Monday, February 28, 2005

Saab Rumor Mill is Turbocharged
2005 has seen the Saab brand in the news with great frequency. Not, unfortunately, because of any ground breaking technology or sales records. Rather, the fate of our beloved Saab seems rather uncertain.
The startling news that GM was considering closing Saab started the fever pitched rumors. That rumor was explained away as a mixup and that GM was only considering the shuttering of Trollhattan. Now, in a much more plausible scenario, the latest rumors out of Europe are that GM is secretly negotiating for the sale of Saab. Of course they deny this. Question is, what are secretly trying to sell? The Trollhattan factory? Or the Saab brand itself?
If Trollhattan is indeed to close and the brand stays within the GM portfolio, as GM's only global premium car division, look for many diverse GM products to wear the Saab moniker. Besides Saabarus and Saablazers, maybe we'll have a Saab/Cadillac, called the 9CTS5, or a version of the Opel Kappa, we could call it the 9K, and maybe a Saab/Hummer.....OK, I'll stop.
The current rumor purports that GM is in negotiation with a Chinese buyer and with Renault. Renault was in the hunt for Saab many years ago, and at the time, I was not enthused about that possible marriage. Both companies seemed in disarray. But now, with Carlos Ghosen at the helm and Nissan in the Renault family, that company is producing a large array of dynamic and exciting vehicles, and their perfomance in the marketplace has been impressive. Imagine then if Saab had access to, lets say, a full complement of Nissan/Renault chassis to work upon, including light trucks, SUVs, AWD platforms, vans, sports cars and sedans. Imagine if Saab had access to some of the best new diesel technology. I like the possibilities! The Chinese bid? I'm not so sure.
In any event, stay tuned and let's see what the future brings for Saab!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cool Stuff Coming
If you don't have your ear to the rail, I just wanted to mention some fun stuff coming out of the Saab pipeline. 2005 is going to be a pretty good year for Saab if everything promised gets delivered.
Most everyone knows the 9-7X is coming in April. I won't be too excited by it, but that is a matter of preference. I just don't like trucks posing as passenger cars. They do fill a need, though, and even in the era of $2/gallon gasoline, they are still desirable. The 9-7X will certainly be one of the nicest truck-based SUVs, and if one has a large boat or camper to pull, this will be a swell way to do it.
Real news--the 9-3 Sport Hatch, or Sport Combi (hearkening back to the 99 hatchback in the 1970s) bows this year. The pictures are gorgeous, very sexy. Plus, the Aero version gets a 2.8 litre V6 turbo producing 280 hp. It will probably torque steer like crazy, and damn the auto-writers, torque steer means your having fun! Bring it on!
The 9-5 is going to have a revision in 2005. There hasn't been anything leaked about this, so I don't know what to expect. Would Saab leave its flagship with less power than the new 9-3 Sport Hatch? Maybe this will force them to ratchet up the power there. Navigation is already available in 2005 (it is pricey but works very nicely).
The 9-6X (a joint venture with Fuji, aka the Saabaru II) is still some time away but pictures have started to surface. I doubt the authenticity of any of them in this age of Photoshop, but this car-based SUV does look interesting to me.