One man’s thoughts: Saab at the Geneva Motor Show

As mentioned last week, I spent my last day in Geneva meeting up with Till72. It was a long-awaited meeting as we’ve been email correspondents for some time and I was really looking forward to meeting the big man from Munich and catching a ride in his Hirsched Saab 9-3x (a truly awesome example).

We spent several good hours catching up and talking about various Saab issues before parting at Geneva Airport – I hopped on a plane and Till walked across the road and into the Palexpo center to check out the Geneva Motor Show.

These are his thoughts.


My trip to Geneva was quite tough. I started a 3 am on Thursday in Munich to be at Geneva in time to pick up Steven for a ride to the airport. May sound a bit silly but in fact it was the only way for him to get a Saab taxi in Geneva. And more than that it was the long awaited chance to meet up and have a good chat. After he had to jump on the plane I proceeded to the auto show for a quick look around and a long stay at the Saab booth. At the evening I went to a cheap hotel in France for a few hours of sleep as I had to get up early to make it to an appointment with Hirsch at Sankt Gallen.

I found out a few things on this trip….. For example, I can go 1100 km on one tank of diesel with my 9-3x if I obey the Swiss speed limit. And Audi drivers in every country I went through on my trip were pretty interested in my Saab because they always drove like 15 cm behind me to take a closer look. I thought about attaching some brochures to the back of my car, those guys could have easily read it. Oh, and Steven is a real nice guy. I’m gonna miss his writings here on SU. And no-one wanted to enter the Dacia booth. But those things are not what you would like to hear, or maybe you already know them. So let’s get to the interesting things.

The Phoenix.

I won’t go too much into the details, they’ve been worked out here already. It’s a concept car. And it’s main intention was to get attention and to shout out “Saab is alive”. And that’s what it does. You could hardly get near the car because it was being photographed all of the time. The day I went there was the first visitors day so that is a pretty good sign.

As I saw the first photos of the Phoenix I was pretty unsure what to think about it. But as I saw it in metal (or whatever) it quickly started to grow on me. Once I spent about 15 minutes just looking at the car. And while doing that my mind erased some of the obvious concept stuff and formed some kind of a production version of that car. A new Sonett. It really worked and it looked amaizing. I wished my head had a printer port but since I was made in the last century… Well, it might be something for the Photoshop guys around here.

I was told that the PhoeniX concept really drove in Trollhättan. So there’s hope 😉 (and I believe there maybe some plans to take it on the road – for a short stint, at least – in the near future)

The booth.

Another really good thing was that the entire booth was crowded most of the time. Those nice ladies were explaining the models to visitors one by one and all of the time. I love those real ice blocks, too.

The choice of cars was good with two 9-5 SportCombis so everyone could manage to take a look. In fact you could hardly sit in a car because there were so many interested people around. I’d say that Geneva was more than important to send out a very positive sign. Everyone of the Saab crew performed great.

As I was about to go, I ran into Victor Muller, who was on the way to the airport. I took the chance to thank him for saving Saab and despite the fact that he seemed to be in a hurry he took a minute for a short chat and to shake hands. I like this guy even more now.

This short visit left me with a positive feeling. They had the chance to create some attention and they took it. I understand better why Saab showed their new models a few days before at the independence day celebrations, because the Phoenix may have taken some attention from them in the press.

Well done Saab.


Swade here again….

That last point is one to note. As good as it’s been to get Saab’s name in the media for the PhoeniX and IQon, there’s still plenty of work to be done by Saab on the new things that are ready to be ordered now – the Saab 9-5 SportCombi, The Independence Edition Convertible, the sub-120g/km 9-3 SportCombi and the Saab 9-3 Griffin.

16 thoughts on “One man’s thoughts: Saab at the Geneva Motor Show”

  1. I totally agree with you both on that last point.

    The PhoeniX created a buzz around Saab in media that is most welcome. It is difficult to fight about media space with other big companies. Hopefully it will help on the US market as well, which has been hard to bring about for the new Saab.

    Now focus has to be on the current models. Get out the 9-3 SC <120g into the dealers – ASAP!

    I've been playing with stats today and can only conclude that Italy was a bigger market than Germany in 2007 – 2009. And Italy has so far in 2011 increased much more than Germany, so yes, Germany needs a boost. 🙂

  2. Great words Till, I agree with you on the buzz around the stand. I was in hall six on the first day and everybody was packing away so I walked back to Saab and it felt like it was the start of the day. So many people looking at our great brand.

  3. You are a hero! After my TomTom app spat out the distance from MUC to Geneva, I decided to refrain from going there yesterday. Sounds like Saab drew much more attention then they had at IAA 2009.

  4. Till72 nice read, and happy that you met Victor. He is a man of the people, and seemed humble of his position in Saab. I was also lucky to have made his acquaintance.

    Here’s my question. Since the Auto show will be in New York in April, will Saab be bringing the phoeniX to New York given the market demographic Saab has in the greater Tri-State area? I would love to see it in person along with the new SC’s and the Independence Edition of the convertible. The more shows they appear in, will pique traffic in Saab Showrooms here in the good ole US of A. Saab needs to reach out to those who have not owned them which we all know to grab more market shares in US sales. Fingers crossed 🙂

  5. My son noted that iQon has made the news in some unexpected places as well, and suddenly Saab is on the radar of poeple that hardly knew Saab existed. There is probably a lot to be won by being visible in the Android community, ideally getting the status of THE android-for-cars development platform of choice. And I would say that geeks may be a interested in the rest of the cars, once they seen it…

    • Seeing how people transform before Apple products, the power of the right mobile OS integrated into a car cannot be over estimated. It has to be coupled with some cool design and seeing PhoeniX, SAAB will have no problem delivering on the design promise. Price/value for the bare hardware seems to be secondary in these type of products. Thumbs up!

      • I was more thinking of the (probably) unintended effect of possibly of not only using Android, but being the centre of gravity for car app devolopment in general. It’s not about that Saab needs the community to pull this off, it’s that Saab has a lot to gain on being recognised as an authority in this area. This might be a situation where both sides uncontionsly assumes that the other side is the authority on the subject (car app devolopment). The car app SDK by Saab, maybe? And the future questions to car salesmen everywhere, is it Saab iQon compatible? 🙂

        • Still the most impressive thing how many rabbits Saab pulled out of the hat during the last year. It looks like they had so many great ideas that were just caged by GM. And iQon is another one of them.

          Saab is back as one of the extremely innovative companies.

  6. So, in the wake of Geneva and the rather controversial (in a good way) PhoeniX, something came to my mind;
    where is Simon Padian?
    Is he still in Trollhättan?
    With Saab?
    I would like to send him my best regards in any case, for I think he has done a great work for Saab as well…

    “CDN understands that Simon Padian, Saab’s current brand design chief, is still currently leading the internal design team and working alongside Castriota’s consultancy. Padian, who has headed Saab’s design studio since 2005, will report to Castriota while continuing to manage the internal team and running of the studio day-to-day. Castriota will sit on the company’s board and advise on the future design direction of the brand, reporting directly to Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson.” CDN, 24 June 2010

    • SImon was having lunch at NOVA, the new restaurant next door to the Saab Museum, on Friday. I didn’t interrupt him to say hello as he was in conversation and seemed to be enjoying his food (the chicken pasta on Friday was fantastic), but he looked to be in fine spirits 🙂

      • Thanks for info, Swade, good to know, also about NOVA, will try to try the chicken pasta this summer…

  7. Sorry I did not post much ( if any) all week. I began a new career on Monday and I no longer have my private little shop that I dearly miss. This lack of private office put a damper on my work hours surfing and commenting on SU 🙂 . It was also my military drill weekend, which took even more of my time away…so I am playing catch up now, on my day off.

    Thanks to Till for writing this piece! As always well written and passionate, just as I have come to expect from a fellow Saaber. Thanks too all who brought so much great coverage from the show. SU is and will remain the best website for all things Saab!

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