There were a couple of great articles in Swedish newspaper, SvD, in the last few days. They were focused on the 2010 Saab 9-5 and what it might mean for Saab – and whether it will be enough to see Saab succeed in these difficult times.
I’d like to thank Blogo for providing these translations. The stories do raise some interesting questions and I think the quote from Fritz Henderson is somewhat telling.
There are two articles, and I’ve placed a few pictures of the 9-5 in between them from Auto Motor and Sport (who SvD also tapped for pictures).
Sneak Premiere of 9-5
Published: August 14, 2009, 15.58
We now have photos of the new Saab 9-5. The pride of Trollhättans is now ready to challenge the upper class of automobiles.
“The broad shouldered Swede”. That’s what the Saab 99 was nick-named when it arrived in 1967 because it was considered to have generous width in the back seat. In collaboration with Auto Motor Sport, we can present pictures of the new 9-5 where this concept gets a whole new dimension.
The new 9-5 as presented to the audience at the Frankfurt Salon in September, is a completely new model replacing the 12 years old 9-5. It is based on GM’s platform for larger cars, the epsilon platform, which the Opel Insignia also is based on. But 80 percent of the 9-5 is developed by the Swedes, the Saab people point out.
I saw full-scale models of the car in May, when I also had the opportunity to test drive a prototype. And Saab has really worked hard to try to get as much Saab uniqueness as possible into this car.
-All you can see of interior and exterior is developed in Sweden, said Mats Fägerhag, head of technical development to SvD in May,
A chrome bar at the bottom of the side windows goes up against the top of the back door forming “hockeystick profile”, a legacy from the Saab 99.
Engine-wise, there is a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with 180 horsepower and the 9-5 will also offer a 220 hp petrol version, a V6, and several diesel options – and in the future we are also promised a hybrid.
SvD will report directly from Frankfurt and describe how it is accepted by international critics on September 14. The car will be launched in April next year – if Saab can find a new owner that is.
Important 9-5 a major player for Saab
Published: August 14, 2009, 16.35
Saab is fighting for its survival on several fronts. New 9-5 is important, but success is not a sure thing
Pictures of the 9-5 have been leaked (see page 6) and it is a worthy challenger to the top of the premium class in many ways. A number of Saab-specific details and an elaborate interior are Swedish spears supposed to penetrate the chests of BMW and Audi. I had the oppoertunity to drive a prototype in the spring and have seen full-scale models and will support the view that it is a good car.
But how far will that take us?
It is big. An entire five meters long and unconfirmed information says it weighs close to 2 tonnes. This in the world of automobiles where the buzz word is downsizing.
I remember a press conference at the Paris Salon last autumn. At that time, it had been leaked that the new 9-5 would be larger than the present. I and some other journalists got to meet GM’s CEO, Fritz Henderson and I asked if he didn’t consider the new Saab 9-5 to be too big. Then he said “Viewed in hindsight, if we were to rebuild it, it would be smaller, but I still think it will be a success.”
He acknowledged that if a new car had been developed today it would have been smaller.
During the entire process of development the 9-5 has been matched against the Audi A6 and will enter an aggressive hornet’s nest where a brand new Audi A6 soon will be presented and where BMW’s new 5-series will be launched this autumn. But the Saab 9-5 is larger than these and is closer to eg Audi’s A8 in size, which measures 506 centimeters.
Demands are even further increased.
Saab engineers have almost on a daily basis, successfully fought against GM in Rüsselsheim to get quality solutions in the 9-5. That is good. But in the hornets nest (large luxurious cars) brand means everything. And the question is whether the Saab brand is strong enough. The almost unimaginable turbulence which has been the past six months has not helped the reputation, where the Saab in recent years has generally been perceived as dressed-up Opels.
The question is also on the car, which also looks big in reality, attracts the specific Saab target gruop, which according to Saab themselves, consists of architects and other modern intellectuals.
The answer will be found when – or if – the car starts to be sold. For at the time of writing Saab is still without a new owner.