully exploit its technical and design expertise, both as a supplier, customer and business partner.
For example, the next generation Saab 9-3 will benefit from an agreement signed last month for the supply of BMW turbo engines, which will be adapted by Saab engineers.
Advanced driveline transmission systems for electric vehicles are also under development in a new joint venture between Saab and American Axle Manufacturing (AAM), of the United States, a world leader in the field. This technology could be used in a future Saab and other electric vehicles, systems for which will be evaluated in user trials with a fleet of 70 Saab 9-3 ePowers starting in Sweden early next year.
“These are very exciting times for Saab,” said Jonathan Nash, Saab Great Britain’s Managing Director. “We have new products entering the market and new owners who are committed to the spirit of independent and innovative thinking on which our brand has been built.
“Our 50th birthday coincides with a strong increase in UK sales as confidence returns among our customers and dealers following the successful purchase of Saab Automobile. The company has a fully-funded business plan in place and we are looking forward to the next 50 years with as much enthusiasm as we are celebrating this historic milestone for Saab GB.”
Throughout Saab GB’s half century, rally legend Erik Carlsson has been an enthusiastic ambassador for the company. This month he is also celebrating an historic milestone, the first of a hat-trick of RAC Rally victories. It was Erik’s successes at the wheel of a Saab 96 that provided a perfect launch pad for the newly-founded British importer.
To mark that first RAC victory and its 50th birthday, Saab Great Britain has introduced a 280 hp, Saab 9-3 Aero Carlsson model – a unique limited edition at a special price – of which only 96 will be produced.