Saab has paused development on the next 9-3 to consider a plan to build it on a smaller platform
8 May 2008

Saab has halted development of the next-generation 9-3 while company strategists consider a plan to build the new model on a smaller platform.GM insiders say that pressure from upcoming fuel economy and CO2 emission regulations in Europe and the US have forced Saab - and owners General Motors - to look at radically downsizing the model.The new 9-3 may be built on a version of GM’s upcoming ‘Global premium compact’ platform, said senior Saab sources. This chassis also underpinned the Saab 9-X concept shown at February’s Geneva show and is likely to peg the new model’s length at 4.5m.If these plans are given the green light by GM bosses, it will be one of the first concrete examples of new emissions regulations radically influencing future model development.Under GM’s original plans, the third-generation 9-3 was set to based on the new Epsilon 2 chassis (which also underpins next year’s new Saab 9-5 and the Vauxhall Insignia). This chassis is substantially longer and wider than the current Epsilon one.One GM design source told Autocar that there were a number of new technologies that could be applied to a smaller chassis to maximise interior space. These included a slim ‘modular’ roof assembly to increase headroom, as well as slimmer doors in conjunction with new side-impact technology to improve cabin width.Over the next couple of years Saab’s Trollhatten factory will be refitted to build cars based on the Global Compact Premium chassis, opening the way for Saab to manufacture both its upcoming Audi A3-rivalling 9-1 model and the new 9-3 in Sweden.However, there’s also a strong chance the 9-3 could also be built at a GM factory in the US. This is because exporting cars from Sweden to the US is a near profit-free exercise because of the strength of the Swedish krona against the weak US dollar. The 9-3 was originally scheduled to be built at Opel’s Russelsheim plant in Germany, alongside the new 9-5 and Insignia.Saab’s downsizing plans emerged when the unions at the German factory asked GM why the new 9-3 had not yet been confirmed for production in Germany.

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8 May 2008

I know Saab are at the mercy of their GM owners but they do seem to be the masters of procrastination. At a time when their fellow Swedes Volvo worry about their 3-series rival being too small Saab decide to make their 3-series rival smaller still. Does it mean we have to put up with the current 9-3 for even longer? Their cars seem to have SL-rivalling life-spans and are therefore subject to Rover-rivalling facelifts. It's a shame but we seem to be back to the days when the 99 got longer and longer in line with its lifespan, slowly turning into the 900 with its concertina bumpers and mad overhangs. And their imminent shot in the arm is a mid-size SUV I mean crossover I mean truck. Wooly thinking or what?

8 May 2008

Wolsley you have great humour in your reply and I have to say you are totally right on your assessment.

9 May 2008

So it's official then, Saab as a brand, no, more importantly as an identity is essentially dead, thanks to Americans who can't see beyond their noses.

Saab is dead, long live Saab.

10 May 2008

Saab is dead, and good riddance. They have given us nothing but rubbish all my life

10 May 2008

So you were born some time after about 1992 then?


11 May 2008

You're an idiot. Saab have long done the best they can with very little development funds, and they're far from "dead". The facelifted 9-3 is a perfectly decent car, and much faster and better equipped than the opposition when you factor in the easily available discounts

The clean-sheet new 9-5 is imminent, and should be a fine car, and they're finally expanding from the limitations of a two-model range within the next two years, with the 9-1.

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