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A couple of other points to ponder:

SAAB has a long history of borrowing and sharing major parts with other automakers. When SAAB moved from its 2-cycle three cylinder to a 4-cycle V4, it simply bought engines from Ford Europe.

When it was developing the SAAB 99 and needed a inline four, it struck a partnership with Triumph to develop a motor for them to share. The resulting motor was also used in the TR-7; it was the SAAB mainstay throughout the '80's in normally-aspired and turbo form. It eventually gained a twin-cam, four-valve head. But, the engine was only viable for SAAB because the initial initial costs were shared with another company.

As someone else pointed out, the successful 9000 platform was co-developed and shared with Alfa-Romeo, Fiat and Lancia. Again, SAAB would have never been able to afford the development costs on its own otherwise.

So, SAAB clearly doesn't need to have it's own platform or engines to be a SAAB. Access to GM's vast engineering and parts resources should have been a godsent to the company. The problem still seems to be product and profitability. The new 9-3 isn't quirky enough to win the hearts of SAAB enthusiasts, but it isn't a knockout competitor for the BMW 3-series, either.

I think Lutz is wrong about the need to increase SAAB's volume. What needs to happen is SAAB needs to radically decrease its costs so it can survive as a niche manufacturer. It already has access to all of GM's resources - how hard is it to creatively dip into what GM has and create something unique, interesting and truly "SAAB?"

That said, GM does seem to be heading in the right direction with one key (apparent) decision - pairing SAAB with Subaru. From a brand character point of view, it's a match made in heaven, IMHO. And, it serves to address two problems - the difficulty in moving the Subaru brand upmarket and the need for SAAB to have access to appropriate plaforms and mechanicals for future cars. If this approach works, it will benefit both SAAB and Subaru while preserving the essential nature of each brand.

Reportedly, the next SAAB SUV will be based of the forthcoming Subaru 7-passenger model, which will likely be a much better fit for SAAB than the TrailBlazer stop-gap. For all of the criticism of the 9-2X, it too is a stop-gap measure; wait until Subaru and SAAB can co-develop platforms to see the potential of the partnership.

We'll see!
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