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SAAB related news: a round up for January 2011

hristmas and New Year have been and are long gone but it is harder to believe that it is now more than a decade since that we celebrated a new century and worried about the ‘millennium bug’. The present throws the past into stark relief: 2011 has not got off to a great start and while the author bemoans the rising cost of fuel, VAT up to 20% and an increasing sense of dread in anticipation of the gas bill's arrival, this pales into insignificance compared to the floods that have inundated large parts of Australia. The author has spent considerable time in Australia and seeing many of the places I've driven through or stayed in just devastated is very depressing indeed.

If the weather and economy look unpromising, things look better when casting a critical eye over achievements since Spyker’s acquisition of SAAB a year ago.  Restarting production and launching new models has coincided with the equally important process of re-establishing links in former sales territories, attending motor shows around the globe and generally sending out the message ‘SAAB is reborn!’  Promoting this message loud and clear has been harder than anticipated for despite coverage in the media and advertising campaigns there remain people who still do not know that SAAB are building cars merrily and are offering a wider and sharper looking range of products than ever before.

Hirsch 9-5 Troll R:  a rare bird indeed. The package cost £10+ in addition to the basic cost of the carSAAB news for January is quite limited but potential 9-5 buyers in the UK may be interested to know that the specification of the Vector SE has changed slightly in that full leather upholstery seat facings are included in place of the composite leather/textile trim used previously.  In the USA, it seems that products from SAAB’s official tuning partner Hirsch will be available from dealers sometime in March 2011.Read more 

Hirsch offer polished, rounded upgrade packages that offer around 30bhp more than standard on the 9-3 and 9-5 and because they are dealer fitted,  they are fully supported by the standard SAAB car warranty.  Sleek, purposeful examples of the previous generation 9-5s treated to the full package (with bigger wheels to accomodate outsize brakes to check the higher torque and speed together with complimentary upgrades to the exhaust, steering and suspension) were very rare - a SAAB 9-5 Troll-R cost in the order of £10,000 more than the standard car.

With the passage of time, SAAB attends more motor shows around the world and more road tests are published.  Even so, the new 9-5 (at least in the UK) is still quite a rare sight on the road but persistent rumours concerning forthcoming work by the maker to reduce exhaust emissions to make the cars more attractive as company cars by qualifying for lower tax brackets and the appearance of the awaited 5 door 9-5 estate, mean that may be set to change.

With UK fuel prices at an all time high, any respite for the beleagured motorist is welcome. In addition to improving existing models, we hear from leading blog SAAB United that SAAB engineers are currently examining ways of saving weight in future models. The gist of a Google translation of the page at Nyteknik suggests that future cars could be up to 40% lighter than at present. Engineers could choose to concentrate on no less than 7 key areas of construction and a concept car to be completed by 2013 will bear the fruits of these endeavours. Although weight reduction is a key aim, co-operation and collaboration between the 45 different enterprises involved in the project will be a worthwhile objective in itself.

The Nyteknik article does not specifically mention the use of aluminium (or any other material) but some makers, notably The use of recycled aluminium not only saves weight and cost but reduces carbon dioxide emissions tooJaguar, have made extensive use of this metal in their recent products and the company has pointed out that as well as substantial weight savings, the use of readily available recycled aluminium brings considerable environmental advantages too. Assuming the use of reclaimed aluminium, Jaguar can save up 3.3 tonnes of CO2 per bodyshell 1 - a considerable and impressive sum. Yet simply switching to aluminium as a construction material is just part of the story for considerable sums of money will have to be devoted to research and development to derive new methodologies for assemby - Jaguar, for instance, have developed a process involving both bonding and riveting. It is unlikely that carbon fibre will be selected for anything except small items due to the expense but fibre glass (GRP) could be used in non-load bearing panels like bonnets or tailgates.

Although the motoring public will be most interested in forthcoming SAAB model development and design, analysts will be more impressed by measures announced to remodel the company’s organisational structure, specifically within the engineering department.  Spyker inherited a structure unaltered since GM’s ownership: corporate change and a higher number of partnerships involving shared technology have meant that reorganisation was desirable.



1 Jaguar Cars Limited. "The story of Aluminium", Jaguar Magazine 2009, Issue 2. Web. 24th January 2011. <http://www.jaguar.com/gl/en/#/experience/jaguar_magazine/2009_issue2/aluminium>




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