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by Rune

Fat Lady news snippets (What are GM and SweGov up to now?)

November 13, 2011 in News

Top Gear on Friday featured an article about Saab’s current predicament. Saab now only days from disappearing?.

It mentions what we have heard elsewhere, that the Swedish Government say they will try persuading GM to allow Saab continued access to GM technology and parts.

That’s big of them. The Swedish Government has been fantastically unhelpful to Saab ever since its funding crisis started almost a year ago. It has turned down various foreign investors and chucked several administrative spokes in the wheels.

It might be too late now for it to make sympathetic noises.

– Paul Horrell, Top Gear

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by Swade

Thursday Snippets

February 3, 2011 in Saabology

I have a couple of massive work days coming up, so things might slow down a little.

——

Thanks to all who wrote to me with regards to accommodation in Geneva.

We have double good news to report – it looks like both RedJ and I will be going to the show (there was some doubt about being able to get RedJ a pass, but we’ve had some positive news there) and it looks like we’ve both got accommodation sorted as well.

Again, many thanks to the many people who wrote, offering advice and assistance.

——

How tough is it selling cars in the northern winter?

Saabs might have great winter driving characteristics and be quite appealing in that regard, but people have got to actually get to the dealership to look them over.

This is New Salem Saab this morning.

They keep plowing and the snow keeps falling. As Darryl said to me just now via email – fun for the boys (his twin sons), not so much fun for business.

I hope these poor conditions can lift soon.

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GMInside News report that the Cadillac SRX is getting a 3.6 non-turbo to replace the 2.8T. In fact, the 3.6 might replace the 3.0V6 engine as well and be the only lump available.

Saab will be sticking with the 3.0V6 and 2.8T lineup.

Thanks Charles!

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Our mates at ANA Specialbilar are working on a new police car for the Swedish authorities, based on the new Saab 9-5.

Great news!

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From Autoblog….where they’re playing with backwards cars.

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Saab always have a great looking stand at any motor show, and now their models will be blinging it up a little more with some Saab themed jewellery:

Saab builds on its brand – with jewelry. Specially-made necklaces and earrings to adorn the staff at the upcoming motor shows.

With the help of designer Helen Berggren, Saab has developed a series of jewelry that will reflect the Trollhättan-producer’s identity.

- Together with Helen, we chose to do a combination jewelry with a Snowstar and cow elk in discrete plexiglass colors, “says Nina Bergheim, project manager at Saab Exhibitions & Events responsible for Saab’s profile on the international auto shows.

——

And finally, this 9-5 Taxi in Stockholm already has 30,000kms on the clock. Pontus L had a word with the driver:

The car was put in traffic in November and until yesterday the driver has made a little bit over 30,000km!! The car have made all these taxi kilometers without any problems or failures what so ever. The driver is very happy with his car and planning to change to the new 95 SC when it is available later this year.

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by Swade

Cadillac kills the 2.8T version of SRX

January 2, 2011 in News

UPDATED

This is an interesting development and just goes to show how far off car reviews can be sometimes.

The Cadillac SRX, which is the sister vehicle to the upcoming Saab 9-4x crossover vehicle, has been praised in its 2.8T form, and said to be left wanting for power in its 3.0L non-turbo form. Saab will offer the same two engines in the 9-4x, with four non-turbo variants and a range-topping 2.8T Aero.

Despite the praise for the Turbo SRX, a combination of thirstiness and price meant that only around 10% of the SRX’s sold were turbocharged models. These slow sales have pushed GM to withdraw the turbocharged model from the Cadillac SRX range, discussed with Caddy PR at GM Inside News.

Of course, one wonders if this will have any ramifications for the Saab 9-4x. I’ll write to Sweden in a bid to find out.

My first thought is that there will be no change to begin with. Saab will want to keep a turbocharged model and they know that sales will be smaller anyway, simply because they’re Saab. The removal of the turbo engine from the Cadillac actually makes the Saab offering even more distinctive, even if it’ll be pricey.

Another question to ponder is what it might mean for the 2.8T. I’m not sure how many GM vehicles use this engine, but I don’t think it’s too many. One person with contacts at GM has remarked to me that GM may consider halting production of the engine all together, which could have some ramifications for Saab in both the 9-5 and the 9-4x.

It’s an interesting development.

——

Thanks to Tedjs and MarkM for the tip!

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by Swade

Sunday snippets

November 7, 2010 in Saabology

Saab dealerships in Tennessee are on the move….

An auto dealership relocated from Bartlett more than one year ago has changed hands and again been moved. Russell Gwatney, president of Gwatney Enterprises, Inc., recently announced his company had purchased Saab of Memphis from Bud Davis and on Monday began selling the brand’s models at 2420 Covington Pike. The location had, until then, long been home to a Saturn dealership.

Apparently, it was the first Saturn dealership ever.

“Saturn is no more,” Gwatney said about the conversions. “But we are happy to be associated with Saab.”

He said he is excited to immediately showcase two new Saab models, with three more expected soon.

“Saturn had not made new products in a while,” Gwatney said.

Saab of Memphis on opening day at its new Covington Pike location had 22 new vehicles, as well as approximately 30 used vehicles, ready for sale. Gwatney said plans are to keep 50-60 vehicles in stock at all times.

——

And Tennessee move #2

USI Motors Inc., a West Knoxville luxury car dealership, has acquired the Knoxville Saab franchise previously owned by the Rodgers family.

Mehdi Rahmanian, owner and president of USI Motors, said the dealership has 2010 Saabs in stock and will be offering sales and service for the brand.

“Saab is a good addition to our line,” he said. “The type of customer that we sell automobiles to, this would be a great second car for them.”

OK, so it’s kind of a backhanded compliment there, but when you look at the other cars he sells (young, second hand)….

USI regularly deals in such brands as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and others.

Maybe his customers can drive their Saabs as primary vehicles while some of the others have their mileage preserved.

Thanks Ted!

——

The dash of the Cadillac SRX

Cadillac SRX Dash

I spend so much time in and around Saabs that sometimes, I take the layout, comfort and equipment for granted.

Is it just me, or is that one busy, nasty piece of work?

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A few years ago we had a photo competition called “Saab Pride” and there was a magnificent photo of a red Viggen convertible posed in front of a giant gopher. What it made it all the more outstanding is that it was in the middle of winter, making the gopher and the red Viggen stand out even more.

It looks just good without the snow, though. From Flickr.

Rich Viggen Dry

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by Swade

Cadillac SRX Turbos recalled: blessing in disguise?

May 29, 2010 in News

Stories are hitting the interwebs today about the recall that’s been issued for the Cadillac SRX – sister model to the Saab 9-4x – fitted with the 2.8T engine.

Earlier this year, one of our automotive colleagues, Saab owner and future film star Gunnar Heinrich, blew up a Cadillac SRX during a test drive. He accidentally filled the car up with regular fuel when it’s designed to run on premium. That was seen as a one-off, but now multiple owners of the SRX have done the same and a recall has been issued so that all owners can have their software recalibrated.

Apparently, the engineers dialled up the boost on the SRX’s engine software, probably so that it was capable of hauling around the bloated SRX’s huge weight. In order to do so, they slapped a “Premium Fuel Only” sticker on it that a number of customers have ignored, leading to them grenading the engine when running it on regular fuel.

This is the same engine that’s been running in the Saab 9-3 for several years without similar incident, but at 280hp rather than 300hp like in the SRX. It’s also the same engine that’s slated as being the Aero engine for the Saab 9-4x, which is why this could be a blessing in disguise.

We’ve all gone through the hand-wringing associated with the delayed release of the 9-4x but this episode with the SRX means that delay might turn out to be a good thing. Hopefully Saab can go to school on this and take actions to avoid similar problems when the 9-4x is launched in April next year.

Weight reduction? Better software?

Whatever the answer is, Saab have a chance to learn from it now and avoid the problems associated with a recall later on.

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by Swade

Ny Teknik: Saab had to foot the bill for the BLS

April 15, 2010 in Saabology

You know, there was a time last year (like, all of it) when I felt like I truly hated General Motors. As the sale was negotiated, fell apart and Saab’s very future involved guillotines, windmills and other bad things, the clouds in my mind only got darker.

Funny how a good outcome can clear the mind and I’ve not given GM much thought since. This article, in today’s NyTeknik, hasn’t taken me back to those dark places. In fact, now I just sigh and think “typical”.

The Googletrans:

It cost the Saab more than a billion to develop and produce the Cadillac BLS. The car became a financial fiasco and a personal setback for General Motors model officer and alderman Bob Lutz. But headquarters in Detroit did not pay the bill for failure. It was forced to make Saab in Trollhättan.

This revealed Saab Director Jan Åke Jonsson, in connection with the trade association BIL Sweden’s voice in the week.

It was in July 2003 by Bob Lutz and other GM management gave Saab mission to develop a new version of the 9-3 that would be sold under the brand Cadillac. The aim was to strengthen the position of Cadillac luxury car in the European market. A version with four doors presented in 2006 and was followed by years of a combination. But demand was minimal, the European general agent (Kroymans Corporation) went bankrupt and ceased production 2009th

Sales reached only ten percent of the target and the party cost more than a billion crowns.

-Guess who took the bill, “said Jan Åke Jansson with a wry smile.

He believes that there are many advantages to now be free from GM. Among other things, less red tape, the freedom to self-build the brand and control over cash flow.

But of course there were also advantages of being a GM family. Among other things, owns Saab now highly modern and profoundly effective manufacturing and development facilities.

Yeah, we can thank them for some things, but there’s so much more to be happy about and that’s all to do with separation.

The BLS was good for two things. This, for starters. And some flow-on improvements in NVH for the 9-3 after the BLS was done.

Thanks to Lennart for the tip.

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by Swade

Am I flippin’ out? Saab should send a Turbo X to race Bob Lutz

October 28, 2009 in Saabology

UPDATE below
——
OK, this is a little reckless and stupid. It’s a mission to nowhere, but I can’t help but think it’s a good idea.
Bob Lutz – the guy who pretty much single-handedly killed Saab’s product range at the start of this decade – got on his high horse about the Cadillac CTS-V and dared anyone to come race him. He’d be at the wheel of the Caddy and his carefully selected opponents would run what they brung.
500x_locat_4.jpg Jalopnik are one of those carefully selected opponents and they were scheduled to show up in a Jaguar XFR, but the people at Jaguar have orchestrated a public relations disaster by pulling the big cat out of the event.
Jalopnik are now looking for a new car to take out Maximum Bob and I reckon SaabUSA should call in one of the unsold Turbo X’s and hand it over. If Jalopnik can’t get a factory car from someone then they’ll probably just run the Mitsubishi Evo that they’ll drive to the event in.
The CTS-V has a stonking big LSV supercharged V8 putting out 566hp and the Saab Turbo X puts out 280hp from it’s V6. I reckon Bob’s ego would allow for Saab to throw in a Hirsch tune for the Turbo-X, which would lift its performance a little bit higher (albeit without the needed hardware) to 300hp and 430Nm.
Now those cars would still be a long way apart on paper, but if the track and more importantly, the weather, suited the Saab then it could be closer than you think. If the track had enough corners to suit the XWD system and was at least mildly moist then I think Saab would get maximum props just for turning up when others feared to walk through the door to face Maximum Putz.
This is basically a big show of bravado on Bob’s part. The Saab wouldn’t win and wouldn’t be expected to win but even if the X managed to stay on the track and be mildly competitive then it’d be backslaps all round.
For those who think it’d be an absolute slaughter, I’d like to remind you of the track session SaabUSA held a few years ago, pitting the Turbo X against an Audi S4, a BMW 335xi, a WRX STi and BMW M3.
The Saab was 4 seconds behind the M3 and the STi in the dry, but was bested only by the STi and only by one-tenth of a second when the track was dampened.
What have they got to lose?
The event is only 2 days away now, so it’s probably not even a remote possibility. But I would really love to see Saab step up to that plate and just be part of it. They’ve got a habit of being able to do things people think they shouldn’t be able to do.
Shoving one of his own discarded cars up Bob Lutz’s clacker fits the bill if you ask me.
——
UPDATE
Here’s a format I’d like to see…..
Saab could bring a Hirsched Turbo X to the party but the party is now held over two stages to see which car is more versatile.
5 laps on the track, as they’re doing now.
PLUS
5 laps on a dirt rally circuit.
Aggregate time wins.

UPDATE II
Seth Hosko explains my thoughts better than I do in this video on his branding blog.
Good stuff.

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by Swade

The curious case of the Saab 9-4x

July 26, 2009 in Saabology

The third of Saab’s four, upcoming vehicles, is the Saab 9-4x and there’s beena review over on the New York Times which has cast a little doubt on it’s ability to stand up to the competition.
The review is actually of the Cadillac SRX, but seeing as how the main criticism is of the base level engine and transmission, and seeing as how it’s the same base level engine and transmission that will be in the US-spec Saab 9-4x, this is a potential problem.
Maybe.

If a car could break a sweat, you’d need to mop the Caddy’s brow every time you trudge up a hill or struggle from a stoplight. The SRX takes a lazy 8.5 seconds to reach 60 m.p.h., according to Car and Driver magazine. That’s last in the class by a good margin, about 2 seconds slower than the Audi Q5 or the Acura RDX. Lincoln’s excellent new MKT crossover is nearly 2.5 seconds quicker to 60 with its lusty twin-turbo V-6, although it is heavier and roomier…..
……The transmission is another buzzkill, obsessed with moving you into high gears too soon, an obvious sop to fuel economy. In city traffic or hilly terrain, the SRX seems always in the wrong gear. Press the gas, and the Caddy lugs and bogs, forcing you to press harder, at which point the transmission finally wakes up and executes a lurching two-gear downshift.

The offending lump is an all-new 3.0 litre direct-injected six cylinder unit. It’s a non-turbo affair that puts out around 260hp and from we’ve learned previously, up to around 350Nm of torque. Those numbers sound OK on paper, but the SRX is a reasonably heavy vehicle and there’s not much to suggest that the 9-4x will be significantly lighter.
Now, I should mention that comparing the 0-60 acceleration times of SUVs is a bit like a couple of eunechs eyeing each other off in the shower block. Yes, they have some of the essential gear, but they’re not going to be using it any time soon. Anyone for whom 0-60 times are really a top priority is not buying a SUV, they’re looking at a sports car or a sports sedan.

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by Swade

Meanwhile, back in Trollhattan…..

June 13, 2009 in Archive

Photos by Dave R, taken yesterday.
And yes Dave, I do like the symbolism (though I’m sure no-one at Saab likes me saying that – officially, at least)
CrushedCaddy.jpg
CrushedCaddy2.jpg

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by Swade

Cadillac on ADL-TV

June 9, 2009 in Archive

There’s only one person I can think of who could get me to say a kind word about Cadillac – that would be my Dad, and he passed away 24 years ago.
So instead of trying to manufacture a kind word about GM’s pet, I’ll simply direct you to Automobiles Deluxe and let you watch 7 minutes of Caddy-kindness for yourselves.
Why would I do this?
For starters, I know that some people – even here – still maintain a respect for Cadillac, what they might have represented in the past and the renaissance they’ve undergone in the last few years. If that’s you, then here’s something grand.
Secondly, the video’s been made by an old friend of Trollhattan Saab and SU, Gunnar Heinrich. He’s the too-smooth man in the jacket asking the questions.
And third, like every video that Gunnar and his ADL posse makes, this one’s superb to watch (even if it is about Cadillac)
CAddySign.jpg

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by Swade

GM want Cadillac to be like Saab….only butt ugly

April 12, 2009 in Archive

It saddens me that there are a number of people who work for Saab, in several countries, who don’t like me much. The main reason for that is probably because I’ve been critical of the way Saab’s been (or not been) supported in their jurisdiction – and often that’s been because the country they work in wanted to push Cadillac.

It saddens me, but I’ll live with it.

The reason I took that line and was so vehement about it is because I’m a Saab fan. I’m not a GM fan, I’m a Saab fan. I was so critical because I could see GM money that could have gone into building great new Saabs (or marketing the current ones a whole lot better) going into making crap Cadillacs that didn’t sell to anyone regardless of the bottomless bucket of money GM threw at them. If Saab had have received that support it would have yielded a much greater return.

I’ve long believed that the Saab philosophy on building cars was the perfect philosophy for the times we’re moving into. Small cars that act like much bigger cars in terms of performance, space, utility and of course, safety. People have said for years that Saab were ahead of their time with many of the features on their early models and it’s true, which is why Saab’s philosophy from the 1970s is still so appropriate today. How many other companies could build to the recipe they were using back then and have it still be relevant? Maybe Porsche, Ferrari et al. and that’s about it.

Considering all this, the story at Automobile Magazine that I received a link to overnight should cause steam to come out of my ears…..thought it doesn’t. I’m not that surprised at all, really.

The most important of GM’s upcoming models will be an all-new sub-CTS entry, a small car that will “reach the market probably in 24 to 30 months,” Shannon says. The baby Caddy has to ride on a flexible platform, as GM is looking to get the biggest bang for its buck: it is considering sedan, wagon, 3-door hatchback and convertible variants for the new car.

And yes, that’s Steve Shannon, the guy in charge of Saab until they bought in The Cat In The Hat and combined Saab, Cadillac and Hummer in order to justifiably increase Caddy’s budget by just a little bit more.

So what we have here is GM doing two things:

1) They’re damning themselves with their own decisions

Saab had a full range of cars for the 9-3 model line back in 2003 and I’m led to believe that range included a hatch model. What we got was the sedan in 03, the convertible in 04 and the combi released for 06.

Saab also had the 9-3x variant canned around this time because someone (believed to be Bob “we’re-designing-the-most-Saabish-vehicles-ever” Lutz) had the idea that a vehicle like the 9-3x wouldn’t sell in America. Subaru couldn’t have been more pleased.

And now GM want to introduce a small Caddy that basically has 80% of the variants the 9-3 should have had – sedan, hatch, convertible, wagon. The only thing missing is the allroader version.

2) GM are missing the point with Cadillac and will shoot it in the foot (again)

Cadillac are meant to be large, steroid-injecting, luxo-barges for the conspicuous consumer. The only new developments we seem to see at Cadillac are at the smaller end of the market. The mid-size CTS that everyone’s fawning over (good, but not that good – and yes, I’ve driven it), the SRX that’s to be built alongside Saab’s 9-4x and now this baby Caddy they’re talking about.

They’re selling the brand’s heritage down the crapper, which I guess is a case of what else is new?
——

It’s not like I give a damn about the future of Cadillac. They can wreck it any way they like.
The main point is the first one – the fact that they wrecked Saab prior to all this and now they’re thinking of moving Cadillac right into the segment that Saab should have been occupying. It’s a backflip of monumental proportions and should really condemn them for the mistreatment of the brand they already had in that space.

And that point brings me back to the one I started with, about certain Saab people not liking what I do so much.

All you Saab folks at GM in countries around the world who didn’t like what I was saying over the last few years – this example with Cadillac is a good case to show why I did it.

You were sticking up for the company that puts food on your table, while I was sticking up for the brand they were choking. Neither of us is essentially wrong, but please don’t think that I made your life as a Saab person any more difficult.

Your GM bosses did that. Not me.

Thanks to Karen for the link!