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Saab: 'we will sell new 9-3 architecture to others'

Published: 19 November 2010

Saab won’t only buy in technology from other manufacturers, but will sell its own Phoenix platform (which will underpin the next 9-3) to car companies as well.

That’s the message from Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson and Spyker CEO Victor Muller. CAR has just sat down with the pair at the LA auto show, so read on for more.

Any news on the next-generation Saab 9-3?

Work on the new 9-3 is still on schedule, and the first cars will roll down the Trollhatten production line in October 2012, though it could be built in China from 2013 too.

On the cards are saloon and estate versions of the new 9-3, as well as a convertible (which will definitely retain its fabric roof) and, potentially, a coupe. And the 9-3 will sit on Saab’s new Phoenix platform, which Jonsson admits can be lengthened and raised, to underpin the next 9-4X and 9-5 if the company doesn’t want to use revised versions of the existing GM architecture.

What about the new Saab 9-1 or 9-2?

‘Our Phoenix architecture can’t go smaller than the 9-3,’ says Jonsson. ‘Or it could, but the costs would be too prohibitive. For a smaller car, we need a partner…’

BMW, which will spin the next Mini and a FWD hatch off one platform? No comment from Jonsson, but a smile from Muller.

Incidentally, BMW is Saab’s petrol engine partner, but neither Muller nor Jonsson will reveal who their diesel supplier will be, even though the company’s engineers already know.

Can Saab survive alone as a niche player?

The company doesn’t just plan to keep buying in technology though. Both execs are adamant that Saab can survive at a volume of 100,000 sales per year, but to do so it is crucial (as it is for every manufacturer) to drive down Saab’s break-even point.

One way of doing this will be flogging its Phoenix platform, offsetting the development costs and adding millions to the company coffers.

What about the Saab 9-4X?

There are still no plans to fit the 9-4X with a diesel engine, but Muller insists that bringing it to Europe will be worthwhile, for the foot traffic it will create in dealers, to show that there are more new models following the 9-5, and because 20-30% of the market will still buy petrol-engined crossovers.

There's no getting away from the fact that the Saab 9-4X is aimed squarely at the States, Australia, Russia, China and Brazil.

Anything else?

The estate version of the current 9-5, which Muller calls ‘gorgeous’, will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2011 and UK sales will commence in July 2011.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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