NORCROSS, Ga. - The Saab 9X concept is a bold indicator of Saab's future direction. Embracing Saab's heritage and giving it a new expression, the 9X is a car that reflects the changing values and needs of sophisticated and demanding customers.
Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile's President and CEO, explains that the Saab 9X is expected to become a turning point in Saab design. "This car symbolizes the kind of products Saab will produce over the next six years," Augustsson said. "They will be innovative and distinctive, appealing to individualistic customers who make their own choices in life.
"Of course, we will not only produce sports cars. Whatever format is adopted, Saab products must always have a strong sporty, multi-dynamic quality, able to fulfill a number of roles through incorporating clever solutions. We will continue to build on the five foundations of the Saab brand: performance, safety, control, versatility and design."
While the design expression of the Saab 9X may be new, it inherits a Saab sporting tradition that is founded in some 25 years' experience of turbocharging technology, delivering high mid-range torque for performance that is easily accessible. It also echoes a Saab tradition for real-world versatility, first seen in voluminous hatchbacks and continued with the "four-season" Convertible and the widely acclaimed Saab 9-5 SportWagon.
"The Saab 9X and future Saab products are aimed at customers who place a premium on good, original design that is not derivative or commonplace," Augustsson
commented. "These people are busy professionals often running their own businesses and increasingly involved in active leisure and sporting activities. They don't follow the crowd in what they do and they want products that reflect that independence, while also meeting the needs of their lifestyle."
The Saab 9X marks the start of a bold program that will see the announcement of at least one new product or concept from Saab every year for the next six years. It also heralds the development of new retail environments and new ways of engaging customers.
Just as the Saab 9X interacts with the driver in a number of different ways, the Saab brand is reaching out to engage its audience by innovative means. Saab "city centers" will appear at prestigious metropolitan locations where potential customers may also enjoy promotional events, such as music recitals and displays of art. There will also be "brand centers" at major airports - two have already opened at Heathrow in the UK - where visitors can use interactive communications to learn more about Saab's brand values.
The international Saab dealer network is also undergoing an unprecedented period of redevelopment in all key markets that will see 100 newly certified dealerships opening this year and 200 more next year and the year afterwards, leading to a total of 500 new outlets by the end of 2003. These modern, well-appointed sites will more accurately reflect the Saab brand and will account for some 80 percent of Saab sales volume.
"We are taking the Saab message out to locations where our target audience works, socializes and travels," Augustsson explained. "It is, therefore, essential that the quality of the experience in our marketing and retail environments matches the high standards of our product. "
To emphasize the impact of these highly visible showcases for the brand, Saab is also focusing its marketing communications on a relatively small target group of just 10 million customers and prospective customers worldwide. This niche strategy will utilize high- quality relationship marketing and more carefully targeted advertising to allow Saab to directly address its audience.
These product, marketing and retail initiatives are expected to drive worldwide sales to new levels, virtually doubling current annual sales volumes to about 250,000 units by 2006. "The Saab 9X marks the start of a product and marketing offensive that is unprecedented for Saab," Augustsson added. "It is a level of investment that will see Saab become an increasingly important worldwide player in the premium car sector."