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First Look: Saab Phoenix Concept

Rising from the dead, the Swedish brand shows it has plenty of life left.

by on Mar.01, 2011

Risen from the dead, Saab brings out the appropriately named Phoenix concept.

It’s been just over a year since Saab rose from the dead, Lazarus-like, after an 11th hour deal saved the former General Motors division from being shut down.  It’s been a serious challenge for the Swedish automaker to get that message out to potential buyers, but it will be difficult to ignore once they get a glimpse of the appropriately named Saab Phoenix Concept.

Making its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Phoenix flowed from the pen of Jason Castriota, the multi-talented designer responsible for a variety of exotic  products, such as the Maserati Birdcage concept and the Ferrari 599 GTB.   Castriota is now styling chief of Saab and searching for the formula that will help turn the upcoming 9-3 replacement into more than just a market afterthought.

The Phoenix goes off in a decidedly different direction from Saab’s last show car, the Aero-X — which strongly influenced both the new Saab 9-5 and 9-4X crossover.

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In an interview at the Geneva show, the young designer suggested the styling language of the Phoenix show car might best be described as “aero-motional,” a reference to Saab’s aerospace roots.  The front end of the prototype, he explained, has an almost nose cone-like shape, flowing into a fighter jet like body.  With its highly aerodynamic Kamm back, the Phoenix show car has a surprisingly sleek 0.25 coefficient of drag, on a par with some of the best race cars.


Saab Teases Design Concept Ahead of Geneva Auto Show

by on Feb.14, 2011

Saab is using this image to tease a new design concept at the Geneva Auto Show.

Listening to Victor Muller, last summer, it was easy to hear the car enthusiast that, at his core, he is.

He dreamed a little, while speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, about building a new small Saab, returning the automaker he had just salvaged from the scrapheap of history, to its roots.

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Now, just a year after Muller’s Spyker Automobiles swallowed the much larger Saab, he might be getting his wish.

Saab To Get BMW Technology For 9-2, Possibly Other Models

Makers plan to sign alliance on Wednesday.

by on Sep.27, 2010

A deal between Saab and BMW will result a replacement for this old Subaru-based Saab 9-2.

Struggling Swedish automaker Saab will formalize a new alliance with its erstwhile German rival, BMW, later this week.  The long-rumored deal should provide “technology” for Saab’s downsized 9-2 model and possibly other additions to its line-up, the maker has confirmed.

Purchased from General Motors by Dutch-based Spyker, early this year, Saab has laid out an ambitious plan to reverse years of red ink, but the company’s Chairman Victor Muller, has acknowledged it doesn’t have the money to bring all the necessary products to market and needs to find allies – such as BMW.

The alliance, which will reportedly be signed on Wednesday, would give Saab access to what is being described as BMW parts and technology.  Specifics remain to be seen and could include anything from individual components, such as a small gas or diesel engine, up to and including an entire small car platform.

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The initial manifestation of this new partnership will be in the form of the proposed Saab 9-2, a small car of similar size to the BMW 1-Series.  It is to be a complete replacement for a prior model sold under that nameplate that was based on an old Subaru platform.


New Saab Chief Sees Maker Returning to Its Roots

New models will emphasize safety, technology - and quirks.

by on Aug.10, 2010

The Saab assembly line re-starts, earlier this year, after the Swedish maker's sale to Dutch Spyker.

Conventional wisdom in the auto industry says that economy of scale is the only way automakers will survive in the future.

Then again, there’s never been anything conventional about Saab, at least not when it was a successful independent automaker. Saab’s best cars have never been conventional, either. And the way tiny Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars tried to save the brand wasn’t conventional.

Spyker, which failed to close the deal in its initial try to buy Saab, was finally able to put a winning bid together in February, just as former owner General Motors was ready to turn out the lights on the faltering Swedish subsidiary.

But Victor Muller, co-founder and CEO of Spyker and now chairman of Saab, promised his plan will make Saab profitable within as little as two years. The key will be to reduce the break-even point for the number of cars it produces from 120,000 to 85,000 cars while building vehicles that the loyal core of Saab aficionados want. (more…)

New Saab Outlines Product Plans

“Think aircraft,” suggests new owner.

by on May.12, 2010

Saab is finally moving metal to the showrooms.

Saab, the Swedish automaker recently sold by General Motors, expects to have the much-delayed 9-5 model on sale by July and has three other vehicles in its product pipeline as it restarts its business around the world.

Now owned by Spyker, a Dutch sports car manufacturer, Saab will also plans to introduce a wagon version of  the 9-5 next year, as well as a 9-4X crossover vehicle that is also due out in 2011, according Jan Ake Jonsson, Saab’s president and chief executive officer.

Confirming an earlier report on, an all new version of the Saab 9-3 is targeted for 2012. The styling for the 9-3 hasn’t been frozen yet but it will be more sporty and agressive.

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“The current Saab 9-3 was more of a generic sedan.  This will be very different,” said Jonsson, during a visit to Detroit this week.


Saab Back in Business

Trollhattan plant rolling out 9-5 again.

by on Mar.23, 2010

Saved at the proverbial 11th hour, Saab is back in business, the first 2011 9-5 shown here rolling off the assembly line.

Swedish automaker Saab is back in business again – and looking to expand its line-up.

After a temnporary shutdown that many thought would become permanent, the maker’s factory in Trollhattan is rolling again, the first car down the line the new 2010 Saab 9-5 sedan.

One of four General Motors brands that the automaker had planned to shed following its bankruptcy, last year, Saab appeared doomed to a fate similar to that of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, all of which GM now plans to toss onto the automotive rust heap.  An initial offer from Scandinavian supercar maker Konigsegg was rejected when that company couldn’t come up with the cash.  But just as GM closed Saab’s plants and dissolved its board of directors, an alternate bid from Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker came through.

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It’s taken a month to lock everything into place and get the factories humming again.  But for now, at least, Saab is up and running again.  That’s good news for buyers around the globe who’ve been placing orders for the new 9-5 despite the uncertainty about Saab’s future.


Saab Abandoning Detroit Headquarters

But incentives likely to keep maker in Michigan.

by on Mar.16, 2010

No Saab story, as incentives keep the maker's headquarters from fleeing Michigan.

Swedish automaker Saab is expected to abandon its current headquarters at General Motors’ Renaissance Center, in downtown Detroit. But barring a last-minute hitch, the company, now owned by the Dutch based supercar maker Spyker, will only head about 10 miles north, to the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.

Michigan has struggled to maintain its position as the heart of the American auto industry, and after losing Volkswagen of America and its subsidiaries, several years ago, the state government reportedly kicked in with significant incentives to keep Saab from fleeing, as well.  Prior to being purchased by General Motors, the company had been operating out of suburban Atlanta.

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Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to announce a five-year package of tax incentives, today, that will be matched by Saab’s commitment to remain in the Detroit region.  The automaker, post-GM, is actually expected to expand its Detroit operations, reportedly promising to invest $2.4 million and create as many as 60 jobs over the next five years – bringing the headquarters total to around 160.  According to data presented to the state’s development agency, Saab expected those jobs to pay nearly $85,000 a year, on average.


Spyker Buys Saab, Considering New Products

Maker studying smaller 9-2; remains heavily dependent on GM.

by on Feb.23, 2010

Saab hopes to relaunch production of the 9-3 and new 9-5 in a few weeks, while launching the 9-4X crossover soon afterwards.

Dutch-based Spyker Cars has completed its once seemingly improbably bid to purchase the long-troubled Swedish automaker Saab Cars.

The deal, tenatively approved last month, saves Saab from the automotive rubbish heap.  Its long-time parent, General Motors, decided to abandon the brand prior to last year’s bankrupty reorganization, but after one proposed sale collapsed, GM began taking steps to close Saab until it a last-minute bid by Spyker, which until now has produced only a small number of high-priced sports cars.

Nonetheless, GM will retain strong ties to its former subsidiary, providing parts, powertrains and platforms for two critical models.  Longer-term, however, Saab may seek out other partners, said CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, as it moves to develop additional products, such as the next-generation 9-3 sedan.  Jonsson also revealed that the maker is considering an even smaller model that would be based on the entry-level Saab 9-2.

A Saab Story with a Happy Ending?

“As of today, our focus will be on getting back in business,” said Jonsson, speaking to reporters from Sweden during a Tuesday conference call.  He noted that as GM prepared to liquidate the brand, Saab could no longer get the parts it needed to keep its assembly lines going, despite demand for the all-new 2010 9-5 sedan.

Saving Saab involved “three months of working literally day and night,” noted Victor Muller, the one-time Dutch lawyer who decided to get into the automotive business.  In 1999, he introduced the first of several models bearing the Spyker nameplate, reviving a once-heralded Netherlands brand that had gone out of business in 1925.