Saab halts next 9-3 development, may radically downsize next-gen

Click image above for a high-res gallery of the 2008 Saab 9-3

Tougher emissions and fuel economy regulations in Europe and the United States have forced Saab to put the brakes on development of the next-generation 9-3. The current Saab 9-3 is built on GM's Epsilon platform (shared with the Opel Vectra, Chevrolet Malibu, and Pontiac G6). The next-gen model was set to be based on the longer and wider GM Epsilon II platform (used for the 2009 Saab 9-5). However, Saab and parent company General Motors are considering radically downsizing the model to fit GM's upcoming 'Global premium compact' platform - a size rivaling the Audi A3.

GM design sources told Autocar that a smaller chassis would dictate new technologies to maximize interior room. These would include a slim modular roof assembly and slimmer doors with advanced side-impact technology. General Motors has also hinted that the new 9-3 could be manufactured in the United States. Many European automakers are feeling the impact a weak dollar is having on profits and, like BMW, are moving or increasing production in the States.

[Source: Autocar]

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