Saab 9-3x vs Saab 9-3 SportCombi

I thought it these photos might make for an interesting quick comparison.
It’s amazing how some wheels, suspension and a bit of body kit can transform a car. Of course, the light and dark colors of the vehicles make the effect seem more pronounced, too, but all in all I think you’ll get the picture.
What you’re seeing here is the 2008 Saab 9-3 SportCombi in Aero form compared with the Saab 9-3x pictures that we got last week. I’ve tried to pick similar angles where possible so it’s an apples vs apples scenario.

They really do look like two different cars and you can see that Saab are intentionally toughening up the 9-3x to position it in that upper-Subaru wagon and Volvo markets. It looks a lot taller, a lot more rugged and nothing like the hunkered down form of the Aero.

I guess what’ll determine it’s success in that Volvo/Suuby market is the price. The Suuby market might find it a bit expensive though the smaller Volvo types might find it appealing.
The things we don’t know about the 9-3x that could make a big difference: levels of equipment and engine options. The base model 9-3 SportCombi with 2.0T and XWD comes in at $37,810 in the US. I can’t see the 9-3x being any cheaper than that.

I’m really interested to see this car in the metal. My tastes tend to skew towards the more sporting elements of the Saab range, but this one fascinates me to a degree, possibly moreso than the 9-4x at this point in time.

Saab 9-3 spyshots appear

As has been mentioned a few times already, Saab had the 9-3x out for a photoshoot in the last few weeks and sure enough, Djup Strupe has come through with some albeit lo-res goods.
Here’s the car. Click to enlarge:

As you can see, it seems to have all the things we’ve mentioned here in the past: The riased stance, the cladding all round, the scuff plating front and rear, the roof rails.
The only difference that I can see is the set of wheels they’ve put on this one, which seem to be a new split 10-spoke wheel on this model vs the silver Turbo X alloys they had on the model shown in Germany.
For our previous intel and spyshots of this car, click here.
I just hope they market the crap out of this one as being the anti-SUV. Or can they not do that with a 9-4x in the pipeline?

GM considering selling Saab

UPDATE: The Bloomberg story below is now all over the place. The Detroit News are running it right up front. So are Automotive News.
The Detroit News report as follows:

A GM spokesman declined to comment on a report Wednesday that the automaker was considering whether to eliminate its Pontiac, Saab and Saturn brands as a way to cut costs and improve its chances of getting as much as $12 billion in emergency federal aid.

….and further on….

GM has 1,071 outlets for Pontiac, 400 for Saturn and about 105 for Saab among its 6,400 dealers, said Susan Garontakos, a spokeswoman. GM has been trying to combine Cadillac/Hummer/Saab and Pontiac/Buick/GMC brands into consolidated dealerships that would benefit from greater sales and lower marketing costs.

Only 105 for Saab? Seriously?
Anyway, the whole story amounts to around 300 words when it could have just said “no comment”.
I wrote to SaabUSA and Saab Sweden for a comment on the story. As at the time of writing, Jan-Willem at SaabUSA’s probably still eating his Wheaties. Eric Geers from Saab Sweden was in the office, though, and replied as follows:

Hej Steven
Well, we knew speculations like these would come up and probably some other scenarios as well as we come closer to Dec. 8. It’s as much unfortunate as it is a surprise. Note they don’t come from us and here in Sweden we work as usual and focus on the plans we have today.

I’ll add JWV’s comment as soon as it comes in, though I may be catching Z’s by then and have to do it in the morning.
Back to the original story. They all might be covering it now, but it’s been here for hours 🙂
There’s many mixed signals in the GM Crisis Media (TM) today. Here’s the daily precis from around the web:
Bloomberg are reporting that GM are now considering cutting loose a number of brands in order to satisfy the US congress that it has the right plan for a profitable future (i.e. a future that sees them pay back the money they want to borrow:

General Motors Corp., working to cut costs to win $12 billion in government loans, is studying whether to shed its Saturn, Saab and Pontiac brands in addition to Hummer, people familiar with the matter said.
Selling or dropping brands would save money and reduce overlap as the biggest U.S. automaker struggles to avoid running out of operating cash by year’s end, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because no decision has been made.

Much as I’d like to see Saab in some hands that care a little more, I just don’t see them changing tack so dramatically at the last minute.
We’ll wait for inevitable “Saab is not for sale” article, probably due in the next 24 hours.
Thanks Dippen
An unexpected vote of confidence?
JP Morgan are saying that GM bonds might represent some very good value right now. They consider the company has a very good chance of recovering to the point where they can realise a lot of savings they’ve got locked in for around 2010.

JPMorgan analysts rate GM’s bonds a “buy.”
“We believe GM has several sources of liquidity it can access to bridge the company to 2010 when it realizes considerable cost cuts,” analysts Eric Selle and Atiba Edwards said in a report.
These include an overfunded pension plan, possible asset sales, capital market transactions, equity injections, cost cutting and government loans, they said.

Thanks ctm!
Deutsche Bank also believe that GM’s chances have improved and their latest commentary has sparked a jump in GM’s share price (and Ford, too).
From Automotive News (subs req’d)

Shares of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. jumped today after Deutsche Bank said chances have improved for the struggling U.S. automakers to receive a government bailout.
“There is growing concern about the risks to the U.S. economy that would be derived from inaction,” Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache said in a research note.
“The proximity of these bailout hearings to the Citigroup bailout may have also tipped the scales somewhat,” Lache said, referring to the massive government rescue of the bank announced Sunday.
Shares of GM, which hit a 70-year low of $1.70 last week, surged 35.1 percent today to close at $4.81 a share — up$1.25 a share on three times the stock’s normal trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange. At one point the stock reached $5.87 before retreating during the afternoon.

Is it just me, or do these banks and commentators have far too much influence? Someone’s made a killing selling GM shares today and all because of a few positive words.
So, in artist’s terms, we’re looking at mixed media.
Maybe the report on jettisoning a few brands led to the positive outlooks seen later in the day.
Only a week or so to go until we all get to hear the basics of the General’s plans.

Talking Saab with Eric Geers of Saab Sweden

Tonight I chatted with Eric Geers from Saab Sweden. Eric is the Director of Communications for Saab Automobile, working mostly out of Gothenburg.
We covered a number of topics and I’m pleased to say I’m feeling quite good about Saab’s prospects should GM make it through the current storm it’s in. After my first questions about the 9-6x, the current outlook for Saab is exactly where we started:
Trollhattan Saab: What’s the general mood around there with everything that’s going on right now?
Eric Geers: I would be naive to say that everyone is extremely confident that everything will be OK in the future. I think people have a belief in the fact that we have done the right things. The thing is that you cannot influence the economic situation. We don’t know exactly when the end of this is going to be. That’s the scary part.

Read moreTalking Saab with Eric Geers of Saab Sweden

Could GM sell Saab – even if they wanted to?

Sorry, but this financial crisis stuff is just too big to let go for too long. It’s taken another twist today with GM’s boss Rick Wagoner doing an interview with Automotive News:

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner says GM’s financial distress is so dire that it must line up financial assistance from Washington before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.
“This is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently,” Wagoner said during an exclusive interview today with Automotive News. Now is the time to “overshoot, not undershoot” when it comes to assistance for the auto industry, he added.

The problems with this scenario are numerous.
First, you’ve got the fact that President Bush still holds the reins until January 20, and he’s already said “no” once. GM are eligible for a share of $25billion that’s aimed at getting more fuel efficient cars on the road, but what they want is access to another $25billion just to keep the lights on.
There are a number of commentators now saying that maybe GM should get a payout, that the consequences of letting them go bankrupt would be too dire to contemplate:

“If GM goes down, it will take down companies like Lear and Johnson Controls,” Wolkonowicz says. “That will shut Ford down, and it would shut down production at Toyota and Honda. They would go down like dominoes.”
One supplier CEO agreed. “Any occurrence of bad debt would be a death blow to the industry,” said the executive, who asked not to be identified because he does business with the Detroit 3.
“If GM filed for bankruptcy, … the impact would be so catastrophic that it would make the current industrial downturn look like a walk in the park.”

But many are also saying that if they do get a payout, there should be some pretty serious strings attached. Strings that look like nooses, perhaps. Around the collective necks of the current powers that be. This from the Wall Street Journal:

Read moreCould GM sell Saab – even if they wanted to?

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