By on December 29, 2009

2007 Saab 9-5. Picture courtesy

Wondered what BAIC will do with the used tooling and blueprints it has bought from Saab at the fire sale price of only $200m? BAIC has big plans, and big pockets.

Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC group, told China Daily that the company will spend some $5b over the next three years to develop three to four passenger car models and two to three turbocharged engines based on the acquired Saab technology.

BAIC will revive their “Beijing” brand which was born in 1958, but abandoned soon thereafter. Beijing’s initial lineup will include a mid-sized hatchback, a notchback, a compact hatchback and a CUV. The cars will be made at 150,000 unit plant in Beijing. Construction will start in February.

BAIC also plans to establish “a world-class research and development center” in Beijing next year, with the acquired Saab technologies as the foundation.

Initially, the Beijing brand is aimed at the mushrooming Chinese market, later, at the world.

“Ultimately, we will push our own-brand cars into the global market,” Xu Heyi said. In addition to direct exports, the group will set up joint venture plants abroad with foreign partners to produce its own-brand cars.

The Saab 9-5 was introduced 1997, based on the already antique 1988 vintage GM2900 platform. The Saab 9-3 was first introduced in1998.  BAIC got the later model, based on the 2002 vintage Epsilon I  platform. Leading edge technology did not change hands.

Whether “Beijing” is a wise branding choice for the worldwide marketplace remains to be seen.

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23 Comments on “BAIC’s Plans For Saab...”

  • avatar

    BAIC might be able to make a profit. There are lots of factors to consider!

  • avatar

    Let’s face it – GM could have done so much more with SAAB. I think they provided marginal management at best and forgot to capitalize on what really made a SAAB. One of the single biggest mistakes they made was getting rid of the hatchback in the 9-3. Saab’s have never had BMW levels of all out handling, but they did have cavernous storage space, truly unique styling and fuel efficient yet powerful turbo engines. GM basically ignored the brand, and when it did do something they tried to make it more “mainstream”. Guess what, people bought SAABs because they weren’t mainstream and failing to realize this was the beginning of the end for SAAB. I hope BAIC does the right thing retains some of the brand equity.

    • 0 avatar

      Saab was dead before GM bought it.  That’s why the Swedes wanted nothing to do with it (and Volvo Cars).  GM’s only “sin” was in not resurrecting the dead.  Also, it was Saab itself that stopped importing the 5-door 900 hatchback in the US, its largest export market, in 1981.  Yet it was GM that brought back the 5-door 900 in 1994.  So, please, enough with the comments that GM didn’t understand what made Saab a Saab (hatchbacks, utility, etc).  GM, like Saab in 1981, built what they thought would sell.  Sure enough, the 4-door 900s sold better as did the 9-5 4-door over the 5-door 9000.  The real problem for any owner of Saab is that there are no economies of scale (profit!) at the level of demand that the oddball cars command.  And there are too many good choices in the market for also-ran Euros.

    • 0 avatar

      It was like I said before anyways, Subaru has taken over Saab’s niche; we don’t need Saab anymore. It is simple darwinism that took Saab down.

  • avatar
    John R

    Whether “Beijing” is a wise branding choice for the worldwide marketplace remains to be seen.

    It could be called “Spamalot” for all I care. If the cars prove to be more reliable and priced more rationally than previous SAADs then they’ll be fine.

  • avatar

    u need to check you figures and dates Bertel Schmitt, you have them all wrong. It snot 5 Million USd – its 5 Billion USD. and the Sabb 93 was introduced well before 1998.

  • avatar

    Skysharad: True on the million v .v. billion – slip of the keyboard. Fixed. According to my records, the Saab 9-3 was introduced 1998 for the 1999 model year. Some called  it a rebadged Saab 900 (1994-1997,) with which it shared the same platform, so in that sense, you may be right also. However, officially, no Saab 9-3 did exist before late 1998.

  • avatar

    what BAIC got was the newer 9-3 (Epilson based) and the 9-5 (GM2900).   The old 900NG/9-3 based on the GM2900 was long history.
    And yes, the 9-5 was an old platform.  SAAB did a lot to tinker with it, and have a lot of affection for it, but I can’t imagine Chinese consumers being happy buying it.  Given that the 9-5 is positioned as a semi-luxury large car, while would they pick that over a new Buick or Audi?
    The 9-3 they got was the pre-2005? model.  I’m sure they could back and pick at the corpse and get something newer, but the 9-3SS is not a particularly distinguished model.  Would be funny if they finally did a hatchback version.
    It is still very unclear to me what powertrain lines BAIC bought.   SAAB had sold their 4 cylinder engine mode (and factory) last year to another company.  There may be some residual IPR rights.  Would be easier for BAIC to buy another small engine or even a v6 and drop it in rather than build their own.  The 9-3SS, in particular, never used a real SAAB engine, but just GM Ecotec.

  • avatar

    Snabster: Right you are on the Epsilon (I). Corrected.  What they got was the technology of a 2002 Opel Vectra.

    The Chinese are very picky when it comes to latest technology, especially at the higher end, where the Saab 9-5 is positioned. They complain when their joint venture produced car isn’t introduced at the same time it is launched abroad. How a GM2900 or Epsilon I based car is supposed to compete with an Epsilon II, some time in 2011, is beyond me.

  • avatar

    Bertel, where did you find this picture hosted?  This is MY car… and a photo that I took at Montrose Harbor in Chicago.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Did you ever post that photo to Wikipedia?
      If not you, someone else did.
      TTAC’s “courtesy of” notation on photos really means …. snatched from. Oddly enough, this seems to be common practice for blog sites.

    • 0 avatar

      “Oddly enough”? With a (very) few well-funded or print outlet-associated exceptions, no blog would be able to generate the volume of relevant photography needed. Just as it would be prohibitively time-consuming to wait on explicit permission to republish images. Hence TTAC’s “courtesy of” on original, non-advertising/marketing/press images, and our rapid action on all requests to remove images.
      It is a jungle out there in terms of online intellectual property. Sure, we reprint images and information without paying for the reporting or photography, but there are also a number of sites that reprint TTAC content verbatim without permission. Anyone who puts anything online has to assume that someone else is going to use it somehow. Until consumers stop wanting their content for free, moral clarity in online intellectual property will remain a pipe dream.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Well, it is odd that publishing practices which would mean lots of hot water if done on paper are considered normal online. It is unnerving to me how much stolen content is re-purposed and republished for profit online. TTAC is just doing what most blogs do in that regard, so nothing personal.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    How much of consequence to the customer is there to bringing out brand new platforms? It seems to me that many recent generations of platform redesigns were driven more by cost reduction efforts than by fundamental improvements. In fact, sometimes the cost reductions push the desirability and long term durability of key components backwards.
    The current Passat, for example, is in many ways a lesser vehicle than the prior generation was. Sure it has a few gimmicks like a push button operated parking brake, but is that really a step forward?
    Can anyone say exactly what the fundamental weakness of the 1988 vintage GM2900 platform is, and why is requires a clean-sheet redesign to address that weakness?

    • 0 avatar

      The first problem was torque on the front wheels.  200 HP was pushing it, and 230 really hurt (aka Viggen).  Now, the 9-5 seems to have solved that problem by moving the steering lower and not mounting it on the firewall.
      Ride quality also hurts.  A new honda accord RIDES much nicer than my 900NG.  Much stiffer through turns.
      How important is that to a Chinese consumer?  I don’t know. I don’t see the Beijing-SAABs getting high powered turbos to be honest.
      And yes, I’ve had any number of problems with Safari and Flash and TTAC over the past few weeks.  The key is to kill the flash process and then Safari will free up.

  • avatar

    @ John Horner… no, I have not. VERY weird. I guess it proves that nothing online is sacred… not that it matters. LOL.

    @ everyone else… am I alone in having MAJOR problems with TTAC crashing Safari on MAC computers? It’s been over a week, I have downloaded all of the newest patches, etc. But there is an Adobe script (all of the GM ad’s in the upper right corner of the page) that are crashing Safari. The Mini ads are fine, btw. HELP!

    • 0 avatar

      First of all, nice car.  I know that the 9-5 is lacking love these days, but it’s a seriously underrated piece of kit.  My 9000 Aero (5spd) still puts a smile on my face every day.
      As to the site crashing, I had a problem with it yesterday (also an adobe flash script issue) in Firefox.  No problems today.
      ’93 9000 Aero, 118K miles.  White/Black.  It’ll probably be replaced with a 9-5 Aero station wagon…

    • 0 avatar

      @Porsche986 – I’m having the same problem with my BRAND NEW MAC. If you find a solution – fill me in. I have to read TTAC on my five year old DELL or suffer relentless crashes from FLASH.

    • 0 avatar

      @jenniel684… my Mac is brand new as well. I have done a manual update several times to try and correct the problem, to no avail.

  • avatar

    Maybe they will be sublimely inspired and bring back the 900 Turbo Convertible!

  • avatar

    Will these Chinese SAABs have an easier time getting through US crash tests and other import restrictions?  If so,  they bought quite a bit more than we think.

  • avatar

    @Snabster: As a Viggen owner, I can tell you with confidence that the car’s torque steer can easily be neutralized with a steering rack brace and clamp kit. These are pretty inexpensive and do an excellent job. Shame on Saab for not getting this right when the cars rolled off the line in Finland, but at least the fixes (via or Abbot Racing in the UK) are out there. Add a fatter roll bar at the back and you have a car that’s comfortable, holds a ton, handles well and doesn’t pull the steering wheel out of your hands unless you absolutely gun it from a near stop around a sharp turn.

  • avatar

    Are you kidding me? Now at least one Chinese auto manufacturer has the technology to backdoor their cars into the US that will EASILY pass emission and safety standards. If they do it right and offer extended warranties like Kia and Hyundai, at prices far less than Saab or comparable GM product, they’ll sell these things like hotcakes and decimate the US, Japanese and Korean auto manufacturers. Scary.

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