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Old 01-17-2003, 10:27 AM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default Saab Impreza

http://www.channel4.com/apps26/4car/...nk=211&id=4890

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Saab is considering a new small car based on a Subaru. A spokesman for Saab confirmed that the two companies are having discussions which could see Saab using the platform from the next-generation Subaru Impreza as a basis for a range slotting beneath the recently launched 9-3. Fed up with Saab's continuing losses, owner General Motors is reworking the so-called Viggen recovery plan in the hope of effecting a speedier recovery. Developing a smaller Saab would provide the company and its dealers with a three-model range that might provide it with the scale economies needed to turn a profit, and bring the brand to a much wider car-buying audience.

The unusual source for the platform comes about because GM holds a significant share of Subaru, whose next-generation Impreza is broadly the right size for the job. It also has the advantage of being unique, what with its flat-four engine and four-wheel drive system. Although Saab has no history of these mechanical solutions, they offer the chance of developing the slightly off-beat product that the company is known for, and Subaru's penchant for turbocharging fits with Saab's long history of turbo expertise.

There are some big problems with this solution, however. First, it would probably make sense to build this car in Japan - shipping half-built cars around the world is not viable - which does nothing to fill Saab's under-used capacity at its Trollhatten facility. Second, there is no diesel version of the Subaru flat-four, a weakness now that at least half of European buyers now demand an oil-burning engine in cars of this class. The Impreza platform, designed around the weight distribution and low centre of gravity of the petrol flat-four, would have to be very substantially re-engineered to take a diesel engine. This alone could make the project unfeasible.

Saab had at one time planned to use the so-called GM Delta platform to develop a new small car, but abandoned the project because it felt the resulting car would not be sufficiently Saab-like. The GM Delta will form the basis of the next-generation Vauxhall/Opel Astra. Saab was also co-developing an SUV with Cadillac (Saab's biggest market is the US, where SUVs sell in vast numbers) but this project foundered too, and the plans to develop a replacement Saab 9-5 in league with Fiat's Alfa Romeo division are in disarray because of the Italian company's difficulties, which are far worse than Saab's.

In another development, Automotive News Europe reports that Saab's owner General Motors has said that the Swedish company's product development and engineering operations will come under the direct control of Opel, General Motors' main European brand. Opel chairman Carl-Peter Forster is reported as saying that "we will see a tremendous amount of collaboration". These plans are among a number of measures intended to turn around Saab's poor financial and sales performances. Last year it sold some 120,000 cars, well below its capacity of 175,000, with the result that in the first six months of 2002 it lost a record £83million. Full-year figures are not yet available, but are understood to be little better. The company has already announced 1400 redundancies - around a fifth of the workforce - which come despite the successful launch of the well received new 9-3.

Some 400 redundancies are in the engineering area, reducing the total staff to 2800; 200 job losses are in administration and marketing and 800 are from the Trollhattan production line.

Currently there are two lines at the plant, a freshly commissioned line building the new 9-3, and an older line making the 9-5. The new line will also make additional models to the 9-3 family, including the estate and the crossover 4x4 based on the 9-3x concept car, and it will now also assemble the 9-5. Sales of this model have dropped significantly since the 9-3's arrival, which leaves the older production line mothballed. The 9-3 convertible will be built under contract elsewhere as before - but at the Magna-Steyr plant in Graz, Austria rather than by Valmet in Finland.

While the reorganisation of Saab's product development and manufacturing operations under Opel appears definite, along with the subsequent loss of some of its autonomy, its product plans remain uncertain. Using Subaru as a resource demonstrates just how far GM is prepared to go to turn the problem Swede around.
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Old 01-17-2003, 06:15 PM   #2
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I have to admit that I like the newer Saab styling, so that would make a killer car. Saab Viggen 5-5-5
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Old 01-17-2003, 07:23 PM   #3
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Yeah, even though the new 9-3 isn't as quirky as the old 900, I have to admit that I like the styling. They got rid of most of the torque steer and improved the handling. Now if they could increase the displacement about 15% and install a low pressure turbo (vs the current 'hamster on crack') I'd start pressuring the wife to get a new car.
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Old 01-17-2003, 10:47 PM   #4
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I just don't like the GM aspect. It's going to get too intertwined.

Jim
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Old 01-18-2003, 01:48 AM   #5
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Originally posted by Jarvis
I just don't like the GM aspect. It's going to get too intertwined.

Jim
Get used to it...the wonderful world of automotive industry 'partnerships'
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Old 01-18-2003, 08:14 AM   #6
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Get used to it...the wonderful world of automotive industry 'partnerships'
Yup even GM and Ford are doing it to design a new automatic tranny!!!
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Old 01-18-2003, 12:14 PM   #7
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Get used to it...the wonderful world of automotive industry 'partnerships'
I know, but it seemed like GM and Subaru were distancing themselves when they scrapped the joint SUW thing, and so I had hoped that maybe it would just be some technology sharing from this point forward. Wishful thinking, I guess.

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Old 01-18-2003, 08:09 PM   #8
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I have two questions: is subaru still in cahootz with isuzi? and is saab a swedish "Based" company? I noticed they make them in finland and austria, but where did they originate?
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Old 01-18-2003, 08:57 PM   #9
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Originally posted by el~sharko
I have two questions: is subaru still in cahootz with isuzi? and is saab a swedish "Based" company? I noticed they make them in finland and austria, but where did they originate?
Isuzu sold their part of the SIA plant to Subaru not too long ago, however GM still has a controlling interest in Isuzu. GM also basically owns Saab which is originally a Swedish company.
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Old 01-18-2003, 10:44 PM   #10
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Isuzu sold their part of the SIA plant to Subaru not too long ago, however GM still has a controlling interest in Isuzu. GM also basically owns Saab which is originally a Swedish company.
You're kind of right, kind of wrong. GM really only has controlling interests in the Diesel engines division, but actually reduced it's overall ownership stake to 12%. The sale of the plant to Subaru was a totally separate deal. See below....

"News of October 30, 2002


GM, Isuzu Finalize Details On Agreements

TOKYO - General Motors confirmed that it had finalized details on agreements with Isuzu Motors Ltd. relating to Isuzu's previously announced three-year business plan.

In addition to the GM agreements, Isuzu announced that it had reached agreement on broad financial restructuring with its banks including Mizuho Corporate Bank.

GM, Isuzu and the banks expect to finalize all transactions by calendar-year-end.

The principal components of the Isuzu restructuring package include the following:

As announced in August, GM will acquire majority ownership of two Isuzu engine subsidiaries and other specific assets strategic to GM for about Y50 billion (U.S.$420 million). GM will nominate a senior executive as co-representative director and executive vice president of Isuzu to support Isuzu management. Isuzu will retire GM's existing equity in Isuzu Motors, and GM will purchase new equity for about Y10 billion (U.S.$80 million), representing a 12-percent ownership stake.

Isuzu also reached preliminary agreements with its banks on a broad financial restructuring. This includes: a debt-to-equity swap in which Y100 billion (U.S$833 million) of Isuzu debt would convert to preferred equity; new funding from lenders sufficient to execute the operational plan; and the rollover of certain of Isuzu's current debt.

A comprehensive operational restructuring under which Isuzu will rationalize under-performing operations, reduce overall employment levels and restructure its sport utility vehicle business in North America.

General Motors participation

Under the restructuring proposal, GM will spend a total of Y60 billion (U.S.$500 million). Of this total expenditure, about Y50 billion (U.S.$420 million) will be used to acquire a majority interest in certain of Isuzu's diesel engine businesses and complete ownership of Duramax, Circle L 1.7-liter and V-6 diesel engine technologies. This includes an acquisition of a 60-percent interest in Isuzu Motors Polska Sp. Z.O.O (Ispol), Isuzu's small-displacement diesel engine business based in Poland, and an increase in GM's equity investment in the U.S.-based DMAX Ltd. heavy-duty diesel engine business from 40 to 60 percent. GM also will acquire a majority interest in a new diesel engine engineering joint venture with Isuzu as well as rights to use various related technologies.

GM, which wrote down the value of its 49 percent investment in Isuzu to zero in the second quarter of 2001, will have its existing equity in the company retired as part of Isuzu's financial restructuring plan. GM will then purchase about Y10 billion (U.S.$80 million) of new equity in the company, leaving GM with a 12-percent ownership stake in Isuzu Motors."

Jim
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Old 01-22-2003, 11:41 AM   #11
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Default Saab set to add Subie-powered 9-2,

WITH THE PRODUCT-starved Saab part of General Motors reporting year-end losses upward of $200 million, both Scandinavian survivalists and Detroit management have put the newly planned high-volume 9-2 compact on a fast track. Tentatively scheduled as a 2006 model—but maybe as a 2005 entry—the 9-2 lineup will include a sportwagon plus three- and five-door hatchbacks similar in size to the Ford Focus and VW Golf. Ford Motor Co. is poised to join the trend. for the full story click below


http://www.autoweek.com/cat_content.mv?port_code=autoweek&cat_code=carnews &loc_code=&content_code=07971929
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Old 01-22-2003, 12:07 PM   #12
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Another ramification is the long-awaited chance for Saab to return to the world rallying scene it abandoned in 1980—with a four-wheel-drive 9-2.
ok so Saab is going to use subaru's engine to compete against subaru? Does this make any sense?
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Old 01-22-2003, 12:26 PM   #13
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I suspect that any rally car they develop will have very little in common with the initial 9-2 production vehicle (including the engine)... It would be good for rally if Saab did join, but if they are cash strapped I dout they will sink money into a program.
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Old 01-22-2003, 01:49 PM   #14
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I really don't think they're cash strapped with GM. Product lean yes, bot not cash.
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Old 01-23-2003, 12:20 PM   #15
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I knew Subaru had ties to GM, but this is definitely unexpected. I think it's kinda cool though. Subaru makes the engines for Saab and gets more profits, but doesn't have to spend R&D money on the project. That leaves more money for R&D for their own products. Better Subaru products for us in the end. Sweet deal IMO.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:43 PM   #16
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Hmm.

My wife told me that she heard on the radio that GM is interested in a purchase (or maybe partnership) with Fiat, as well.

Which is a bit frightening. Isn't Ferrari under ownership by Fiat?


Which means.......

...that the General might hold the reins of the Prancing Horse....



I think I'd throw up and find a new hobby, if that happened.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:47 PM   #17
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And you think Fiat is any better? I think Fiat is Italian for Yugo.

I remember when Fiat you to make killer cars, but like every other maker, they just got too big.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:47 PM   #18
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I read an article that said that Ferrari would not go under GM ownership if GM buys Fiat. I forget the details, or which magazine (either Car & Driver or Automobile). Ownership would revert back to whoever owned Ferrari when Fiat bought it, or something like that.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:49 PM   #19
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mh_WRX,

I look at the cars Fiat makes compared to the ones GM makes, and there's no comparison, my friend. It's been a long time since Fiat sucked. GM *still* sucks, with a few exceptions. They've screwed up a lot of good brands.


brainrally,

I thought of that last night. I wouldn't think that Ferrari would stand for it, but it's still worrisome.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:53 PM   #20
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you right, I was making a statement based on past experience with them (Early 90's).

Glad to here they've gotten better.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:56 PM   #21
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Default 2006 Saab STI?

Autoweek Article

Check it out ... 3 door Saab hatch with an impreza drivetrain sounds nice!

always hated Slabs ... but might change my mind
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Old 01-23-2003, 02:09 PM   #22
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Well, from all I've read, they have. I didn't really get into car enthusiasm til the mid '90s, but Fiat's made major improvements to their line in the last four or five years, and most of the overseas magazines are singing the praises of their hot hatchbacks and so forth.

So I assume it's improved all around.

-Chris
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Old 01-23-2003, 03:30 PM   #23
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ferrari will forever remain ferrari. ford nearly purchased ferrari in the 70s, (after spanking them with gt40s for a couple years, this kinda hurt ferrari i guess). Enzo asked at a meeting who would ultimately control the motorsports efforts and Ford brass said they would. This is, as legend has it, what ultimately kept Enzo from selling to Ford.

It's kind of like Aston Martin. Ford lets them do what they want as long as they keep making money.

In Ferrari's case though, things are a little different. Ferrari sells cars to support it's racing efforts, whereas most other manufacturers race to help promote and develop their street cars. Porsche is the quintessential example of this.
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:32 PM   #24
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My fear is that the next gen Impreza will end up looking like a Focus, like the next gen EVO is supposed to. Makes the impetus for getting an STi soon even greater.

By the way, should this be in news and rumors? It'll probably end up moved eventually.
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:54 PM   #25
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Default Saab STi?

or do you mean a Saabaru?

Bob
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