AMS.se on sales, Saab 9-3 and TTiD SportCombi

Our friends at Auto Motor and Sport have been speaking to Saab and there’s some indications there that some good news we’ve been expecting for a little while now is just over the horizon.

Cue the Googletrans:

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Saab started slow, but climbing up
Pär Brandt – 2011-01-07 09:21,

Sales forecast was written down twice and Saab sold not more than 32 000 cars in 2010. But the year ended with a faster tempo and according to managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson, [there is] confidence [for] sales [in] 2011.

Saab’s new start after the change of ownership in February was significantly slower than management had imagined. The original sales forecast of 60,000 cars were written down twice and finally ended up at only 32 000 cars. Although an improvement of 53 percent compared with 2009, but it was a particularly bleak year for the automotive industry as a whole and Saab in particular.

Despite the problems is managing director Jan-Ake Jonsson happy with what you did to accomplish in 2010. Saab loaded bearings out at the shops and established new sales organizations in several countries. Important markets such as China, Russia and Australia in the starting blocks and they will contribute positively, as the launch of the new 9-5 sedan and the 9-4X. In addition, hope you capture the more important to company clients during the early years then also 9-3 SportCombi in an eco-rated version with a low emissions to 130-180 hp. 9-3 will also get a face lift to increase interest.

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The bit of particular interest there is the last few sentences, where it states a couple of things we’ve been expecting, but hadn’t heard much of from a Swedish source.

  • The 9-3 SportCombi will achieve the same low-emissions status with TTiD engines as the 9-3 Sport Sedan, and will be available in three versions from 130-180hp. This is expected early in 2011.
  • The 9-3 range will receive a facelift to carry it through to a replacement model in late 2012.

It’s noted that those items aren’t direct quotes from people at Saab, but the author of the article is a man I know reasonably well, Pär Brandt, and I know he talks to the right people at Saab. He’s not one who’s given to idle speculation.

Anyone who knows anything about the Swedish market will recognise the massive drawcard a 119g/km emissions SportCombi will provide for Saab. Sales have been up already on the strength of the Sport Sedan offering this much power with such little emissions. To have to configuration available in the Swede’s favoured body style, the SportCombi, is going to be a huge bonus.

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It’s nice to see Pär make use of an article penned by our newest contributor, Red J, as part of his column.

Great stuff, and I imagine Red J might feel quite happy about that. As well he should 🙂

Thanks to Tobias for the tip!

AMS – Win an original Castriota design sketch

Auto Motor and Sport did an interview with Saab Design Chief, Jason Castriota, and unlike mine (via telephone), it was in person.

As you’ve probably seen from Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with him, Jason enjoys a chat. Maybe the only thing he likes more is to get out the sketch pad and start drawing, which is exactly what he did while he was with the guys from AMS.

AMS are now giving readers the chance to win that sketch, which Jason did to illustrate what a future Saab Sonett might look like should they have the opportunity to make one.

Castriota_Sonett

To be in the running to win the sketch, all you need to do is leave a comment on AMS’s Facebook page.

Giddyup!

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AMS’s interview with Jason Castriota is in the latest print edition of their magazine, which Swedes can buy at outlets with the finest tastes.

Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with Jason Castriota is available at the following links. Part 3 is still to come.

AMS photochop the Saab 9-3 successor – interview Jason Castriota

The latest issue of Auto Motor and Sport has hit the news stands and it features their artist’s guess as to what the successor to the Saab 9-3 might look like when it comes out in a few years from now.

Auto Motor and Sport cover

They also have an interview with Jason Castriota in the print issue. It probably won’t be online for a little while, so Swedes who want to read it might have to head to the news stands.

Thanks Tobias!

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Speaking of interviews with Jason Castriota, I’m just finalising part 2 of my trilogy at the moment. Hopefully it will come out in the next 24 hours.

You can read part 1 of my interview with Jason Castriota right now.

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Several Swedish newspapers have published a shorter interview with Jason Castriota today. Here’s a Googletrans:

Thanks Lennart and others!

Saab’s new designer is no coward

Saab’s new chief designer want Saab to be more original. Now there are three completely new vision of the new Saab 9-3 in Trollhattan. He’s extremely tough demands on himself. But he himself is only a consultant.

At the end of the interview, Saab’s new head designer Jason Castriota become its feet.

– I do not understand that the new 9-5 was not a combi coupé, “he said suddenly – and saw the date of the new Saab car that is vital for his clients. He, who joins from Bertone in Turin, where he has been accustomed to designing sports cars and be the head had started in autumn 2008. He wanted to move back to New York with his wife and children after eight years in Italy. Wanted the children to get to start school in the United States.

Suddenly he stood alone. He began to build a simple small organization, took his newly printed business cards and flew in December last year the car show in Los Angeles.

There he met an enthusiastic Dutchman named Victor Muller, who had just made his first bid for Saab. They talked a bit.

Read moreAMS photochop the Saab 9-3 successor – interview Jason Castriota

AMS.se talk with Castriota, drive the new TTiD Saab 9-3

My mate over at Auto Motor and Sport, Par Brandt, has trumped me with the Jason Castriota interview, speaking with him over dinner last night in Trollhattan. Hopefully, I’ll catch up with Jason next week and finish off our chat, then it’ll be a race to the presses *insert evil grin here*

Par’s been on the phone back to his office in Stockholm, however, and they do have some preview information ahead of their next issue.

Cue the Googletrans!

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AMS: Hello! How are you doing in Trollhattan?

PB: Thank you, OK. Right now I’m in the new 9-3 since featuring 180 hp, and yesterday I met Jason Castriota, Saab’s new and actually very charming design director. He was extremely eloquent and probably the best PR man Saab could get. His value can not be overstated, especially when it comes to marketing Saab in the U.S. market. But Saab is aware of this and he will be used extensively in public relations context.

AMS: What did he say – he revealed some secrets?

PB: He said almost too much … He said among other things, that he currently is completing the next generation 9-3. It is in “wind-tunnel-stage”, they are therefore on the aerodynamics testing, which means that it will take about two years before it is available on the market.
Then we talked a lot about Saab’s new design language and how he sees the design. And about how his approach to the design suits Saab. The funny thing is that he is an extreme Saab geek. His parents drove a Saab when he was little, and when he had been driving his mother went out and bought a 900 for him.

AMS: What have been the plans for Saab?

PB: Yes, he’s actually almost already pushed through what he had set out – namely, to take back the rear hatch. So we can expect a hatchback and a halvkomib, but besides these he has two models for the pipline, but which ones I reveal in the story that comes in auto motor & sport for future issues.

AMS: Okay, but what do you have to say about the new 119-gram then?

PB: Well, it’s nice, it works just like a regular TTiD. Spontaneous do people find no difference, more than that it has a bit sweet time when starting the engine, but as soon as it starts rolling it is completely silent. It is therefore classified environment has a carbon dioxide emissions of 119 g / km, consumption is 4.5 litres/100 km. It is very comfortable on the highway, the 110 m/h stands at 1750 yards. It has a lot of torque to 400 Nm. On the whole it feels very relaxed.

Are there any exterior difference?

PB: No, it looks just as usual, but after the new year comes a face lift for it to survive two more years, before the next generation will come.

AMS: Why no [TTiD] for the Combi? (I think this is what it’s saying – SW)

PB: Saab’s very aware that this is a problem in our combi-loving Sweden, so they’re working really hard to get it out. Rumor I have heard that carbon emissions are now at 122 grams per kilometer, so there are 2 grams before they are ready.

AMS: What happens more today in Trollhattan?

PB: First, I’ll run some more, then I see Saab’s engineers to talk a bit more on the elaboration and the engine itself. But more on that in the test drive coming in the next issue. (No. 22 in stores on October 21.)

AMS interview Jason Castriota

I’m still waiting to finish my phone interview with Jason Castriota. We got 30 minutes into things when a medical emergency with his family took him away and it’s been difficult to get in touch again, but we’ll get it done soon. I’m looking forward to it, too, as we covered a lot, but we had miles to go.

My mates at Auto Motor and Sport caught up with him at the Paris Auto Show and JH has been kind enough to send through a transcript:

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“I call them Clark Kent and Superman”

Nisse Svärd sat down together with Saab’s new chief designer Jason Castriota, and discussed the future: Hatchback, concept cars, black interior and model name (current 9-3 will be 900 or 93?). And Jason also revealed what he calls his two bosses …

Our reporter Nisse Svärd had a chat with Saab’s new chief designer. Jason Castriota proved to be a promising quote machine …

Why did you take the job at Saab?
Why not? It is a good chance. Saab is an icon in the automotive world and its re-launch offers new opportunities. A perfect environment for a designer when Saab will be reborn and start from scratch and you are also allowed to be responsible and lead the work

Why do you think Saab chose you to manage their heritage?
It was Victor Muller who contacted me. He knows my work at Pininfarina and liked my projects. I have not worked with Spyker, but he appreciated how I managed the design and history of other brands that I worked with. We met at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and Victor told me I had to come over. The second press days, I went to the Saab booth where I had a meeting with Jan-Åke and Viktor. It was supposed to last for 15 minutes, but it was a good conversation about Saab’s future design for over an hour and we were very consistent. Then they came over to me at the car show in New York a month later, where I presented the sketches of my proposals. We agreed.

Pushing ahead, that is. Typically Victor, and is it typical for you?
I am a determined designer. Saab must be decisive, especially now. It’s a good synergy between the fiery Victor and restrained Jan-Åke. They are a perfect combination and a dynamic duo. They’re like ying and yang. It is wonderful to work with them. I call them Clark Kent and Superman.

Clark Kent and Superman aka Jan-Ake Jonsson, and Victor Muller.

What is it like working at Saab and in your new design?
There is a great passion and enthusiasm within Saab. It’s fun to work here and so easy to be creative. Lovely atmosphere.

When will we see Castriota-design in Saab’s cars for the first time?
The first production car that I was responsible for is coming in 2012.

You consequently mean new 9-3?
Can not promise that it remains the 9-3.

Is it therefore more of a new 900 than a 9-3?
Saab 900 was an icon with a unique silhouette. All the manufacturers want to build premium, sporty and crossover (this refers for instance to the BMW 5 GT). It’s time to go back to a unique Saab which is premium and sporty.

Can the replacement of the 9-3 be called 900 or maybe even 93?
You get a laugh in response. (Jason’s laughter leads to a deliberate silence.)

When will we see the first touch of your Saab design?
There is a concept car next year. It gives a hint of where we are headed. Both the design and technology terms. Exactly when in 2011 is too early to tell. It depends on when the technology that shall be in the car is available.

How do you see Saab’s earlier concept cars? They have received considerable attention, do you build upon them?
No, it will be a new cycle of concept cars. The old ones had elements of Saab DNA, it will of course remain, but with new ideas.

Here at the booth Saab is showing a large text with “The Scandinavian Spirit”. How do you see the term Scandinavian design?
First you observe cultures from the outside, but then you live in it and develop the vision. Today, I live in Trollhättan. Scandinavian design is a rich heritage and not just cars. It is minimalistic and it’s a bit of a contrast to what we see in many booths here today. It is often said that a good car design will be drawn with only three lines. It is not the case with many manufacturers today. Even details are beautiful, but it should be clear lines.

Scandinavian design is often associated – not least among furniture – with light materials and wood. The interior of the Saabs today is almost known as “black”. How do you see it?
Today it is a little too sober inside the Saab cars, and it has been so for a while. I want to give more warmth to the interior and work with natural materials. Saab has lost to competitors regarding the design and colors – it also applies to the outside. I want to make a more humane environment with sustainable materials.

AMS Sonett Story

I showed some pictures from Auto Motor and Sport a few days ago. They were AMS renderings of what they think a new Saab Sonett could look like.

Those images appeared in an paper issue of AMS that’s been released to the public today. Oscar K was kind enough to volunteer a translation, and AMS were kind enough to give me the OK to share it here for those not blessed with the Swedish language.

Swedes should go buy a copy of the mag and read it for themselves 🙂 .

Thanks to Oscar for the translation.

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“Victor Müller told us that the Saab 92 will be a “modern retro” and claims that the design department already got the main character of the car finished. Saabs new head of design Jason Castriota confirms that the “model 92” is being created, but he doesn’t want to describe it as a retro – “not in the same way as a Mini or a Fiat 500”. But it will have unmistakable features, which you can easily associate with other models through Saab’s history, the Head of Design says.

The Saab 92 will be a “buying construction” [that is, they will buy the platform on which they will develop the Saab 92] in the basis, but when it comes to existing models Saab have developed a whole new architecture themselves, which will be the basis of the new 9-3. According to Jan Åke Jonsson the solution is so flexible that it will be the base of the next generation of the 9-5 and the 9-4X. Jonsson confirms that taking home the production of the 9-4X from GM’s factories in Mexico to Sweden is included in Saabs plans.

Read moreAMS Sonett Story

Auto Motor and Sport get their Sonett on

Auto Motor and Sport hits the news stands on Thursday, but subscribers get it a little earlier.

I guess one of my contacts on Buzz must be a subscriber, because he’s posted the images there (Thanks T!). Here are the two scans.

Auto Motor and Sport Saab Sonett rendering

Auto Motor and Sport Saab Sonett rendering

Please bear in mind that these would be renderings by an artist contracted by AMS. They’re not official.

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I don’t know the tone of the story, but the headline as translated yesterday seemed to indicate a belief that the Sonett might actually be coming, as a competitor to the Audi TT class of vehicles.

Personally speaking, I’m a bit skeptical about that.

I believe Saab will be successful in securing an appropriate partnership to build what’s referred to as the Saab 92 – a small 4-seat hatch with teardrop styling.

A Sonett would likely be shaped on the same architecture, if it were to eventuate. That’s a big “if”, though. The extra money needed to make this work might be hard to get, and the market for 2-seater sports cars is limited, meaning the potential return on the additional investment might be pretty limited, too.

I’d absolutely love for it to happen. A vehicle like this would be a dream come true for me. It embodies everything I love about the driving experience.

I’d love to be wrong, but I won’t count this chicken until it’s hatched.

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As noted in comments, Auto Express wrote about this last month. This is a quote from that article…..

I’ve looked at a retake of the Sonett, as Audi did with the TT, and I didn’t have to push the management too hard to justify it.

Aside from my usual reservations about AE content, I think the quote they attribute to Jason Castriota is more about some conceptual drawings and a little fun exploration than a commitment to building the model itself. I think that quote came from an interview around the time of the US launch of the 9-5 at Monticello.

Wednesday Snippets – Sonett edition

One of our regulars here at SU has just bought a mighty fine looking Sonett in the US. I hope to squeeze some good pics out of him when he gains possession soon.

Auto Motor and Sport seem to be keen on Sonetts at the moment, too, though of a different vintage.

AMS Sonett front Cover

I don’t know what the tone of the story is, but their new edition with that front cover will be on sale this Thursday.

Thanks to Kashif, and Sven, for the tip!

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Speaking of magazines……

TIME Magazine has just named the Saab 9-5 amongst its Best Cars of 2011.

Good to see!

Thanks to John M and Joe P!

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Saab’s quarrel with the Västra Götaland administrative board has just been escalated to “debt collection” status.

The Västra Götaland county loaned Saab a bunch of money when Saab went into administration back in February 2009. This money was used to pay staff salaries at the start of the administration process. The VG county wants repayment of outstanding amounts, which Saab say are not repayable because of the 75% debt reduction they were granted as part of the administration process. Saab have repaid the 25% that they see as their obligation.

Västra Götaland say the loan should have been excluded from that agreement. Saab say it’s part of it. Both sides are sticking to their guns.

VM has previously said that Saab will make provisions and pay the amount if ordered to do so by the courts, but it seems Saab believe they have a solid case and are willing to be persued and taken to the judiciary.

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To some more Brown Saabs, then!

This is a 1977 Saab 99GL in Dorado Brown with less than 60,000 miles on the clock! It’s owner is a lady named Linnea K and the car is officially nicknamed “Cocoa”. It has a secondary nickname, too, with the licence plate translating to “angry snail”, which is how it sounds on the highway, apparently 🙂

Cocoa Saab 99GL

AlanH has written in with some Brown Saab memories, too.

For his family, their entire Saab experience started with a brown Saab 99GLE back in 1976, with gold-trimmed soccerball wheels and a brown/gold interior.

Just like the brochure…..

Saab 99 GLE

It’s so good to see brown coming back from it’s 1970s exile.

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