TROLLHATTAN - When General Motors and Saab joined forces in 1989, a three-platform model range was considered, with a large sedan at the top powered by a Cadillac V-8 Northstar engine.
The big car has been dropped from the plans, said Bob Hendry, who became CEO of Saab Automobile in August 1996.
He looks at segments that have more to do with lifestyle than with size.
'We are not so much talking of small and medium sized cars. Rather we position our models within the premium market on customer profiles,' he said.
Saab sees five segments: the premium entry-level coupe, premium entry-level sedans and hatchbacks, premium entry-level wagon, mature sedan, and convertibles.
The Saab 9000 and its successor, the 9-5, are considered mature sedans. With the arrival of a station wagon next year, Saab will have one model in each of the six premium car segments.
Global premium car sales were 2,313,000 last year. Saab sold 98,045, which is a 4.2 percent market share.
Saab will use a global GM platform for a successor to the current 900. Hendry said future platforms should be seen as architectual industrial concepts rather than as common chassis hardware.
Hendry said a totally new 900 will not come before the turn of the century. The current 900 will be facelifted early next year. It is likely to get the name of 9-3.
The company is studying new market segments, 'but we won't step into market segments which have reached a peak like SUVs or MPVs,' said Hendry. 'For the moment we are thinking in terms of marketing studies. We first want to find out what the customers want. But I am looking at the Mercedes A class with interest.'