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HarleyEarl

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Saab aims to raise its profile

GM unit plans aggressive role in upscale car market

By Brett Clanton / The Detroit News


General Motors Corp.s upscale Saab brand wants to become a bigger player in the premium car market.

Saab plans to expand its lineup by at least two more models, double its U.S. sales by decade's end and raise awareness of the brand through advertising, top Saab officials said Thursday.

The aggressive strategy comes as GM takes a more active role in growing its long-neglected European luxury brand and tries to increase its presence in new vehicle categories and foreign markets amid slumping sales in North America.

"I have never ever seen so much enthusiasm and commitment from GM to make us successful," said Jan-Ake Jonsson, managing director of Swedish-based Saab Automobile AB, who spoke at a Troy Saab dealership about the brand's expansion plans.

Although GM is in the throes of a turnaround, Saab officials said the brand will be a priority and that none of its future vehicle programs will be in jeopardy as the automaker sheds costs.

That is important because Saab is hitching its comeback hopes partly on an expansion of its small vehicle lineup, which now includes just four models and three variants of the vehicles.

While largely a maker of sedans, wagons and convertibles, Saab began selling its first mid-size SUV -- the 9-7X -- in May. The vehicle shares an underbody with the Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Envoy, and it is the first Saab built in the United States.

In coming years, Saab is expected to introduce an entry-level luxury SUV and a seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle.

A Saab version of Subaru's B9 Tribeca crossover had been slated to begin production in Lafayette, Ind., in 2007 but GM's dissolution of its partnership with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru vehicles, last month could cause some delays.

"We'll get a seven-passenger utility," said Jay Spenchian, general manager of Saab USA. "It's just a matter of when."

And Saab is mulling whether to replace its entry-level 9-2X, which shared an underbody with a Subaru vehicle and is scheduled for production through 2007.

Saab officials said they will be taking better advantage of the expertise within GM to develop new vehicles.

GM bought a 50 percent stake in Saab in 1990 and the rest in 2000.

As Saab tries to raise its profile, it could benefit from its history of being a niche player in a crowded U.S. market.

"There's more possibility to move Saab because many people don't have preconceived notions about it," said Jim Hall, industry analyst with AutoPacific in Detroit.

"Conversely, you've got to have tremendous continuity to change an image like that. Product, merchandising and advertising have to be very much aligned."

Last week, Saab launched a new advertising campaign, which features the tagline "Born from Jets" in a nod to the 16 aircraft engineers who founded the company in 1947.

At the same time, the brand is in the final stages of upgrading its 250 U.S. dealerships with the sleek, modernist feel of the Saab dealership in Troy.

In 2004, Saab's U.S. sales fell 20 percent to 38,159 vehicles, but its sales are up 3.7 percent this year, according to Autodata Corp.

You can reach Brett Clanton at (313) 222-2612 or bclanton@detnews.com.
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How about real makeovers of the 9-3 and 9-5 along with the new vehicles?
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9-3 is already three years old, at least, will be needing a new makeover pretty soon. 9-5 needs to be replaced with a sedan that has relevance in the luxury marketplace, and this decade styling. the new models of these cars couldn't come soon enough,
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I just test drove a Saab 9-3 the other day and I am smitten. I love this car!.......Beautifully responsive...wonderful interior...great exterior style..I'm a new Saab convert.
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It pisses me off to see what GM is doing to Saab. Having all these rebadged GM cars is a disgrace to the Saab company. Just when I thought it could be getting better by seeing the 9-3 sportcombi, now I hear talk about another Saabaru. GM needs to learn to keep the Saab heritige alive which means:

a) Creating their own original models, not rebadged ones.

b) Not putting those GM badges on Saabs (which I hope they wion't do, anybody know?)
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It pisses me off to see what GM is doing to Saab.  Having all these rebadged GM cars is a disgrace to the Saab company.  Just when I thought it could be getting better by seeing the 9-3 sportcombi, now I hear talk about another Saabaru.  GM needs to learn to keep the Saab heritige alive which means:

a) Creating their own original models, not rebadged ones.

b ) Not putting those GM badges on Saabs (which I hope they wion't do, anybody know?)

[post="42597"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



as far as I thought I knew, GM's partnership with Subaru (fuji heavy industries) was "no-more" but I'm not shure if that terminates any of the plans they had to build vehicles together for Saab....... hope it has put an end to it and hope they'll give Saab the green light to come up with stuff of their own and once again put value behind it's brand! Edited by TurboRush
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Why do they keep mentioning the 9-2x in every single press release? Does anyone even care that this mutt exists? And doesn't the 9-3 SportCombi practically supplant the need for the 9-2x anyway? Its a wagon and I'm pretty sure there were only two reasons why anyone even bought a 9-2x anyway - there was no other cheaper SAAB wagon and GM incentives made it a bargain.

As far as the 9-5, it still needs to drop a couple bills more in price. The current MSRPs are a little much, but nothing compared to the Are-You-For-Real? pricing of the earlier 9-5s.

P.S. Anything you can do, SAAB...
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...I can do better...
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:P
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the only reason why the 9-2x is being mentioned in allot of releases is because they are gona keep making them up till 2007...... I hope that most of you guys who like to do a bit of "Saab bashing" have already went for a test drive....before you start talking crap <_< Harley earl has done his homework, time for everyone else to get a tase for it too.... HarleyEarl, what was your thought on Saab before you went for a drive? Could it have resembled Fly brian's reply? Edited by TurboRush
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Hi! My first ride in a saab was when I was 6. So I may be a bit biased, but people should drive before they judge. I too, had a bonneville, and found it to be reliable but bland transportation. With my saab, I am exited to drive anywhere at anytime. Different strokes I guess...
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the only reason why the 9-2x is being mentioned in allot of releases is because they are gona keep making them up till 2007......
I hope that most of you guys who like to do a bit of "Saab bashing" have already went for a test drive....before you start talking crap    <_<
Harley earl has done his homework,  time for everyone else to get a tase for it too....
HarleyEarl, what was your thought on Saab before you went for a drive? Could it have resembled Fly brian's reply?

[post="42625"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



I was a bit indifferent to Saab, didn't get this car company really. I have done a 180 degree turn. Suddenly after driving one, I'm a Saab fan.
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Oh, I was kidding around with the runway picture of my father's car.

As far as the 9-2x, I still see no value in it. I never saw any value in it and I don't think I ever will. It offers no advantage over an Impreza except for - as mentioned - the GM Employee MSRP. And when the SAAB reps themselves tell you things like "The Subaru is a better deal" and "Unless you really, really, really need a hatch, a 9-3 would be better" it seals its fate. That's it. Luckily, it'll be gone soon.

The 9-3, I like and I respect. Its a great vehicle all-around and I'm glad its finally getting a wagon to round out the line.

The 9-5 is a fine machine...for 3/5ths its price. I'm sorry, but I cannot justify the old price tag. The '05 9-5 based at ~$36k, which is reasonable with the Aero sedan starting at $40k - also reasonable. However, throw in some options like the $2800 navigation system, $700 OnStar (standard on Malibus of this year), $1400 5-speed Sentronic, $1000 Executive Package, a few other options and $525 for any color besides red, white, and black and you're a shade under $50,000. For what was a six year-old car, its a lousy value.

I'm not sure how the '06 9-5 pricing breaks down besides it being a few grand less than the '05, but if the structure is anything like the -'05 9-5 then I wouldn't be surprised to see them sitting on the lots like the handful of 9-5s do right now.

Honestly, I like SAAB. Being a big aviation nut, it kinda makes sense to given their shared aviation heritage. However, SAAB has problems and its not all GM's fault. Pricing, as I mentioned, is an issue. Product is the big one. The 9-5 update while nice isn't really enough to make anyone notice the car who hasn't already and without anything newin the pipelines now that the quasi-alliance with Subaru has been cut, the future looks iffy for new models. But, because they're part of GM, I do hope the best for SAAB.

For the record, I've test-driven a 9-2x, 9-3, and had a 9-5 for a loaner for two days. My preferred car would obviously be the 9-3 for as much as I did like the 9-5, its not at all worth the dough.
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Saab considers sports car, plans SUV; two-seater concept will be shown at Geneva show
PAULO SOARES DE OLIVEIRA | Automotive News Posted Date: 11/14/05

MADRID, Spain -- Saab may extend its product range by adding a two-seat sports car and small SUV.

The sports car is being considered as part of Swedish automaker's "diversification strategy to offer wider range of models," said Svante Kinell, European product marketing business manager for the 9-3 and 9-5.

Saab will show a front-wheel-drive, 250-hp V-6 concept for the two-seater at the Geneva auto show in March.


Could this be a Kappa Saab? I wonder if this is going to look anything like the solstice coupe concept at least from the rear.

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If Saab gets a Kappa coupe, hopefully GM will build an upscale Cadillac model as well.
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I hate the 9-2x and like you say .... holds no value... as far as the 9-5 goes..... in style it may be 5-6 years overdue but anyone who buys a brand new 9-5 does get a "new" car...... as fair as I see it, they are getting a "proven" car.... (If it aint broke don't fix it) .... but ya, a major styling re-do is definately needed...
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I work for Gm and I can say that with certainty that SAAB is definatley making a turn back to a more Swedish rooting again so stay tuned. The 9-5 is a proven flagship and has not needed an overhaul until the slight styling changes it just received. As for the 9-3 I think all of the people who say the car is due to for a Redo need to go get in a 9-3 Aero with the twin screw V-6 turbo and think again. As for the 9-2 it was a venture SAAB/GM used to try and raise sales and that was it.....simply put an experiment. But if you happen to own that eperiment you need to hold onto it since it already being said that it will gain in value as the shortest lived saab production model. There are alot of SAAB haters in the worl but that is because people fear what they dont know. :)
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I work for Gm and I can say that with certainty that SAAB is definatley making a turn back to a more Swedish rooting again so stay tuned.

The 9-5 is a proven flagship and has not needed an overhaul until the slight styling changes it just received. As for the 9-3 I think all of the people who say the car is due to for a Redo need to go get in a 9-3 Aero with the twin screw V-6 turbo and think again.

As for the 9-2 it was a venture SAAB/GM used to try and raise sales and that was it.....simply put an experiment. But if you happen to own that eperiment you need to hold onto it since it already being said that it will gain in value as the shortest lived saab production model.

There are alot of SAAB haters in the worl but that is because people fear what they dont know.  :)

[post="43515"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


As the proud owner of an 86 Saab 900....that's right, the base model in Swedish Monk Blue with crank-iy-yourself windows...I can't criticize GM for deSaabing Saab, but the vehicles that currently occupy the line-up are nice cars, but not really Saabs...

I realize that finding 40,000 Professors/yr. to buy your cars is difficult, but I can't help but think about the relative success Ford has had with Volvo and think that maybe some better decisions could have been made...

...for instance...

1. Not giving the Premium FWD platform to Alfa alone. Why not replace the 9-5 with a 159 derivative?
2. Asking Subaru if the flat-tech engines were non-negotiable before paring Saabs fate with their input?
3. Building the new Saabs with the solidity of the old ones, regardless of the platform underneath. The plastics are still not close to world class & not acceptable in a $30-50k line-up of vehicles.
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