CARS program in US to be glassed* by midnight?!

UPDATE below
News out of the US states that the CARS program (known as “Cash for clunkers) might be suspended by midnight tonight.
Dealers are having a hard time tracking all the trade-ins and the lack of surety means that they may – or may not – have gone through the 220,000+ transactions needed to exhaust the billion dollar fund already.
Within 4 days of it starting.
* The headline refers to the process dealers have to go through with the ‘clunker’ after it’s traded.
The engines are topped up with liquid glass!

The official process for killing the condemned engine sounds as simple to perform as it is deadly. A deadly cocktail of Sodium silicate, or liquid glass, is used to render the engine inoperable. Dealers are instructed to replace the car’s oil with the solution, then run the engine at 2,000 rpm until the engine stops working. The process supposedly takes three to seven minutes, after which, the dealer is supposed to start up the vehicle again. If the clunker starts up, the process must be repeated until it’s confirmed dead.

Once the engine takes a dirt nap, the dealer must add a sticker that reads: “This engine is from a vehicle that is part of the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS). It has significant internal damage caused by operating the engine with a sodium silicate solution (liquid glass) instead of oil.” The vehicle is then sent to a disposal facility that crushes or shreds the vehicle.

I hope that few, if any, Saabs had to go through this process. They should at least be recycled.
The Auto Prophet has some videos of ‘clunkers’ getting their glass treatment.
Among them is a Volvo S80, which really looks like it should have had years and years left to go. As AP says in his post, maybe it had some mechanical issue that made it uneconomical to keep.
Whatever the problem was, it sure wasn’t the engine. That motor kept going long after it started complaining.
Poor thing. I feel like I’ve just watched a pet get put to sleep.

Special offers from Saab Australia – 9-5 decor panel and Inca alloys

RE-POSTED for the benefit of any Aussies who missed it the first time.
As you may know, Saab Australia’s genuine parts and accessories division is now a sponsor here at Saabs United and from time to time, they’re passing on some great special deals on genuine Saab accessories and parts for your late model Saabs.
I just fitted the genuine Viggen shocks and springs to my 9-3 Monte Carlo and the difference they’ve made, along with the Hirsch ECU and steering rack clamp, is absolutely amazing.
Saab OZ have just informed me of another pair of limited offers and as SU readers, you’re getting the best exposure to them.
Saab Inca alloys
As you know, the wheels maketh the car and these genuine Saab alloy wheels look sensational on all current generation Saabs. They even looked the goods on Kaylan’s old Saab 9000 Aero (pre-toasting, and if you’re thinking of these for a 9000, then make sure you check the stud pattern).
These wheels are normally around A$2,000 for a set of four.
Saab Australia are doing a special offer on three (3) sets only – for $990 inc GST.
To take advantage of this special offer, contact the Accessories people at your local Saab dealer and ask them for the special deal on Saab Part number 32025941.
Saab 9-5 rear decor panel
This is a really quick way to pretty up the rear of your 1998-2001 model Saab 9-5. This rear decor panel takes about 30 minutes to fit and looks like a million dollars.
These are going out the door at $132, inc GST.
To take advantage of this offer, contact the Accessories people at your local Saab dealer and ask them for the special deal on Saab Part Number 400106233.
Actually, if you’ve got a 98-02 model Saab 9-5, these two offers could transform the look of your car in a day.
David at Saab is also going to send me a bag of wheel nut covers. He got the inspiration after seeing the Viggen wheel photo that Stu the Lens Genius took, featured earlier this morning.
Ordering part number 12771404 (for the five-stud pattern) gets you a bag of 20 covers as well as the special removal tool to get them off again when you need to.
All that for only $10.40 inc GST.
I’ll post some before and after shots when the covers arrive.
If you’re reading this from outside Australia and seething with jealousy, remember that our other site sponsors also carry some genuine Saab parts and accessories, as well as some top shelf aftermarket stuff, too.

SU Q&A #2

We tried this a few weeks ago and it seemed to work OK.
So once again, if you’ve got any questions at all – Saab, websites, Saab websites, running this site, being a Saabnut …… anything at all, really – then feel free to post your Q in comments.
I’ll post the A over the weekend.

Executive Car

From that fountain of wisdom that’s never wrong – Wikipedia (I think they’re reasonably correct in this instance).

Executive Car: a British term that refers to a car’s size and is used to describe an automobile larger than a large family car. In official use, the term is adopted by EuroNCAP, a European organization founded to test car safety. The term was coined in the 1960s to describe cars targeted at successful professionals and middle to senior managers, often as a company car but retaining enough performance and comfort to be desirable in their own right.

Maybe you could argue about the size issue in these times, but otherwise, it’s pretty accurate.
One could also assume that an executive car is supposed to convey a certain level of confidence and success, that the driver of such a car is someone who can be relied upon to complete a contract, to do what they say they’ll do.
I don’t necessarily like to hark back to BMW again – the 2nd time this evening – but this is a photo of the recently shown 5-series Gran Tourismo concept vehicle. There are more photos here.
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to construct a rational argument stating that this could not be rightly considered as an executive car.
Thanks to Eric for the link.

What Saab might learn from BMW

Saab have a unique opoportunity in the next few years – a fresh start.
You can’t get a much better scenario from a marketing perspective than the one Saab are approaching right now. They still have a loyal following that stretches back up to around 30 years. They have public goodwill on their side. They’re separating from an owner who’s not exactly popular in many parts of the world and is rightly recognised as having sucked much of the life and spirit out of the company. And they have a new coming on board that’s regarded as supercool the world over.
All they need now are the right cars. And the right marketing.
CTM posted a comment last night, the significance of which didn’t hit me until I read the news when I woke up in the morning.
The comment:

The shocking comment of the day:
“Premium will be increasingly defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead.”
Guess who said that without googling it…

And the story:

Nine years after BMW’s return to Formula 1 with Williams, and four years after the formation of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, the Bavarian carmaker is pulling the plug. With the end of the 2009 season, the team will cease operations.
In all those years, BMW has not managed to win the world championship–a major disappointment for the Bavarians. Instead of pushing the brand’s sporty image (Munich engineers cultivate an attitude of unquestioned superiority), Formula 1 saw BMW as the eternal runner-up, and at times worse…..
…..Unsurprisingly, BMW attempts to play the well-worn “green” card: “More and more, premium is defined by sustainability and environmental consciousness. We want to serve as a model in this area” submits BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, adding: “The commitment to Formula 1 does not reflect our goals any more.”

When I was thinking about this post, I was thinking along the lines of “what a load of crap! They love their performance image blah blah blah”
I even went to Google images and pulled a couple of BMW advertisements showing their emphasis on RWD and performance in general.
These are all fine and dandy, and I’m sure BMW really do love their performance reputation and the fact that motooring journos all over the world fight with their colleagues to go to product launches so they can spout flowery adjectives about how superb the latest Ultimate Driving Machine is.
But the thing is, I have to admit that it took me a full 5 minutes to find suitable ads to post on this subject. The majority of the ads I saw in the process were about quality, desireability, icons. They were about cementing the notion that the BMW range really is a collection of quality machines, the ultimate evolution of the automobile.
BMW 5 Series_0.jpg
Yes, there were a lot of other ads that were pretty smug, etc, but most of them were reinforcing the notion that this is a quality, well engineered automobile. The assumption of an emphasis on performance was all mine and largely in error.
Still, the one thing that doesn’t spring to mind straight away when someone mentions BMW is ‘green’. If you believe BMW’s CEO at the top, about them pulling out of F1 because they want to be known for environmental reasons, then it initially seems like they’ve got a long road to hoe.
Here’s the thing, though…… I’ve got absolutely no doubt in my mind that they’ll do it.
BMW figured out one of the magic formulae of business a long time ago.

  • Find something that the people want
  • Give it to them again and again and again and again
  • Tell them about it, repeatedly

It’s all about execute, execute, execute and BMW do it very well.
They’ve built up their turbocharging credentials, their hydrogen credentials, their Efficient Dynamics credentials, their diesel credentials. Now they’ve pulled out of F1 and are citing their environmental emphasis as a reason.
It is – as I suggested at the beginning of this post – a load of crap. They’ve not been successful, they don’t like losing either races or dollars so they’re packing up and going home.
But the enviro-emphasis fits and they’ll play that card, play it well, and continue their quest to establish themselves as green warriors.
The performance thing? They already own much of it and as long as they don’t stuff up in a major way with their bread and butter models, they’ll keep that domain for a long time.
So what of Saab?
The impressive thing about BMW is their longevity and their commitment to building the best cars they can in their given segment(s).
Saab, in motoring terms, needs to hit a home run with every vehicle they design and build in the next 5 years.
In marketing terms they need to either redefine or reinforce their image – and stick to it.
Execute, execute, execute. Focus, focus, focus.

Saab Sonett heaven on Flickr

We have a super-big lottery on here in Australia tonight. If our numbers come up, I’m going to find this guy and make him an offer he can’t refuse.
I’ve always coveted the Saab Sonett III, maybe mostly because it’s so exotic to a Saabnut from Australia. We never got the Sonett III here and to my knowledge, there’s only one or two that have been privately imported. I’ve never driven one, but look forward to the opportunity some time in the future.
Michael Z has drawn my attention to this collection of Sonett III photos on Flickr – and it’s absolutely stunning.
Click any of the shots to enlarge (esp the engine) and click here to see the entire collection.
Congratulations to the owner on a superb example and to Chad Truss, the photographer, on some absolutely awesome shots.
This one is, of course, a little deceptive given that the Sonett is front-wheel-drive, but an excellent piece of composition nonetheless.
The interior is as neat as a pin. Aftermarket sunroof, or did these come as an option?
The engine’s been treated to some shiny treatment…. which seems to suit the V4 nicely.
Is it just me, or is the Saab Sonett a real life black sheep in the Saab family?
It’s like nothing else that ever existed in the range, which I guess is part of the fascination of the car for me.

Academic survey – show your Saab passion!

Back in June I brought you the latest results from an academic study being undertaken in Germany:

Dr Hosseip and a team of students set out on an ambitious mission to study the level of attachment that various people have to particular brands of cars. Their study involved over 1 million people and was focused on a German automotive forum called Motor Talk….

The good news from the results tabled at that time is that Saab fans were shown, for three years running, to be the most passionate automotive group out of all those million-plus users surveyed.
At that time, the survey itself was only available in German.
I’ve recently received notice that the English language version is now available for people to complete.
This is not a quick affair, with 142 statements you need to review and respond to. If you have the time, though, I’m happy to invite your participation.
UPDATE – I just did it in around 20 minutes. There is some personal profile stuff at the beginning and then it’s straight into the Questions. It’s an enjoyable survey and I’m looking forward to receiving responses once enough respondents complete it.
Please consider lending a helping hand in sustaining the belief that we Saab nuts are still the most passionate and committed car fans on the planet.

AMS chart Saab’s possible future model timeline

Auto Motor and Sport have a big feature on Saab in their current issue. As part of that feature, they’ve cobbled together a look at what Saab’s future model timeline could look like.
AMS did spend some time in Trollhattan as part of the preparations for this big feature. How much this timeline is based on things they’ve heard there and how much is speculation on their part is unknown.
But the speculation sure is a lot of fun, nonetheless. It looks like I’ve got to save up for a new car in 2015!!
Click to enlarge.
My basic Swedish and general knowledge lead me to believe this is as follows:

  • 2010 – New Saab 9-5 as shown in Frankfurt. New Saab 9-4 small SUV available in September. Facelift for the Saab 9-3, which will focus on the interior as per the 9-5.
  • 2011 – In January, the new 9-5 Sportcombi. Start/Stop technology added to the 9-5 range.
  • 2012 – an all-new Saab 9-3 and possibly a Saab 9-1, developed in co-operation with BMW/Mini. Something there about a Sport hybrid.
  • 2013 – Possibility of a crossover vehicle based on the 9-5 SportCombi. All new Saab 9-3 convertible, maybe featuring the new roof system a-la the Saab 9-X Air.

I think this is where we’re getting into purely speculative countryside, but still…..

  • 2015 – Something at the top there that looks totally hot and custom built for ME!! And a new Sonett, which could be fun, too.
  • 2017 – A third generation Saab 9-5.

That’s a nice timeline and I’m sure there will be plenty of other added features in that time to look forward to, as well.
Bring it on!
My thanks to Dippen for the scans!

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