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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The saga of Saab‘s bankruptcy seems to be never ending, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of Saab enthusiasts. The last Saab 9-3 Griffin is scheduled to come off the production line at the end of this month, and SaabsUnited is hoping to purchase the vehicle and place it at the Saab Cars Museum.
The future of Swedish automaker Saab is still up in the air, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of Saab enthusiasts that still love their cars. Flash Engineering has just unveiled the 9-3 TTA race car that will compete in the Swedish Racing Elite League this year.
In a way it’s nice to see that Saab, at least for now, will live on through racing enthusiasts. The aggressively-designed 9-3 race car sports a nice widebody kit typical to race cars, along with a vented hood, rear diffuser, and your necessarily large rear spoiler. Four of these 9-3 racers will be built and raced by Team Tidö. The team hasn’t finalized the driver lineup, but we can probably expect to see Jan Nilsson, Mattias Andersson, and Linus Ohlsson piloting the machines.
Saab fans will have more to cheer about this season though, as the 9-3 TTA race car will go head to head with the recently announced Volvo S60 TTA car. Jan Nilsson, Flash Engineering Managing Director, probably says it best: “I have longed for 40 years to see the fight between Saab and Volvo on the race tracks. It becomes reality this summer and my biggest dream is to get all Saab fans to the TTA races to cheer us on.”
GALLERY: Saab 9-3 TTA Race Car
Though Youngman’s attempts to save Saab proved futile, it appears that the Chinese automaker isn’t giving up on Saab-related assets. Youngman announced that they’ve acquired the rights to Saab’s Phoenix vehicle architecture and also announced that they have intentions of setting up a firm in Sweden to develop a new car based on the Phoenix platform.
The Phoenix vehicle architecture was originally designed by Saab and was going to be used for the next-generation 9-3. It is believed that the platform is not based on any previous General Motors-based designs.
Now the more interesting fight may begin, with Saab entering bankruptcy. Will Youngman try to pull some sort of ploy where they’ll successfully acquire Saab’s name, branding and factory?
[Source: Left Lane News]
According to Inside Line, Saab may be ready to re-start production at its factories in as little as 8 weeks, after being sold to two Chinese automakers for $142 million.
While Saab was valued at $660 million this summer, both Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. managed to purchase the company at a rock bottom price after a number of other deals failed to materialize. Chinese companies now own both Saab and Swedish automaker Volvo.
Saab’s Swedish factories have been idled since March, but could be up and running in as little as 2 months. The company claims to have 11,000 vehicle orders on the books, and may even bring the 2012 9-5 SportCombi station wagon to this April’s New York Auto Show if all goes smoothly in the upcoming months.
[Source: Inside Line]
Make way for the new winners! Let’s give the Saab 9-5 and the Volkswagen CC three cheers for earning their places as IIHS Top Safety Pick award winners.
Earning good ratings for performance in the Institute’s roof strength test for rollover protection, these luxury vehicles also brought in good ratings for front, side, and rear crash protection, and both come standard with electronic stability control. It’s interesting to note that Top Safety Pick only applies to the front-wheel drive Volkswagen CC – that’s because the heavier all-wheel drive version only rated acceptable in the roof strength test.
Taking the test this time around were eight midsize to large family and luxury cars, but only the 9-5 and CC came out on top. The 2011 Lexus ES 350 earned a good rating for rollover protection, but didn’t get an award because it didn’t make the grade when it came to rear crash protection. Other contenders that earned acceptable ratings for rollover protection were the BMW 3 series, Chevrolet Impala (models built after July 2010), Infiniti G, Lexus IS 250/350, and Saab 9-3.
Somewhere, somehow, we think Samuel Hubinette may have something to do with this crazy Viper-powered Saab 9-3. Hubinette, known as “The Crazy Swede” and campaigned a Dodge Viper in many successful bouts of tandem drifting in his days, so it’d only make sense that this Saab 9-3 with a Viper V-10 would have to do with him. But alas, it has absolutely nothing to do with the drifter and apparently there’s a crazier Swede out there.
After an unfortunate accident involving a Dodge Viper, the former owner seemingly wanted to play things safe this time around by getting a Saab 9-3 SportCombi. But clearly he missed the performance of his rugged V-10, so what better way to satisfy both needs than by building a Saab 9-3 SRT10 MegaPower?
Plenty of custom fabrication was done to the chassis in order to support the Viper’s 8.4L V-10 powerplant. And after all was said and done, the Saab 9-3 rolls on a strengthened chassis with a custom suspension. The majority of the exterior of the vehicle – minus some custom wheels – is unsuspecting, but we’re guessing this 9-3 doesn’t exactly sound stock even miles away.
GALLERY: Viper-Powered Saab 9-3 SportCombi
Saab’s attempt at selling off assets to a Russian financial magnate Vladimir Antonov has stalled after the European Investment Bank told the Swedish auto maker to essentially find a new partner within a set time frame.
The EIB and other parties have expressed concerns regarding Antonov’s reported Russian mafia connections. All parties involved are understandably reluctant to elaborate on specifics, but Saab parent company Spyker said in a statement that “Saab Automobile is working with all parties involved on a solution to complete the sale of the property and will have further talks with the EIB today,” Spyker said.
Saab has borrowed $400 million from the EIB, but a cash crunch has also seen the company owe its supplier $49 million, leading to parts supply disruptions and a mere trickle of cars built due to the disputes. Saab has also been courting Chinese auto makers for a variety of deals, but said that it has nothing to do with Volvo, Saab’s fellow Swedish auto maker, currently owned by a Chinese corporation.
Saab and German parts manufacturer ZF will establish a new facility in Saab’s hometown of Trolhattan, Sweden, that will build suspension components for their upcoming Phoenix platform cars, one of which will be the next 9-3 sedan.
The plant, which will employ 50 people, will produce front subframes and rear axles for the new cars. The Phoenix platform will likely underpin Saab’s entire new car range, and takes its roots from the competent GM Epsilon platform, which underpins most of their mid-size front-drive vehicles sold today.
Press release below the jump
Saab could have taken the easy way out and upgraded the vehicle architecture of the current 9-3. But instead, they have started work on an entirely new and versatile platform to underpin their 9-3, 9-5 and even larger future models, a move that is far more costly and time-consuming.
Then again, the current 9-3 chassis dates back to 2002, when the Epsilon platform was just a twinkle in GM’s eye. And now that Saab has divulged themselves of that messy period, they are seeking to venture forth on their own with “Phoenix,” the code name for their new architecture and named after their stunning Geneva concept.
The new Phoenix will be available with unique McPherson struts and “race-car style” five-link rear axle, made by Swedish supplier ZF. It will be flexible enough for the new 9-3 and the larger 9-5 when it’s replaced in a few years (even though the current 9-5 was just introduced, it gives an indication to how far ahead Saab’s planning this). It can also be stretched up to 18 feet for a range-topping “9-7″ if need be.
The inspiration for this one-chassis approach comes from truck company Scania, which has used a modular platform open to upgrading over generations of vehicles without reengineering the entire thing. Scania, which used to own Saab back in the 1960s, is providing technical assistance to the new platform project.
They still build the 9-3? You betcha, bucko, and they still like the 9-3 enough to give it a few more last hurrahs. But as fans of the original 900 know, all good things must come to an end – and when the replacement for the 9-3 is launched, it will draw much of its development from Saab’s PhoeniX concept.
The next-generation 9-3 is expected to drop soon, in 2012, riding on a newly re-engineered platform that will be flexible enough to be shared with future models. Saab is already planning to use it for the second-generation 9-4X crossover, even while the current 9-4X is just going into production, as well as the next 9-5. And just as likely, the PhoeniX concept will indicate the direction of technology and styling for these future Saabs.
“I think this is an excellent solution for us as a small manufacturer,” said Jan Ake Jonsson, CEO of Saab. “We will be able to get as much as we can get out of one architecture. It will give us the ability to build all of our cars in one plant so you can reduce your investment in the plant.”
Like the concept car, the platform is internally dubbed “Phoenix,” after the mythical car company that escaped near death in the clutches of a multi-brand conglomerate and arose from the ashes of bankruptcy restructuring through a last-minute buyout from the Dutch.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab has announced it’s updated 2012 9-3, which will be available in sedan, SportWagon or convertible forms. Chief among the changes are a new front fascia which brings the 9-3 in line with bigger brother, the 9-5.
The most visible difference are new headlight assemblies, though other updates include standard front foglights and a rear deck spoiler on all models.
Under the hood, the 2012 9-3 also gets new engines, in the shape of a pair of new direct injection gasoline four-cylinders, with twin scroll turbochargers designed to reduce boost lag, as well as variable valve timing for better throttle response, balance shafts for less vibration at higher revs and a forged steel crankshaft for greater strength.
The turbo gas engines come in two different forms, rated at 163 or 220 hp. Saab says that equipped with these engines, fuel economy and emissions on the 9-3 are improved by around four percent.
In the United Kingdom, the 2012 9-3 will also be available with a 1.9-liter twin-turbo diesel engine, which is offered in three different variants, rated at 130, 160 and 180 hp respectively. It will also be offered in two trim levels, SE or Aero.
There’s no word yet on how North American models will be spec’d though expect the gas engines to make the cut but probably not the diesels.
Fresh from the clutches of its GM masters, Saab is celebrating its independence (to Spyker, anyway) with another special edition of the aging 9-3 convertible, shown ahead of its formal announcement at the Geneva Auto Show.
With just 366 editions available, you can bet somebody will be paying top dollar for one in 20 years. And to justify its value beyond mere rarity, the Independence Edition gets the 2.0-liter turbocharged four from the bigger 9-5, giving it 220 horsepower. Visually, the 9-3 convertible gets a snazzy new red-orange color called Sunset Red and 18-inch wheels, while the interior features light parchment leather seats with orange stitching and a stripe down the middle. A new steering wheel and an orange needle for the turbo boost gauge round out the theme nicely.
Click the jump for a picture of the interior with the orange-striped seats.
[Source: Saabs United]
Saab employees will get a day off on February 23rd to celebrate the company’s independence from GM and its resurgence as an automaker.
Slated to die during GM’s bankruptcy proceedings, the Swedish vehicle manufacturer was rescued by Dutch boutique sports car maker Spyker, and is set to launch an all-new product line over the coming years. Saab has already released an all-new 9-5 sedan and a 9-4x crossover.
The festivities will take place at Saab’s Trollhattan, Sweden facilities and include live music, presentations, awards, product displays and desserts. Saab President Jan Ake Jonsson said that the February 23rd celebrations will become an annual event.
[Source: LeftLane News]
The four-car range will feature the 9-5 SportCombi wagon, which was previously teased and will debut at Geneva. There will be the 2012 9-4x crossover, which will go on sale in May. The aging 9-3 range will get some special editions to keep the momentum going. And perhaps more importantly, the concept car will feature a hatchback and styling by newly-minted Saab Design director Jason Castriota.
This vehicle will no doubt be the rumored 9-2 or 9-1 that will be powered by the current turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engines found in the MINI Cooper.
For a company that, one year ago, was nearly swallowed into the bankruptcy abyss of GM bureaucracy, to come back and debut a concept car in such a short amount of time is great news for brand loyalists and the automaker’s future.
Saab is looking to add some excitement to its 9-3 and 9-5 vehicle models by teaming up with Hirsch Performance, offering the American market accessories to outfit their vehicles. These aftermarket performance products will be available through authorized dealers and will not affect the warranty on Saab’s 9-3 and 9-5.
For performance, Hirsch will be offering a 30-hp boost on both the 9-3 and 9-5 models with either the 2.0L or 2.8L power plants. The additional horsepower comes from an ECU retune. In addition, owners will be able to purchase various other performance modifications including exhaust systems and performance springs.
On the outside, Hirsch has a carbon fiber ground effect kit, a four-piece grille set, and rear deck lid spoiler. On the inside, interior amenities include aluminum pedals, leather interior set and carbon instrument panel. Lastly, wheels are also available to transform the exterior of your Saab.
Pricing will be announced shortly on both Saab and Hirsch’s websites.
“Saab has had a long relationship with Hirsch in Europe and now we can offer performance enhancements for Saab customers’ vehicles in the U.S.,” said John Anderson, head of aftermarket sales at Saab Cars North America.
GALLERY: Hirsch Performance Saab 9-3 and 9-5
For years, Hirsch Performance out of Switzerland has been producing tuner parts for Saabs. The parts weren’t just for looks either as they also increased the performance of these cars.
This partnership has just gotten serious, as Saab has now announced that Hirsch Performance will be its official performance parts supplier, and these parts for the first time will also be available in America. So come spring-time, you can go to your local Saab dealer and order items to upgrade your 2007-2011 model 9-3 and 2010-2011 model 9-5.
Upgrades include new engine mapping, aero kits, spoilers, wheels, suspension tuning, exhaust upgrades and even interior trimmings. These upgrades will be performed by Saab dealers and will not affect the warranty in any way.
Pricing has not been announced yet, but that will follow in a few months time.
It has styled some of the most memorable cars in history, including scores of Ferraris, but more recently the famed design house Pininfarina, has fallen on hard times. It’s been up for sale for several months, though now, might have a potential buyer, in the shape of Bejing Automotive Industry Corp (BAIC).
Fueling the speculation that BAIC is in the process of a serious bid for Pininfarina, are quotes from a Chinese website (ee0.com) which said that an unnamed BAIC executive recently returned from Italy where he was in discussion with Pininfarina regarding collaboration on a new car based on the Saab 9-3.
BAIC currently owns the tooling, intellectual property and powertrain technology from the current Saab 9-3, which it purchased from General Motors and is already working on several new cars based on this platform, a new Pininfarina styled 9-3 could be one of them. If such a car does indeed materialize, it will probably make its debut at the 2011 Beijing Auto Show.
However, besides BAIC, that same media website (eeo.com), also reported that other Chinese firms, Anhui Jiangling and Brilliance, have also expressed interest in acquiring Pininfarina, along with India’s Mahindra and Canada’s Magna International. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
[Source: Inside Line]
Saab will release 70 electric vehicles based on the 9-3 SportCombi station wagon as part of a test fleet for its upcoming electric vehicle program. The vehicles, dubbed the ePower, will be offered in Sweden starting in 2011, with a mass production EV hitting the market in 2011.
Using a 184 horsepower electric motor and a single speed gearbox, the ePower will hit 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and top out at 93 mph, with a range of 125 miles. “This program is designed to evaluate the potential for developing a high performance, zero emission electric vehicle and is an important next-step in the extension of our EcoPower propulsion strategy,” said Mats Fägerhag, Executive Director, Vehicle Engineering at Saab, in a statement released by Saab.
The initial testing will also show how EVs perform in frigid temperatures, something that any mass produced EV will have to cope with.
[Source: Left Lane News]