There was a time when Saab drivers looked to China with envy. It's been 10 years since BAIC acquired tools and rights to the old 2009-9 and 5-9 in 3. Under the brand name Senova and the ShēnBǎo label previously used by Saab in China, attempts were made to establish a domestic premium brand with Swedish genes - initially with some success and accompanied by great media attention.
The fact that the Chinese seized the Swedish heritage without any restraint was one of the consequences. The Saab 9-5 became the Senova D70, the original Saab was quoted, Saab fighter jets thundered through the advertisements, and even the previous performance team demonstrated with Senova derivatives that a Saab can also be fast on two wheels. The campaign reached one of its high points with its own racing serieswhich was short lived.
Even to Germany, the ShēnBǎo wave was spilling. At least a bit. Free importers brought some vehicles to Europe, probably trusting the Saab myth. And even on the blog it managed the Asian relatives. We were able to get one BAIC BJ40 drive a Saab engine and I found that life just isn't fair. The Chinese had married this fabulous machine to an Aisin 6-speed automatic. Saab 9-5 I drivers should have tears in their eyes, because the original was always at 5 gear stages. In addition, with small modifications, the Swedish engine complied with the then current Euro 6 emissions standard, which Trollhättan had always dismissed as impossible.
Concept by Granstudio 2017
However, reality caught up with the project in a short time. More or less major facelifts and the electrification of the 9-3 platform could not hide one point: the base was getting on in years, and its prime was already behind it. Despite intensive advertising, the number of pieces always remained below expectations. During a test drive with a BAIC X55 SUV realized why. With the Senova or ShēnBǎo, BAIC delivered a maximum of solid home cooking. They stayed a long way from premium or extravagance, and the night panel taken over by Saab was of no use either.
The turning point could have come again in 2017. BAIC commissioned the Turin Granstudio to reinterpret the D70. The result was an interesting design that reinterpreted Italian elegance and the Chinese concept of luxury. A mixture of current style elements, a pinch of GM Group, a bit of Audi, and far removed from what was once the basis. Maybe the realization would have been successful, but meanwhile the entire Senova range, which had become a hodgepodge of models from different origins, was weakening.
Sales figures Senova D70 (ex Saab 9-5) loud Carsalesbase:
Senova - ShēnBǎo becomes Beijing
2018 sold the Senova label's sales by 21.4% to only 65.000 units. Deciding too little to survive, and also because the Saab base was really no longer viable. That is why BAIC is now merging Senova / ShēnBǎo and its offshoot BAIC BJEV new brand together. A restart is attempted under the name “Beijing”. As the first model, an SUV with the designation Zhida X3 bears the capital city name on the front and rear. This has nothing to do with the short Saab episode in China.