auto

Saab offers car discounts after GM sale

Tara Baukus MelloWith General Motors' sale of Sweden's Saab Automobile AB to the Netherlands' niche sports carmaker Spyker Cars N.V. completed, the new owners slashed prices for Saab's 2010 models and disclosed some future product ideas for the brand.

The 2010 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan now starts at $29,725, while the 9-3 SportCombi wagon starts at $31,155. The 9-3 Convertible starts at $40,815, while the 9-3X, an all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle, starts at $37,800. The prices represent car discounts of 4 percent to 12 percent, depending on the model, and put all the cars more in line with Saab's competitors.

While the price cuts are for 2010 models, Saab also is offering incentives through March 31, ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 for buyers of 2009 models. There's an additional $1,000 incentive on new 2009 or 2010 models for current owners or lessees. Production of Saabs had slowed in recent months as the brand's future hung in the balance, but new owner Spyker says it has been restarted and new cars will start flowing into dealers this month.

Saab's new owner also outlined product plans for the brand, which include expanding the lineup with several more models. The first car will be the redesigned 9-5 Sedan, which will arrive in showrooms this summer. The all-wheel-drive sedan will feature a parking-assist system that senses objects in all directions as well as a heads-up display that puts key information, such as speed, in the driver's line of sight versus glancing down at the dashboard. In addition, the 9-4X, a crossover that will be larger than the 9-3X, is slated to arrive in 2011, while a redesigned 9-3 is scheduled for 2012.

The newly formed Saab Spyker Automobiles N.V. has production and intellectual property-sharing agreements with General Motors for the redesigned 9-5, the new 9-4X and the redesigned 9-3, but it is already talking about technology sharing with other automakers, including "some German brands," says CEO Victor Muller. Future agreements could involve sharing engines, components or entire vehicle platforms (the chassis, suspension and other key components on the underside of the body). Because the development of the redesigned 9-5 and the new 9-4X are so far along, the earliest there would be any technology-sharing partnerships beyond GM would be on the 2012 Saab 9-3.

Saab, whose sales declined 58 percent worldwide last year due to an aging product line and the uncertainty of the company's future, aims to recapture buyers who left the brand, often for Audi and BMW. In addition to the three cars currently in development, Saab wants to add a small car to its product line to compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series as well as hybrid vehicles. The company projects it will be profitable again within two years, when it expects to sell 120,000 cars annually.

Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars.

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