Saab will decide within the next few months whether to build a small car to compete with similarly sized premium models from Audi and BMW, said the chief of Dutch carmaker Spyker, which bought the Swedish company this year.
Victor Muller, the CEO of Spyker, said he was deep in talks with potential partners about procuring a platform for the '92', a revival of a tear-drop-shaped Saab model from 60 years ago.
The decision whether to go forward with the new model, which would be introduced in 2013 at the earliest and be the first car fully designed under Spyker's stewardship, would depend on economic conditions, partners and financing, Muller said.
That is my job for the next 100 days, Muller said on Wednesday at a launch event for Saab's new 95 flagship model, the first since Spyker took over Saab in January in an audacious $400 million deal with General Motors.
Saab under Spyker is hoping to restore buzz and sales to the Swedish brand after it languished under GM and saw sales plummet to just under 40,000 cars last year from around 130,000 five years ago.
The new 92, if built, would be aimed at a fast-growing car segment for premium small cars, which includes BMW's MINI -- a revival of the English Mini Cooper -- and the new Audi A1 which launches this summer as well as Fiat's 500.
The 92 has to be the most stunning looking, the most ingenious and the most premium car. It has to undeniably be a Saab, Muller said.
2011 IN GENEVA?
Saab would choose a chassis platform from a bigger carmaker rather than make the investment for a car that would have a projected yearly production run of 30,000 to 60,000.
Asked whether Saab was in talks with Volkswagen or Hyundai Motor Co, likely platform partners, Muller said there were no talks with the Korean automaker and declined to comment further.
Volkswagen's small car platform for the Polo model is being used by its Audi unit, which the company says could reach 50,000 orders this year. The MINI is by the far the top seller in the segment, with well over 200,000 in yearly sales.
Muller said a new Saab 92 would be priced about 10 percent more than a MINI.
Saab needs about $300 million to develop each new model and would have to secure financing as its current funds are already earmarked for planned models and upgrades.
Muller did not link plans for a listing in Stockholm to the 92, but said that once the group announces half-year results on August 28, he and Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson would set off for a investor roadshow to drum up institutional interest in Spyker.
We're not planning to offer shares any time soon, he said.
He had indicated earlier this year that Spyker would also seek a London listing and possibly delist from Amsterdam's stock exchange but said that an Amsterdam-Stockholm dual listing was the most likely scenario for now.
(Editing by Michael Shields)