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November 14, 2005

SWEDEN: Saab plans sports cars and small SUV

Automotive News Europe reports Saab may add a two-seat sports car to its line-up as part of its product expansion.

Automotive News Europe reports Saab may add a two-seat sports car to its line-up as part of its product expansion.

A sports car is being considered as part of the Swedish carmaker’s “diversification strategy to offer wider range of models,” said Svante Kinell, Saab’s European product marketing business manager for the 9-3 and 9-5.

Saab will show a front-wheel-drive, 250hp V6-powered concept for the potential new model at the Geneva motor show in March.

“We will show an interesting concept in Geneva that will have the DNA of our Sonett sports car that we sold in the mid-’60s,” Kinell told Automotive News Europe at the launch of the face-lifted 9-5 medium-premium car in Spain.

Whether the concept is built will depend on public reaction by potential buyers when the vehicle is shown later next year at other motor shows in the US. North America is important market for Saab.

Kinell also confirmed that Saab is developing a small SUV similar in size to the BMW X3. The SUV will be called the 9-4X and will be developed on a vehicle architecture that will be shared with a small Cadillac SUV.

“It will be a worldwide car, but we have to have the right engines for it” such as a diesel, Kinell said.

While the timetable for the 9-4X was not disclosed, industry sources expect sales to begin in 2009.

The 9-4X project follows the cancelling of plans for a Saab-badged Subaru B9 Tribeca after Saab parent General Motors last month sold its 20% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru.

The product expansion is part of Saab’s goal to boost worldwide sales nearly 50% by 2011.

“We want to reach a level of 200,000 units sales per year within the next six years,” said Kinell.

Saab’s global sales are expected to reach 135,000 vehicles this year, an increase of about 7,500 vehicles, he said.

Worldwide, Saab sold 96,633 vehicles to the end of October, 1.4% more than the previous year, according to the Automotive News Data Centre.

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