Why is GM still a factor with the current 9-3 and what about the next 9-3?
February 7, 2012 in Editorial
So why is GM still a factor within this game to again save Saab?
Well its pretty simple, the current 9-3 is to a large extent a GM product. GM might no longer own the licenses and technology behind it but they certainly own the right to the parts which the car is made of.
Issue number one, engines. The 2,0 engine’s that were available in the 9-3 Griffin are GM products and anyone who wants to produce the car needs to buy them from GM. To adapt a new engine for a car takes around 12-16 months depending on how many certificates needs to be obtained and if the engine needs to be turbo converted. Homologation process for a brand new engine is not something done quickly.
Electronics is another major part which mostly are GM product, the stereo, some onboard computers are also GM products that need a fair bit of engineering to be replaced.
There are lots and lots of other products that are GM based in the car, listing them all here would fill up the page…
Another major issue is distribution of parts. It’s not enough to just build them, people will probably need to replace them. First of all buying enough of the parts and distributing them out to the dealers who are still there is a big task as well that requires a lot of man-power and time to accomplish.
I’ve talked to some former engineers at Saab and they all said more or less the same thing, to find a way to work around the GM parts in the current 9-3 is simply not worth it. It will take a lot of time and cost a lot of money for a car that might only be produced in a very limited number until its replacement has arrived.
Regarding the replacement of the 9-3 I have learned through very trusted sources that there is a prototype built that is able to drive on its own, but the other versions, a coupé, convertible and sportscombi are still at the design stage. The so called pencils down has not been reached. This is the point where no more design changes are allowed to be made and the car goes into pure technical development. Saab have worked with this issue in parallel to save time. Some items that are designed to the point where the designers are happy with it have gone into technical development to save time, but the whole car is not yet ready.
What I find most interesting is that the platform is more or less done, some work on how to implement the car into production has already started. The whole car exists as a computer model in a program that can simulate the whole factory, every tool and part included. Some key production staff have already started the work on implementing the car into the production. A task that usually takes a bout a year and a half to complete.