DETROIT – A forthcoming cross/utility vehicle from Saab Automobile will be based on the Subaru B9 Tribeca and built at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, IN, Ward’s learns here at the 2005 North American International Auto Show.

Saab will show a concept version of the midsize CUV in April at the New York auto show, and sales are expected to begin in 2006.

Subaru B9 Tribeca

Fred Adcock, Subaru of America Inc. executive vice president, says SIA is the production site for the B9 Tribeca and the Saab CUV. A Saab spokesman confirms co-development of a CUV with Subaru, but declines to provide the program’s timing or production location.

Saab and Subaru have been known to be working together on a CUV program since 2002. (See related story: Lafayette Will Build GM, Subaru Crossovers in 2005)

Both auto makers are aligned with General Motors Corp. GM fully owns Saab and has a 20% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru vehicles. Subaru already supplies Saab with a vehicle. The Saab 9-2X, which hit dealerships in mid 2004, is a version of the Japan-built Subaru Impreza WRX all-wheel-drive small car. Sales of the 9-2X have not met expectations, totaling 1,788 units in 2004.

GM is adding products to Saab’s lineup in effort to grow sales at the money-losing Swedish auto maker.

GM’s Moraine, OH, assembly plant also will begin production of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer-based Saab 9-7X midsize SUV this year.

The SIA plant, which builds the Legacy, certainly has available capacity. With two shifts working at the plant in 2004 only 118,699 vehicles were made. Factories operating two shifts generally can produce about 200,000 units annually without overtime.

Like the B9 Tribeca, the Saab CUV will feature AWD and a horizontally opposed boxer engine. The CUVs are based on an extended version of Subaru’s unibody Legacy midsize sedan and wagon.

A 250-hp DOHC 3L flat-6 engine that is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission featuring SportShift manual control powers the B9 Tribeca. Its wheelbase measures 108.2 ins. (274 cm), while the vehicle’s total length is 189.8 ins. (482 cm). The B9 Tribeca’s width is 73.9 ins. (188 cm) and its height 66.4 ins. (169 cm).

There will be 7-and 5-passenger models available. The B9 Tribeca goes on sale later this year as an ’06 model.