Swedish car maker prepares rebranding for independence

Saab has made plans to use its upcoming independence from GM to become the ‘Apple of car brands’.

Knut Simonsson, the Saab’s director of Global Brand and Sales, told a Dutch auto magazine that the Saab DNA underpinning future models will be represented by "innovation, aircraft history and Scandinavia". This can be summed up by the idea of “independent thinking” he said.

Saab could ape Apple by having a small market share but appearing to be much bigger, said Simonsson. It would be a "special brand for entrepreneurs, dentists, doctors and agency people". Saab was "absolutely not" about being the same as other car makers. "We don't want to be another Audi," he said.

Simonsson said the work on Saab’s future direction began "three or four years ago" and the dramatic Aero X concept was "a restart for the brand". He also underlined that Saab wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past, deciding a strategy and then changing direction.

The all-new 9-5 saloon is currently undergoing winter testing, Simonsson revealed, and is "99 per cent finished". He said that it will go on sale in 2009, after being unveiled at the Frankfurt show in September. An estate 9-5 is scheduled for 2010. The new 9-5 is also likely to cost more than outgoing model.

Simonsson did not, however, comment on the plans to make the 9-5 at Saab’s HQ in Trollhattan, rather than at Opel’s factory in Russelsheim.

In the longer term, he said, Saab doesn’t have to be a very big company to be viable, claiming Saab can be profitable with production of 150,000 cars per year. Simonsson also claimed the company was "profitable in Europe for the last two or three years", suggesting it is in the US sales market that the company loses money.

Hilton Holloway

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