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Future products: Thanks to GM, new Saab has product plan in place

Thu, 02 Sep 2010

Spyker Cars inherited an extensive product plan when it acquired Saab from General Motors Co. in February.

The redesigned 2010 9-5 sedan went on sale last month. Production of the 9-4X, Saab's first crossover, will begin in April. The 9-5 wagon will debut next summer. Meanwhile, a lot is riding on the next-generation 9-3, scheduled to arrive in 2012.

The 9-3 is Saab's top seller and the car most associated with the brand. The redesigned model is also the first developed by Saab under Spyker, a Dutch maker of exotic sports cars. The goal is to make the 9-3 a premium car, much as it was in the 1980s and 1990s.

When the 9-3 debuts two years from now, the oldest product on the showroom floor will be the new 9-5.

Further out, Saab wants a small, sleek four-seater inspired by the teardrop shape of the early 1950s Saabs. An announcement could come soon. The name 9-2 has been suggested.

Here are Saab's vehicle plans for 2010-12:

9-2: If built, the 9-2 would be aimed at a fast-growing segment of premium small cars that includes BMW's Mini and the new Audi A1. Saab would like to begin production around 2014.

9-3: The re-engineered, restyled 9-3 will debut in 2012.

In terms of styling, "the benchmark is very high," said Jason Castriota, Saab's design director. He was named to the position in June.

"We have to do our best to reach that and make not just one step forward with this 9-3 from the last but really a couple steps forward to really catch up to the competition," he said.

Under GM's ownership, Castriota said, Saab vehicles were watered down and lost their personality.

9-5: A limited production run of the redesigned 2010 Saab 9-5 went on sale in July. Those 9-5 bodies were assembled at GM's operations in Ruesselsheim, Germany, then shipped by truck to Trollhattan, Sweden, for final assembly. The tooling is being transferred this month from Germany to Sweden. Assembly of the 2011 9-5 will begin this fall in Sweden.

The 9-5 shares GM's global mid-sized architecture with such front-drive vehicles as the Opel Insignia, Buick LaCrosse and the upcoming Cadillac XTS, due in 2011. A 300-hp, 2.8-liter turbo V6 is standard on the 2010 model. A 220-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will be available on the 2011 model.

The 9-5 SportCombi arrives in mid-2011.

9-4X: Saab's first crossover will go on sale in June. The 9-4X shares an fwd platform and components with the Cadillac SRX. The 9-4X will be assembled in the same GM plant as the SRX, in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

By Rick Kranz- Automotive News