Trollhattan visit – This is Saab 9-5 Drive Day!

Today is Drive Day!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way (in a new 9-5) to Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg, which is where it all starts.

I’ll be joining members of the Irish and German automotive press, so it should be interesting, to say the least. The car is aimed at the Audi A6 and Saab make no bones about this in their presentation. The fun part will be listening to some of the German press’ follow-up questions.

We have a briefing at Landvetter, then a drive to Trollhattan for the presentation that I saw when I was at the launch center yesterday. All the really fun driving on the test track takes place tomorrow.

There will be a number of Saab key personnel at the Saab Launch Center to take questions from the press after the presentation. These will include the big guns in Jan-Ake Jonsson and Victor Muller, as well as key product guys from Design, Infotainment, Safety and Powertrain.

I’ve got most of your questions from the People’s Road Test all ready to go. There’s some I just can’t cover, but I think you should be pretty happy with the outcome.

Tonight there’s a dinner for the press corps, again with some of these big guns. it should be entertaining, especially with the Irish there in force 🙂

Saab Academy: where mechanics go to learn about servicing new Saabs

If I recall correctly, the signs on the wall used to say ‘GM Academy’. That seems like so long ago now.

Today it’s the Saab Academy and it’s where your head service guy (if you’re in Europe) will go to learn how to care for your new Saab 9-5. Other markets will probably have training at a center in their own country, but for the next 7 week or so, European techs will be coming to Trollhattan to learn how to better service these vehicles and take care of their customers.

They’ve got one of each engine variant in the Saab Academy so that the techs can come in and see what they’ll be working with.

There’s a dozen people in each class. The first three days of the week see a three-day comprehensive class take place. The last two days of the week are for groups that have quite a bit of experience with the diagnostic gear used in a wider range of GM brands, so the course is suitably condensed into the shorter time frame.

The cars were complete when I first went in for a look, but they take the cars apart as the course goes on so that they can get a good look – in situ – at all the parts they’ll be dealing with.

There’s a number of shelves on the various benches around the room with individual parts laid out. When they’re looking at the car as a complete unit, it’s handy to have a part you can put your hands on so that you can see it in isolation, as well as attached to the car.

This bench shows a number of black boxes. These are the various computers inside a new 9-5. Not all of these will be in base model cars. The higher the spec of the car, the more computers that are needed for the various electronic systems.

This bench shows everything, i.e. all the computers that would be in a top-spec XWD Aero V6 with eLSD.

This is one HiPerStrut. You can now consider yourself informed.

My thanks to Bengt at the Saab Academy for taking me on a tour around and explaining things that once again, a layman like me has no right to understand.

Trollhattan visit – Day 1 notes

I’ll have some more specific subject-related content for you after dinner, but here are some notes from a rather hectic Day 1 (when I wasn’t even officially here!)

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The started with a rather long walk around 9am. It was meant to be a short walk to an electronics store so that I could buy a tripod and a phone. It turned into a long walk because the shops don’t open around here until 10am!

If Sweden’s economy should falter, I have a quick and easy solution – longer opening hours.

At least I could use the exercise 🙂 and eventually I managed to purchase both items.

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After that little expedition, I walked up to the Saab Museum, where I managed to do a few cool things, both of which will get more air time here in due course.

The first of those was a look around at the Saab Academy:

Training of service personnel has already begun here in Trollhattan and today there were a group of mechanics from around Scandinavia. The class size is around 12 per class and they’re here for three days per group (a more experience technical group get a 2-day class at the end of the week).

That car was photographed directly after lunch and by around 3pm, the front end would be missing from it 🙂

The second cool thing was to have a closer look at more detailed plans for the Saab Festival, which is on next month.

We covered the outline of the Festival a few weeks ago and full plans won’t be revealed for a little while yet, but Peter and the Festival team are doing some extraordinary work getting this together and the program really does look to be fantastic.

If you haven’t booked yet, you really ought to. It’s going to be one heck of a celebration.

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My official participation in the Saab 9-5 drive event isn’t until tomorrow, but that stop me from going up there today and listening in.

Today was for press members from Italy.

I arrived before them and had some quality time with Mikael Jacobsson, who’s the infotainment specialist for the 9-5 presentation (one of the many hats he wears) and he gave me a good run-through the whole system in a 9-5 display car with the top spec equipment in it.

All I can say is that Saab can well and truly back up their claims that they’ve got the technology covered. It’s an absolutely first class system the looks, sounds and works brilliantly.

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The launch center looks fantastic and is a great way to show off to the world press that Saab is here, working and building cars.

This is the actual presentation area…..

Again, more to come later.

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There was one significant disappointment today.

I’ve long been a big fan of the dash panel that was shown in the display cars at Frankfurt, as well as featuring in the initial press photography of this car.

As recently as a few days ago, I talked about this dash as a counterpoint to the description of the interior as ‘gloomy’ by some members of the British press.

I can’t find where I wrote about it, but there was some talk over a month ago that there was a supplier issue with these dash panels. It seems that supplier issue has led to them not being available at this point, which means the 9-5 is going to market without the panel.

It has a flat black surface instead and whilst that doesn’t make it ‘gloomy’, it’s not as nice as the cars I saw with the panel installed, in Frankfurt last year.

The Saab people I spoke to today are working hard with their suppliers to get a solution to this and they hope to offer both this panel and the ice-block panel – sooner rather than later.

The issue is getting large-scale manufacturing of the panel that can produce consistent quality and quantity for the company. They’re not going to do it if it can’t be done right and on the right scale.

Customers who are seeking information about pre-order are made aware of this, so it’s mainly just a surprise for me (and I guess you as well, if SU’s a prime source of info for you).

The interior still looks very good, just not quite as good as what I’ve seen it before.

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Dinner!

Saturday Snippets – ‘Saab 92’ is everywhere

With over 800 votes lodged in last night’s poll about how future Saabs should be named, the clear winner is retaining Saab’s current nomenclature.

The judges decision is final (because you are the judges) and no further discussions will be entered into. Thanks to all who voted.

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On the day of the official launch of the Saab 9-5, it seems it’s a prospective Saab 92 that’s stealing the show.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek wrote the main story in the latest crop, but it’s being picked up absolutely everywhere now, in both English and Swedish.

That Ny Teknik report, incidentally, states that the prospective smaller Saab would quite possibly not be built in Trollhattan, but on an already developed architecture elsewhere. It makes sense from one perspective, but I’d love to see it coming out of Trollhattan.

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I like this idea, from Subaru.

Not that I’d like to see it on a Saab, but I just think it’s clever and suits their demographic, in a grown up boy scouts type of way.

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From comments, another 9-5 image from today’s launch event:

There’s a larger version here. I’m not sure who took the image, but well done.

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Also from comments, there’s some video from SVT (in Swedish). The video is mainly interviews with the various government and union people who attended today. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of them back in Stockholm in February, when the deal was done, so it’s great that they’ve had this opportunity to see the fruits of all the work that was done back then.

Imagine if it hadn’t worked out. That factory would be a ghost town.

It’s nice to see Peter Backstrom in the background with a few vehicles from the Saab Museum, too. I imagine he was keeping a very close eye on the Aero-X 🙂

The Saab 9-5 launch, detailed by TTELA

The new Saab 9-5 will launch on Friday 28th May and TTELA has produced an article this morning outlining the launch activities.

I love this quote from Eric Geers:

We are launching a new car, but it is also an opportunity to launch ‘new Saab’

Whilst the media program will see around 250-260 journalists drive the car in the next few weeks, a total of 2,000 or more people will get to see/drive the car in total. This includes dealers from around the world and various VIP customers.

The Googletrans:

On Monday, Saab will receive the first group of journalists. During the two weeks since a total of 250 journalists, from many different countries, coming to Trollhättan to test drive the car.

They all receive a two-day program, where the first day test drive the car from Landvetter to Trollhättan through Sollebrunn.

Once in Trollhättan, Saab will have a more detailed presentation of the car and the new Saab with Spyker Cars as [owners].

– We have built a launch center in the plant, which has an view of the production area,” says Geers.

Day two continues the test runs, including at Volvo’s test track in Hällered outside BorÃ¥s.

That starts on Monday. But the pre-program will start this Friday with various union and government representatives driving the new car. I guess you could call this a thankyou for their part in the company being sold earlier this year.

As mentioned, the journalist program runs from next Monday for two weeks, and then on June 14, the program switches to dealers and VIPs.

First deliveries are scheduled for just before Midsummer and the priority markets, as expected, will be the USA, Sweden and the UK. These are Saab’s big three markets.

Another great piece of work by Magnus Nordberg at TTELA.

Thanks to Marco for the link!

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