Last week, just before the 48 hours of madness that was the Paris show, I flew to Gothenburg and was then taxi’d 70km north to Trollhattan.
It was a last-minute press conference that Saab would only describe as a ‘corporate announcement’. It wasn’t hard to guess that it would be about Saab’s future engine supply deal.
It also wasn’t hard to guess that the supplier would be BMW. Rumours had been circulating since early Summer, but it was when I attended the 9-5 launch in June that I was sure that Munich would be in the frame.
A senior Saab source said that although they would do external engine supply deals, the company might design its own double-clutch gearbox (something they had done under contract for GM). The penny dropped. The engine maker that doesn’t also build DSG ‘boxes is…BMW.
It was a very crisp morning as three BMW bosses flew in from Munich, landing at Trollhattan airport, which sits alongside the Saab factory.
Ian Robertson, BMW’s Brit board member for sales and marketing, was on hand to pull the covers off the 1.6-litre, 200bhp, BMW engine that’s currently used in the Mini Countryman. The fact that BMW now makes versions of its own engines for its front-drive brand made the Saab deal possible.