LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The volume won't be much at the beginning, but Saab's plan to build its first vehicle in Indiana is inching closer to reality.
Saab's seven-passenger SUV, the 9-6X, will be produced starting next year at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, Ind.
Saab has not specified volumes for the 9-6X. But the plant, which is owned by General Motors partner Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., will apparently have room for about 10,000 to 15,000 a year.
Fuji expects to produce about 150,000 units at the plant next year. Included in the total are about 110,000 Subaru Legacy, Outback and Baja units and about 30,000 of the recently launched Subaru B9 Tribeca seven-seat SUV. That will leave room for about 10,000 to 15,000 units of the 9-6Xs.
The B9 Tribeca shares its all-wheel-drive platform with the 9-6X.
"The volume may not be that high, but I think it's important to add another model in the plant, and I think it's important to have that additional volume in the plant," said Thomas Easterday, senior vice president of human resources and corporate affairs at Subaru of Indiana Automotive.
In the second quarter of 2006 the Indiana plant will begin producing export-only, right-hand-drive versions of the Tribeca. Production of the 9-6X is planned to follow.
"Whether it develops into anything long term, we don't know," he said. "But having General Motors and Saab have the confidence in our quality and our production capacity to build a vehicle here is important."
Saab already is selling the 9-2X, a sport subcompact built in Japan by Subaru.
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