Auto blogSat, 23 Mar 2013 13:02:00 EST
The recent glimpses we've been getting of the never-was Saab 9-3 Phoenix must be like rubbing salt on the wounds of all the Saab fans out there. If that's the case, diehard Saab enthusiasts might want to look away from this. SaabWorld has uncovered a handful of shots of what was to be the next-generation 9-3 hatchback, and boy does it look sharp.
Revealing a clearer look at what we previously saw in grainy images or as a full-scale model, these new pictures show what Jason Castriota had in mind for the new car. The front end is obviously inspired by Saab's Phoenix Concept, while the rear of the car pays homage to the Saab 900 hatchback.
We like the overall look. Let us know what you think in the Comments.
Or is it the other way around?
Could Vampire Weekend be trying to tell me something? A just-launched music video for the indie rock band's new single Diane Young features what looks like a pretty mint black Saab 900 Turbo Convertible being torched in slow-motion. In fact, with the exception of a brief, flickering cameo by a 900 three-door of a similar vintage, that's all that there is to the nearly three-minute long video. It's both sad and oddly beautiful.
Coincidentally, I have a similar-looking turbocharged black Saab convertible sitting in my garage, and I've been reluctantly pondering its sale this very week. Admittedly, mine is a later model (2001 9-3 Viggen), but tri-spokes and more tapered rump aside, it looks eerily identical. And while mine isn't mired in flames (I love it too much to torch it), through no fault of its own, it's been sitting motionless far too regularly. Thankfully, I see a better future for it than the droptop seen above.
Looking back on the life and [slow and painful] death of Saab, it's impossible to not stop and think of what might have been with the quirky Swedish automaker. As it turns out, SaabsUnited has decided to shed some light on what the company's future might have looked like, including some images and information that include full-scale mockups of the 9-3 Phoenix, which you see above.
In its waning years, Saab's lead designer Jason Castriota was working feverishly to deliver new products that built on the heritage of the brand while doing so at a lower cost and in a shorter time period than previous models. In the end, though, it sounds like the earliest that we could have seen any of these plans come to fruition was 2014. In addition to hatchback and convertible 9-3 variants, Castriota also created the Sonnett - a sporty-looking 2+2 that never made it past the design study phase.
Regardless of whether you're a diehard fan of the brand or if you were just pulling for the underdog, you'll want to head on over to SaabsUnited to check out a little more of what the future could have held for Saab.
The Saab faithful are going to be playing the "what if" game for years to come. It's one of the burdens of being a fan of a dead brand. A fresh batch of grainy 9-3 Phoenix images have made their way online, alleged shots of a design proposal penned by none other than Jason Castriota. The five-door looks to feature an honest liftback, though SaabsUnited.com says this particular vehicle was drawn up as part of a business plan in early 2011. As such, Castriota apparently told the site the final product was to look much more athletic than what we see here. While the low-resolution images make it difficult to tell much about the design, we certainly appreciate the familiar roofline, full band taillamps and the contrasting rear spoiler reminiscent of the old Saab 99 and 900 ducktails.
Unfortunately, we know all too well why this creation never saw the light of day. Would-be savior Victor Muller couldn't quite pull Saab out of its nosedive, and the company fell into bankruptcy before the 9-3 Phoenix could get off the ground. There's talk of the Phoenix platform and Saab brand having new life in other markets as EVs and even as gas cars, but the model seen here will likely never see production - let alone North American showrooms.
You can take a closer look at SverigesRadio.se - just make sure to have your translator ready if you don't speak Swedish.
We knew that National Electric Vehicle Sweden planned to restart production of the last-gen Saab 9-3 at some point in the future, we just didn't know exactly when, or exactly where. As it turns out, the answers to those questions are soon, and China.
Though NEVS had initially said it will build vehicles in Sweden before shipping them to China, the latest report from Autocar suggests that the cars will instead be built right in Quingdao starting later in 2013. That's right, this calendar year. Also on the docket is a followup electric version of the 9-3, which is slated to come to market in 2014 in an effort to satiate China's wish that there be half a million EVs silently filling its streets within the next two years.
NEVS wants to be part of the EV solution, but it's not going to be easy. Naturally, if these cars are to be built in China, a factory has to be located or built, tooling needs to be in place, workers need to be hired and trained and a lengthy trail of paperwork has to be signed off by the government before even the well-known gasoline-powered 9-3 can be a reality, let along the unknown quantity that is the 9-3 ePower.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden has officially signed a deal with Qingdao Qingbo Investment Company that will see the NEVS build EVs in Qingdao, China. The move is the first step on the road toward eventually selling vehicles in China. Reuters reports that the Chinese company has agreed to invest $307.33 million, after which point Qingdao Qingbo will receive 22 percent of the NEVS shares. Currently, there's no word on exactly when the funds and shares will change hands, but the Swedish automaker has previously said it fully intends to launch its first EV by early 2014.
NEVS has also made waves about potentially building a version of the old Saab 9-3 with a traditional internal combustion driveline. Currently, the manufacturer says it plans to ship the vehicles it builds in Sweden to the Qingdao port and distribute them to the rest of China from there. Later down the line, a manufacturing facility in Qingdao will supply the country with Chinese-built Saab models.
When Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn were killed off, at least current owners never had to question where they would have to take their vehicle in case it needed to be serviced. The same couldn't be said for Saab owners... until now. General Motors and Saab Automobile Parts North America (the remaining entity of the bankrupted automaker) have signed an agreement that provides 179 service centers to current Saab owners to receive factory-trained technicians and official Saab replacement parts.
These warranty service providers will have all the tools, training and parts to maintain and repair Saab vehicles, and they will also have access to a technical assistance center for the technicians. Next year, SPNA will also set up a customer assistance center, which will likely be most useful in helping current owners find repair shows, as well as a program called Saab Secure to give added service support to owners of late model (2010 and 2011 model year) Saab vehicles. Finally, to make sure customers have a sufficient parts supply to keep their cars on the road, SPNA operates out of a 153,000 square foot warehouse in Michigan that has the ability to ship more than 3,000 parts orders per day.
GM's official press release on the agreement is posted after the jump.
Saab lovers take notice. Swedish auction house KVD has some ultra rare Saab products on the block, and we're not talking about a 1950s Saab 92. Up for auction are a bunch of low-mileage Saab models being sold off as part of the bankrupted automaker's assets. Included in the lot of cars are models like the 2012 9-5 SportCombi (above), the 2012 9-4X (shown below) and even a 9-5 sedan driven by Victor Muller himself.
Discovered by PistonHeads, this Saab auction has numerous 9-5 SportCombi and 9-4X models, which should prove to be very rare cars. Only a small number of 9-4Xs were ever sold, and Saab closed up shop before the 9-5 SportCombi could even go on sale here. In addition to the rarity, many of the cars have fewer than 10 miles on their odometers and seemingly low reserve prices; a 9-4X 3.0 XWD Premium with just six miles has a current bid of 180,000 Swedish Krona (just over $27,000 USD) that has already met the reserve price. Some of the cars still have the protective factory shipping tape covering up the interior and exterior.
Other than the rare SportCombis and 9-4Xs being auctioned off, there's also a sharp 2012 9-3 Cabriolet with 11 miles on the clock and a V8-powered 2006 Saab 9-7X with just 3,003 miles.
National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the new owner of Saab, has good news for you if you happened to miss out on picking up a 9-3 before the company plummeted through bankruptcy. Automotive News Europe reports NEVS may offer a gasoline-powered 9-3 in 2013. That move would effectively step up the brand's re-launch plan by a full year. Originally, the company planned to introduce an electric vehicle in 2014, but NEVS is currently investigating ways to start production next summer using "a 9-3 with a traditional powertrain" in order to generate more cash for the electrification effort.
NEVS purchased Saab earlier this year with the intent of resurrecting the brand with a fully electric product portfolio. The new EVs would theoretically ride on the Saab Phoenix platform and be manufactured at the automaker's plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. The report of a resurrected gasoline model came courtesy of Mikael Oestlund, a company spokesperson familiar with the company's workings.
Do you believe in reincarnation? Like how we hope that, maybe, all of our hard work as auto writers will result in an eventual return as a swarm of beautiful butterflies. If you are a Saab fan, the equivalent could be this bit of news: The 9-3 Convertible may rise again, as an electric vehicle.
Word comes from the Dutch version of Autoweek that Chinese entity National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has indicated that it will bring an electric version of the 9-3 Convertible to market in the next 18 months. The EV droptop would first debut in the Chinese market, but could expand, as could the lineup to other 9-3 variants, such as the sedan and SportCombi. A NEVS spokesperson has stated, "NEVS basically no doors holds." We're not sure if that's the spokesperson or the translation from the Dutch report, but you get the gist.
NEVS also indicated that conventionally powered versions of the 9-3 could be produced as well. The internal combustion engines could be the originally intended General Motors engines. Regardless of powerplant, we would be very eager to see Saab return, potentially as an EV to boot!