• Mar 16, 2011
According to Autocar, Saab is itching to go modular. The company is apparently walking away from plans to significantly update its plan to run a much-modified General Motors Epsilon I architecture in favor of a new strategy that includes a clean-sheet design. Autocar cites unnamed sources inside the company's headquarters who have indicated that engineers are currently whittling away on a versatile platform that will form the basis of everything form a diminutive 9-2 to a lengthy 9-7 and everything in between. That includes the confirmed-for-production 9-3, 9-5 and 9-4x. Autocar believes that the rumored 9-1 will use different bones.

That all sounds good, but the news runs completely against the grain of everything we've heard about the company's production plans so far. Victor Muller, the company's CEO, has previously told Autoblog that the 9-3 successor will be based on a much-modified version of the Epsilon I architecture that's so thoroughly altered that Saab will be able to claim the chassis as its own intellectual property. As the next 9-3 is part of Saab's fully funded business plan, we have trouble seeing the Swedish automaker going to the considerable added expense of developing an all-new, from-scratch platform – particularly when global sales of the firm's current range have been slow to take off.

[Source: Autocar]


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  • 15 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's probably not a good sign when (what few are left) dealerships have "new" Saabs still on the lot...... model year 2009. True story. 350 miles on the odometer.

      Seriously, it's going to take something pretty extraordinary for Saab to have anything resembling a rebound.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It may be more expensive right now, but it will payoff in the long run, with lower development costs for the next models

      That's how 2 other small companies operate -Lotus and Aston Martin- and Audi is following a similar strategy (though they don't really need to be so strict about it, of course).
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why aren't they using a derivation of the Epsilon II architecture? They already have it under the 9-5, and it can be made compact enough for cars like the Buick Regal & Opel/Vauxhall Insignia. Modifying that would seem to be a logical way forward. Why regress to the older Epsilon I?

      Lotus VVA would be a great coup if they could do it, using a modular matrix like Aston or Lotus currently uses. I can't see that happening on a shoestring though.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Saab is such an intriguing company...they have so much potential and a lot of history to fall back on for inspiration. The next 9-3 can and should compete with the best from Germany. I am also very excited about the 9-1, hoping that it draws from the original Saabs from the 60's.
      • 3 Years Ago
      GO SAAB GO!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Doubtful.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Considering they now source their engines from BMW, Using their platforms may make some sense since BMW platforms are very versatile underpinning various cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The new modular platform is called the Phoenix platform and underpinned the PhoeniX concept car at Geneva. According to Saab's Chief Technical Director Mats Fägerhag they started with the Epsilon 1 architecture but only a few smaller plates in the middle remain, everything else is new, suspension setups and everything. So it's basically a new platform. However much of that has been developed already and is being tested in northern Sweden as we speak, according to them. It will be able to underpin the next gen 9-3, 9-5 and 9-4x. A smaller 9-2 would require another platform (from the outside?)
      • 3 Years Ago
      The moment i start seeing cars from Saab on this new modular platform, that's when I will be ready to hand over the cash for their cars. The less GM DNA that they use or share the better it will be for Saab, and the better for Saab to distinguish themselves as a more unique and attractive car company. They also need to totally ditch OnStar, OBD2, GM based internal electronics & modules and other GM based gadgets and come up with something that is uniquely their own to further bold their image.

      What's funny about Saab and GM is this almost in a way reminds me of when AMD broke away from Intel back in the day. Much like the rival semiconductor companies, Saab breaking away from GM should be equally as interesting or more. I'm rooting for you Saab. Keep up the great work you guys!

      • 3 Years Ago
      One platform for the 9-3, 9-4X, 9-5, plus a smaller 9-2 and a larger 9-7? Um...

      I'm a Saab fan, but let's get real here. If Toyota hasn't managed to engineer such incredible flexibility into one platform, Saab isn't going to do it first.
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's simply not Toyota's modus operandi... Toyota has too many different architectures in its range (it has too), uses many different manufacturing plants, each with its own particularities, and Toyota can find economies in other areas because of its sheer scale.

        And this isn't just a flexible platform: it's a modular one.

        Saab is doing what Scania has been doing for a while with their modular platforms (and Scania's is giving Saab a helping hand). If they can do it, Saab can do it too.

        The various components of the platform connect with each other through standardized interfaces, so that any component can be individually developed and still be compatible with any other ones.

        That modularity combined with the platform's flexibility is really a gem, specially for a small manufacturer with limited resources.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Controlling costs is absolutely part of Toyota's M.O. They are famous for it. Many Toyotas are built on shared platforms to achieve this goal.

        The issue is that cars built from shared platforms generally don't vary in size as much as Saabs' would if this Autocar report were accurate. That's what makes me skeptical. This super modular platform would be a feat that has so far eluded the rest of the industry. Seems like an awfully long reach for a company with Saab's resources.

        I guess I'd call you an optimist. ;-)
        • 3 Years Ago
        S'pose they can use chunks of Epsilon (like the suspension - that's an expensive thing to engineer and tool), while developing their own structures?
      • 3 Years Ago
      is this a good idea for a company that has relied on others platforms for so long?
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is going to require some heavy investment of capital, before any returns can be made. I hope they can pull it off and increase sales with this move. Muller is putting all the eggs in the basket in this very high stakes game.
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