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z28luvr01

C&G @ NYIAS: Saab

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Saab has made quite a showing at the new York Auto Show this year, showing the 9-x and 9-4x concepts in Noth America for the first time while debuting the "Pure Biopower" clothing line. More on those items later. Before dinner at The Park restaurant I had the opportunity to have a nice concersation with Jan0Willen Vester, Saab USA Brand Manager. Being someone who's grown up lusting after tire-melting Chevys and Pontiac, I never had much insight into the Saab culture, so my conversation with Mr. Vester served as quite the eye opener. Here are some of thekey points:

  • GM basically kept a hands-off approach with Saab from the time it purchased 50% of Saab in 1990 until the time they bought the rest of it in 2000. Starting in 2000, GM changed its strategy and decided to invigorate Saab with some help from the worldwide GM parts bin.
  • GM knew that Saab's lineup at the time needed serious help for the brand to stay alive, but at the time it didn't quite have the resources to create from-the-ground-up Saabs in burgeoning market segments. Enter the 9-2x and 9-7x. Mr. vester and the rest of Saab knew they couldn't pull the wool over anyone's eyes with these, that noone would see them as anything but rebadges of other vehicles. They did, however, view them as adequate "bridge vehicles" that would "keep the lights on" while GM went to work on cars designed from scratch as Saabs.
  • Despite the negative criticisms about the 9-2x and 9-7x, they were a boon to Saab as they were very profitable despite modest sales compared to their GM siblings.
  • Mr. Vester's personal fleet includes a classic Saab 900, an older 9-5, and a recently purchased CPO 9-5 SportCombi. When I asked him about maintaining the older Saas, he informed me a bit of the Scandinavian attidude that is put into every Saab. Scandinavians prefer to be neutral (political dand otherwise) and do not prefer outside assistance. Saab has built this principle into both their military aircraft and their civilian vehicles from day one. Saabs are designed to be safe and durable. With attention to periodic maintenance, a Saab will last several hundred thousand miles, and there are million mile Saabs out there.
After dinner I took a short walk to the IAC Building, site of the Saab party featuring the North American debuts of the 9-4x and 9-x as well as the debut of the Saab Pure Biopower clothing line. After seeing these cars in person, I see a bright future for Saab. They may never sell like Chevy, but they don't have to. At long last, Saab is getting a lineup of visually exciting vehicles. The 9-x (the concep version of the 9-1x) clearly has the Mini in its crosshairs. This has "fun little car" written all over it. The 9-4x, while less appealing to me personally, is what a Saab SUV should be. Shortly after the canvases were pulled off the 9-x and 9-4x, models walked around the stage wearing Pure BioPower clothing. This new line of clothing is an extension of Saab's commitment to the environment. Each article of clothing is made using materials and manufacturing processes that serve no harm to the environment.

Pics will probably come later, as I have one more writeup to do, with less than three hours before I have to start getting ready to go back to NYC.

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I might believe the 9-7X is profitable, but the 9-2X program...I have serious doubts as to the truth of that claim.

As for allowing Saab the rope to hang itself with, I again find it hard to believe that GM would just throw money at Saab as it lost money for 10 years of partial ownership--then deciding to purchase the money pit! GM either knew what was going on and thought they could correct it OR they made a really bad decision---or both.

These are PR pieces, no? Lets be honest...can we admit that only softballs were tossed at any of these get-togethers? The 2 issues above are alone enough evidence...

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Saab brings in a different kind of customer to GM. One they would have no connection with if they didn't have Saab. Recent reports show great potential for Saab in the coming years. Maybe it wasn't the best thing to have in the 90s, but from here forward I think they could get alot out of Saab.

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I agree with what has been said regarding Saab proving to be a plus for GM in the future instead of a minus. Like it or not, even if Cadillac rocks the casba, you still need a Euro contender to get in the ring with the other Euro corps. Saab is to do just that and with a little tweaking, I think that it could do well.

Now my thoughts on Saab are that it should shoot for the same TYPE of customer as Subaru, ne the same price point. I think Saab can stay where it is price wise, but these two brands have LOTS of similarities, hence the General tapping Subaru to make an entry Saab. They both have turbos, they both have their niche markets, they both shoot for a more sporty and/or outdoorsy person, they're both known for making wagons. Now why Saab has basically ignored all wheel drive until this year is beyond me, but I think Saab needs to look to Subaru even more.

I think Saab needs to throw in MORE turbos and basically take the stance of Subaru and make AWD STANDARD. Couple that with Scandinavian environmental awareness, throw in a tent and you have GM's Subaru, but better. In all honesty I am a Subaru guy, but if Saab does a few of these things (like make a competitor to an Outback with AWD and a stick option) I am totally jumping ship and swimming over to the Saab vessel. I am a GM fan through and through, but they don't offer anything like an Outback...they could if they threw some more options that I feel should be standard onto a 9-3 or 9-5 though. Thoughts?

Edited by lanky9172
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I might believe the 9-7X is profitable, but the 9-2X program...I have serious doubts as to the truth of that claim.

As for allowing Saab the rope to hang itself with, I again find it hard to believe that GM would just throw money at Saab as it lost money for 10 years of partial ownership--then deciding to purchase the money pit! GM either knew what was going on and thought they could correct it OR they made a really bad decision---or both.

These are PR pieces, no? Lets be honest...can we admit that only softballs were tossed at any of these get-togethers? The 2 issues above are alone enough evidence...

True.....and notice the bean-counter mentality......the idea of the "profitability" of teh 9-7x and 9-2x......while TOTALLY ignoring the potential, and very real, damage those two vehicles did to SAAB's brand image.....

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Saab brings in a different kind of customer to GM. One they would have no connection with if they didn't have Saab. Recent reports show great potential for Saab in the coming years. Maybe it wasn't the best thing to have in the 90s, but from here forward I think they could get alot out of Saab.

How many cars does SAAB sell here in this country every year? First of all.....not many.....and at that....how many of those customers are TRULY new to GM...?

SAAB is a storied brand that GM has totally squandered, IMHO. The 9-3 is the only decent car they offer right now.....and using the word "decent" is being kind. While it's not a bad car by any means, it's certainly not one of the most competitive in it's segment. But while I agree the recent refresh is VERY attractive, it just doesn't seem to scream "SAAB" like the 99, squarish 900, or even the first 900 under GM's reign (remember the 900/9-3 Viggen?)

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How many cars does SAAB sell here in this country every year? First of all.....not many.....and at that....how many of those customers are TRULY new to GM...?

SAAB is a storied brand that GM has totally squandered, IMHO. The 9-3 is the only decent car they offer right now.....and using the word "decent" is being kind. While it's not a bad car by any means, it's certainly not one of the most competitive in it's segment. But while I agree the recent refresh is VERY attractive, it just doesn't seem to scream "SAAB" like the 99, squarish 900, or even the first 900 under GM's reign (remember the 900/9-3 Viggen?)

I find it even more ironic that the iconic Saab hatchback doesn't exist, yet the market is running to CUV's...the damage done to this brand, both here and abroad, has been immeasurable. The fact that they missed the AWD trend, the CUV trend and are finally getting it together 10 years late seems like little cause for celebration.

For every dollar spent going forward, it's stolen from divisions that have sold or will sell 2-20X as many vehicles---Saab is a sinkhole. Period.

You can wish that things were different or optimistically believe things will get better--I just see no historical evidence that GM knew or knows what its doing with this brand.

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Saab sold less than 35,000 vehicles in the US in 2007, and the US is it's biggest market. Worldwide sales are under 100,000. GM sells 9.4 million cars a year, why do they keep wasting money on something that is 1% of their sales.

GM doesn't need a Euro brand to sell cars in the US, or even in Europe. Toyota and BMW didn't buy an American brand to survive in the USA, and they did alright.

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Saab sold less than 35,000 vehicles in the US in 2007, and the US is it's biggest market. Worldwide sales are under 100,000. GM sells 9.4 million cars a year, why do they keep wasting money on something that is 1% of their sales.

GM doesn't need a Euro brand to sell cars in the US, or even in Europe. Toyota and BMW didn't buy an American brand to survive in the USA, and they did alright.

yet Zarella killed off Olds with twice the sales. The truth hurts I know.

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Saab is a very distinctive entity within GM. They have a design asthetic for smooth contours, subtle movements, timeless features, simplicity, minimalist design. They definitely appeal to a buyer most GM cars do not, I'd say 95% of the buyers of GM cars are different from Saab buyers. I could say Tahoe and Suburban probably along with some GMC pacakges draw the same kind of buyers. These are upscale buyers, who want something classy, classic, and enduring. The 9-3 is still one of the best looking designs in GM's catalog, imo. I still turn my head when I see an Aero of the pre-refresh. The refresh exemplifies how much Saab is capable of with so little resources, and is already one of the best looking sedans in its class, to me. I would rock it.

They need a more focused theme. Going after AWD buyers/Subaru type vehicles is one path they could take. I think the Aero X exemplifies Saab for me: cool, exclusive, unique, some quirks and sacrifices involved in owning them, performance-minded. They have a design language that is distinct and is very good.

Around Beverly Hills you see plenty of retail owned Saabs, not as many CTSs. I just saw 4 new 9-3s in the past few days, only one new CTS. The new CTS is doing really poorly in LA. It says something, that's for sure.

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I wish people would stop giving Saab a hard time. Saab's predicment was worsened by GM initially, who did absolutely nothing for Saab for the first ten years of ownership. Saab was a huge sinkhole and was alowed to remain so. Now, it's less of a sinkhole. Saab's strategy is pretty apparent to me - they intend to appeal to higher class, art appreciating, iMac buying, trendy, fashionable people who care about the environment. Personally, I felt the clothing line is a gimmick, but that could be because I'm the polar opposite of that type of person, with the exception that I try to be as environmentally conscious as I can. Saab's biggest roadblock to success now is that it's one of the best kept secrets in the industry. Ask anyone who bought a VW, Audi, or Volvo if they even considered Saab. Everything turbo said about Saab is true, and on top of that, they're using known reliable GM technology in them. Yet, they're hardly on anyone's radar. GM really needs to get the word out about the brand - the new Saabs are phenomenal looking. My seat time in the 9-3 vert ilicited some impure thoughts inside my head. If they follow through wth the whole BioPower thing (engines designed from the ground up on ethanol), that would be a huge shot in the arm for GMs image as a green company. Simply put, people need to be informed that Saab is out there. They deserve a fair look.

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Saab isn't going anywhere, Mr. Burns loves it too much. So much so that even der Bö®gÉr loves this brand now. In 2010 the Saab 9 3 is on my shopping list now, along with the CTS and Insignia. :yes:

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Saabs aren't a high end car, they are priced below Acura for the most part. My mom had a 2002 9-5 Aero that was loaded, nice car, handled well, but it was a maintenance nightmare, and was towed 4 times, one of which was 1 day after a $1000+ repair bill. The dealership service was horrible (it was a Pontiac-GMC-Saab). Not to mention massive depreciation, it was $42,000 MSRP new, and she sold if for $8000 when it was not even 5 years old. The Audi dealer only offered $5000 for a trade in, they wanted no part of it, because they knew it would be hard to sell it.

We of course had several 9-3 rentals since the 9-5 was in the shop so much, the 9-3 is a garbage car. The turbo 4 is gutless, (the turbo V6 wasn't out then), the interior is cheap, too many buttons for the radio (its like el-cheapo iDrive) ride, handling and steering were average, it handled much worse than the 9-5. No discount is big enough to get me to consider a 9-3.

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Saab isn't going anywhere, Mr. Burns loves it too much. So much so that even der Bö®gÉr loves this brand now. In 2010 the Saab 9 3 is on my shopping list now, along with the CTS and Insignia. :yes:

Well,

We always knew the Germans were easily convinced to follow.

Looks as if the Germans involved in GME are no different.

:duck: :AH-HA_wink:

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Well,

We always knew the Germans were easily convinced to follow.

Looks as if the Germans involved in GME are no different.

:duck: :AH-HA_wink:

I'll just consider the source. :AH-HA_wink:

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every year when i auto show it i keep coming back to how nice the little 9-3 is. it's pricey though and too small for me.

the lack of a competitive 9-5 is what has killed saab the most.

to me, saab should be gunning for a slot between vw and acura and out euroing VW. cars that are better than VW, more interesting than acura crap, and having scandinavian flavor. it does not need to be wierd. it does need to be distinctive and the powertrains need to be current.

saab could double their US volume just trying to crack part of VW's sales....if they had a 9-3 and 9-5 that were packaged in a way to take away sales from high end jettas and the passat line.

so if the 9-2 and 9-7 made money it does reinforce rebadging behavior, which is unfortunate.

i would be excited about the 9-4 but the styling is too blah.

truth be told, had saab come out with a competitive SUV on time like all the other euros they would not be in the mess they are either. don't kid yourselves, the luxo marques were not kept afloat by sedans and small cars either, for the longest time. volvo kept the lights on as much by the xc90 and xc70 as anything. look at audi and all road. that tanked and they even had to bring the requisite porker (Q7) over as well.

saab should take the srx and remake it in its image as the new 9-7. turbo v6, new body and interior.

saab needs an all new 9-3 and 9-5 now. and 9-1/2, 9-4, 9-7, aero.

Edited by regfootball
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every year when i auto show it i keep coming back to how nice the little 9-3 is. it's pricey though and too small for me.

the lack of a competitive 9-5 is what has killed saab the most.

to me, saab should be gunning for a slot between vw and acura and out euroing VW. cars that are better than VW, more interesting than acura crap, and having scandinavian flavor. it does not need to be wierd. it does need to be distinctive and the powertrains need to be current.

saab could double their US volume just trying to crack part of VW's sales....if they had a 9-3 and 9-5 that were packaged in a way to take away sales from high end jettas and the passat line.

so if the 9-2 and 9-7 made money it does reinforce rebadging behavior, which is unfortunate.

i would be excited about the 9-4 but the styling is too blah.

truth be told, had saab come out with a competitive SUV on time like all the other euros they would not be in the mess they are either. don't kid yourselves, the luxo marques were not kept afloat by sedans and small cars either, for the longest time. volvo kept the lights on as much by the xc90 and xc70 as anything. look at audi and all road. that tanked and they even had to bring the requisite porker (Q7) over as well.

saab should take the srx and remake it in its image as the new 9-7. turbo v6, new body and interior.

saab needs an all new 9-3 and 9-5 now. and 9-1/2, 9-4, 9-7, aero.

Saab is the brand that slays me over at GM....

I've always thought they abandoned the hatch to quickly...and they should have echoed the Caddy strategy of pricing vehicles between other lux brands. A 3-series beating 9-3 at a 5-series size--with a sizeable discount built in. Same with the 9-5 having 7 series interior volume. FWD/AWD should have come to Saab concurrent with Volvo, at minimum.

The current line-up just makes me sad...but I promised I'd be more upbeat, so I'll end by repeating my huge soft spot for this brand.

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The current line-up just makes me sad...but I promised I'd be more upbeat, so I'll end by repeating my huge soft spot for this brand.

I have a huge soft spot for Saab as well. I like the refresehed 9-3 and I wish a 5-door 9-3 hatch had been part of the plan.

Edited by ZL-1
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Saab is the brand that slays me over at GM....

I've always thought they abandoned the hatch to quickly...and they should have echoed the Caddy strategy of pricing vehicles between other lux brands. A 3-series beating 9-3 at a 5-series size--with a sizeable discount built in. Same with the 9-5 having 7 series interior volume. FWD/AWD should have come to Saab concurrent with Volvo, at minimum.

The current line-up just makes me sad...but I promised I'd be more upbeat, so I'll end by repeating my huge soft spot for this brand.

Just look at Volvo's product lineup today compared to SAABs......it really goes to show how badly GM's influence has impacted the brand.

Volvo may not be the be-all, end-all......but look at the C30 (cute as a button), the C40/C50 and it's "floating console" dash and scandanavian interior design, which has now migrated to the S80 and the upcoming XC50, compare the XC70 to the (TrailBlazer) 9-7x......the new V70 wagon that's based off the S80......

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the lack of a competitive 9-5 is what has killed saab the most.

saab should take the srx and remake it in its image as the new 9-7. turbo v6, new body and interior.

saab needs an all new 9-3 and 9-5 now. and 9-1/2, 9-4, 9-7, aero.

Lack of a competitive 9-3 hasn't helped either.

The SRX chassis was considered for Saab years ago, but it was too expensive. They were going to do a Saab based on the Subaru B9 Tribeca, until the GM-Fuji/Subaru alliance fell apart.

Saab lost $428 million in 2006, where does the money for a new 9-3, 9-5, 9-4, etc come from? Every penny spend on Saab would be 5 times more beneficial if it was spend on Chevy or Cadillac.

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I wish GM didn't pair Saturn and Saab, it brings down the cache factor for Saab.

IIRC, Cadillac/Corvette/Hummer and Saab will be paired in the UK. I think it would be interesting to have those two different flavours paired, even if separate showrooms are a must (consolidation can be done in repair shops and dealer corporate functions while keeping separate showroom locations). On the other hand, I understand the rationale behind pairing Saturn/Saab in the US: it's the Euro-flavoured equivalent of BPG, with Saab being kind of a Euro Buick: the upscale brand below King Cadillac.

Edited by ZL-1
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SAAB hasn't been worth two pinches of owl $h! since they quit making the old 900 hatches. It is indeed now a money pit, with paltry worldwide sales. They sell fewer cars worldwide than Pontiac sells in the US, yet the birdbrains at GM entertain thoughts of killing Pontiac. Bass ackwards priorities, clearly. Dumbass GME mindset, no effing clue about the US market and what is important.
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