Bob Lutz’s most recent post on Fastlane touted GM’s reported quality improvements, but unfortunately from a Saab perspective, recent results in this area have been unacceptably low – or non-existant.
The survey that Bob is publicising, by Strategic Vision, did indeed praise GM’s improvements in quality and customer satisfaction and overall, that’s a good thing. But from my point of view, it’s got to be worrying when you’re left hoping that the quality improvements at Pontiac ‘trickle-up’ to the company’s stated premium global brand – Saab.
UPDATE: Bob has also addressed the good news for GM as a whole in the JD Power results, dealt with here below.
A look past Bob’s initial post, into the actual survey results themselves, exposes the reason why Saab couldn’t be included in Bob’s tome. Saabs were not made available for the study. Click on the link and go to the ‘near luxury’ part of the TQA winners section – you’ll find it. Unfortunately you’ll also find Saab 9-3 and 9-5 listed in the “unavailable” section.
Why would GM not want it’s premium brand included?
A quick trip over to JD Power will answer that question. JD power have just released their annual survey results and Saab rated a disappointing 136 problems per 100 vehicles sold. Incomparison, BMW rated just 95. The industry average was 118 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 119. A full list of winners and results is here (pdf)
I decided to do a comparison on the JD Power website between the Saab 9-3, the BMW 3-Series, the Audi A4 and a Mercedes C Class. So how did Saab go?
Well, almost as good as Mercedes, but way, way below BMW and Audi. See for yourself (click to enlarge).
There was a time not so long ago that I can recall Audi as a name not quite so synonymous with quality. The fact that they’re reaching these lofty heights in a realively short period should be an indicator to Bob that not only is the competition streaking ahead, but that catching them up again is achievable.
Saab was cash-strapped for a long time until the GM buyout. I’d venture a guess to say that tight budgeting based on sales performance would still have them well and truly under-resourced in comparison to the market leaders. If GM are really serious about Saab being the premier global brand, then this situation is going to have to change. You can’t keep locking up the Saab sheds (or gagging your Saab customers) every time the quality testers come around. What you’ve got to do is BUILD. BETTER. CARS.
I really do believe that GM sees a bright future for Saab. The proposed model lineup that I outlined just yesterday is a poignant indicator. If it’s going to be the case, though, they have to take on the competition and prove themselves better.
Isn’t what the customer will want?