BAIC's Plans For Saab

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
baic s plans for saab

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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4 of 23 comments
  • FordDude FordDude on Dec 29, 2009

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

  • GS650G GS650G on Dec 29, 2009

    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.

  • Keepaustinweird Keepaustinweird on Dec 29, 2009

    @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.

  • 2Goldens 2Goldens on Dec 30, 2009

    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.