More stories related to Geneva Motor Show GENEVA – Saab Automobile hopes to sell 30,000 9-3 SportCombis annually and capture 8% of the European premium mid-wagon segment.

The hatchback, unveiled here, will have to peck away at the segment-leading Audi A4 Avant, with about 40% share, followed by the Volvo V50.

Of the 30,000 global SportCombi sales, 3,000-3,500 will be in the U.S., says Christopher McKinnon, 9-3 brand manager. That figure could grow if the American appetite for smaller cars and hatches and wagons sharpens.

Looking at the 9-3 lineup, Saab plans to sell 100,000 units globally this year. McKinnon’s forecast includes 65,000 sedans, 20,000 convertibles and 15,000 SportCombis.

Saab 9-3 SportCombi

Next year, he expects the number of SportCombis to increase to 30,000, with sedans dropping to 50,000-55,000. In other words, a remix, as opposed to huge incremental sales.

Down the road, he would like to see a coupe for the 9-3 line, as well.

McKinnon says the auto maker knows it must broaden its lineup and delve into growing segments.

“To grow, we need new ones (variants), like we’re doing with the 9-7X (midsize SUV), but in Saab style.”

Sensor Study, an independent group in Europe that studies the market, says there is demand for a 9-3 coupe, but it is a tough segment, with competitors such as the BMW 3-Series coupe, Mercedes C-Class and Mazda RX-8.

Another suggestion is a midsize cross/utility vehicle and an MPV for Europe.

Whatever direction the car maker pursues, Saab needs to grow slowly, McKinnon says, and not repeat the mistake of haste with the 9-2X, which fails to distinguish itself from the Subaru WRX, upon which it is based. But growth must keep sufficient pace to keep dealers satisfied.

apriddle@primediabusiness.com