Saab unveils new 9-4X in Los Angeles

Saab unveils new 9-4X in Los Angeles
Sweden-based Saab Automobile showed off its new 9-4X at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday, hoping its first-ever crossover SUV will be a hit in the US market.

“We’re very satisfied. There’s been huge interest in both the car and the company,” said 9-4X programme manager Mikael Jacobsson to the TT news agency.

Referred to by Saab as “muscular and sporty”, the looks and size of the 9-4X place it somewhere between the 9-3X and new 9-5 sedan.

“The 9-4X significantly broadens the appeal of the Saab brand,” Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said in a statement.

“It gives us entry to the fast-growing crossover segment with a vehicle that reflects our brand values in key areas, such as progressive Scandinavian design and sporty, responsible driving performance.”

Saab sales took a hit in all markets following last year’s turbulence surrounding the company’s ownership, especially in the United States, which had previously been Saab’s most important market.

And reviving enthusiasm in the brand, as well as sales figures has taken time.

Thus Saab is pinning high hopes in the new 9-4X, its first crossover SUV, which was designed with an eye toward the North American market, where small- and medium-sized SUVs are quite popular.

Saab was ready for criticism, however, because there is no diesel or hybrid version of the 9-4X – a fact mentioned in several Swedish media reports.

“The car is directed primarily at the US market and there diesel isn’t number one,” said Jacobsson.

In addition to the United States, Saab hopes the 9-4X can gain a foothold in both China and Russia, although Saab still lacks a Russian sales infrastructure. But Saab CEO Jonsson hopes to have one in place by the end of the year.

Saab estimates it will sell around 12,500 9-4X’s annually during the vehicle’s life cycle. Board chair Victor Muller was even more bullish about the new model’s prospects, telling the Bloomberg news agency that Saab could sell between 15,000 and 20,000 vehicles in 2012.

“That’s likely an expression of his feelings about the car’s potential,” said Jacobsson.

The new 9-4X is set to go on sale in North American in May 2011, with sales in other markets expected to start in August.

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