Because of high development costs and low chances to return a profit, Saab may not bring a diesel version of the 9-4X model to the US, according to Saab’s CEO, Jan Ake Jonsson.
He stated that beginning next year, Saab will be targeting two new markets, Russia and China. In an interview with Autonews, Jonsson said that the introduction of a diesel engine to the 2012 Saab 9-4X is unlikely.
He explained that the company would have to find a diesel engine, test it, install it, validate it, and this uses up two years into the life cycle of a vehicle. He said that this leads to a “very short payoff period." Saab is aiming its 9-4X at the luxury crossover segment dominated by the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.
Before moving to China though, he said that the biggest hurdle would be the establishment of a dealer network. The CEO said that the company requires a presence in at least five or six cities and at least 10 to 15 dealers.
According to Victor Muller, Saab’s chairman, the company has to sell at least 10,000 cars in China before it could even consider setting up local manufacturing facilities.
Saab will have to make do with a few thousand car sales annually until it can launch the new 9-3. If Saab were to decide to start production in China, it’s likely to begin with the 9-3, followed by the upcoming 9-5 and 9-4X crossover. Saab also aims to sell more cars in Russia. Related to this, Saab expects to announce a distribution deal by the end of this year.