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Saab product charge starts at Geneva

Saab is getting ready to launch several new products over the next couple of years, starting with the debut of its BMW 1-series rival 9-1 model at the Geneva Motor Show on next month.

David Pugh, general manager, marketing for Saab GB, said: “The Saab-GM working relationship never quite clicked until about three years ago.

“Now it has and over the next few years we’re going to see the fruits of the work we’ve been doing. We haven’t lost our independence nor our identity and we have access to the biggest toolbox in the world.

“The next three to four years will be the busiest in Saab’s history.”

This will be good news for Saab’s 93 UK dealers. Sales in the UK in 2007 were 23,600 following a record year in 2006 when sales reached 26,900.

Pugh said: “Remember that five years ago we were only selling 14,000 cars a year. In 2007 sales were down as we expected because we had no new product apart from facelifted 9-3.

“If we can hold sales at between 23,000 and 24,000 for the next couple of years when the new product arrives, that would be great.”

Now sales of the much-anticipated twin-turbo 1.9 litre diesel are beginning to kick in and later this year the Aero XWD arrives.

Jörgen Nylén, vehicle line director for Saab, said the new products will start with a new 9-5 then a crossover based on the 9-4X concept shown at the Detroit show in January.

Nylén said: “Saab is an integral part of GM and we now need to expand our product portfolio and strengthen the brand.”

Saab launched its 9-7X SUV in the USA which was part of its product expansion, but Nylén admitted there has been a shortage of diesel engined products for Europe.

However, Nylén did say Saab’s XWD (cross-wheel drive) system will be introduced to the 9-3 this year.

The XWD system has been well received by GM, so much so that the Saab team that developed it have now been put in charge of GM’s four-wheel drive systems for transverse-engined cars globally.

Annika Lunde, product manager for the 9-3 and 9-5, said: “The four-wheel drive system is something Saab had done its own way. It’s permanent 4WD, not an on-demand system; the torque can be split by between 100% and 0% between the front and rear wheels and also from side to side on the rear wheels which is why we call it cross-wheel drive.”

This applies to models with the optional rear wheel limited slip differential which will initially be available on the limited edition Turbo X model, 500 of which will be available in the UK out of 2,000 globally. Prices start from £32,495.

The full system will then be seen from September this year on the 9-3 Aero Saloon and SportWagon models.

The 9-4X concept made its debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January

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