Developing a future Saab portfolio

You could see this as a follow-up to the post I did last week about a potential restart based on a 9-3 model alone or you could just see this as a bit of distraction while we are waiting for news to come. Either way is fine for me as this thoughts came out of some good discussions I had recently with members of our team. While we all thought that starting production based on the current 9-3 model would be a first step that could work we were drawing it a bit further asking us what should be next after the next 9-3 is there. I’ll put this into a bit of a fictional story to get you in the right mood for the discussion this piece is looking for…

So let’s imagine it’s early in 2014. The old generation 9-3 did a good job selling 35.000 units the year before after it has been refreshed when Saab was restarted in fall 2012. The next generation of the 9-3 just hit the market after it was presented at the IAA in 2013. For the first time in Saabs history hatch and Combi were released at the same time with a 3-door and convertible variant to debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2014. While that new 9-3 is expected to push up sales compared to the old model it is still pretty clear that it will not be enough to reach the break even point.

While in recent years Saab had tried to fill that gap in sales with the 9-5 and the 9-4x the new management decided to go a different route. They created the 9-1, an entry level Saab to attract new kinds of customers usually served by Audi A1, Fiat 500, Mini as well as those who used to drive a Saab but simpy don’t need a bigger car. The quick development of that model has been possible through a platform partnership with BMW and the help of engineering companies that were founded by former Saab employees during the bankrupcy of Saab. As the 9-1 is due to be released in a big event at the Saab museum in Trollhättan in May those engineering companies are already busy creating the first phoenix-based generation of the 9-5, that is unlike the previous 9-5 more aimed to the European market in terms of size. Rumors already mention a potential 9-4x or a similar vehicle but this is still not confirmed.

Of course that was a nice success story we’d all like to watch. But the main point in this is that I’d really prefer to see a 9-1 before a 9-5. Assuming that the 9-3 may grow a tad to offer enough space for a family of four in wagon configuration a small Saab could create more volume and attract new customers. Add fuel saving drivetrain technology and typical Saab design along with quirky features like the good old fasten seat belt signs – I bet it would sell pretty well.

Once that is archieved and some cashflow is there go for the bigger models to complete the model range. A major problem in 2010 was that the 9-5 was no car to make volumes. A new 9-3 had been a much better base for the restart of Saab. I spoke to many dealers here in Europe about that and most of them agreed. So for any buyer this is a big opportunity and a 9-1 would enlarge it even more.

Those are my thoughts, now it’s your turn…

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Reject the GM era 9-(whatever) naming convention. Bring back the 900! Make it practical – a 3 doors model, a 5 door model, maybe add a convertable. Give it sporting attributes. Make it safe. Test it. Perfect it. MAKE IT GREAT! Keep it simple. Don’t try to make it a BMW, Lexus or Buick, stick to to core values that SAAB fans are passionate about!

David Lawrence

Lose the 9-4. It is already sold here under a Cadillac badge. It is not even made in Trollhattan. Lose it. Lose the NG 9-5. Press on with new Phoenix-based product. Call it either the 900 or 99 even. And just like before but better: offer 3 and 5 door hatchback, and estate (wagon), and maybe 4-door sedan for traditionalists. Finish it off nicely, but don’t try to go up against BMW/Merc with it. Position it as an Un-Camry, Un-Sentra, Un-Focus Un-Accord, Un-Civic: More versatile, stronger, better performance, better mileage, more soul. Saab – You can drive something else, but… Read more »

sam de Hoyos

As long as we are dreaming……………this has been a dream of mine for over the last decade!! I even wrote several letters to the Saab design team over the last decade about this. Along with the new platforms which we all agree Saab needs to grow, I’m just curious……….how many of you feel the way I do……….. and would love to see a retro 900 turbo Aero that looks, drives and sounds 95% classic with some modern design improvements? Just like the Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang………all classics in their own right but nothing like the Saab 900 Turbo!!! They… Read more »


amen, I know of at least 5 people who would buy this instantly, without reservation in the slightest.

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