1990 is one of the fateful years at Saab. GM gets in and immediately goes to the most important construction sites. The new plant in Malmö, whose construction was a political decision, will be closed 18 months after its inauguration.
Saab is said to have lost US $ 18.100 for every vehicle built in Malmö. In addition to Malmö, there are other loss makers. The Saab 900 can no longer be produced cost-effectively. Worse still, repairs and warranties create another deficit of up to € 2.500 per car.
Then 1990 drops the decision for 3 new series. A successor to the 900, which is working at full speed, which should still have significant consequences for the Saab 9000. And the project 108, the realization of which would have changed the history of Saab.
The car world at the beginning of the 90 years
The environment has changed dramatically since the Saab 9000 was presented. Audi has the V8, which is a flop economically, but will change the brand image permanently. BMW has caught up, or rather, overtaken. Saab's lead is history, even if the 9000 CC is still a good car. There is a need for action, Björn Envall gives the world a wedge in 1992.
Advanced vehicles at the beginning of the 90s carried wedges. The most futuristic was the Citroen XM, the most functional of the Saab 9000. How Envall managed to conjure up a perfect wedge from the chubby 9000 CC body without touching the doors, that deserves respect. A crouched front with broadband headlights, a high rear with a continuous tailgate, which makes the 9k appear visually more present.
The lightness of the glass dome of the 9000 CC disappears, the new closure is more serious and valuable. The side lines are clear, every line is right, no show of gimmicks, instead objectivity everywhere. Form follows function. Saab design as it could not be clearer. Improved insulation creates an even more upper-class feeling, the progress can be felt.
In the interior, however, there is a standstill. Cockpit and seats are not touched, maybe because you can not improve good. But also because you have no budget for a revision. The demands of buyers have changed since 1984, the interiors have become more sophisticated. Only Saab does not move. For Saab scores in the technology.
The Saab, which cleans the air.
Because the real trump card of the 9000 CS lives under the bonnet. The Trionic is the first 32-bit Motorola processor to be installed in a car. The 68000 is high end, and the 9k is high tech for the last time. A video shows how the Trionic cleans polluted air. The 9000 sucks in the exhaust gases of a 2-stroke Saab, and clean air comes out. That pulls back then - one last time. Tech-savvy people who are environmentally conscious buy a 9000, even though it's very expensive - but because it's cool. And because it is individual. But above all because it is extremely safe.
The safest car in the world
The basic construction comes from the beginning of the 80s. But Saab has always kept the 9000 up to date, and the 9000 CS is investing heavily in safety. An improved structure of the body, better impact protection in the doors, the seats have a plate on the upper section that protects the neck and cervical vertebrae. The forerunner of the active headrest comes as a further innovation, and Vi Bilägere prints an extensive article in April 1992 about the safest car in the world.
The fact that the Saab is also fast, the 225 PS variant can clear the left lane, the passage on the level of a super sports car, these are all side effects that the 9000 also delivers. More would have been possible. One Saab 9000 AWD with 280 PS is in the magazine of the museum. He would have strengthened Saab's ambitions for the upper class, because they really existed.
The project 108, which was mentioned at the beginning, would have been this great Saab. The 9000 was successful, but it moved between the vehicle classes. The interior, the high performance, the price, everything was upper class, the outer dimensions, however, only upper middle class. Taking advantage of the success of the 9000 GM decided a large series, which should compete against the BMW 7er. The project 108 ran from 1990 to 1992, then it was discontinued. It quickly became clear that you would not make money with the first generation upper-class generation, the accountants in Detroit left the courage, the books were closed. Instead of the 108, the successor to the 9000 should now quickly come onto the market.
The prolonged life of the Saab 9000
If everything had gone according to plan at GM, then the 9000er saga would already 1996 at the end arrived. But there was the hastily developed Saab 900 II, which was 1993 on the market. In principle, a typical Saab construction, the gearbox was flanged as on the 9000 left to the engine. Saab customers had such better space and more cargo than the drivers of other Group brands, the sovereign turbos and the hatchback do not even talk. But the 900 II came on the market in a hurry and with it the problems.
The developers of the Saab 9000 successor were withdrawn for emergency use on the 900 II, so the Saab 9-5 project was delayed by at least 6 months.
In 1993, the Saab 9000 Ecosport study again showed innovations that no longer found their way into series production. Elements for heat storage and electrical heating elements should eliminate emissions during cold starts, headlights with additional UV light improve active safety. Like the 17 ″ Super Aeros, they were reserved exclusively for the study. Pioneering? Definitely, and decades later Mercedes is launching a UV high-beam assistant in the S-Class.
1995 got the 9000 additionally a V6, 1996 put an 2 liter Softturbo the entrance engine. However, sales continued to fall, the competition had slowed down, the 9k had become a case for fans.
They bought it anyway, even when Saab presented the 1997-9 in 5 and thus the complete break of a tradition in the Saab upper class. 24.201 were built in 1997, 2.540 in the following final year of production. The fact that successors and predecessors rolled off the production line together for a short time is thanks to suppliers who did not function as planned in Trollhättan.
Saab puts an end to eccentricity and avant-garde
Saab press releases saw the change from 9k to 9-5 as an ascent "away from the eccentric Scandinavian to a global brand". Saab didn't want to be eccentric again until 2010, with the successor to the 9-5 I, which cited the design features of the 9000 again. But by then it was already too late.
What remains? The 9000 was avant-garde from Sweden, more innovation packed Saab never in a car. He opened new markets, he was the entry class in the upper class, which Saab never redeemed, because GM lacked the courage to do so. Audi risked it in a comparable starting position, accepted losses incurred for a model generation and was at times the most profitable brand in the VW Group. At Saab the exit is known.
In the last part of the Saab 9000 saga, we then write about the situation of the first big Saab in modern times.
Part 1: Saab 9000. The first tech Saab.