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Chinese Investment Saves Saab, For Now

2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin

Saab’s problems with cash flow have been solved, at least for a couple of months, courtesy of a significant Chinese investment that will allow the Swedish automaker to resume production at its factory in Trolhattan. Spyker, the owner of Saab, has announced this week that they’ve signed up a deal with Hawtai, a Chinese car manufacturer, which will invest 150 million Euros, taking 29.9% stake. They will also give Spyker another 30 million Euros as a convertible loan.

This deal will clear the path for Saab’s entry to the very competitive Chinese market, which is very important for the company’s attempt to boost up sales to a profitable level. Hawtai decided to make this move because of Saab’s potential for technology sharing as well as the company’s European sales network.

The Trolhattan factory has been closed for more than a month due to unpaid bills, the suppliers refusing to send the necessary components. Production should restart next week and everything should be back on track.

Yesterday, Spyker grabbed another 60 million Euros of funding from a Lithuanian-owned investment fund and Vladimir Antonov, a very wealthy Russian businessman.

Source: Saab via Autocar

SAAB’s Financial Problems Might End In The Near Future

2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin

You probably heard it already, but SAAB is having serious financial problems at the moment. They had to stop production twice because its suppliers refused to ship the necessary parts. The reason for this is simple: the Swedish automaker wasn’t able to pay them. After these problems surfaced, rumors about a possible shutdown of the company emerged.

According to Bloomberg, the government wants to get a bank loan in order to float the company for the short-term. Most likely, this loan will come from Bankas Snoras in Lithuania, who is managed by a very wealthy investor from Russia – Vladimir Antonov, who expressed his desire to buy the company since General Motors put it up for sale.

With this move, the government in Sweden hopes to save a few thousand jobs. Sweden backed the company’s $577 million loan from the European Investment Bank, which means that if the company will close its doors, the taxpayers will have to pay a pretty significant bill.

Bloomberg mentions that lawyers are currently working on a deal that would be able to float the company $48 million while Sweden’s government approves the involvement of Antonov. If all things go as planned, he will get 30% stake in SAAB, in exchange for an investment of $72 million.

Source: Bloomberg via AutoBlog

Saab, Confronting With Serious Financial Problems

Saab 9-3

I’ve always liked Saab for reasons that I can’t really explain. Maybe because they have something special that you can’t find in an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc. Anyway, it seems that the Spyker-owned car manufacturer is in real trouble this time. In Spyker’s annual report, the company warned that the automaker’s future could become uncertain if they don’t find new funding.

February 23rd – SAAB’s Independence Day

We all know in what kind of trouble was SAAB just over a year ago when General Motors was looking for a potential buyer for them and they even thought to close down the plant in Trollhattan. There weren’t many investors that were willing to buy the company, but on February 23rd last year, GM sold SAAB to Spyker Cars, thus saving not only decades of tradition, but most important, thousands of jobs.

In order to celebrate one year since that event, the Swedish automaker will organize a big party on February 23rd, turning the Trollhattan unit into an entertainment venue. All of the 3,800 people that work at the factory will have the day off and they will be joined by suppliers, dealers, media and VIPs in celebrating the company’s rebirth as an independent carmaker – although you can’t say that they are fully independent.

The highlight of this event will be the unveiling of a special edition SAAB model, most likely the 9-3 Cabriolet “Independence Edition”. In addition, the employees might get to see the concept car which SAAB will be bringing next month at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. This concept will be the foundation for a future compact hatchback, which will most likely be positioned under the 9-3 lineup.

In Depth – 2011 Saab 9-5 Aero XWD

2011 Saab 9-5 Aero XWD

Saab was on the verge of bankruptcy when Spyker gave them a hand when they pulled $74 from their own pockets and bought the Swedish manufacturer. In addition to these millions, Spyker now owns $326 million in shares at the new Saab Spyker Automobiles company. According to the CEO of Saab Spyker, Victor Muller, the company will get back the original investment in 2012, when the worldwide sales will reach 85,000 units. In 2008, Saab sold just 18,000 cars in the United States, but on the good side, the worldwide sales went up to 95,000 cars. They managed to get this important figure with outdated models and/or badge-engineered cars. Before the 2011 model, the Saab 9-5 lasted 13 years without any changes, which is double as most of the cars today.

This new model is considered by many the first car from Saab that does not look like the models manufactured back in the 90s. The aggressively tapered greenhouse and the blacked-out pillars make it a car worthy of the name Saab. The car will be available with two trim levels. The base model will come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged power unit that will be capable of outputting 220 hp and can be linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox or to a more relaxing automatic transmission. The driver can get the 9-5 Aero with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The other engine is a powerful V6 2.8-liter that is capable of producing 300 hp and a 295 lb-ft. The engine comes linked exclusively with the 6-speed automatic gearbox and the proprietary XWD all-wheel drive system.

Inside you will find a bundle of cool touches that reduce the feeling of black plastic that is predominant in most of the cars that are available today. The start button of the 9-5 Aero XWD is placed in the traditional ignition-switch place on the center console. The needles have a very stylish neon-slime green color pattern and the shifting-matrix air vents have a very special design. In the middle of the speedometer you will find a generous high resolution display that will show you the audio info, navigation and other vehicle information. For extra money, there is an option to add a head-up display so that you will keep your eyes on the road all of the time.

All of the Aero cars from Saab (optional on the soon to be released 2.0T) come with the proprietary DriveSense chassis controller that offers three positions: comfort, intelligent and sport. The default option is intelligent. For those of you that choose the sport mode, the steering of the car will get heavier and the throttle plus the shift mapping will become considerably more aggressive. In addition, the shocks will firm up. The intelligent mode is quite similar with the comfort one, but it resembles a little bit to the sport’s steering that becomes harder when cornering.

The car comes standard with the lane-departure warning system which is programmed not to start beeping if it detects steering input. This is a great improvement in comparison with other cars that have the same system which start beeping every time a driver makes a lane change without signaling. As far as the comfort offered by the 9-5 Aero is concerned, nothing to complain, on the contrary, the car’s exquisite bolstering of the front seats is a real delight. In comparison to more reputable cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or the 5-Series from BMW, the Saab offers more space for the back seats.

When looking for the first time at the dashboard you will think that the buttons were placed randomly, but by giving it a closer more attentive look you will notice that the placement of these buttons is very intuitive. The vast majority of the tasks can be controlled with the help of the 8” display, which can be navigated by twirling a knob below it or by touching the screen gently. The structure of the menu is very logical and easy to follow, but at the same time you will have a bundle of options to tweak, if you want to of course.

2011 Saab 9-5 Aero XWD

With the V6 2.8-liter turbocharged engine, the 9-5 Aero needs 6.3 seconds to reach 100 km/h, which is not that bad, but taking into consideration the fact that the car has 300 hp and it costs about $50,000, it could be quicker. This same engine powers the Cadillac SRX and it is the same V6 power unit that Saab has been using for a good amount of time. In the Caddy, the engine is quite awful taking into consideration that the SRX is 400 pounds heavier than the 9-5. The 9-5 Aero XWD equipped with an automatic transmission has paddle shifters that are installed on the back of the steering wheel, and in manual mode, it will not upshift until the driver tells it to.

The 2011 Saab 9-5 Aero XWD was created on the General Motors Epsilon II platform and it shares a great deal of its architecture with the Buick Regal and LaCrosse as well as other cars from GM. The car is equipped with GM’s “HiPer Strut” suspension that was launched earlier this year and with a modified MacPherson strut that people over at General Motors say that it better maintains the negative camber under hard cornering and at the same time, it reduces the torque steer. The 2.0T models will come with the standard conventional struts. The back of the car features a multilink arrangement.

The most affordable 2.0T model is approximately $40,000, but a fully featured Aero configuration will cost you $10,000 more. At this price range, you could get the BMW 335i and if you need the extra back space the 9-5 has to offer, you might also take into consideration the Audi A6 3.0T. However, we are sure that the car will have its own niche, for people that still believe that Saab is not dead and it can produce high quality cars.

Source: CarAndDriver.com

SAAB Will Be Entering The Russian & Chinese Market


It seems that the Swedish car manufacturer SAAB Automobile AB is planning on starting to sell cars to the expanding Chinese market some time during next year. CEO Jan Ake Jonsson declared this week that a deal is expected to be signed by the end of this year. On the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Jonson affirmed that “Until we launch the new 9-3 at the end of 2012, it will be just a couple of thousand units (annually), all based on imports. As we lead up to this, we have to make a decision if and when we are going to introduce local manufacturing in China.”

The current issues with this upcoming decision are to decide which will be the dealer network that will sell the SAAB cars in China. Jonsson affirmed that the company must have dealerships in five or six cities with a total of 10 to 15 dealers.

Besides China, SAAB is also considering creating a distribution deal in Russia. Details were not revealed but it is expected to be announced at the end of this year.

If SAAB decides to start assembling cars in China, the first model would be the new generation 9-3 model while the upcoming 9-4X crossover and the 9-5 will be imported. SAAB’s chairman, Victor Muller recently said that “you need to get a volume of 10,000 cars (in China) before you can start manufacturing locally”.


The production for the United States version of the 9-4X will start next year in April, while the ones for the markets outside the North American continent will be manufactured starting with August 2011. Jonsson affirmed that the 9-4X will be offered most likely with gasoline engines as there are small chances of introducing a diesel power unit.

On local territory SAAB is planning on eliminating 200 jobs from the Swedish factory, which represents approximately 1/8 of the entire staff. Hakan Skott, who is a union representative at SAAB, told Reuters that the SAAB Company, which is now owned by Spyker Cars NV, had told the staff that it would reduce the number of employees by 200, out of 1600 jobs.

Jonsson recently affirmed that SAAB’s sales target is to surpass 85,000 units per year. Spyker estimated in October that the company would sell about 30,000 to 35,000 units next year which is significantly lower to the estimation made back in February when they announced that they are expecting sales of more than 60,000 units.

Saab 9-4X Unveiled In L.A.

Saab 9-4X

Swedish manufacturer Saab came at the Los Angeles Auto Show with the new 9-4X crossover, based on the Cadillac SRX. Featuring a rather Scandinavian-inspired minimalist design that resembles to the 9-4X BioPower concept and the 9-5 sedan, the car sports an imposing dual-exhaust system and massive 20 inch alloy wheels for the Aero model. Other worth mentioning features are the bi-xenon headlights, the wraparound windshield and the “hockey stick” waistline.

Inside the car you get leather upholstery, comfy eight-way power seats, GPS navigation, tri-zone climate control, rear entertainment system, mesh-style air vents and a powerful Bose audio system. The heart of the crossover is a V6 3.0 that brings 262 hp (265 PS / 195 kW). The power unit allows the car to reach 100 km/h in 9 seconds. The Aero model comes with V6 2.8 that is capable of producing 296 hp (300 PS / 221 kW) and a massive torque of 400 Nm (295 lb-ft). It will reach 100 km/h from start in only 8.3 seconds.

Saab 9-4X

The 9-4X will come with a six-speed automatic gearbox and the proprietary XWD all-wheel drive system which can vary the torque between the front and rear axles. It is also capable of transferring up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheel that has the most traction.

The Saab 9-4X will be available for sale in the United States in May 2011 at a yet unannounced price. The European market release is due in August.

Saab 9-4X officially announced

After last winter Saab was extremely close to be completely shut down by GM, now under Spyker leadership the company is trying to come back into the game and to start counting again in the car industry. And we’re really happy to report that another new car was officially announced and that is the Saab 9-4X crossover.

Scheduled to make its official debut at next month Los Angeles Auto Show, the car looks pretty good with its Aero X concept inspired design, but the interior disappoints a little, being kinda dull. But Saab’s target market won’t probably be bothered by this, because it’s the same interior design theme Saab has been using for years. Still, the interior features high quality Bose system with 5.1 surround sound, option 8-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Under the bonnet, the Saab 9-4X will be available with two V6 engines, a 265 hp (195 kW) 3.0-liter that takes the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.0 seconds, while the top-of the-line Aero versions will get a turbocharged 2.8-liter engine that delivers 300 hp (221kW) and 400 Nm of torque, which means 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) is made in 8.3 seconds. Both engines will be available with a six-speed automatic transmission and Saab’s XWD all-wheel-drive technology. There are no fuel consumption figures available so far.

Like we said, the official debut will take place in Los Angeles, with sales scheduled to start in May 2011 in the United States, and in August in Europe and other markets. Prices are currently unknown and will be revealed closer to launch.


Saab ePower EV prototype revealed

Saab ePower EV prototype revealed

After confirming a few weeks ago that it will launch a private test fleet of electric vehicles, based on the 9-3 model, Swedish company Saab has officially revealed its EV prototype: the Saab ePower.

The model, as you can see above, is based on the 9-3 Combi (Wagon), and will see 70 units be deployed onto Swedish roads at the beginning of next year, part of the aforementioned test fleet.

The Saab ePower uses a 35.5 kWh lithium ion battery pack, which powers a 184 HP electric motor. The range is estimated at 124 miles, and the battery can be charged in around six hours. The performance of the ePower is pretty decent, with 0 to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds, and a top speed of 93 mph.

Don’t expect to see a production ready Saab EV anytime soon though, as the technologies on the ePower will just be used to make the current models more fuel efficient.


2012 Saab 9-4X to debut at the LA Auto Show this November

It seems that new cars are being confirmed in the unlikeliest of places these days, as the LA Auto Show’s Twitter account has revealed that the 2012 Saab 9-4X crossover will be debuting at the convention this November.

The Saab 9-4X has been a long time coming, with a concept (pictured above) previewing the production model for quite some time. It will share the higher riding Theta platform with the Cadillac SRX, and target the American market.

Rumors are saying that engines from the 2011 9-5 will be appearing under the hood of the 9-4X. This means a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the a beefier 2.8-liter turbocharged six-cylinder will be available. As its name suggests, all-wheel drive will be present, with power coming through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Those are the details, but expect more to be revealed as we approach the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.


Saab might enter the WRC in 2012 with the new 9-2 model

After Mini announced that it will be entering the World Rally Championship with the new Countryman crossover, Swedish company Saab has also been linked with the prestigious motorsport competition.

According to a report from Autosport, Saab and Spyker officials have been in talks with the WRC, and might prepare a special version of the upcoming 9-2 compact for rally duty.

According to previous rumors, the new 9-2 is set to use the front-wheel drive compact platform from Mini, coupled with the same 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. In case you forgot this same assembly will also underpin the Mini Countryman WRC model, so we may be in for quite a balanced fight.

Nothing is certain as of yet, and seeing as how the new 9-2 is still a bit far away, we’re going to have to wait a bit for an official announcement.


2011 Saab 9-3 to be refreshed, will get new options

2011 Saab 9-3 to be refreshed, will get new options

Even though it is quite busy launching the brand new 2011 Saab 9-5 all over the world, as well as setting up plans for the next few years, Saab isn’t neglecting its entry-level offer, the 9-3.

According to insiders, the 2011 Saab 9-3 will be treated to a mild refresh, consisting of revised looks as well as new options for both the exterior and the interior.

It seems that the model will be getting two new colors, Javabrown and Diamond Silver, as well as the turbine wheels we saw on the 2011 9-5. Two new versions, Vector Griffin and Griffin Aero will be introduced, each sporting tweaked front fascias. The inside will be host to a few more trim options, and new materials, for the 2011 model year.

In terms of engines, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with direct injection, will be available. It will output 163 in naturally aspirated form, and 220 HP, thanks to a turbocharger. In specific markets, a diesel engine will also be available, in three flavors: 130, 160 or 180 HP.

While this isn’t official just yet, Saab will certainly implement some changes if it wants the 9-3 to remain competitive until the next generation sedan arrives.


Electric Saab 9-3 prototypes to appear in 2011

Electric Saab 9-3 prototypes to appear in 2011

Swedish carmaker Saab is wasting no time after it swapped owners, going from General Motors to Spyker, and has already announced plans to introduce a test fleet of all-electric vehicles, based on the next Saab 9-3 entry-level sedan.

According to the Scandinavian executives, these vehicles will be part of a test fleet, set to roll onto the streets at the beginning of 2011. They are the result of a partnership between Saab, lithium ion battery producer Boston Power, electric powertrain manufacturer Electroengine and, last but not least, the Swedish Energy Authority.

The data and information resulting from the test fleet will be used in the near future to make cars more efficient, and drive the fuel consumption as low as possible.

The research will also benefit a future all-electric vehicle, but Saab isn’t ready to make any commitment about a launch date.


Video: 2011 Saab 9-5 gets showcased with handling test

Without a doubt one of the biggest roles in Saab‘s resurrection is reserved for the new 2011 9-5 sedan.

We’ve already heard quite a lot of details and, from all the photos released up until now, we really like what the Swedish brand has done in terms of design.

Now, in order to showcase how the new 2011 9-5 handles, Saab has released a fresh video. In it, Stefan Rundquist, the performance integration manager of vehicle dynamics (now that’s a job title), takes the 9-5 through a handling circuit, including the moose test.

While no drifting or extreme driving is present, the video is still worth a view, in order to admire the design of the new 9-5. So, hit the jump and check it out.

Saab planning performance upgrades in dealerships with Hirsch Performance

Saab, right after it was saved by Spyker, was forced to sign a non-compete agreement, meaning it couldn’t produce faster or more powerful models than current GM cars until 2012.

But seeing as how Spyker, a supercar manufacturer, and its devoted fans are eagerly something a big more potent in their 9-3 or the 2011 9-5, the Swedish company is planning a work around for the non-compete agreement.

Reports indicate that Saab is working with European tuner Hirsch Performance, a traditional customizer for the Swedish brand, to offer dealer-installed performance upgrades. Currently things like ECU upgrades, suspension or braking systems as well as new body kits are being discussed.

It’s not that clear how the relationship between Saab and Hirsche will continue, as some even say that the company will be bought, similar to how Mercedes-Benz did with AMG. Still, the top priority at this moment is to offer performance upgrades for hardcore fans.

No word on how these new enhancements will be offer, either under the Hirsch Performance name, Saab Performance Group (SPG) or even Viggen, an older moniker that graced models with increased power.

Still, voices are claiming that the 220 HP 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the 2011 9-5 can easily reach 260 HP, while the 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 can easily overpass the 300 HP it developed in the 2010 9-5 Aero. So, combine the potent engines with Saab’s top-of-the-line Trollhatten plant plus Hirsch Performance’s know-how, and the combo might be quite awesome.

What do you think? Would performance-oriented Saabs help the company reach a more stable financial situation? How about after the 2012 non-compete agreement terminates? Share your thoughts below.


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