In 2010, the remains of the entity once known as Saab managed to hack out 147 examples of the Saab 9-4X crossover before giving up the ghost for good, guaranteeing that the number of owners of the handsome crossover would fill a Southwest flight with more empty seats than, say, owners of the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione. It’s rare for an automaker to introduce a dazzling new product and then summarily expire, but that’s exactly what Saab (and Pontiac, and Saturn, and Hummer, come to think of it) did when the deal with the Chinese fell through, abandoning plenty of 9-4X and 9-5 models to the wayside in 2010 and 2011. Now, however, the 9-4X could make a comeback—and finally give GM some return on its extensive investment.
After all, GM sunk a lot of capital into developing the 9-4X alongside its Cadillac SRX sibling, and while the Caddy’s sales are ticking along quite smoothly, the entirety of Saab was killed off before it could reach its projected sales targets of 15,000 to 20,000 cars per year—modest figures for a niche luxury manufacturer, even despite the mainstream popularity of crossovers. But with just 457 built in 2011, the 9-4X represents a gargantuan waste for GM, and an entire production line: after all, tooling ain’t cheap, and the Ramos Arizpe, Mexico plant is all ready to go for further production.
Could the 9-4X survive as a rebadged Chevrolet, or as an Opel in Europe? Certainly stranger things have come to fruition from the Renaissance Center, many of them involving Saab. Even the cost of a simple badge and grille change, two tactics GM has never shied away from, would lessen the blow of losing all of that valuable tooling. Despite this, a call to GM produced a pessimistic answer: “Our plant in Mexico has already adjusted to the end of 9-4X production,” said a GM spokesman. This could be called the “end of an era,” if it ever was one in the first place.
Oh, well. See you at the 9-4X owner’s club in 20 years. Bring donuts. About half a dozen should do.
Source: Automotive News