Good snippety stuff – UK sales

Saab is GM’s global premium brand.  This hasn’t been said for a little while now, so I thought I’d better remind us, and them.  I’ll say it again: Saab is GM’s global premium brand.

There’s been some talk about positioning Cadillac for greater global expansion.  But the problem is that most people don’t want to buy Cadillacs.  For whatever reason (and I’ll leave it up to you to figure them out), a lot of people see them as an affront rather than an aspiration.  On a practical level, where’s the future going to be?  With powerful, smaller engined vehicles?  Or huge guzzlers?

Saab should be better positioned to take on it’s European rivals.  Perhaps not in all classes, but in the ones that matter.  Here’s hoping that Jay thinks so too.  From Automotive News:

Spenchian says future Saab vehicles will have more aggressive design and performance to correspond with the brand’s marketing pitch and heritage, ‘Born From Jets’.

He says he will demand more refinement (in) future products.  "I’ll be honest with you, the 9-5 is not where it needs to be long term."

A startling admission so early in the facelift, if you ask me.

The 9-5 is a bridge product that will be successful for Saab over the next three to four years, he says.  But Saab wants to move to the prestige luxury segment.

If you look at the competitors that are in there, they’re stellar and I think we need to take it up a notch with the next generation, and we intend to do that"

Music to my ears.

For other Trollhattan thoughts on a similar subject, read Saab’s place in the World (Feb 2005) and There but for the goofiness of ??? goes Saab (Aug 2005).

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GM Europe has seen some significant growth and views a return to profitability as a near-term reality.  Saab, too.  Carl-Peter Forster is looking for 10,000 – 15,000 units growth from the little Swede in 2006.

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UK Sales – have been released for a few days.  My apologies for not getting around to them sooner.  Saab grew is sales numbers in 2005 by some 35% over 2004 in the UK.  The final number of Saabs sold there was 27,465 for the year, with 1,791 of these sales coming in December 2005.

From the press release:

Whilst the overall UK new car market limped through 2005, seeing total registrations decline by over 6 per cent compared to the previous year, with a 3 per cent drop in the premium segment, Saab continued to make enormous strides, enjoying a year-on-year sales growth of over 35 per cent. In volume terms, this equated to a total of 27,465 new Saabs sold in 2005, compared to 20,292 in 2004, taking its slice of the UK new car market to a record 1.14 per cent. This achievement becomes even more impressive, considering that that 2004 was itself a record year for Saab, with sales growing by 39 per cent compared to 2003.

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5 Comments

  1. When they say agressive styling I sure hope they are not going to put the new 9-5 face on future models coz I still think the ‘new 9-5’ has been to a low-budget plastic surgeon as it looks cheap and not at all like a Saab. Saab cars should have a three-hole grille not a Toyota grille.

  2. To say that the 9-5 is not refined compared to its competitors says more about how brutally competitive this segment of the market is, than anything else. It’s a great car. It’s just that you can’t make a four cylinder engine as smooth as a six.

    This is not to justify letting the basic 9-5 architecture languish for a decade in the market, while everyone else has been through one, or even two, new product cycles.

    But the 9-5 is a better car than you would think given all the grief it gets in the press.

  3. Well done to everyone at Saab UK. Those are impressive numbers for any business.

    Greg – was just thinking this morning that 2007-8 will make the 95 ten years old. Not even BMW or Porsche wait that long. Maybe Morgan are in that ballpark. Isn’t 7 years kind of a rough benchmark for europeans? Still, it means its a bloody refined ride by now.
    Can’t help but think that some high-tech V8s ( BMW, MB, Porsche) would go down well one day. Seems that they are on the money with the new V6; how about a saab-tuned & turbo-ed LS2? Not at the expense of the 2.3HOT – as well as. Its called having a range.

    Anyway, glad to hear that Jay is at least interested and has some ideas.

  4. Greg, I tend to think that Jay’s basically saying here that they did what thy could with the 9-5, within the limitations they had, but that all in all it hasn’t progressed like it’s initial competitors have. I havea feeling that if you sat down with him for a beer and a chat, he’d probably tell you why – the budgetary stranglehold that GM put on Saab earlier this decade.

    I think the 9-5 should, and will, get a V6 in the next model development.

    I’ll have more on this in the coming days. Just thoughts, that’s all.

  5. It opens again the dilemma of why sales in the UK in particular are doing so well (in the US too) and in OZ things are not particularly buoyant. I feel that some of the marketing activities and good press that the UK gives Saab are no doubt good contributors to the final sales of the products. We do not have this in our local scene. I have read very good editorials in leading UK magazines about our 9-3 & 9-5 and when I searched in the local magazines they were either deserted or full of negative editorial on both 9-3s and 9-5s. The contrary is happening with most of the automotive press that seems to have a passion to hammer Saab no matter how good or bad some of the enhancements are. I can see this coming with the new 9-5 that from what I am reading here in will have another series of refinements and will offer better driving/performance than its predecessor. But surely, the focus will be on the negatives by the press. How could we all change that ??? Could we influence the local car press in some ways ??? I know that Saab is not to keen in lending their cars for testing for editorials where as BMW, Audi, Porsche and the list goes on are only too keen to do so. Could this be one of the main reasons why the brand misrepresented so badly ??? Look forward to all your comments.

    Joe Lobo

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