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Saab's future beyond GM

  • Brand to expand beyond GM
  • Stronger, leaner brand
  • New models planned
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Saab will not be manacled to former owners General Motors when it becomes independent, according to company sources.

Saab's next four models a replacement for the 9-5 flagship in 2010, a new 9-5 estate in 2011, a crossover SUV (to be called the 9-4X) and the next mid-sized 9-3 will continue to use GM components, architecture and technologies because the programmes were started several years ago.

Collaboration with GM will continue into the future, too, but a Saab insider also told us: 'We can also go outside GM if we find something that is more suitable.'

Saab has been part of the GM empire for the past 20 years, but it's now being sold as GM slims down and emerges from bankruptcy protection.

The front-runners to take over Saab are Sweden's Koenigsegg Group, producers of the CCX supercar, with multi-billion-dollar international backing. If the deal goes through, it could even be completed before September's Frankfurt motor show.

Profitable future is predicted
Saab is confident that, even as one of the relative minnows of the motor industry, it has a profitable future. Its best sales year was in 2006, when it sold 134,000 cars, but it believes it can improve that by introducing a wider model range, consolidating production for greater efficiency and negotiating good deals with suppliers.

'An expanded product portfolio was always on the cards and what has happened (Saab is currently going through the Swedish equivalent of receivership) does not change that,' our source said. 'In fact, financing new models will be in the hands of a more focused group and we will not be competing for cash with other brands within GM.

'Once we get production at our Trollhattan factory to over 100,000 units a year it will be one of the best plants in Europe. Contrary to what many people believe, it's not giant corporations like GM that create economies of scale, it is the supplier network companies such as Bosch and we will still be in a position to take advantage of that, even as an independent.'