4 March 2005

Saab bosses have strongly denied Swedish newspaper reports that the car maker could be sold. Dagen Industri reported last week that GM was looking for a buyer for its loss-making subsidiary and was talking to ‘several Chinese firms’. Renault/Nissan was also mentioned as a potential purchaser. Saab chief executive Peter Augustsson said ‘this is unreliable speculation. GM stands behind Saab all the way’. Assuming GM sticks with Saab – its only truly global premium brand – the Swedish firm’s operations will speed towards full integration into GM’s global platform strategy. This plan will enable Saabs to be built in Germany, Sweden, the US and even Korea. At a recent styling clinic customers were shown a 9-1 three-door hatch (above - based on a future Vauxhall Astra), a 9-4x compact 4x4 and a radical replacement for the 9-5. If the line-up is given the green light, the 2009 9-1 should be built on the same platform as the next Astra. It could be built both in Germany and in the US.

The 9-4x is said to be a version of the forthcoming Korean-built Chevrolet SX3 compact 4x4.

The 9-5 replacement – due in late 2008 – will almost certainly be based on the new Zeta platform, which offers both rear- and four-wheel drive. Saab’s Trollhätten factory could become the European home for all Zeta-based production, potentially turning out various big Saabs, Cadillacs and Opels.

The 2008 replacement for the 9-3 will be made by GM’s Opel factory in Russelsheim, Germany and, potentially in the US by Saturn. Meanwhile, Trollhätten will continue to build the Saab 9-3 and forthcoming Cadillac BL range for another three years or more.

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