Time for another entry in the Saab Hi-Po Challenge. I’ve got a couple of these left and I’ll get them out in short order as I’d like to wrap this up soon.
This one comes from TP in Denmark.
I admit to be one of those performance addicts that also admires technological achievement that manifests itself in racing victories and records.
I have owned 10 SAABs and upgraded nearly all of them to get more performance. My first car, a SAAB 99EMS was outfitted with a turbo engine running higher boost and a rally suspension. My wifes first car was a Sonett III and had the engine bored out to 1.8L and tuned to about 110HP, which made the nimble and light car perform phenomenally well.
Fast forward to our two latest SAAB’s, a 9-5Aero tuned to 300HP and a 9-3Aero 2.0T with 245HP are quick and fun to drive cars, but I want to go further than that. I bought a Corvette Z06, because 1) SAAB no longer makes a sportscar, 2) It had the LeMans winning racing pedigree and supercar performance that I could not find even in the used market for the same money. I only use the Corvette for track days and autocross, it’s the only environment where its performance can be experienced and enjoyed. I also have to admit to leasing an Audi A4 Avant when it looked like SAAB might not survive and my 9-5Aero hit the max age allowed for company cars.
Building a real business plan for a Halo car with limited knowledge and time is indeed impossible. So only a small framework of ideas is covered here. In my humble opinion the Hi-Po challenge has two different objectives and challenges:
1) Marketing: Build a customer recognizable sustainable competitive advantage, manifested /personified by a HaloCar. The AeroX achieved this from a design perspective, but it needs to go further. What’s the Technology breakthrough underneath the skin and how can it be utilized to achieve a breakthrough result consumers can identify with?
2) The passionate performance enthusiast car buyer who typically influences a lot of others to consider the brand they own: What can SAAB offer that’s compelling in the face of strong competition from the 3 Germans with their S,M,RS and AMG models or the cheaper Rally bread cars from Japan?
The Marketing Halo car needs to make a Statement of what SAAB aspires to be, it’s a vision that encompass the key traits of the brand that SAAB owners identify with, here are some of the reasons why I chose to buy SAABs for so many years:
- SAAB’s are about not making compromises.
- Small displacement turbo engines offer Performance when you need it and lower fuel and maintenance costs. => adding electrical hybrid system is the natural extension of the SAAB Philosophy.
- Handling that inspires confidence and control => All wheel drive as already manifested in the excellent XWD system is the natural extension (but comes at a weight and fuel penalty)
- Functional and practical: The combi coupe from the 99 and early 900’s and 9000 where extremely versatile and sporty. The Sport Wagons are ok, but not as distinctive and sporty.
- Safety and value. SAAB’s have always been amongst the safest cars to drive and they have also offered more value than their German counterparts.
So keeping this in mind I propose the following two High PO vehicle lines developed and launched…….
The extremely limited edition “Marketing Halo” 9-9 only 9 of which will be sold for US$999,999 each and a new R performance version to the existing 9-3 and 9-5 range :
1 – The car must have 350hp minimum.
- 9-9R gets 665HP to easily outperform RS6, Aston Rapide and Porsche Panamera. 0-100 under 4sec and a top speed limited to 300km/h
- Current 9-3R gets 300HP 0-100 in 5.5s, top speed restricted to 275km/h
- New 9-5R gets 485HP, 0-100 in about 5sec, top speed limited to 275km/h
- Next gen 9-3 gets 400HP, 0-100 in 5.0s top speed restricted to 275km/h
2 – How you’ll achieve that sort of power, where you’ll source the engine from.
- 9-9R uses exsisting 330HP Hirshed V6 running E85 + True Electric 335HP electric engine and battery pack for a total 665HP under acceleration. During city driving it runs on electric power only. Makes cut under 120g CO2 in the combined cycle as the only Ultra High performance 5 passenger car.
- Current 9-3R uses new direct injection 9-5 2.0T engine running E85 tuned to 300HP with XWD and the 6speed manual as the only gearbox.
- New 9-5R uses 300HP 2.0T running E85 and 185HP Electric engine and battery pack from True electric. 485HP under acceleration Makes cut under 120g CO2 in the combined cycle. Gearbox is current 6 speed automatic
- Next gen 9-3 SR gets new 1.6 Turbo from BMW running E85 tuned to 215HP and 185HP True electric engine for a total of 400HP and easily drops below 100g CO2. Gearbox is automated dualclutch 7 speed unit sourced from Borg and Warner or BMW.
3 – Modifications you’ll do to the interior, exterior, suspension, etc.
- 9-9 uses new 9-5 platform with aero suspension. Body will be custom built in Aluminium or Carbonfiber using Jason Castriota 4 door interpretation of Aero-X design. Design goal is 5 passengers, room for engines and batteries and of course the practical hatchback. More distinctive than an Aston rapide. Body construction is outsourced to Italian or UK prototype builder, SAAB prototype team does final assembly.
- Current gen 9-3R only comes in Sportcombi form uses current Aero spec body and suspension with 18” wheels, 345mm Hirsh brakes and Ultra high performance tires. Interior gets current Hirsh treatment, color satnav is std. LED lights on front and rear are applied for a distinctive look. 999 unit limited production run.
- New 9-5R introduces the first facelift of this series and gets leather wrapped dashboard, color satnav with current Aero suspention setup with magnetic ride shocks added. Bigger break kit from Brembo. Only comes in new SportsCombi form. Production limited to ensure demand>supply.
- Next gen 9-3R follows similar path, but opens up possibilities for customizing by owner.
4 – Timeframe for testing this car.
- 9-9R is effectively 9 prototypes that are actually sold to help fund R&D and makes it a “real car” someone will actually eventually own. It’s a running development platform for the engineering team to test out high performance hybrid electronics and will properly take about 6mths to get a non running prototype to a show and another 18mths to finalize and deliver to the lucky few buyers that can afford something this unique.
- Current Gen 9-3 is already here, I hope the direct injection 2.0T will become available in the 2011B models, Hirsh will quickly get the tuning sorted based on experience with the new 9-5. Just build 999 9-3R’s.
- 9-5R will leverage from 9-9R drivetrain development and come out in 2013 as the spearhead of the facelifted 9-5 range.
- Next gen 9-3R comes out in 2014 levering to lift the brilliant new intro to new levels of performance and desirability.
5 – Warrant the vehicle in all markets with confidence.
- 9-9 register as prototype or even kitcar, extreamly limited nature should be able to get thru this requirement.
- CG9-3R already certified
- 9-5R engine already certified, should be limited in nature to get approved.
- NG 9-3R done in parallel with certification of new series in all the markets.
6 – Expected sale price, based on current pricing in your market. (My home market in Demark has absurd prices due to Tax, so I will propose US prices as I lived their for many years in the past.)
- 9-9R: $999,999 Could be more perhaps as it will be extremely rare with 9 units in the world.
- CG 9-3R Needs to undercut BMW 335Xi, can charge a premium to Subaru WRX. $39995 will provide more value.
- 9-5R competes with S6, RS6 and M5, Price at $69995 to provide more value.
- NG 9-3R competes with S4, M3. Price at $59995 to provide more value.
7 – How many of these vehicles you think Saab could realistically sell?
- 9-9: 9
- CG9-3R: 999
- 9-5R: 400/year
- NG9-3R: 999/year
- Key point: Make less than demanded, keep up desirability and value to ensure true Halo effect to rise sales of the volume models.
8 – How you’re going to fund the engineering, development and testing of this project.
- 9-9, $9M from buyers, rest from Marketing and R&D budgets
- Its already pretty much paid for, build and sell it!
- 9-5R, leverage engineering effort from 9-9R, down deploy Hybrid technology into volume models with much lower power output. EIB funds should be able to support this as the engineering is focused on hybrid drivetrain.
- NG9-3R: fund out of profit from the fully refreshed range.
9 – You have to fit it in to the current program by telling us which current priority is less important than a performance car.
- Making the SAAB brand more desirable in broader circles is a huge priority.
As stated earlier I really don’t have the background to suggest a complete business plan for Halo models. But I will replace my A4 with a CG9-3R this year and replace the Corvette and my wifes 9-3 Aero with a NG9-3R if they become available.