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by Swade

Report: Subaru to build Legacy and Outback in Trollhattan

January 31, 2011 in News

UPDATE II:

OK…..

The exact nature of the story isn’t clear, but further communication indicates that there will be something going on here, relating to work being done using Saabs facilities, but nothing like cars actually being built on the site.

It seems the exact nature of the engagement will be announced later today.

UPDATE:

The initial reports spoke only of things from the Subaru side. There was no comment from Saab.

The first report mentioned was at Dagens Industri (at this URL), but they seem to have removed the report. Other services such as TTELA, Swedish Radio and SVD ran the report as well.

The initial contact that I’ve been able to make with Saab, via email, indicates that this story is most likely in error. There are further checks taking place, but right now it looks like this was a speculative report based on some comments from a Subaru executive.

If I hear anything more, I’ll let you know.

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This is just hitting the news services in Sweden…..

From TTELA:

Subaru wants to develop in Trollhättan

TROLLHÄTTAN – Japanese car giants Subaru wants to develop two of its car models in Trollhättan. The plans have been confirmed by Subaru Nordic’s CEO Torbjorn Lillrud.
Subaru plans to further develop the model Legacy and Outback for gas.

Torbjorn Lillrud stated the following to Dagens Indusri, DI:

- It is unique to a foreign car company will start manufacturing in Sweden of a model that is partly developed in Sweden.

According to DI Legacy and Outback rebuilt in Saab Automobile’s facility in Trollhättan.

Victor Muller’s very keen to drive down Saab’s break even point and increase profitability. One way to do that is to reduce costs. The other is to bring in outside revenue.

Sure beats building windmills :-)

I’ll trace other reports and see if there’s anything more to report about this.

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by Swade

Friday Snippets – Fire edition

January 28, 2011 in Saabology

I was quite distressed last night to hear about a fire being deliberately lit in my favourite hotel – the Scandic Swania in Trollhattan.

Most people who have visited Trollhattan would be familiar with the Swania and I know a bunch of SU readers have stayed there over the years during Saab Festival and other events. It’s great views, wonderful rooms, exceptional staff (and great breakfasts!) make it a wonderful place to stay when you’re visiting the land of Saab.

Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the fire. I hope they catch the bastard that lit it and that the Scandic group can rebuild the damaged sections of the hotel soon.

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Saab fans in south-east Pennsylvania should look in on the SE Penn Saab Club forum and check out the Independence Day drive they’re organising for February 20th.

The plan at the moment is for a light brunch around 10am and then a drive to the appropriately named Victory brewing company for a tour and a lunch.

They need to book the tour, so check in at the forum and show your interest.

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Speaking of Saab gatherings, the Saab Swiss Fondue meeting was held last weekend in Switzerland. Around 60+ people and 30 Saabs were there for the weekend and it looks like there was a good time, and plenty of cheese, had by all.

They got some good media coverage, too. This is just one of many…..

The event was organised by Dimini.ch, who sell wonderful scale model Saabs (and a few others).

There are plenty of photos here and even some good video over at Saab Actu.

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Hilton Holloway from Autocar has published a review of the baby of the Saab 9-5 range – the 1.6T petrol version.

It’s actually quite a positive read but the same problems with UK tests persist – a ride experience that’s less comfy than it should be. It seems 18 wheels with 45 profile tyres aren’t doing the trick and if some other setup is available, then UK journos should be getting that alternative.

HH quite likes the 1.6T engine in most instances and the overall finish of the car seems to have improved in his estimation.

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All you advocates of a high powered Saab ought to get your thinking caps on in preparation for the weekend – the SU Hi-Po Challenge will be on.

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by Swade

Mysterious Saab 9-5 test vehicle spotted in Trollhattan

October 17, 2010 in Saabology

I’ll keep the spotter’s name out of this post as he’s a local there in Trollhattan, but this makes for a very interesting photo.

Saab 9-5 tester

It’s badged as a V6 Aero, but that’s obviously not an Aero bumper or exhaust setup on the back there. And then there’s those blue plug-like things.

Saab 9-5 tester detail

Our spotter says that the car also had similar plugs around the glovebox area.

Hybrid-electric tester? Something else? Let the speculations begin!

And if anyone knows the truth about this vehicle, that’d be welcome too.

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by Swade

9 things to do in Trollhattan

July 9, 2010 in Saabology

The Saab Festival is coming up and hopefully quite a few of you will be travelling to Trollhattan for the festivities.

I got in touch with the tourism people in THN and asked them what they thought the 9 best things to do in Trollhattan are for the next week or so. Here’s the list they sent me.

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by Swade

AFP: Saab ready for ‘revenge’

June 28, 2010 in Saabology

I wrote over the weekend of my feelings towards not only Saab, but the people there and the city of Trollhattan, which is a place I love to visit.

AFP have a nice background piece today, talking about not only the relief people feel at Saab’s renewed operations there, but also of their motivation to get cracking and show what they can do.

“There is really a feeling of revenge, we want to show what we can do,” she told AFP. “It’s pretty unique for a company to survive a year of restructuring and a wind-down.”

To be honest, I think there’s more relief there than a need for revenge, but I do think there’ll be a lot of satisfaction around Trollhattan when newspapers like Dagens Industri and others are forced to write about increased Saab sales and growing Saab markets instead of the drivel that some of them have been coming out with for the last few months.

This one’s definitely recommended reading for those who are interested in the region.

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by Swade

Video: Saab HUD and Traffic Signal recognition

June 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

A short video of the Saab Head-Up Display starting up, then in operation, as well as the traffic signal recognition system.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVekffxj5QE

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by Swade

Video: Saab 9-5 Infotainment System

June 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

I got one of the product specialists, Mikael Jakobsson, to walk me through all the electronic goodies available on the new Saab 9-5.

I drove a fully equipped V6 car on Tuesday and the integration of the electronics was a real feature, especially as I was driving by myself in a foreign country and was quite reliant on the information provided to me via the car. It all worked seamlessly, as advertised, and became one of the real unexpected highlights of the car for me.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF0UGsLcB_0

The menu systems are grouped in a smart way – can you call it ergonomics when it involves menu systems? I learned to use most of this stuff whilst driving, such is the intuitive nature of the systems.

Other items that we didn’t cover in the video are the Head-Up Display and some of the systems that run through the dashboard’s display.

For example, the speed sign recognition system, which reads speed-zone signs as you drive along and then displays the appropriate speed limit on the central dashboard display (it works brilliantly and is a bigger than expected help).

Then there’s the Head-Up Display, which shows important information projected on to the windscreen. It’s a great way to monitor your speed, but the biggest benefit I received from the HUD was the ability to see SatNav instructions right there in front of me whilst I was driving. Outstanding!

Autoblog were a little critical of the HUD because you can see subtle reflections of the actual HUD projector around the HUD information you see on the windscreen. I can see where they’re coming from, but it wasn’t prominent and the benefits provided by the HUD system far outweigh the fact that you notice something on the periphery of your view. To their credit, Saab have said they’re taking notice and will work to refine the system as time progresses.

My thanks to Mikael, who I’ll hopefully meet again when it comes time to review the Saab 9-4x as he’s the product manager for that vehicle :-)

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by Swade

Video: Saab 9-5 XWD and DriveSense (test track mayhem!)

June 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last time I attended an event like this, I did a video in the first Saab 9-3 with XWD, with Kenneth Backlund from the Saab Performance Team. Kenneth was there again today, but frankly, after this drive with Stefan Rundquist from Saab, I was too queasy/shaky/stunned to even think about a lap with Kenneth.

Don’t take that in a bad way. What Stefan did in this car was demonstrate something approaching the extraordinary capabilities of the Saab XWD system.

You’ll hear the rain and see the wipers. This track was incredibly wet today. We were in a 2.8T V6 Saab 9-5 and on some of these long sweeping corners were doing up to 150km/h and the car was totally rock solid – totally.

You’ll see in some sections that Stefan is actually steering quite sharply and trying to induce some forced oversteer (at over 100 km/h on a bend) and the tyres just dig in, shift the power around and keep the car stable.

It really was an incredible eye-opener as to what this car can do. I’ve mentioned already that to me, the V6 version of the 9-5 seems more like a smooth cruiser, that it doesn’t invite you to really test its limits. I think this video shows that despite its long touring credentials, this car is capable of handling whatever tests you might throw its way.

The video is from a handheld camera so it does move around a little with the frequent changes in momentum and motion, but hopefully you’ll still get a good sense of what’s going on.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiBb4DFmvWQ

My sincere thanks to Stefan for the ride – now I know how Saab felt back in 2009!

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by Swade

Video: Saab Factory Tour

June 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

To kick off day 2 of the Saab 9-5 launch program, they took us around for a quick tour of the factory. I had my still camera out for the first few minutes and then figured that was quite useless – and if we were allowed to bring in still cameras, then we could probably take video as well.

So I did.

We were driven around in a little cart with a bunch of seating buggies pulled behind, reasonably low to the ground, which is why things get blocked occasionally. The cart rarely (if ever) stopped, too, so it’s not the greatest video in the world, but hopefully it should give you some idea of what goes on there.

I believe the girl providing the commentary is the daughter of Saab’s marketing director, Knut Simonsson. That’s keeping it in the family for you!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSsXftrMUy8

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYRfx5_dUos

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by Swade

Trollhattan Visit – Day 3 notes

June 10, 2010 in Saabology

I did several important things today.

First, I drove the 2.0T version of the new Saab 9-5.

Second, I drove the 9-3x.

Reasons why they’re important will come out in the road test reports (of which there will probably be a few). What I can tell you now is that the 2.0T version of this car is going to make a lot of people very, very happy.

——

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to drive the diesel. I had one car yesterday (the V6) and one car today (the 2.0T). The test track cars were all the same – six V6s all with the same spec level – so we couldn’t drive the road cars we were driving.

Whilst I’m disappointed to not be able to comment on it directly from my own drive, the common theme that I heard is that a base model diesels with the normal chassis that were driven by journalists lacked some prowess in terms of handling because they didn’t have the chassis improvements that were fitted to the petrol models.

There was talk of excessive body roll in the corners, etc.

I’ll talk more about this later.

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We were at the Volvo test track today. Saab have their own small track in Trollhattan, but Volvo’s is a full test track with all kinds of roads and conditions simulated there. Saab has an annual contract with Volvo for use of this track and they now even have their own facilities building there.

We did a handling course and I can tell you that if today didn’t prove the virtues of XWD to the German press corps, then nothing will. It was raining all day, so we had a very wet track. Combine that with the daring of the Saab Performance Team drivers and XWD and you can probably understand why I’m about 3kg lighter right now.

Video coming soon.

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If you’ve ever doubted how seriously safety is taken at Volvo, then this should give you a good idea.

There is no smoking allowed at the Volvo test facility – indoors or outdoors. They did allow Saab to set up a small smoking area near the hospitality tent, however.

Two ashtrays, and three fire extinguishers!

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Saab factory tour on video?

Coming up!

The quality isn’t great as we were in a moving factory tour train, but hopefully it’ll still be worth seeing.

——

Lots of writing and processing to do. Lots and lots still to come.

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by Swade

Trollhattan Visit – Day 2 notes

June 9, 2010 in Saabology

The first day of our Saab 9-5 drive is done and dusted and it’s been a truly pleasurable day. I’m glad I got that initial drive impression up on the site because it’s been so hectic with this program, with so many people to meet, that it would have been a long time between posts otherwise.

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With all due respect to the many good reviews that have been written about the Saab 9-5 so far, this Saab 9-5 review from Autoblog is something to check out.

It came in via Mo in comments and as is mentioned by a few people there, this is definitely the most comprehensive and balanced piece I’ve read in the last 2 weeks.

Kudos to Chris Paukert for an excellent piece. His thoughts echo many of my own, but I’ll get to more on those later.

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The 9-5 that I drove today had a testament to the caution I tend to express over cars being over-laden with gadgets, thereby reducing the role that people feel they need to play in the management of a vehicle.

There’s a small dent on the car that I drove, on the rear of the car just to the left of the Aero badge. Apparently one of the journalists who drove the car in the last few days backed the car up, relying on the parking sensors to warn him of obstacles and neglecting to look in his mirrors.

My understanding is that behind the car was some sort of railing that was on top of a thin post. The post was too thin to be picked up by the relative position of the sensor and likewise, the railing along the top was too high up. Bang!

Having driving aids present doesn’t mean one is exempt from paying attention.

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I took the Saab 93 that Victor Muller drove in the Mille Miglia for a lap around the Saab plant today. What a car!

Funkier than a sack full ‘o grandpappies.

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I was also fortunate to sit at the VM table at dinner tonight. VM was holding court with members of the German press and there was a great deal of discussion going on, mostly in German. They all seemed to be quite engaged and interested in the Saab story, though. Good signs.

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I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of selecting a little gift for Jan-Ake Jonsson on my way here, as a gesture of appreciation on behalf of the SU community. I had hoped to give it to him earlier tonight, but the chance passed me by. I’ll get it to him tomorrow some time. Photos will hopefully follow.

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I believe that Jan-Erik Berggren is on to something when he speaks of south-bound airplanes. Similar news was mentioned in another Swedish motoring publication some time ago and I believe it’s correct.

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I asked one expert here today the much awaited question – will there eventually be a manual option for the Saab 9-5 V6?

His reply “I believe there could be”

Me: “Can I quote you on that?”

Him: “Maybe not….”

The jury is still out, but I’ll keep asking around.

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Saab did over 2,000 simulated crash tests on the Saab 9-5. When you consider that there’s adjustments to the parameters of the car or the conditions of the crash test, that’s a heck of a lot of testing.

And that’s before you get into the wanton destruction caused by physical testing.

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More Saab 9-5 HiPer Strut for those who are interested…..

Whilst the same system also features in the OPC version of the Insignia, the Saab version is tuned quite differently, with specially selected bushes, dampers and settings particular to Saab.

Interestingly, the designated expert for the suspension area on the 9-5 launch is none other than Peter Johansson, the guy who was also behind the development of Saab’s XWD system.

There are some people at Saab who’s blood should be bottled and preserved. Peter’s one of them.

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I’ve got some great video to process tomorrow, taking you on a walk-through of the whole infotainment system. It’s the one area of the car that made the biggest impression on me today.

I’m not a gadget guy at all, but even I was engaged with all this. They really hit the ball out of the park on the technology front. It’s not just the number of features you can select, it’s the way they work and how they’re integrated.

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Tomorrow is the track day and another video with Kenneth Backlund from the Saab Performance Team beckons…….

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I have to be awake in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Time for bed.

Have a great one.