A whole bunch of bad

Sales figures are in and if you live in Detroit and notice a whole bunch of chairs going unused for the next few days, well relax. It’s just that your automotive execs have just had their asses chewed out all through September.

Yes folks, sales numbers for September are in. The worm has turned. The sun has gone down. Whatever you were fearing has come to life and the elephant in the corner of the room is fighting it for full custody of the big screen inside your head.

GM has officially bitten itself on the bum. All that remains is to see whether or not it’s actually noticed. Saturn and Hummer were the only GM brands to record a rise in September. All the others, led by Saab, took a freefall into red territory after the carrot that was the Employee Discount Scheme became the two-headed stick of low inventory and sales-brought-forward.

Here are the numbers from Saab’s perspective for US auto sales in September.

9-2x – 96 vehicles sold, compares with 316 in Sep 2004.
9-3 – 1145 vehicles sold, compares with 1933 in Sep 2004.
9-5 – 610 vehicles sold, compares with 853 in Sep 2004.
9-7x – 132 vehicles sold.

OK dealers – what’s the story? Is everyone waiting for the SportCombi? Is it low stocks? Or did GM squeeze out your last quarter business during the summer? Fill us in please.

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In somehow-related news, Saab are looking to bolster sales with a concerted ad campaign……..on airline tray tables.

May I be among the first to say that this is not the type of innovation I’m looking for from Saab.

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10 Comments

  1. Doh !

    Could be worse. Much worse. In many pubs and restaurants in Vancouver you can find wall-mounted ads located above your ……. urinal.

    How’s that for targeted marketing huh ?

  2. The September numbers are indeed miserable. On the bright side, YTD sales are still up 11.2% over 2004 (the second largest increase of any GM division behind Hummer’s 82.5% increase). Let’s hope the remainder of the year doesn’t continue to suffer from the Employee Pricing hangover…

    On a tangential note, I found a link (on another blog, on a completely different topic) that struck me as relevant to Saab’s situation. A couple of snippets:

    ===
    You can’t imitate your way to excellence. It can be achieved only by breaking away from the pack, abandoning the status quo. But breaking away from the pack is also the way to spectacular failure.
    ===
    Most people, when they finally become successful, become conservative. Fearful of losing what they’ve gained, they abandon the behaviors that brought them success.
    ===

    AlanH

  3. Did it strike anyone else as ironic that seemingly-borderline bankrupt GM is advertising on recently bankrupt U.S. Airways? At least this is a way for SAAB to get back into the airline industry…

  4. I know nothing. I know less about US aviation companies than I do about women. And all men know that in real terms, we know nothing about THAT subject.

  5. I see nothing wrong with this advertising strategy. US Airways is about to come out of bankruptcy. Plus, they are merging with America West, giving them a larger territory. Saab is clearly targeting business people. Makes sense since Saab are moderately priced.

  6. I guess the issue for me, Dan, is that I’d love to see something big to make peole sit up and take notice. Either an absolute ball-breaker of a car or ad campaign or something. I know this is a legitimate small step – heck, we may eventually laud it as a key to exposing the brand to an underexposed market – but this is the internet and dammit, I’m impatient, and small steps ain’t doing it for me today. It’s OK, I’ll go and put on a bigger nicotine patch….

  7. Swade-perhaps some model/engine breakdown between pathetic US and sensational UK sales for the “numbers” guys would move their mercenary little hearts as it appears that UK is close to beating US #s without “benefit” of 9.2s,7s, or employee pricing.dzlsabe

  8. Saabken, you’re right that U.S. Airlines merged with America West. U.S. Airlines went into bankruptcy and America West “merged” with them (I think it was more of a buyout). The “merged” company will carry the name “U.S. Airlines” rather than that of America West because AW decided that the name of U.S. Airlines better describes the company’s routes as America West would lead some to believe their routes exist only in the Western U.S.

    I think that the SAAB adverising deal on airlines is a good idea. Like someone mentioned before, it’s not a BIG deal, but a good small one, IMHO.

  9. Even during the employee discount program, a friend of mine was looking for a 9-2x and at least here in the NY metro area, they were sold out a long time ago.

    I went in for my annual inspection on Monday and talked with my Saab salesperson (who sold me my 9-2x). It is a very small dealership. He said there had been no inventory for a while. It looked like all they had was a couple 9-5s and many 9-3 convertibles. He said, for example, that his dealership had been allotted four 9-7x’s for sale, and he had sold eight. The problem was that he’d get people calling him with very specific requests on color, features, etc., and he would be unable to get them.

    I would imagine the low sales numbers have a LOT to do with inventory issues.

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