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SAN DIEGO - As Saab Cars USA Inc. prepares to double its product lineup, President Debra Kelly-Ennis faces two key questions - and one intriguing possibility.

Drawing on General Motors' global family, Saab will add the Subaru-based 9-2X sport hatchback in June. That debut will be followed in February by the 9-7X SUV, which is based on the Chevrolet TrailBlazer architecture.

Beyond that, Saab has two unknowns.

First, Saab is lobbying for a seven-seat crossover, presumably on GM's new Lambda architecture. That proposal hasn't been approved, Kelly-Ennis says.

Industry sources have said that Lambda production will begin in late 2006 with a Saturn crossover.

Saab also must determine what to do with its top-end vehicle, the 9-5 sedan. Saab will make mid-cycle interior and exterior improvements in the next few years, she says.

But plans for a replacement version of the 9-5 are further off - and Saab doesn't know what architecture it is going on, she says. "There are several very good solutions being discussed, but there's nothing locked in yet," Kelly-Ennis said at a press event here.

Another Saab source says that an earlier project to develop a premium-car architecture with Alfa Romeo and Cadillac was abandoned because of high costs. The 9-5 is likely to go on a global GM architecture, the source says.

Enthusiasts want Sonnett

The intriguing possibility is even further out. Saab rally enthusiasts want a version of the Sonnett two-seater the Swedish automaker made from 1966 to 1973.

GM's new Kappa architecture, which will be the basis for the Pontiac Solstice roadster, gives Saab fans hope. The Solstice is due in showrooms in late 2005.

Kelly-Ennis says enthusiasts' ideas bubble up at owners group meetings, but her near-term goal is to boost U.S. sales and dealer profits.

"My priority is entering the high-volume, high-opportunity segments that are new for Saab," she says.

Saab will struggle to hit 50,000 units of U.S. sales this year. Last year, Saab sold 47,914 units in the United States. Through four months of this year, its sales are down 27.3 percent from the year-ago period.

Younger, urban buyers

Kelly-Ennis expects the 9-2X hatchback, based the Subaru Impreza WRX pocket rocket, to attract a new group of young, urban, single buyers.

And she says the 9-7X should help dealers stem the loss of customers to luxury SUVs. Kelly-Ennis says that 29 percent of Saab owners who defect do so for an SUV. Also, 39 percent of Saab owners also have an SUV, she says


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My wife loves Saab. I think they've been a little too quirky to appeal to me. It's good the see the 9-3 go more mainstream...but less than 50,000 units annually?

Definately Saab needs to lend itself to the SRX platform. I haven't driven one, but understand the architecture of the platform is incredible. With the new STS getting ramped up, hopefully this version of the platform can extend itself to a 9-5 replacement. Which should have Cadillac getting an epsilon based 4-seat convertible to offer as $4-5k premium over the 9-3 and rival the 3-series.

Does anyone know where GM stands with Alfa Romeo now? Aren't the current 9-5 and 164 sharing platforms.

I'd love to see Alfa return to the states. I learned to drive on an Alfetta GT. But I'm afraid GM has too many brands as it is.

Hopefully marketing and price points can leverage the Saab brand as a sporting luxury division above Pontiac and resting under Cadillac.
 

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I like the idea of a Saab Crossover on the Lambda. There was talk about Saab already working on a kappa roadster when teh Solstice was announce.

It's disappointing to see the 9-5 stagnate the way it has been the past 2 years. 250HP is really insufficient. They really need to up it to at least 300.

I find it interesting that there was no mention of the future 9-6/9-6X in this article -- a high luxury Saab. Oh well.

:huh:
 

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Why don't they get a cool Crossover Sport Van, like the Montana SV6! That seats 7, and its a "crossover"!
 

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Originally posted by gmsickofan@May 10 2004, 07:44 PM
Why don't they get a cool Crossover Sport Van, like the Montana SV6! That seats 7, and its a "crossover"!
Hey! Don't be giving them any ideas! Besides, there'll be none of that kind of language around here.
 

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I like SAABs, but a little too quirky for my tastes. Replace the aging 9-5 and then they can become a serious player in the market.
 

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<_< I don't know what I think about this move. I mean I like the idea, but kinda nervous for Saab. I mean, isn't this division still hurting finance wise?...Last I read, there sales haven't excactly been spectacular. They have the launch of the 9-7 and the 9-2, now this...hope they know something about there market we don't, or this could be a bad move. Wich would be a shame because I like Saab and would like to see them do well.
 

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Does Saab really need a SUV?? I can understand maybe a crossover, but we saw BMW which has a reputation for being a great car-builder fall on it's face when it tried to enter the SUV market. Wouldn't it make more sense just to keep them a car-only brand?? I mean it's not like GM doesn't have enough SUV's already. It's possible that the Saab owners are defecting to other GM models that do have SUV's.
 

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I actually like the look of the current Saabs -- ie the 9-3 and 9-5. They are sporty but nicely understated, a very nice luxury alternative to Cadillac's more hard-edged look. The only problem with Saab sales is the price. The 9-3 is $30k plus and the 9-5 pushes $40k and beyond. These cars are definitely on lesser (cheaper) platforms than Caddy's Sigma, so why are they charging similar prices for smaller cars. That is, the 9-3 is squarely in the CTS price range, but it is considerably smaller. Price-wise, the 9-3 should be positioned between the Pontiac G6 and CTS, with the 9-5 at or just above the CTS.

As for the SUV's, I really don't think that Saab needs a truck based SUV. Saab should have saved the 9-7x for sigma (a saab-ized SRX) or Lambda, giving it a car-based SUV. Actually, I don't think any GM division should sell truck based SUV's except Chevy and GMC. GMC should be the Cadillac of trucks, leaving Chevy to bring up the bottom end. As it is now, GMC cannibalizes sales from Chevy.
 

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Originally posted by jckjds@May 11 2004, 05:36 AM
I actually like the look of the current Saabs -- ie the 9-3 and 9-5.  They are sporty but nicely understated, a very nice luxury alternative to Cadillac's more hard-edged look.  The only problem with Saab sales is the price.  The 9-3 is $30k plus and the 9-5 pushes $40k and beyond.  These cars are definitely on lesser (cheaper) platforms than Caddy's Sigma, so why are they charging similar prices for smaller cars.  That is, the 9-3 is squarely in the CTS price range, but it is considerably smaller.  Price-wise, the 9-3 should be positioned between the Pontiac G6 and CTS, with the 9-5 at or just above the CTS. 

As for the SUV's, I really don't think that Saab needs a truck based SUV.  Saab should have saved the 9-7x for sigma (a saab-ized SRX) or Lambda, giving it a car-based SUV.  Actually, I don't think any GM division should sell truck based SUV's except Chevy and GMC.  GMC should be the Cadillac of trucks, leaving Chevy to bring up the bottom end.  As it is now, GMC cannibalizes sales from Chevy.
Saabs cost more because they are more expensive/exclusive cars than Cadi's (or were before the GM badge-jobs started).

Saab competes with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Jag, and are priced accordingly (although few in NA realize it, which i why sales are so low).

Cadi' competes with Lexus and Lincoln and Infiniti, and the CTS in fact is signifigantly cheaper than the similarily-sized GS/LS/M (let alone the 5/E/A6/S).
 

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Originally posted by ibechip@May 11 2004, 12:12 AM
but we saw BMW which has a reputation for being a great car-builder fall on it's face when it tried to enter the SUV market.
really? not the impression i had! and now they've added the X3. something like 27% of saab owners also have an SUV. volvo and audi each have something crossover-like. mercedes has an SUV. i don't think the trailblazer-redo was a great fit, but i DO think saab has to address the same markets its competition is addressing.
 

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QUOTE (jckjds @ May 11 2004, 05:36 AM)
I actually like the look of the current Saabs -- ie the 9-3 and 9-5.  They are sporty but nicely understated, a very nice luxury alternative to Cadillac's more hard-edged look.  The only problem with Saab sales is the price.  The 9-3 is $30k plus and the 9-5 pushes $40k and beyond.  These cars are definitely on lesser (cheaper) platforms than Caddy's Sigma, so why are they charging similar prices for smaller cars.  That is, the 9-3 is squarely in the CTS price range, but it is considerably smaller.  Price-wise, the 9-3 should be positioned between the Pontiac G6 and CTS, with the 9-5 at or just above the CTS. 

As for the SUV's, I really don't think that Saab needs a truck based SUV.  Saab should have saved the 9-7x for sigma (a saab-ized SRX) or Lambda, giving it a car-based SUV.  Actually, I don't think any GM division should sell truck based SUV's except Chevy and GMC.  GMC should be the Cadillac of trucks, leaving Chevy to bring up the bottom end.  As it is now, GMC cannibalizes sales from Chevy. 


Saabs cost more because they are more expensive/exclusive cars than Cadi's (or were before the GM badge-jobs started).

Saab competes with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Jag, and are priced accordingly (although few in NA realize it, which i why sales are so low).

Cadi' competes with Lexus and Lincoln and Infiniti, and the CTS in fact is signifigantly cheaper than the similarily-sized GS/LS/M (let alone the 5/E/A6/S).
Actually, I would say that the new Cadillac (CTS, STS, XLR, SRX) is intended to compete with BMW, Mercedes, etc. The CTS is a BMW 5 series size at a 3 series price, I realize that. I think the CTS is a good value as far as luxury sedans go. However, the Saab 9-3 is 3 series size and price. The Saab is just not as good of a car as a 3-series (it is FWD and has a 4 banger). I'm not knocking Saab for being FWD, I think that it is an excellent alternative to Cadillac's RWD. But, if Saab wants the exclusivity that comes with the territory, then, by definition, it won't sell very many cars.

And, Please, let's not act as though Saab was perfect before Gm came along and started "badge engineering." Saab was bleeding money and was doomed for Bankruptcy when it was saved by the General. The old Saabs were too quirky and overpriced. The new Saabs are very attractive, but still overpriced. If GM wants to continue to charge BMW prices, then Saab needs a good v-6 or I-6, especially for the 9-5, along with other upgrades. It will still be a low volume "exclusive" car company but it will sell more than 50K cars per year.

As for the badge engineering comment, who, besides autophiles, knows that a Malibu and 9-3 are based on the same platform? The Epsilon variations are the best vehicle differentiations that I have seen, yet.
 

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Yea, I agree. SAAB is against cars like Acura and Volvo while Cadillac is higher up on the ladder competing against BMW and Mercedes. Oh yea, leave Buick for Lexus... :lol:
 

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Outside of racerboi car forums nobody cares if Saabs are FWD, and in fact for a lot of people (like those in places where it snows) it's a distince advantage. The A4 and X-type being FWD don't stop those cars from competeing successfully with the 3-series. The 9-3 in fact starts signifigantly higher priced and better equiped in Europe than the 3-series, although BMW doesn't sell the little non-turbo 4-bangers in NA.

Am I the only one who can't get my head around GMs apparent strategy of moveing Cadi' upmarket while moveing Saab downmarket? (and Buick WAY upmarket ON TOP of Saab like that will ever happen in a million years on Mars!)
 

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Originally posted by jckjds@May 11 2004, 03:02 PM
As for the badge engineering comment, who, besides autophiles, knows that a Malibu and 9-3 are based on the same platform? The Epsilon variations are the best vehicle differentiations that I have seen, yet.I
I don't think that applies to the 9-7. A blind man could see it's an Envoy.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 11 2004, 11:53 AM
...The A4 and X-type being FWD don't stop those cars from competeing successfully with the 3-series....
Actually, the X-Type in the US is AWD exclusively. And you can't really say it competes "successfully" with the 3-Series if you look at the sales charts.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 11 2004, 02:26 AM

Saabs cost more because they are more expensive/exclusive cars than Cadi's (or were before the GM badge-jobs started).

Saab competes with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Jag, and are priced accordingly (although few in NA realize it, which i why sales are so low).

Cadi' competes with Lexus and Lincoln and Infiniti, and the CTS in fact is signifigantly cheaper than the similarily-sized GS/LS/M (let alone the 5/E/A6/S).
Ain't that the truth. I still get accused of "doing things differently" when I got my Saab. I mean.. I really didn't want to pay the exact same price for an A4 as I would for a 9-5!!

i think the problem Saab is having is a PR problem. They make some really solid performing cars, yet because of it's 50 years "quirky" past, people tend to gravitate AWAY from the brand. The only way it's going to survive is to enter the mainstream... WHILE maintaining some of its "quirky" heritage. It's going to disappoint a lot of people. But you really can't survive if you don't make cars people want.

I think cars like 9-2X and 9-7X are going to help stem the tide, so to speak and halt some of the defection to other brands. They're definitely not the best examples of Saab... but they are quite competent cars on solid platforms. And I do understand GM's logic for not goikng ahead with a full platform redo for the 9-2X and 9-7X when the entire line is going to be cycled in 2 years anyways. They can invest their money better.

We'll see in 2005 how these vehicles fair against their respective competitios (A3, 2-series and M-Class and Discovery).

:blink:
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 11 2004, 11:53 AM
Am I the only one who can't get my head around GMs apparent strategy of moveing Cadi' upmarket while moveing Saab downmarket? (and Buick WAY upmarket ON TOP of Saab like that will ever happen in a million years on Mars!)
Probably.

Cadillac is GM's "halo" brand. In order for Cadillac to compete on the global stage with the 7-series, S-Class and the upcoming LS430/430-L... Cadillac will need to move upmarket. STS can't compete with those luxury cruisers. And as for DTS... things are really up in teh air... but consensus says DTS will remain a "traditional" Cadillac.

Saab really isn't moving downmarket. They just don't have the product line to fill in the gaps... Not yet anyays. 9-2X will compete with A3 and 2-series. 9-3 provides an alternative to A4 and 3-series and IS. 9-5 provides an alternative to 5-series and A6. 9-7X will compete with M-Class and Discovery. And the proposed Kappa-Saab roadster would compete with Z4 and SLK. And the rumored 9-6/9-6X will move Saab upwards... somewhere inbetween 5 and 7-series competition.

Buick will be the "American luxury" automaker. A more tradiitonal style of luxury for "traditional" buyers. But their focus hasn't been clearly enummerated in the marketplace just yet.

I think GM is positioning Cadillac as their "Global luxury brand." Saab will be the "Distinctly European luxury brand." Buick will be "American luxury."
 

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I think GM is positioning Cadillac as their "Global luxury brand." Saab will be the "Distinctly European luxury brand." Buick will be "American luxury."
I think you're right, but I also think it's completely unrealistic. Moveing a brand up-market, or seeding one into new markets (like they want to do with Cadi' globally) are incredibly hard things to do. It would probably make more sense to focus Cadi' on where it's strong: North America, and Saab where it's strong: Europe.

Saab doesn't need a giant SUV and huge RWD sedan, it needs a competend compact S40/A3/1-series competitor, and a broader 9-3 lineup (how is there not a wagon at least!?!?). Similarily the Cadisaab is simply not needed, and they would be much better investing in new/renewed products for North America.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 11 2004, 10:44 PM
I think GM is positioning Cadillac as their "Global luxury brand." Saab will be the "Distinctly European luxury brand." Buick will be "American luxury."
I think you're right, but I also think it's completely unrealistic. Moveing a brand up-market, or seeding one into new markets (like they want to do with Cadi' globally) are incredibly hard things to do. It would probably make more sense to focus Cadi' on where it's strong: North America, and Saab where it's strong: Europe.

Saab doesn't need a giant SUV and huge RWD sedan, it needs a competend compact S40/A3/1-series competitor, and a broader 9-3 lineup (how is there not a wagon at least!?!?). Similarily the Cadisaab is simply not needed, and they would be much better investing in new/renewed products for North America.
You're right. It is absolutely impossible for a traditionally "North American" brand like Cadillac to make it in other countries, especially since the last 20-25 years or so, the Cadillac brand has stunk up a storm. Cadillac is facing an uphill battle, especially in countries where it is STILL considered a land yacht. Cadillac just needs to change the perceptions. C-Series and S-Series Cadillacs will do a lot to change those perceptions... and even perhaps the X-series.

The problem GM is facing is that Toyota is now positioning Lexus as the global luxury brand. Mercedes and BMW are global brands. General Motors just doesn't have that brand positioning. GM has no choice but to position Cadillac in that spot. It is their best and only luxury cars. And for all intents and purposes, it still has a name brand, albeit tarnished. Cadillac outsells Saab and Alfa combined by at least a factor of 4.

We're still essentially in the early phase of Cadillac's rennaisance. Saab is slowly growing. GM needs to generate the product in order to compete effectively. I don't think that Cadillac and Saab are best left off in their repective markets. They need to grow.

Saab, on the other hand does not need a Truck-based SUV in Europe. However, these vehicles do quite well in the US. The 9-7X looks like a competent machine. It's not perfectly differentiated from an Envoy, but it's not really a full rebadge either. I won't argue, the 9-2X is the type of car that closely follows Saab's heritage. And with a next gen 9-2X/WRX enroute in 2-3 years, it should evolve into a more competent Swedish influenced car. I also would expect that with the new 9-2X, the 9-3 will get a power boost. 9-3 SportHatch is supposed to be due out in a year or two. 9-5 is due for an overhaul. ANd a "9-6" is supposedly rumored as well as a Kappa.

A Cadillac Epsilon is needed in Europe. That's a fact. C-series is practically the size of a 5-series, so these classes will be viewed differently in Europe. There's an article on TCC that really just rails on Cadillac's plan to use an Epsilon. I think a differentiated Cadillac on the Epsilon would be an extremely competent vehicle. Comparing it to an X-Type is a bit erroneous. It also states that they won't sell the cars in the US because "they can't fool the US customer." What this editorial fails to take into account is the different market in the US and Europe. Smaller cars are the norm in Europe. Starting as high as a CTS in Europe is rare. The article also fails to mention that vaunted Audi sells and A2... based on the cheapo VW Lupo(?). And Audi still does fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Cadillac's strategy; it is quite sound.

No doubt .... it is an uphil battle for Caddy, Saab, and GM.
 
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