RICK KRANZ

GM should revive 9-4X crossover from the rubble of Saab

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive NewsRick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
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General Motors has a perfectly good crossover that's waiting to be produced.

Actually it was produced; several hundred were assembled before production was halted. I'm talking about the Saab 9-4X.

The 9-4X was developed by GM when it owned the Swedish company. The car debuted last spring under Saab's new owners, Saab Automobile AB. Production started last summer at GM's assembly plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

Under the skin, the car shares a platform and mechanicals with the 2011 Cadillac SRX. Exterior and interior styling plus suspension tuning differentiate the Saab from a Caddy. About 500 cars were assembled before production was shut down last year.

The 9-4X that GM created for Saab is a competitive product. Might there be a market for a rebadged version?

Here are two options. It could be revived as a Chevrolet that is sold outside North America or as an Opel model for Europe. After all, the 9-4X was engineered for sales in Europe and the Middle East.

Replacing the Saab badging and the name would be easy. GM's new V-6 would be dropped in. The grille would have to be redesigned to give it a Chevrolet or Opel flavor.

Can anyone at GM make a business case to revive the crossover under a different brand? "Our plant in Mexico has already adjusted to the end of 9-4X production," said GM spokesman Jim Cain.

Still, it's such a waste to destroy the tooling. Think of GM's engineering and styling investments. Here's an opportunity for suppliers and GM to cut their losses.

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