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Saab 9-5 set for renewal

The 13-year-old 9-5 will be renewed in July in Europe with Saab's first serious SUV crossover, the 9-4X, to follow in April of 2011.  Saab is aiming for 50,000 to 55,000 sales globally this year, improving to around 100,000 next year, under its new ownership by Spyker Cars of Holland.

Spyker is now going right through the company and is hoping to reduce Saab's break-even point to around 80,000 cars by the end of 2012 as it slashes its spending on engineering and manufacturing. But it is also finalising a plan for its hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, as well as a potential starter car smaller than the current 9-3.

"We are now in charge of our own destiny, which means we can do anything we want," Spyker's CEO, Victor Muller, says in an interview with Autoweek magazine in the USA.  "We are gradually moving from a GM strategy of shared components and investments," says Mats Fagerhag, executive director of vehicle engineering, also talking to Autoweek.

"You are going to have a Saab car that consists of components and systems that we have developed jointly with other carmakers."  The change to Spkyer ownership at Saab has already seen the tooling for the 9-3, as well as the outgoing 9-5, sold to the Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corporation, which is likely to begin production of the superseded Swedish cars within 18 months.

Meanwhile, the future of Saab in Australia is no clearer now than when GM Holden first announced it would not be going forward with the brand.  There was early talk that Ateco Automotive - the country's largest independent importer with a brand library stretching from Fiat and Citroen to Ferrari and Maserati - would be the new agent for Saab.

But Ateco's boss Neville Crichton went cool on the plan and local sales slumped to zero in March.  Now it's Inchcape Motors, the parent company of Subaru Australia and now a major dealer group, which is the subject of the latest Saab talk.

But Inchcape refuses to even discuss the potential for a Saab agency in Australia.  "We have no comment. We do not comment on this sort of speculation," an Inchcape spokesman tells Carsguide.