The start of production at NEVS-Saab is within reach, and we are getting more and more details from the press. Auto-Motor Sport Sweden and NyTeknik report on the plans at Saab, and the more public becomes, the more questions emerge. First and foremost is the engine question, which seems to be only temporarily solved.
NEVS-Saab has built up a stock of GM direct injection petrol engines in recent months. Depending on the source, there are between 2.000 and 3.000 units in Sweden, originating from various countries of origin. These engines, which can be found in the 9-5 II and in the Saab 9-3 Griffin under the bonnet, also came to NEVS from Germany. With these machines, the first production models for China will be built, which will correspond to the Saab 9-3 Griffin series.
The long awaited facelift will take place in spring 2014, according to spokesman Mikael Östlund. Probably then, if the stock is blocked, so my assessment. Yes and then? The press sees several possibilities. There is the persistent rumor in Trollhättan that the old Saab engines will be used. It would be possible, because BAIC has already prepared the Saab B205 engine for installation in the Saab 9-3 and will start production on this basis in China.
The other option that would be more attractive for NEVS are modern BMW engines. Discussions have already taken place. The result is neither known to me nor to the Swedish press and whether negotiations are currently underway as well. And there would be the alternative to purchase diesel engines from VM Motori. GM has not been a co-owner since October, the shares were taken over entirely by Fiat. An option ... right now that blocker GM has dropped out.
Okay, let's talk briefly again about BMW and the possibilities! The 1.6 liter turbo engine from the Mini is meanwhile the snow of last winter at BMW. In the new generation, a 2.0 liter turbo is being launched, which no longer comes from the liaison with the French, but is a new generation from Munich. It won't just be found under the mini hood. The successor to the 1 series and the new BMW Active Tourer, all with front-wheel drive, will also have the new engine family. For the Saab 9-3, the engine, which produces 192 hp in the Mini, would be a good fit and would therefore have a modern, environmentally friendly drive. BMW would welcome an OEM deal, that's for sure.
How realistic is the assumption made by the Swedish press that has cropped up over the past few weeks? The sober question arises as to whether it makes sense to adapt a new engine to an “old” vehicle, or whether one doesn't go for a completely new development right away. Or on a really comprehensive evolution of the 9-3 basis, so that the result can be perceived as a new vehicle. Or, as a third variant, to build an intermediate version with the old Saab engines until the final product has the necessary maturity. Because that much is clear: NEVS-Saab cannot afford two things. On the one hand, to stop production after 3.000 vehicles for lack of an engine and, on the other hand, to bring a product to the European market that would disappoint.
Perplexed, confused? Probably ... so let's go ahead again. Because another scenario is also not impossible. NEVS-Saab certified the 9-3 with GM direct injection in the Netherlands last week according to Euro 5B +. In theory, this would make sales in Europe possible. Only the GM supply contract is missing. Or - in other words - why do you drive the certification process, which is not entirely inexpensive, if (supposedly) you only have 3.000 engines for China?
Questions upon questions! Only NEVS-Saab knows the answers! We should at least assume so. Because press spokesman Östlund said this to NYTeknik: "Vi har finansiering tills vi når break even“…” We have enough capital to reach the break-even point ”. That sounds like a comprehensive plan and - honestly - a lot of money ...