Saab pours more money on creating new product

Dan Chasins, president of Saab Cars USA Inc., said the events of Sept. 11 have not altered Saab's product plans. He was interviewed during a Saab 9-5 press event in October in Atlanta by Product Editor Rick Kranz.

You mentioned that several variants of the redesigned 2003 9-3 are planned. Which models will be on the market a year from now?

The first one will be the replacement for our current three-door and five-door hard top, and will probably be the most mainstream version of the car. Following that, we would look to another version that is, for us, a very important contributor in the hallmark, and that's the next-generation convertible.

Does Saab plan to offer a separate sport wagon, or create something from the next wagon, similar to the Subaru Outback or Volvo Cross Country?

There is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, a crossover vehicle, in our future. I really don't want to talk about which platform or which technology. I would rather talk about what kind of vehicle it should be and will be.

Similar to all the Saab vehicles, it will offer a true Saab driving experience. It will offer unique Saab technology. It will offer some class-leading features, for example, in the area of safety. To do anything else other than that wouldn't be true to Saab. I can also say you are not going to see any trucks coming from the Saab brand.

With events on Sept. 11, has there been any postponement of Saab's product plans?

No. We have made a very significant investment, and the corporation has made the decision that Saab needs to grow. And we clearly do to be a good, self-supporting, growing member of the corporate portfolio.

We are essentially investing almost double the rate of revenue that most car companies would be devoting to new-product development. We're investing nearly 11 percent of sales in new-product development.

It's logical in a way because we're really looking to double the variants that we offer, so we have to invest up front to get those. Naturally, it's going to take a higher percentage of our revenue to get that. And that's really where the key investment that the corporation essentially is allowing us to make is coming from, rather than holding us to the requirement of returning more, perhaps, of the bottom-line profits.

Our product portfolio is on track. There hasn't been any change in the schedule that we laid out for the next several years.

0

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters