The Detroit Auto Show is out of the way for 2011 and Saab used their unofficial attendance outside the show hall to announce the introduction of Hirsch Performance parts in the United States.
That’s one show, one announcement, but there’s plenty more due for this year. The fun part is trying to figure out when we’ll see all the new things that Saab has to offer.
There are plenty of auto shows around the world every year, but there are only a few big auto shows each year. I think we can expect to see a lot from Saab at each of those big shows (and a presence at plenty of the smaller ones, too).
The big, “debut-worthy” shows remaining for this year, in my estimation, are as follows:
- Geneva – March
- New York – April
- Frankfurt – September
- Los Angeles – November
The big debuts that Saab could make this year, with my guesses as to when, are as follows….
Saab design concept – Jason Castriota’s stamp on Saab design will show at Geneva. We heard as much late last year. No doubt this poured the pressure on the Saab design team, as they’re also working flat-out on the replacement for the Saab 9-3.
Contrary to what some might think, this design concept is not a lead-in to the 9-3, nor is it a look at what Saab’s small car might look like if they find a partner. This concept is intended to be a bookend to the Aero-X – a design exercise only. It’s Castriota’s baby where Saab is concerned and it will have plenty of Saab in it, but plenty of Castriota in it as well.
MY2011.5 9-3 – A mid-cycle enhancement is expected for the Saab 9-3 that will see the exterior re-shaped to look more in line with the new Saab 9-5. The car has been referred to as the Griffin Edition and is intended to carry the 9-3 through until it is replaced late in 2012.
The 9-3 is expected to get the 2.0T engine with direct injection from the Saab 9-5, said to be available in both 163hp or 220hp variations. Whether there will be enhancements to the interior is as yet uncertain, but they may be restricted to some minor trim enhancements (silver strip around the dash to become grey, and some other grey trim, too).
Geneva would be a good candidate for this to be seen, too. Given that the model is a mid-year refresh, it would make sense for them to show it in March and have it go on sale shortly thereafter.
Saab 9-5 SportCombi – I don’t know exactly why Saab release their wagons a year after they release sedans, but they do. The Saab 9-5 SportCombi will hold massive interest for Swedish customers, as well as much of Europe and a few outside as well.
It’s expected to go on sale around mid year, so I’d expect this to be the third and final big announcement for the Geneva show. I know that’s a lot to expect from one small company, but these are big debuts and Geneva’s the biggest stage available prior to them going on sale.
Saab 9-3 SportCombi TTiD with sub 120g emissions – It would be nice to have a Swedish show to launch a sub-120g/km range of diesels in the 9-3 SportCombi range but the Stockhom show for 2011 has been at best, postponed, and at worst, cancelled.
As it’s not relevant to the US market (the NY show is in April), this one might be done via a press release and drive event in Europe only.
Saab 9-3 Independence Edition Convertible
This car will use the mid-cycle enhancement that I expect to see in Geneva. The Saab 9-3 Independence Edition will be a limited edition, with just 365+1 units available worldwide for 2011, in convertible body style only.
It’s expected to go on sale in May, so a debut at the New York International Auto Show might be appropriate.
2012 Saab 9-3 and 9-5 – I don’t know how different the 2012 Saab 9-3 will be from the 2011.5 Griffin Edition, but if there are more changes, they’ll be marked as a 2012 model.
I think we can expect enhancements to the Saab 9-5 range for 2012. There is room for enhancement in the interior of the car and the possibility, however near or far, of a sub-120g/km model (tangent – I think Magnus Hansson’s “smile” in response to questions about a sub-120g 9-5 might be over-interpreted here. The good news is he didn’t rule it out).
The obvious timing for this is at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011.
Saab 9-3 replacement concept vehicle – This car is due in the last quarter of 2012. Would they dare show a concept a year early? I know it’s been mentioned already, but I think it’s far from certain.
If they do proceed with showing this vehicle, then Frankfurt or LA are the end-of-year big shows. My tentative bet would be LA in November, contrary to previous reports about the vehicle showing in Frankfurt. It gives them something big to talk about in the United States, as well as much-needed extra time.
Showing this vehicle could give them a good reason to showcase new technology from eAAM, too.
But all that’s a very big IF.