More from NYC: Saab’s PR Video

While this video from Saab PR really doesn’t answer the average SU regular’s questions, it does show some good shots of the PhoeniX, 9-4x, 9-5SC, Independence Edition 9-3 Convertible, and the bustling stand in NY. If you live within 50 miles, it’s worth the drive out, I promise you. It’s nice to hear from Matthias (who has some real fighting words for competitors!), Victor, and Jason, but you also get to see an interview with Andreas Andersson, who I got to speak with on a few occasions last week and impressed me a great deal, and even Swade himself from behind the wheel of the IE 9-3. Nice work, mate!

I’m waiting to hear back from several key Saab people on questions I asked and need clearance to post information about publicly, and when I do you’ll get a final NYC wrap up. Questions ranging from little details like will the 9-3 headlamps have a reworked LED lighting system that also functions as daytime running lights? (yes…) To big subjects like GM involvement on the 9-4x going forward. Thanks for your patience as we and Saab juggle all this information.

Saab Phoenix @ Chelsea Piers

Here’s some detail video from Chelsea Piers of the Saab PhoeniX traveling exhibition. It’s but one of many videos to come in the next few days from SaabsUnited.

Saab has some great shots coming of the PhoeniX rolling around the West Village that and Meatpacking District that will be online soon. Germans may not be able to watch the video because I used a Swedish band as background music, rest assured I’ll post a muted version for you guys later. Next year we’re buying an image stabilizer mount so we can get some more pro-style shots 😉

 

Victor Speaks to Bloomberg in New York

Characteristically upbeat about Saab’s prospects, Victor Muller answered some fair and interesting questions from Matt Miller at Bloomberg. While regulars here know all the answers before Victor even needs to open his mouth, it’s reassuring to hear him show what an obvious case one can make for Saab’s success. Saab will be the alternative car brand, the one for those who don’t want to be lemmings or follow the luxury herd. Remember when buyers chose between a 911 and an SPG? It’s about time customers had to weigh that decision again. You can’t help but love Victor.

New York Auto Show Day 1

It’s been a freakishly busy two days in New York, but exciting for Saab no less. For those who haven’t experienced a major auto show, rest assured it’s a media circus and the press have been coming non-stop to see and report on Saab. Of course there’s only one journalist whose opinion you actually care about, and that would be the one and only Swade. This is the first time I’ve met him and I have to say, he’s just as warm, intelligent, and plugged-in to Saab as anyone could ever be. It’s a great honor, and I hope to see much more of him when he’s here. We spoke briefly with Gunnar Heinrich, the producer of automobilesdeluxe.tv, who’s got a huge soft spot for Saab and was really impressed by the PhoeniX in person.

In fact I’ve seen hundreds of reporters come and marvel in awe at the new PhoeniX. Let me just say, seeing it in person changes things completely. It isn’t polarizing, it’s mesmerizing.

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New York Update: “The f*#@ing break-even!”

Our Saabs United representative at the New York Auto Show was Jeff P and he’s been doing a fantastic job sharing his NYIAS experience, as well as the all-important chats he had with various Saab executives.
Here’s the latest of several reports he’s filed today. You can read them in their original context over at the SaabsUnitedNY website.

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I won’t say whose mouth spoke the phrase in the title – at least three times within the span of 15 seconds – but I think you can guess. Lowering the break-even point is Saab’s greatest challenge in the next few years.
There are several ways to get there, each with their own pluses and minuses. Charge more for cars and make them more exclusive or pump up the volume and make them more accessible? I think the general attitude here is in favor of the latter, and for good reason. I think Victor and the team are smart enough to realize you can do both at once, and if you back up and pay attention to the ideas he has put forth, that’s exactly what seems to be happening.
On one hand, you have the new 9-5 which will carry the upper end of Saab’s range with the 9-4x for some time to come. Fully optioned out they will likely carry the same price tag as a comparably equipped Audi. While I haven’t driven either, I can vouch that the 9-5 is nearly as good on the inside (better looking, not quite as super tight feeling) and much better outside than the A6 or BMW 535i. That’s not as a Saab fan, that’s an objective fact- nearly every casual observer I witnessed said the same thing, even groups of 20 year olds calling to each other to check it out.
The 9-4x has the opportunity to make a huge splash in the market too, not only because it’s incredibly good looking but will most likely drive as well or better than the competition. Charge the right price for both and they will fly off the floor. While the 9-5 will be in dealers in a matter of weeks, the 9-4x is still some months away.
My suggestion to Saab, especially to Mike Colleran: get one example of the most loaded up version of the SUV to every dealer in the country, build an innovative display around it, and have customers able to see it so they might delay their purchase of a similar Q5, RX, SRX, XC60, X5, or ML. Crowded segment isn’t it? That’s why Saab needs to be bold here and show customers it is serious.

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New York Update: Why various Saab things are delayed

Our Saabs United representative at the New York Auto Show was Jeff P and he’s been doing a fantastic job sharing his NYIAS experience, as well as the all-important chats he had with various Saab executives.

Here’s the second of several reports he’s filed today. I’ll get the others up in due course, or if you’re really keen you can read them now over at the SaabsUnitedNY website.

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There are a few areas which many people are upset about, and seemingly for good reason. They range from paint color choices, interior materials, diesel engine options, all the way to just getting product in showrooms.

When the sale was under way, certain binding confidentiality agreements kept most details hidden from our view, and for good reason. We scoured day to day news for any crumbs and read as many swedish (and some chinese) tea leaves to try to discern what credible information there was to gleam. An unfortunate side effect of all of that mania was our fear that behind the scenes, there might have been conspiracies by GM perhaps to derail or sideline Saab’s chances.

I must tell you, I don’t believe any of that to be true anymore having spoken to the players.

In this economy and the way suppliers are set up, there isn’t much difference from one group to another. Saab is so credibly different that they present an opportunity for major OEMs and especially GM to boost their bottom line. I think it’s time for us to acknowledge that Saab’s development was sidelined by uncertainty, and only recently has been able to return to full speed.

Diesels are of course of great concern to many drivers out there, especially in the US. The prospect not only of driving further on a tank but also more efficiently carries a lot of promise. VW has done it in the US previously by not having its cars 50 state compliant. Mercedes now uses a urea injection system, AdBlue, which costs hundreds of dollars to refill at the dealer yearly. BMW covers the cost of the same system, but charges much more upfront for its diesels.

Only if gasoline prices rise substantially does the cost benefit become clear to switch to diesel, and at the moment when in the US diesel prices are in fact higher, it doesn’t seem like it would be a high priority to Saab given all the challenges they face. Indeed, Mike Colleran told me this exactly himself, and I’m with him 100%. Magnus did mention that when Euro6 regulations take effect in 2014, Saab will by then have a strategy that will be worldwide, but probably not until then.

To bridge the gap, they are looking at bringing electric propulsion technology to boost performance while keeping costs down and efficiencies up. Even Ferrari is using KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) in their brakes, and I expect Saab to use similar measures as well as the typical start/stop and other means. Don’t forget, Saab had a plugin hybrid 9-3 convertible before the Volt was introduced. I think it makes a lot more sense to push for these new technologies rather than just ship some diesels over for sale in a few states.

While the color debate I think has been resolved, the issue did come up this week. The main reason for not being able to paint one car or another comes down to plastics especially. Coating the lower panels on the 95 is going to be an entirely different formula than the one they are using, so it’s not like you can just dip it in the same paints. This is the main reason for the delay, so if you really must have a bright red Saab, you’ll just have to wait. I for one prefer the colors they have lined up already, and think that grey will sell loads more than red. Keep in mind people who go for understated colors also tend not to be ones who rant on blogs ;-).

Getting product into showrooms is top priority right now, I’d say above everything else. The dealers know this well and were briefed on it all over the world this week. By memorial day weekend we should start to see things back to normal, and by July 4th you should really start to get the excitement getting back at the dealers.

To all of those who take their cars to an independent mechanic, this might be the time just to peek your head in, heck maybe even be nice enough to get an oil change since those tend not to be hugely marked up by most dealers. It’s all about faith in the dealers, and if the enthusiasts can’t show it to our own dealers, then we have less of a community than I thought. Even if you hate your dealer but you love Saab, try to work with them, channel your frustration into constructive criticism and help them get on the right track. They’re as happy the company is alive as you are.

So no…delays aren’t a result of the GM boogey man, Victor is not planning some jet propulsion rocketSaab behind closed doors, and the 94x won’t be debuting in bright orange most likely.

Delays happened because Saab almost died. Let’s all just be thankful that there are people who are pulling 18 hour days back in Trollhättan to get the stock replenished and to every individual’s liking. I’m sure you have your own expression back home but- hÃ¥lla uppe det goda arbetet.

New York update: The next Saab 9-3 (900?)

Our Saabs United representative at the New York Auto Show was Jeff P and he’s been doing a fantastic job sharing his NYIAS experience, as well as the all-important chats he had with various Saab executives.
Here’s the first of several reports he’s filed today. I’ll get the others up in due course, or if you’re really keen you can read them now over at the SaabsUnitedNY website.

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One of the more interesting conversations I had was with Magnus Hansson about the design language on the new 95. The key focus for Saab designers was using the new design language from the Aero-X but with new elements that took into consideration Saab’s rich past. The C-Pillar’s slope is the most glaring example of this, but simple details within the headlamp and taillamp units, the body panels, even the wheel arches and hood proportion mesh with examples from the 99 to the 9000.
When most car designers are assigned a role in the process, they usually get one or two elements at a time. One group will get the front, another the back. What Saab tried to do was unify the front and rear design language, and for the first time you see the back trying to mimic or play off what is going on in the front of the car, so much so in fact that even the pattern of LED brake indicators matches identically the LED iceblock graphic from the front (I like to think of them like Viking horns). The key here is- Saab is very serious about making cohesive designs that are both modern yet respect their past.
The new 93 gets all of the executives excited. When you talk about the 95 most say, “Oh yes, it’s a beautiful car. We’re very proud of it.” But when you mention the 93 they light up. I keep going to Magnus, probably because I spent the most time with him, but I asked specifically for one detail he could spill, and that was the rear light graphic. He claims it is much more horizontal and solid than I might have expected and that the shape is extremely Saab. He wouldn’t mention specific model inspiration, and even if he did it’s not like I could tell you. All we need to know at this point is we should prepare for the return of Saabs as Saabs, not as a GM brand division.
The reason for staying on the existing platform was explained to me as a simple choice. The engineers were given the opportunity to work with Delta, to work with Epsilon II, and come up with iterations that would make sense. Staying with Epsilon I but implementing the core changes they believed could transform the car into their ideal platform while keeping costs down and control to a maximum was a no brainer at that point.
How often have you heard from critical douchebags (pardon my language) saying “Ehh that 9-3 is just a rebadged Malibu,” or something to that effect. Now you can finally shut them down. This will be a Saab platform now, with some genetic similarity deep down but so much individuality there will be no mistaking it as such.
Finally the name 93 may soon come to an end. After speaking with Eric Geers, especially about branding, we wondered how important the older names might be to Saab like 900 and Sonnet. We recalled certain blunders like Ford’s Taurus.
On the other hand Saab has invested a lot of money in bringing brand consciousness for the new 95 already, so there could be risks. I think there’s no better time to mark a fundamental shift at the company, and perhaps no better way then by retruning to a naming convention system from its 80’s heydays.
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Click through to the SUNY website for a poll on the name of the next Saab midsize car.

New York Auto Show – Initial thoughts

Jeff attended the New York International Auto Show on behalf of Saabs United and he’s posted his first full entry over at the SaabsUnitedNY website, which I’ve reproduced below.
There are also photo galleries that he’ll be filling up soon.
I’d advise you get hooked up with the SaabsUnitedNY RSS feed and that way you’ll get updates as they happen and a little before they show here on the SU main page.

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SaabStandNY.jpg One thing that can’t be said enough about Saab is that the company is defined by the people who it employs. That may be true for most organizations, but it’s especially true for a company who when most had written its obituary, still had strong management and leaders who could steer through the storm.
The story of Saab’s rebirth as an independent company was so dramatic and unfolded so cinematically that to meet its major players, namely Saab management and Victor Muller, was for me like meeting A-list celebrities. We all watched as Djup Str

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