Saab readies move into China and Russia, downplays 9-4X diesel
November 23, 2010
by Jeff Glucker
Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson has provided the wayward Swedish brand with some direction, and the marching orders point out two very large markets for the sales team to focus on: Russia and China. According to a report in Automotive News, Saab will begin distribution in the Chinese market beginning sometime during the 2011 calendar year. Until the launch of the redesigned 9-3, Saab will shoot for a few thousand sales per year. Once the distribution network is in place and the model lineup is refreshed, Saab will look at the possibility of local manufacturing facilities.
Now that China is rolling forward, Saab can start to finalize decisions with regards to the Russian market. No deal has been announced, but one is expected to be made the end of the year. Saab's chairman, Victor Muller, specifically stated at the 2010 LA Auto Show that the both China and Russia are getting a taste of the recently unshackled Swedish brand.
One of the newest expressions of the automaker's freedom is the 2012 Saab 9-4X. Saab offers diesel engines outside of the North American market, and we were curious if this new crossover would also get an oil burner. Per Jonnson, it seems this is highly unlikely:
Understandable, but a bummer nonetheless."If you then look at the life cycle of the vehicle, typically five or six years, before we actually have a diesel engine, we have to find one, we have to test it, we have to install it, validate it, and you are two years into the life cycle... and then you have a very short payoff period."