Saab Plotting Entrances Into Chinese, Russian Markets; 9-4X Diesel Unlikely

At the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Saab introduced the 9-4X Crossover. The new vehicle was developed by General Motors and is based off the same platform as the Cadillac SRX.

The 9-4X marks the second GM-developed introduction by Saab, which is now owned by Spyker. It’s an interesting situation launching vehicles developed under a previous owner. The first vehicle we expect to be developed under the ownership of Spyker is the next-generation 9-3 introduced in 2012.

In order to survive, Saab will need to add sales wherever possible. Saab plans to increase sales in existing markets with new models, but also by entering some new ones. China and Russia are in its sights according to Automotive News.

In China, the government mandates outside companies partner with domestic companies in order to sell vehicles. In Russia, Saab is looking for a strong partner as well. Saab is planning to sign agreements with domestic companies in both markets by the end of year.

For now, Saab is expecting only a few thousand sales in each markets until the new 9-3 arrives. The new 9-3 is expected to be Saab’s major volume product. Saab expects sales to reach the point where the company will begin to consider local manufacturing.

In China, the effort until then will focus on a dealer network of 10 to 15 showrooms in five or six key markets.

Interestingly, Saab’s Chief Executive Officer Jan Ake Jonsson also revealed a diesel-powered version of the 9-4X is unlikely. He commented saying:

“If you then look at the life cycle of the vehicle, typically five or six years, before we actually have a diesel engine, we have to find one, we have to test it, we have to install it, validate it, and you are two years into the life cycle. And then you have a very short payoff period. So I think it is unlikely” Jonsson said.

This makes sense, especially for a small company like Saab. In the United States, diesels aren’t a major factor so there will be virtually no sales here in our market. In Europe, diesels are a prerequisite but crossovers also are shunned in favor of smaller wagons and hatchbacks.

The 9-4X is no doubt geared toward the U.S-market, with production beginning for the U.S in April and for other markets to follow later in August. Hopefully it will become successful for Saab and it can continue bringing us the quirky cars we know and love.

About The Author

Tony Pimpo is a young automotive journalist who lives in Northern California. He believes the future of the automotive industry will depend in a large part on the recommendation of enthusiasts and Generation Y. More than ever, automakers lately have realized the power of Gen Y. Not only in regards to buying power, but in driving opinion and spreading a brand’s message through the internet and various forms of social media. His appreciation for cars formed at an early age, thanks to his dad, who has always been involved with cars in different ways over the years. Tony has contributed to various websites in his pursuits, and is on staff at GMInsideNews, where he has been writing since the age of 12.

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