January 31, 2013 in Jason Castriota Design
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May 25, 2012 in News
TTELA today brings news on the phoenix platform and its status. Update: I cleaned up the heading a bit to remove ambiguity. My apologies for any confusion caused!
The Phoenix platform is ready if someone wants it. Many of the brains behind the platform are today employed at Innovatum – the engineers at Lean Nova. Lean Nova is an expanding business employing former Saab engineers who are also advicing the bankruptcy estate on technology.
The 70 employees have on average 15 years of technology expertise and the company is expanding:
- “How many and at what rate is dependent on what happens after the sale of Stallbacka” said Martin Öman, referring to his former workplace, Saab Automobile AB, where he was development manager for the chassis. Today he is lean Nova’s Chief Operating Officer, COO.
- “The rate of growth will probably slow down a bit during the summer”, think Öman.
- “But on the other hand, we employed 70 in three months and we hope to find ten more within one month.”
Lean Nova’s main strength is the ability to create a complete car. The engineers are sourced from virtually all corners of Saab’s technological development domain. In Saabvägen 1 (“Saab Road 1″) skills available for chassis construction are available in the form of technical consultants from Combitech, also former Saab employees. The division is a strategy developed when “Plan B” became reality.
- “The idea that there would be new engineering company in Trollhättan was a bit of an incentive for employees to remain before Saab’s bankruptcy. Plan B was planned in the late autumn, and funding was needed. Saab AB, the defense group that owns the Combitech, needed the knowhow present in the chassis department for their development of airplanes, and Fourier transform was interested in funding a company that took advantage of the skills associated with vehicle development – Lean Nova. In time, we may see a merger of the two, or Combitech becomes subcontractors to Lean Nova in the assignment of vehicle development.”
Lean Nova in a few months gained some heavy names for customers like Volvo Cars, Scania and Jaguar Land Rover – but has also worked for Saab’s bankruptcy estate:
- “We have been helping out with technology issues and presented the Phoenix platform to potential buyers”, says Öman.
- “The platform is absolutely up to date, and is not idly decaying. But how long it takes to completion depends on exactly what a new owner desires. In two or three years, the first car based on the Phoenix platform can be ready, and for new entrants in the automobile industry, it would be a fantastic catch.”
The number of engineering inquiries has declined as the stakeholders come closer to the final phase of negotiations.
- “We understand that it takes time for a buyer – if unable to reach an agreement with GM to sell the current generation products they really have to start from the ground up and break-even is not in the near future,” says Öman.
- “But in the long run, Phoenix offers a huge potential, and the hope is of course an owners with deep pockets, who can afford to let the development finish.”
December 30, 2011 in News
They have interviewed Jason Castriota, talked to the supplier’s organization and this morning got a comment from GM.
Saab’s chief designer Jason Castriota says they were busy putting the final touches on the new 900 (née 9-3) when the bankruptcy was declared. “We had put in extra effort to get it ready fast given Saab’s predicament”.
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Ny Teknik have an interesting article on how Saab could produce cars without being bothered by GM:
GM can not stop Saab, or the person who buys the company from building a new generation cars. All the basic technology is controlled by Saab. Thus opens the way for Chinese Youngman and Pang Da.
The next generation of Saab cars are based on Phoenix, a kind of basic drawing and basic design that can be used for a number of new car models. It is controlled by Saab, unlike today’s cars, which GM owns a large part of the technology.
September 22, 2011 in Editorial
I know some of you will want to kill me, and others won’t talk to me for months, but does Volvo really need to develop its SPA (Scalable Platform Architecture) when something similar is being developed 70 km away?
Volvo’s big cars, the S80 and V70 are based on Fords CD platform, their smaller cars, C30, S40, V50 S60, V60, XC60 are based on Fords C platform. Volvo was in charge of the CD platform, and Ford was in charge of the C platform.
May 16, 2011 in Editorial
Notice there’s no mention of the new Phoenix architecture in the plan. Also remember that several other companies (Hawtai included) were still interested in using it in their own vehicles and the ensuing clarification that was needed to separate out what IP BAIC owned vs. the new technology.
While this deal with Pang Da is very exciting (and possibly more so) for Saab’s long term prospects in China because it gives them a clearer equity stake in their fate in China than in the Hawtai deal, the Phoenix platform is still worth a lot of money that Saab could use to secure their long term financing. The question is– how much is that worth if it’s competing against Saab’s own joint-venture produced vehicles in China?
I’d argue that for the right company who lacks an adequate rival, it’s pretty huge. It’s clear that Victor’s biggest selling tool though was the Saab name and association, as he revealed to reporters in Washington last week.
“I had a pretty good negotiating position. I positioned what I could sell as a stake in the last premium, independent, European car company. If you do not get this one, you are not going to get a position in Audi. You are not going to get a position in BMW. You are not going to own Mercedes, or maybe they will.
“We had people clamoring at the door. If you don’t get this one, you are done because there won’t be another one.”
That’s as close of an accurate as we can get to what tools Victor actually negotiated with in China this weekend. Hopefully he’s still there negotiating with Hawtai and Youngman (or others) about a potential sale of the Phoenix platform. The research by DI from the weekend that Saab was still in talks with Youngman should not be discounted, there’s a very real possibility that they’re still at work on a deal. Perhaps the “to-be-selected manufacturing partner” who will be assisting in the manufacturing of the MJV will not be so foreign to us after all.
May 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Romac sends word that Auto Express in Britain are conducting a poll featuring a dashing young Saab.
The Auto Express Design Award is a special prize given to the most head-turning car of recent months.
Now, far be it from me to skew the poll in any way by letting you know who my favorite is, all I will hint at is that its name starts with “Saa…” and ends with “…iX”.
Happy voting everyone!
April 22, 2011 in News
Hey guys, busy day here hopping from meeting to meeting at work, but I want to keep the steady stream of info pouring out of New York. I have a lot of questions that I’m waiting to hear back answers from execs from, but in the meantime, I took the most comprehensive pictures I could of the PhoeniX of details we care about (under the car especially until I was asked to stop ). As always, more to come soon.
April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized
Subject: what would a road-ready phoeniX look like?..hmm
That`s what I asked myself, and I came up with something, didn`t mess with the front cause I quite like it, the back and side needed a bit of “street normality” to them.
As you’ll recall the PhoeniX has aerodynamically innovative wings that channel air in a very tight way to lower the coefficient of drag.
Better? Worse? Should Saab try harder to be normal? Discuss. More images in an update after the break. Read the rest of this entry →
April 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
More follows after the jump:
Read the rest of this entry →
April 1, 2011 in News
I cannot believe I almost missed this, but tomorrow they will present the PhoeniX at the museum.
You now have the chance to see the PhoeniX at its home field in Trollhättan. It is on display in the Saab Car Museum on Saturday April 2nd.
I am going. Anyone else? (I have a second source for this news as well, so this is no April’s fools joke)
March 22, 2011 in News
Saab has been very active behind the scenes testing various mules in Sweden. Tips have been coming in on articles in other publications showing these latest prototypes, used to test various components of the Phoenix platform. Keep in mind as usual the bodies of these cars are the current models, as these are mainly for testing elements under the hood for the next generation 9-3.
From worldcarfans.com, an interesting new mule that seems to only be testing front components of the new platform, the rear seems to be from the current 9-3. I have no idea what exactly they get out of testing it this way, but feel free to speculate.
Somethings Marco noted in his tip were:
- New front rims with different bolt system.
- The car was registered in 2009 as a diesel and is currently out of use (according to Swedish authorities).
- No visible exhaust pipes, so is this really a diesel?
- The pics are taken in Arjeplog, Sweden.
And in expressen.se (english translation), we see a mule using a convertible body. Some of the obvious changes are the wider track both front and rear and the exhaust pipes placed further towards the corners. Also, it’s wearing the same wheels as the sedan above.
UPDATE: more pics at caradvice.com.au
March 16, 2011 in News
A report from Autocar says that Saab will be scrapping it’s existing Epsilon 9-3 platform in favor of an entirely “new” platform. To be fair, Saab has said that it was a heavily revised Epsilon platform that would become the Phoenix architecture, but recently we’ve been hearing comments from executives saying that it would be an “all new modular architecture.”
I’d actually like to go back and really take note of Jan Ake’s speech from Geneva, and some of his comments. He highlighted how important distribution was, but also the new Phoenix platform. Starting at around 3:13 of the conference video:
“Seldom have we been able here in Geneva to present so many new products as we’re doing today…2012 will then be the year of the new 9-3, and this is the time when we will have the opportunity to show to you what an independent Saab organization can do, technically, with architectures that are flexible, modular, very appealing design, but also vehicles and cars that are drivers cars where our definition of performance, with safety, practical vehicles utilizing small displacement turbocharged engines that generate very low emissions will be the cornerstone of the Saab brand as we go into the future.”
We’ve known for some time that the new platform was expandable, but this article gives us a nice analogy to understand how the process will work. Imagine it’s like a Nikon F lens mount system, where individual parts use “fixed” interfaces so that down the road they’re easily upgradable and future proof– a lesson they’ve learned from none other than Scania.
Needless to say this is expected news, but it’s nice to hear some details continue to pour out. The real information is the suspension system, which autocar says will use a unique McPherson strut design and a new “race-car” style five-link rear axle made by get this– ZF– at a new plant in Sweden. If true, this is pretty big and exciting news. By tossing out the Epsilon/GM platform in favor of a true Saab solution, critics can no longer argue that Saab isn’t standing on its own feet. By aligning themself with ZF, they’re once again huddling up with the big boys of the auto world as they did with the BMW engine deal; Saab is staking a claim to true competitive performance. Phoenix up.
March 12, 2011 in News
Actually it is still barely afternoon, but as you all know the spirit of SU was born in Australia so by the time this is published it will already be almost Sunday. Eventually, I expect SU will convert to Saab Mean Time (SMT) which is more or less GMT+1.
On to the snippets.
Pam sent our team a note letting us know that the IIHS has published the first MY10/11 9-5 crash test scores. No side impact testing as of yet, but I’m sure their testing regiment will continue. Good score so far.
AutoNews’ Rick Kranz offers up some nice thoughts on the PhoeniX. “The PhoeniX design is polarizing. But that’s OK.” (thanks John for the tip).
Both Saab PhoeniX and IQon continues to receive attention all over Internet. A little googling turns up heaps of articles and opinions. “Don’t Angry Birds and drive!” writes Rik Henderson of pocketlint.com. A colleague of mine received a citation a week ago for using his mobile while driving. He tried to demonstrate that he had a handsfree device in his glove compartment, but no rebate on the ticket was offered. Imagine the cop’s reaction had there been a little Angry Birding going on too.
Personally, I suspect digital distractions will be difficult to avoid in the future. By blocking content on the main satnav screen, all you will accomplish is that the driver will whip out his other portable screen and use that instead. The choice will be between being able to use only one hand or be forced to employ other body parts as well. Still, as with the “fasten seat belts” sign, the car should lead with a good example. In either case, IQon is long overdue and an welcome addition to the Saab product range.
Keep sending us tips.