on sales, Saab 9-3 and TTiD SportCombi

Our friends at Auto Motor and Sport have been speaking to Saab and there’s some indications there that some good news we’ve been expecting for a little while now is just over the horizon.

Cue the Googletrans:


Saab started slow, but climbing up
Pär Brandt – 2011-01-07 09:21,

Sales forecast was written down twice and Saab sold not more than 32 000 cars in 2010. But the year ended with a faster tempo and according to managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson, [there is] confidence [for] sales [in] 2011.

Saab’s new start after the change of ownership in February was significantly slower than management had imagined. The original sales forecast of 60,000 cars were written down twice and finally ended up at only 32 000 cars. Although an improvement of 53 percent compared with 2009, but it was a particularly bleak year for the automotive industry as a whole and Saab in particular.

Despite the problems is managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson happy with what you did to accomplish in 2010. Saab loaded bearings out at the shops and established new sales organizations in several countries. Important markets such as China, Russia and Australia in the starting blocks and they will contribute positively, as the launch of the new 9-5 sedan and the 9-4X. In addition, hope you capture the more important to company clients during the early years then also 9-3 SportCombi in an eco-rated version with a low emissions to 130-180 hp. 9-3 will also get a face lift to increase interest.


The bit of particular interest there is the last few sentences, where it states a couple of things we’ve been expecting, but hadn’t heard much of from a Swedish source.

  • The 9-3 SportCombi will achieve the same low-emissions status with TTiD engines as the 9-3 Sport Sedan, and will be available in three versions from 130-180hp. This is expected early in 2011.
  • The 9-3 range will receive a facelift to carry it through to a replacement model in late 2012.

It’s noted that those items aren’t direct quotes from people at Saab, but the author of the article is a man I know reasonably well, Pär Brandt, and I know he talks to the right people at Saab. He’s not one who’s given to idle speculation.

Anyone who knows anything about the Swedish market will recognise the massive drawcard a 119g/km emissions SportCombi will provide for Saab. Sales have been up already on the strength of the Sport Sedan offering this much power with such little emissions. To have to configuration available in the Swede’s favoured body style, the SportCombi, is going to be a huge bonus.


It’s nice to see Pär make use of an article penned by our newest contributor, Red J, as part of his column.

Great stuff, and I imagine Red J might feel quite happy about that. As well he should 🙂

Thanks to Tobias for the tip!

62 thoughts on “ on sales, Saab 9-3 and TTiD SportCombi”

  1. Excellent news! Seems I do need to go to Geneva…

    Unrelated, but interesting all the same: The next issue of “Teknikens Värld”, another swedish auto mag, will be containing a comparison test in winter conditions between a 9-5 FWD and 9-5 XWD as well as Bimmer 3 RWD and AWD.

    I would imagine there would be quite a few interesting conclusions there and some excellent opportunities for SAAB marketing…

    // Erik
    Keeping calm and carrying on… 😉

    • Erik D: Thanks for the tip, I will make sure I buy that issue of “Teknikens Värld”! I only wish they had published such a comparison half a year ago, before I bought my 9-5… 🙂

      In the past couple of days I have learned that FWD Saab is not the same as FWD in other cars… A Volvo V50 with studded tyres is no match for a Saab 9000 with studless tyres… I understand better now why so many swear by AWD (in other brands).

      • As far as I can tell, this winter has proven that there are differences between FWD and FWD cars… Enjoying my 9-3 more and more each day with snow and ice!

        Rune: As a potential 9-5 buyer shortly, how has your baby been fairing this winter? I see you commending a 9000 (presumably yours?) but how’s the new kid on the block fairing?

        • If it’s okay … I’ll jump into this conversation and comment on my 2010 9-5’s performance in the snow/ice here in Wyoming, USA. Very stable … the extra width may help there … and the AWD hugs the road, er, snow and ice, as it should. The only adjustment I need to make is that the fact that the car is heavier (which also helps with stability on the snow I think) makes me need to apply the brakes a little earlier in the snow that I am used to with my other SAABs. The ABS works great … I just need to apply them a little earlier when coming in for routine stops. Looking forward to seeing how we do against the Bimmers … 🙂

          – E

        • I’ll jump too..
          The car handels great on snow and ice. I havn’t tried any other surface yet. I’ve noticed a very handy thing with the drive sense system: It smoothens out some of the rough ice vibration and make a god comfort even better.

          Make sure you buy thin winter tires. This applys too every cars, but if you buy an Aero, the wheels must be at least 17″ and on those dimensions it’s a bit harder to find low width rubbers.

        • Erik D, I’ve clocked 12000 km in the 9-5 (w/XWD) since the middle of September.

          Generally speaking, it is a more relaxed drive than the 9-3 on longer distances. 360 km in one go (no stops) is easy. Snowblizzard or rain, it doesn’t matter.

          But… Early on I observed that XWD does not help the 9-5 in roundabouts (when wet or on snow/ice). I believe the 9000 to be the champion in that respect. The 9-3 as I recall (been more than a year since I had my 9-3) was also a competent corner hugger. The videos Swade presented back in July seem to tell a different story. I remain very curious as to what HiPer strut brings to the table.

          In addition, I am not a particulary good driver. As I mentioned elsewhere, I attacked a telephone pole Wednesday evening. Afterwards, I noticed that I sometimes subconsciously gently press the brake pedal just before going into the curve… I suspect I provoked the 9-5 into loosing grip at the start of the curve. It was insanely slippery there and absolutely no grip to be found. Presumably XWD could have helped me regain a foothold, but once I felt the car slipped I simply focused on stopping. Keeping one’s instincts in check can be a difficult thing at 10pm in the evening after driving 800 km.

          The 9-5 is a good buy. Is XWD needed/useful? I still have my doubts. (Teknikens Värld’s tests will be interesting to read!) The extra weight is not helpful in those roundabouts. 😛

          You should carefully study the options. My personal regrets:
          1) Memory for the seats. I wanted mirrors that tilt down when putting the car into reverse. I (and my dealer) did not realize this was part of the memory seat option.
          2) Satnav… Expensive… Less advanced than a handheld Garmin or TomTom… I asked the dealer for map upgrades, but they do not know anything about availability or price (but based on previous offerings, the word “expensive” was uttered more than once).
          3) Without satnav, I’m not sure the HUD is called for. My 9-5 shows a 10% higher speed than my GPS, so that further negates the value of the HUD. Better to put a handheld GPS up there, save money and get a more accurate readout… 🙁 YMMV. It is nice to have a progress bar in the HUD tell you when to make the next turn, but it is not so nice when the satnav knows the area even worse than you do and send you on wild goose chases (happened three times on my recent 3600 km odyssey that the car has still not returned home from).
          4) TPMS. I have to conclude that I am lazy. Having a readout tell me the pressure of each tyre would be helpful.

          My conclusion: The new 9-5 is not perfect. The bits that count the most though, are very close to perfection. The telephone pole was no longer standing when I opened the door after the little skirmish. I suspect the engine was still working, but I did not bother trying, seeing as the front spoiler was gone and the radiator exposed. It probably is the safest car money can buy, short of an army tanks. It behaves very well on winter roads, especially if mated with a reasonably competent driver.

          For those of us less gifted, it still provides a much better ride in the winter than anything else out there. At least it never shows any signs of suddenly jumping into the other part of the road. Many cars can’t manage to go in a straight line in the winter. I’ve never been able to make a Saab spin out, except when pulling the parking brake.

          (Would be nice to have a discussion thread on what winter experiences NG 9-5 drivers have had so far)

          • Ouch Rune, you seem OK enough to be philosophical about it all. Interesting notes on the XWD performance. Only can be as good as tyre grip, if that’s not there then nothing will help you.

          • I am very satisfied with how my Saab 9-5 2.0TiD FWD handles winter roads covered with snow and ice. The car feels extremely safe. You have to provoke the car a lot to make it skid. And when it skids, the car has great balance and most of the time it corrects the skid without applying any electronic system. If it has to apply the traction control or the ESP system, it does so very discreetly. You almost can’t notice the electronic system intervening.

            There has been a couple of times when I wish I had XWD. Not because the car had trouble finding grip, but because I suspect the XWD system would give the car even more traction and me better control. But I have a feeling that the upcoming e-AAM electronic XWD system will be even better and so I will consider eXWD next time I replace my Saab.

    • A few weeks ago, I was in a hospital visiting my mother post-op. When I looked out into the nursing station I saw a poster that had the “keep calm and carry on” slogan. My question is : Did that slogan originate from SU or is it borrowed from somewhere else?

      • As far as I know, KC&CO originated in the UK during wartime as part of a government program to reassure people during the blitz. Thats why there is a crown on the bottom of the poster )if you’re looking at the original red poster) , signifying the authority of the British royal family.
        Wiki might show more detail but I think thats the essence of it.

    • A much lighter 3-series AWD, against 9-5 XWD? That doesn’t sound right.
      And then they probably drive on an very narrow track and claim Saab is not a ‘drivers car’ 😉
      Oh well, we know better.

      • RS: I actually think the test will be sectioned, Bimmer vs Bimmer and 9-5 vs 9-5…

        However, there are bound to be some overall comparisons and conclusions, hopefully something along the lines of :

        ” If driving in winter conditions, AWD is a must in the Bimmer and nice
        to have in the 9-5″


        ” The 9-5 manages well with just FWD, the Bimmer not so much with RWD”

        But there is also definitely the chance of an apple vs pears comparison favouring the Bimmer for being smaller, more agile, consuming less fuel etc… 😉

        • I took a quick glance in this month’s issue of TV, the last page where they offer hilights from the next issue, and there they only mention the AWD version of the BMW.

          I believe the 5-series is a no-show:

          That is probably why it is not being compared. There is simply no point in flogging a dead horse.

          RWD Beamer likewise. I think most people are aware of the differences by now. So we are left with AWD vs FWD. I do not expect dramatic differences here. AFAIK, Beamer’s AWD system is quite front-biased.

          Personally I suspect the difference in weight matters. The width between the front wheels might factor in to things as well. My dad says Saab’s 60-40 weight distribution (60% over the front wheels) is important too.

          Kudos to Teknikens Värld for at least attempting a proper road test.

  2. The way I see it , Saab has to move away from targeting the Germans…Awdee, Bmdubyuh et al.
    Volvo has already stated the same. Let the auto journalists continue to be biased towards the Teutonic makes. They already have a vested interest in them because they get a lot of advertising revenue generated through them. Even the Mafia had friends in the press, look at the Godfather. Saab has been for the past few years a Swedish Ikea type car. I went to Ikea once and never went back. It’s functional but not solid and quality feel. Saab could improve on this. Make sure they use quality materials( inside especially) and improve reliability and service. In the meantime target the Japs, Koreans and Americans and price the cars to suit.

    • Vagabond. Reliability is allready there. JD Powers is Not the source for rating quality, but customer satisfaction. Look instead at the Svensk Bilprovning, German ADAC etc to really see how Saab does in quality. Infact, tests has been displayed att SU and former Trollhattansaab several times in the past and shows that Saab is up there with Toyota, Subaru, Audi, BMW etc.

      But, you are right… Service is a Big thing. Being a premium brand with sales to quite a few, service aught to be handled like that of ex Lexus.

      The 9-3SC TTiD Eco car will be a significant contributor to sales. As mentioned, Sweden is a Combi nation. This car together with the 9-5SC + marketing and service, will make Saab be able to reach their sales target and more.

      It´s news like this that makes my puls rush.


    • I don´t know why reliability is always a theme. My 9-3 CV is now 9 years old and has never had any problems. (biggest thing was replacing the brakedisks) Of course it is well maintained (not the cheapest oil etc) – every year serviced by my favourite saab garage. my mother has also a 9-3 (my99) also without any problems. only disturbing thing at her saab is the quality of some gm parts in the cockpit. (a switch of the climate control is broken twice).

      and the newer 9-3s had very good ratings at the dekra report in germany.

      • Thanks Saab-andee, that´s the one I was thinking about.. Dekra.

        Saab 9-3 Better than the A4 and some years the best of all etc.


        Ps. Never had any problems with my cars either Ds.

      • “I don´t know why reliability is always a theme”

        Because things can go very wrong like with the launch of 9-3 in fall 2002, reliability is a huge factor in car sales.

        • I don’t know… I think there’s a class of car from “near luxury” on up where buyers’ purchase decisions are mostly image-based and emotional. The German makes have been scoring on the bottom of many US quality surveys (including the all important Consumer Reports) and that doesn’t seem to be hurting their sales one bit…

          • Reliability was a definite problem with the OLD 9-5.

            For example, after only 178,000 miles I had to replace the rear wiper blade on my Estate version.


  3. Great news indeed!

    “as the launch of the new 9-5 sedan…” – should be with “combi” and not “sedan” to follow the Swedish article

    Best regards

  4. Irony of ironies – tomorrow, VW is introducing it’s replacement for the Passat. It is having a cheaper interior installed for the American market. The new generation Jetta has a cheap interior too and VW appears to be decontenting it’s cars to bring down prices. They are not known for reliability in the first place. What is VW thinking? Are Saab interiors really that bad? I for one don’t think so. Tweak them a bit and they will be fine.

    • Saab interiors aren´t that bad – but people here should know better interiors will level the price up. don´t compare the top interiors from the top models of the germans with saab. the interiors of the german basic models are on the same level as saab.

      i can´t say that the interior of my boss 5er series bimmer or the a4 from a friend is more premium as the actual saab cockpits.

    • After hearing more about VW’s new strategy, I think it will serve them well for taking on Toyota and Buick, but open up the niche where the old Passat used to live which helps steer customers toward Saab. You can’t try to appeal to individualists with a high end version of a mass market car, that strategy doesn’t make any sense. The customer who is looking for unique, modern, and quality will be seriously looking at Saab in the next 12 months once this all shakes out. I just hope dealers are prepared and come off looking as modern, engaged, and capable of competing with all of the new investment that is going into these new VW, Audi, BMW, and even Hyundai dealers. Even Hyundai or Kia are coming into their own as legitimate Saab competitors, and seem to be going for unique and clever design details that I’d have thought unthinkable years ago, appealing to niche markets and upmarket buyers.

      As for the interiors, they are designed very well in the Saab, and for the most part their fit and finish are excellent and on par with the Germans, etc. But I think even the designers of the new 9-5 and 9-4x interior would tell you that they designed it with the materiality of having a shiny, semi-reflective dash where the matte plastic lives today. That compromise we’ve had to live with for the last year is really a good improvisation but seeing the new wood, new carbon fiber effect glossy dash material will go incredibly far to restoring that sense of premiumness in the new cars. The issue has been beat to death here, but every time I sit in the car and imagine a substitute glossier dash (or think back to the one I sat in for the very first time at an Auto Show with the intended dash), I realize how huge a deal it is. Patience is a virtue, and until Saab can get the new dashboards to the showroom floor, it’s one good piece of good that comes out of a horribly low volume year– that serious cross shoppers haven’t checked in with their dealers yet, and hopefully will get the best first impression possible of a renewed Saab.

  5. The problem with the sales is the loss in 9-5 volume. 9-3 hardly make any profit for saab at all..i dont have exact numbers on cost for components and manufacturing just the fact that 9-3 sales dont contribute that very well.

    It should however be noted that the 9-3 was prior 2010 a bit more expensive to manufacture for Saab becuase of the mixed co-existence with 9-5 within the shop.

    • Lundin,

      Isn’t the 9-3 tooling paid-off by now? The car was introduced in 2002 (with a few updates since then, of course).

      • Bernard,

        Very valid point indeed,and the Body In White tool might very well be paid of by now.To be honest i have no real explanation for my statement but this *profit thing* was the THING with the 9-5 arhicture platform and as far as i know still is (i dont know the lastest agreement with GM.But prior to that the new 9-5 was a huge profit runner).Again, i dont know if is becuase of the modifed architecture in the Saab 9-3 from the suppliers that makes this low-profit effect prominent.From a manufacturing perpestive it s pretty lean and quick to manufacture aswell.
        If i rember corrrectly there is a 1:5 ratio or so between the cars.

  6. This is a quite old one but I really stuck with the article as Muller states what might prove thousands of critical voices wrong in the geared up Saab-sucks-or-not-debate that seem to be engaging mostly self-proclaimed experts in various comments fields and forums.

    This is what I’m referring to:

    The man makes it clear how he feels about GM’s two-decade reign over Saab. He even disputes the popular notion that the Swedish marque had been unprofitable.

    “It has been presented, like, 20 years of loss-making. That is not true,” he says, explaining that it was the way GM accrued cost that made Saab look worse than it was.

    “The allocation of Detroit overheads that went into Saab. The failed projects such as the Cadillac BLS which was basically a 9-3 sold as a Cadillac for the European market. That did not go down well. It was a US$20 million failure.

    “But guess who got the bill? Now if you were to reconstruct the (financial) figures with Saab as a stand- alone, you will see a completely different picture.”

    Has he proved his point here yet or are such numbers unavailable? Saab could not possibly have survived for so long being such a loss-company, it doesn’t make sense. The Dutchman must have something to support this, what do you people think?

    I want too see that different picture. Muller, are you reading this?

    🙂 😉

    • I think we will have to wait until saab has done a “normal year” before we can analyse the numbers. That will be in a year from now.

      • I’m not talking about the years to come. I’m interested in the GM period, did Saab really only have one successful year? I mean if you were to reconstruct the numbers as Muller says, maybe we would get another more positive result? But such a reconstruction hasn’t probably even been made.

        Tired about the “loss here” and “loss there”, it even includes Spyker, what are their reasons exactly?


        • I think Muller said that SCNA did not pay for any cars, money went to GM so about 1/3 of the cars weren´t paid for. I guess it was the same for UK, fact is that finacial losses first half of 2010 was about the same or lower then a normal GM year. It will be interesting to see the figures of years to come.

          • Still, the whole GM period is supposed to be analyzed. It’s constantly being drawn up as an argument. “Saab has never been profitable”, it feels like there’s one or thirty-two details that’s missing. Reconstruction of those number would be at place, if there’s anything to reconstruct.

            Now, of course, it’s ideal to observe the company from this beautiful new fresh start, but it’s the history (and the present time) that these morons are complaining about.

            Getting utterly tired reading about that “expert” in the newspapers. “Saab has two years more to live”. GREAT!, Just effin terrific, now people might not be interested in purchasing their products, oh thank you mister-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-talking-about-but-I-believe-it-will-turn-out-like-this…

            Antonov did have a major budget, was he going to buy Saab-Spyker?

          • Well if Muller is right (and I think he is), and saab makes profit at 120.000 cars, then we´ll know for sure.
            Experts in DI and others will come and go, he´s talking about that Saab will not afford full developement of a new car, he doesn´t understand that Saab will evolve the Phoenix platform, buy engines from BMW for example.

            As Victor said a year ago, only way to prove yourself is by performance, performance, performance, I am confident he and Saab will.

          • Oh yes! 🙂 You’re right about that, they are currently developing their own platform, Phoenix, how great. With a BMW engine?

            I think it will be some impressive work, Swade’s the only one who’s seen it, except for the design team and Muller & JAJ of course.

        • You’ll never, ever will get those numbers, there was just too much creative accounting going on. Some of the people and organizations would end up with serious egg on their face. GM is not the only one to blame for these tricks. I’m pretty certain that the Swedish government and the unions turned a blind eye just for the sake of keeping Saab alive.

          I fully agree with TTAero. Let’s just sit back and resume this discussion in October when the numbers are more reliable.

        • What i have read 2007 and 2006 were very good years. If GM didn`t make creative accounting saab would be positive. saab usa cars went direct to gm and saab gb is another story. what we can say ist that in this years saab made profit in europe.

          • So that obviously cuts it to eighteen years of loss-making?
            You see, there should be more thorough statistics about it somewhere but it might not matter too much anymore. Simply proving that a niche brand can get Saab standing up properly would be enough.

          • there are enough possibilities for a niche player to make money. you only have to think different. 🙂

          • It’s really no secret what GM was doing. They were moving profits from Sweden, where corporate taxes are high, to other markets such as the US where corporate taxes are low. All multinationals do much the same thing. It’s their job to maximize returns for shareholders.

            As far as as forensic accounting is concerned, I don’t think anybody has the time or resources to do that. That chapter is closed.

  7. The thing he says is correct about the low emission engines in the sportcombi. I was at my local dealership in Linköping, Biva, and the salesman said that the sportcombi is gonna be launched in march- april at the same time as the facelift! That´s then i´m going to order an white 9-3 ss TX 180 hk ttid 😀

    • This kind of news is everything I want to hear!

      The sales in Sweden should go up significant from april-may I hope. Hopefully so much that the factory have to rehire the 200 temporary employees. WOW! Two “new” SC in a year sounds great and 119g/Co.

      I said it before and saying it again: 15 000 is in sight but in my dreams it can sell up to 20 000 cars in Sweden this year. What a christmas present it would be to reach those volumes in 2011.

      PS I looked at some old statistic from 1999-26278 sales in SWE
      2000-27103, and even 1998-17251. Just a reminder of old times.

      This is levels hard to reach but it can happend, remember the Swedish market is very good right now. BilSweden think that 2011: s numbers will be something like 295 000 cars. 15 000 would be a market chair of 5% (not unrealistic even if it´s hard time right now) 20 000 would be a market chair of 6,8%…………….

      • The UK numbers look similar, the increase in market share over the last 3 months is quite impressing, and with the market share of December (0,6 %) Saab could sell more than 12.000 cars.

        • That would be great with 12K in UK or even more but i´m not going to carry away here to much.

          Red J, What do you think of my prediction on Swe sales? Am I (ute och cyklar) out cycling here or what! And what do you think is realistic for this year in UK?

          • After the latest news of the under 120 g 9-3 SC, Saab can easily reach 12.000 units in Sweden. To reach the 15.000 Units the 9-5 SC will have to have a big impact.

            UK will be complicated. It seem like the UK market normally has a peak in March and a second one in September. I think the 9-3 Griffin will help rise the sales figures, but it will be too late for the march. All in all, 8k till 10k is feasible and a big increase compared with 2010 in a market that is not supposed to grow in 2011.

          • For what its worth.
            I popped in on Svenska Bil Akalla (Stockholm) today and had a chat with one of the sales persons. He told me that they´re sending out 50 Saabs/month now and that on two sales persons. Their target together with the Segeltorp facility is 1300 Saabs in 2011. And that on 2+2 sales persons. Good work.

            And I also took a glance at the hardware………..its looking amazingly good in the flesh.

  8. Super great achievement making the 9-3 SC environnental Below 120gram.
    Good job all engineers in Trollhättan.

  9. I think it’s important that Saab works hard to rise above mainstream brands like Ford/VW/Skoda/Koreans/Toyota/Opel etc even if it costs a little extra. Once considered above mainstream there are not that many brands to choose from in that segment, if you live in any country with high fuel prices (Europe) and hence prefer diesel, and:
    – Don’t want Asian – by very many Europeans (Swedes at least) still considered not premium/worthy enough because of short and uncomfy seats and cheapo/plastic image, sarcastically known as rice boilers.
    – Don’t want German (BMW/Merc/MB), because it’s predictable, RWD, expensive loaded (Merc and BMW are actually expensive, especially Merc) or for other reasons.

    Jag plays in another league pricewise even if it’s pretty loaded from the beginning. Since Caddy have no diesels you pretty much left with Saab and perhaps Volvo.

  10. BTW Stumbled across this part on
    And I just love what they say. 🙂 But I guess this one´s not new to you commenters at SU.

    “We like the exterior design, it’s striking and very different from its competitors in the $40,000-plus luxury-car market.
    After spending some time with the 2011 Saab 9-5, most reviewers walked away gushing about its unique design.
    It’s is hard to find a tester who dislikes the new Saab look.”
    I like!

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