Last secrets from Saab - the model year 2017

When the summer holidays are over in August, a new model year begins for the Swedish car manufacturers. The Saab model year 2017 would have been a big leap in the company's history. The 9-5 successor would have started, the transfer of license fees for the current series to Detroit would have come to an end.

Let's start in 2010. The new Saab 9-5 sedan came onto the market, the important 9-5 station wagon would have started with a delay as a 2012 model. The successor to the Saab 9-3 based on the Fenix ​​(Phoenix) platform should roll out of the halls in the second half of the year, the convertible in 2013.

Saab product range
Saab product range

The Saab 9-4x manufactured in Mexico would have had a very short lifespan, it would have been replaced in 2015 by a Fenix-based successor.

And under the hood there would no longer have been a V6 engine, but a supercharged 1,6 liter with 4 cylinders from BMW (Link).

The Saab model year 2017

Cooperation with BMW, Volvo and Fiat would have lowered the development costs, and the GM shelf would have continued to be used for cost reasons. We would have finally seen the 9-3 as a hatchback and as a hybrid, the new 9-5 based on Fenix ​​has been confirmed as a coupé with 4 doors.

In retrospect, the question arises as to how realistic the planning was. The data comes from internal and confidential presentations from the spring of 2011 - at that time everything seemed feasible. The possible sale to BAIC would have saved Saab, secured the upcoming investments in the long term, and the brand would still exist today.

GM and BAIC were partners at the time, and in retrospect BAIC would have been the only new owner of Saab accepted by Detroit.

The GM problem with the Saab 9-5 NG

Because GM had a major problem with the new 9-5 NG. For many years, Opel, the brand that stands for mediocrity like no other, was given precedence over Saab. With the new 9-5, everything was done differently.

And you did it right.

The big Saab showed what was feasible in the group, and Opel customers got detached technology in the Insignia. Only with the facelift was Opel allowed to catch up with Saab, but by then it was all over. Saab as a technological spearhead - that explains why the 9-5 was not licensed for other owners.

Except maybe for the then close partner BAIC.

For the Saab 9-5 and 9-4x, the production numbers were contractually regulated between GM and Saab. The last sedans would have rolled off the assembly line with the 2016 model year, and a year later the last station wagon would have gone out of production. And we can now look forward to the successor and the 2017 model year. The 2011 preview of Saab's model planning ends with the 2017 model year. Except for one small detail. The development for the 9-3 Fenix ​​successor would have started this year, the financial plan lists the investments.

Years of misjudgment at Saab

Saab's last few years, from winter 2009 to winter 2011, were marked by misjudgments. And GM would not close Saab today if the decision had to be made. Since then, the group has lacked an accepted premium brand with the corresponding margins in Europe, and Opel has been burning money for years. There was a small profit of €124 million in the second quarter, the first in 5 years.

But rising self-registrations, the traces of Dieselgate, and the looming crisis at Vauxhall point to a bleak future.

Muller told 2011 that there would be better ways to optimize profits than selling to BAIC. He left the finished contracts, broke off the negotiations and moved with friend Antonov in the direction of bankruptcy. He too would not decide that way today.

We thought the 9-5 NG and the sports suit were transitional models on the way to new Saabs based on the Fenix ​​platform. We were wrong about that. It was the last new Saabs that ever rolled off the assembly line. And even now, 5 years later, I regularly get emails from readers who have never driven a Saab but always wanted to. Who are annoyed that they didn't buy a new Saab in 2011. They were also wrong, and I do not answer these emails. Because what should I write?

Saab Phoenix will never fly

It was particularly tragic for the Fenix ​​platform. The phoenix will never fly. Its genes will be found in the CMA platform of Volvo and Chinese Geely vehicles, which will be designed for hybrid, electric and conventional combustion engines.

And there will also be traces of it at NEVS. Why Fenix ​​ultimately failed, because we always mistakenly thought the platform was the trump card among the Saab remnants? Unconfirmed tracks point to Detroit. GM is said to provide disruptive fire and repeatedly claim parts of the platform for itself, the resulting legal uncertainty was the end of Fenix.

And Trollhattan? Maybe there will be a 2018 model year from the former Saab plant in the Stallbacka to get started with the restart. Electric cars with optical Saab 9-3 relationship, but everything will be new under the sheet metal. The Saab lettering has disappeared from the factory, a decision has been made to establish a new brand and to focus on electromobility.

A decision for a good future? The blogger is only a chronicler, in a few years we will know.

15 thoughts on "Last secrets from Saab - the model year 2017"

  • Nice report. Since I was 18, I dreamed of ordering my first brand new Saab. When I went up to income regions where I could have made that dream come true, there was no new Saab to order.

    However: I do not share that Opel stands for averageity like hardly any other brand. My experiences are limited to Insignia and Adam. But I found both cars surprisingly good and would always prefer a product from the Volkswagen Group, as well as a BMW or Mercedes. Meanwhile, Opel is redeeming the expectations one once had of Opel: Not necessarily at the spearhead of progress (unlike VW but they do not), but good, practical, honest, durable, cheap, pleasant cars with which you can do nothing wrong. The reputation of the brand may still be in the bucket, the products and the manufacturing quality are not anymore.

  • The end is now 5 years ago and still breaks the wound in articles like this always a little bit again.

  • I was in Trollhättan a week ago. Lead Silence around the factory, but around the 20 vehicles by employees right at the main entrance. At Combitech, two new 9-5 Combis were around the corner. That would have to be some of the few pre-production models.

    It's a large area and somehow history is in the air - it still looks a bit active up there, and even if NEVS flags are blowing everywhere, almost every larger sign says SAAB.

    I was very happy about your article. When you walk through the SAAB Musum, you can tell from the studies and the last vehicles which direction it was. The last 9-5 is both a sedan and a Combi a beautiful and stately car with presence.

    • Thank you! The Swedes are still on vacation, as is the (former) Saab factory. In the summer 2017 it should not be so quiet anymore, if there will be further the traditional summer holidays with factory closure is questionable.

      • Production breaks are often used to make changes to the lines or models. I could well imagine that this will continue to be the case in the future

  • If NEVS remains clever, the style elements of the SAAB vehicles will be adopted there - then the origin of the new fleet would be clear to the public.

    If quality and other SAAB virtues also come through, paired with good marketing, a successful future will await. The new name should be of secondary importance - the main thing: MADE IN TROLLHÄTTAN BY TROLLS!

  • Very exciting and somehow frustrating. How could it have come this far? The hope lies on NEVS and on the design team. When are there studies or something to see?

  • As always super interesting! Where would we get such great information without the blog. Thank you Tom. Too bad that it never comes true, what you had before.
    What has actually become of the designs and prototypes?

    • The Phoenix is ​​at NEVS. The designs, I only know “clay models”, as well. I think they are in good hands there.

  • Great and interesting summary! Bitter - everything could have turned out differently.

  • Thank you, Tom, for the exciting but also sad “chronicler’s report”. Even after bankruptcy, it's always good to learn about SAAB's ideas. Slowly to understand why things turned out the way we regret now. It's a shame that the “PremiumCompakt-SAAB” never became a reality!!! 🙁 The model visions still have charm!!!
    Yes, it is and remains sad.
    What remains is the hope that NEVS will start something with the model legacy ... and electr. makes us fly so that instead of turbo the electric drive presses us into the upholstery! 🙂

  • Sad sad…

  • Wow. Very interesting story !!
    Thanks for that!!

    PS: The sketch models (especially that of my 2011'er) somehow convince me in details not quite so!

    • Are only sample images from the presentations, not to be understood as design sketches.

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