There was a time when Saab drivers looked on China with envy. It's already 10 years ago, because 2009 acquired BAIC tools and rights to the old 9-5 and 9-3. Under the brand name Senova and the ShēnBǎo label previously used by Saab in China, they tried to establish a domestic premium brand with Swedish genes - at first with some success and accompanied by great media attention.
The fact that the Chinese seized without any restraint of the Swedish heritage, was one of the consequences. The Saab 9-5 became the Senova D70, the original Saab was quoted, Saab fighter jets thundered through the ads, and even the former performance team demonstrated with Senova derivatives that a Saab can be fast on two wheels as well. One of its highlights reached the campaign 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 driving with Saab and I realized that life is just not fair. The Chinese had married this fabulous machine with an Aisin 6 gear automatic. Saab 9-5 I drivers should have brought tears to their eyes because the original 5 gearboxes were always over. In addition, the Swedish engine with minor modifications stopped the then current Euro-6 emission standard, which had always been dismissed as impossible in Trollhättan.
Concept by Granstudio 2017
However, reality caught up with the project in a short time. More or less large facelifts and the electrification of the 9-3 platform could not hide one point: The base was getting old, and she had her best times already behind her. Despite intensive advertising, the numbers were always below expectations. In a test drive with a BAIC X55 SUV, I realized why. BAIC delivered with the Senova or ShēnBǎo maximum solid home cooking. Of premium or extravagance you were far away, as used by the Saab-acquired night panel nothing.
The turnaround could have come again in 2017. BAIC commissioned the Turin Gran Studio to reinterpret the D70. The result was an interesting design that reinterpreted Italian elegance and the Chinese idea of luxury. A mixture of current style elements, a pinch of GM Group, a little Audi, and far from what was the basis. Perhaps the implementation would have been successful, but the entire Senova range, which had become a hodgepodge of models from different origins, was now 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. Under the name "Beijing" one tries to restart. As the first model, an SUV with the name Zhida X3 bears the capital name on the front and rear. This has nothing to do with the short Saab episode in China.