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General Motors Europe plans to fill the Saab Automobile plant at Trollhattan,
Sweden, with a mixture of low-volume cars not yet on the market.
Saab continues to lose money and GM’s leading investor proposes the brand be
sold or shut down, GM has plans to keep Trollhattan running even after its core
products move to Adam Opel AG’s underutilized plant in Russelsheim, Germany.
Saab 9-3 will move to Germany by 2008.
In a recent
interview, GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster says Trollhattan will be kept
in business, and there will be no reduction of the workforce. Last year, 3,000
plant workers built more than 100,000 units of the Saab 9-3 and 9-5.
the right number of people on board” at Trollhattan, Forster says. “We
simply don’t produce enough cars yet. We have the paint shop. Everything is in
place. If we built 250,000 cars with the current headcount, we would be
By the end
of the decade “we will be building 250,000 cars,” Forster says, thanks to
“some next Saab vehicles, without being too specific about which ones.”
declines to name them, both the Saab 9-5 and 9-3 will move to Germany by 2008.
not at all certain that the factory will live,” says Jean-Michel Prillieux,
forecaster for French consultant Mavel SA. “First, there is the possibility
that GM would sell Saab. Second, he (Forster) could just be saying that.”
announced future product for Trollhattan is the Cadillac BLS, a made-for-Europe
Cadillac based on the 9-3, for which production begins in late February.
Apparently, both Russelsheim and Trollhattan will be Epsilon II plants.
says the 10-year-old Saab 9-5 is scheduled to move in 2007 to Russelsheim, where
it gets renewed on a long version of the new Epsilon II platform.
also on the Epsilon II, will move there a year later. GM also builds the
Epsilon-based Opel Vectra in Russelsheim. Other midsize front-wheel-drive cars
using the current Epsilon platform are the Chevy Malibu and Pontiac G6.
who projects automotive production to help suppliers form their strategies, says
GM plans to have four vehicles in Trollhattan by 2009. They include the:
Cadillac BLS, 20,000 units.
Cadillac BRX SUV, 30,000
Saab 9-4X (based on the BRX),
Saab 9-1 or 9-2, a
competitor for the Volvo C30, 50,000 units.
Cadillacs and the 9-4X would all use the Epsilon II platform.
In addition, Prillieux says Saab may bring the 9-3 convertible back to
Trollhattan from Magna Steyr Daimler Puch Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co.KG in Austria, which would add 20,000 units and bring total production to
135,000 units.(See related story: Graz Approaches Global Vision)
He says the
9-1/9-2 is planned for 2008 or 2009, and the Cadillac BRX for 2008.
in Europe hit a record 81,401 units in 2005, a 0.7% gain from 2004, European
auto makers’ group ACEA says. But even adding U.S. sales of 38,343 units,
including two rebadged models not sold in Europe, the brand is tiny.
GM still own Saab?” Jerry York asked earlier this month. York is an advisor
for investor Kirk Kerkorian, who is GM’s largest shareholder with 7.8% of its
thousand units per year in the U.S., less than 150,000 units per year on a
worldwide basis. Unless what I see in the press is wrong, it has pretty much
been a money loser. So why not get rid of it?”(See related story: York Gives Chapter, Verse on GM)
were exceptionally strong last year in the U.K., surging 35% thanks to the new
1.9L diesel engine from the aborted Fiat-GM Powertrain joint venture and demand
for the 9-3 Sport Sedan and Sport Hatch.
on the spot with the product mix,” a Saab spokesman says, noting the U.K. has
moved from almost zero diesels five years ago to nearly half the market now.
Saab Europe will get a new product with the 9-3 convertible, to be built by
Magna Steyr in Graz. Sales start in June. The U.K. is one of Europe’s best
convertible markets, so the company hopes for another good year there,
especially because the convertible will offer the 1.9L diesel.
In the U.S.
market, where Saab’s 2005 sales totaled 38,343 units, barely more than
2004’s 38,159, the auto maker also sells a handful of the 9-2X sport wagon
(basically a rebadged Subaru WRX) and the 9-7X midsize SUV, (redone Chevrolet
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