Good Vibrations

Bob Lutz is taller than Anthony Lo.  That’s the main thing we learn in today’s Fastlane blog entry.  Okay, that’s a little unkind – GM’s apparently behind Saab 110% and the Aero-X has arrived to save the world too, but the photo of Bob and Anthony is the part that’s caught my eye.

Caption contest anyone?

"Hey everyone, come watch my new ventriloquist act!!"

or

"Bob, why is your hand on my…."

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On a more serious note, I want to congratulate and thank Anthony Lo and his team for the leading role they played in developing what is a fantastic and exciting Saab concept vehicle.  It’s just one man’s opinion, but I’ve got no hesitation in using the name Saab in relation to this vehicle, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay.

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In addition to the coverage of the debut yesterday, there’s more and more (and more) coverage floating around the media.  Every year there seems to be one car that captures the attention at any one of the main motor shows.  A few years ago Alfa Romeo did it with the Brera (which is just now being released in various markets after 3 further years of development).  With the possible exception of the Aston Martin Rapide, I think this is definitely Saab’s year at Geneva.

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There’s also more about GM’s newly-stated support for Saab:

"I’ve spoken at length with Jerry York," said Lutz, referring to the board member who is a key aide to the automaker’s third-largest shareholder, Kirk Kerkorian. "And he’s off this get-rid-of-Saab thing."

Commitment is everywhere:

Speaking at the International Motor Show in Geneva, Carl-Peter Forster said G-M has decided to keep Saab — and any questioning of its future in the company is over.

And expectations:

General Motors Corp. said Tuesday it expected an increase in its European market share this year and flagged plans to increase sales in higher-margin areas.

"We are certainly (looking) for share growth in Cadillac," the automaker’s Europe chief, Carl-Peter Forster told reporters at the Geneva auto show.

"Saab could grow or at least maintain its share…"

I would think that growth is definitely the target.

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Finally, being March 1st here in Oz that means that February sales data should be out soon.  January was a ballburster of a month, so it’s going to be interesting to see the trendline emerging.

Go Saab, Go!

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Carl-Peter Forster is also whispering things about the upcoming Saab crossover:

He said progress has been made on the planned Saab crossover vehicle, adding that it will share certain components with one other GM brand.

Forster wouldn’t say which brand was involved, but he did say there was a possibility the Saab crossover _ a mix of various model types _ could be built in North America. He said the design of the crossover was at an advanced stage and production could start by the end of the decade.

Mexico’s part of North America, right?

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12 Comments

  1. Could it be that finally scandinavian cool is cool again? Is Saab the new black?
    Aero X is only a start but it does seem to be resonating in a nice way.

    BTW – Does Bob Lutz own any ties that are not gold? Sorry bob – a cheap shot there. Appreciate all the work you seem to be doing.

    On the same note, good to see Anthony & JAJ not suiting up and actually dressing like their customers might. Small thing but it counts. Like the ice.

  2. “Hey everyone, come watch my new ventriloquist act!!”–I hope he’s not just a GM puppet like that line implies. He’s not Swedish, but seems to understand what Saab is about.

    “design of the crossover was at an advanced stage and production could start by the end of the decade”–Sheesh, I remember when Studebaker developed the Avanti in less than a year, and that car is still being manufactured, sort of. It’s got to be regulations and bureaucracy that holds things up.

    I got a kick out of the sliding drawer in back of the Aero-X. I was wishing for a flap door like the Sonett II had. This reminds me of that, but better.

  3. So who care’s that Bob Lutz is taller than Anthony Lo?

    So I’d rather be shorter and smart like Anthony Lo, than a WASPY tall man who is an idiot.

    It’s easy in society to be a “TALL WHITE MAN” and succeed.

    Ever hear of the old boys club, or republicans?

    Wake up and smell the coffee!

  4. Saaberiti – I think you missed the point of this post by about 2 miles or so. It was nothing to do with the relative height of either man, nor the Stupid White Men theory.

    This site is apolotical (as it should be) and doesn’t discriminate against anyone (as long as they drive a Saab – heh heh).

    That part of the post was (a) an opportunistic method of linking to Fastlane, and (b) a way of commenting on the lack of groundbreaking content with regard to the Aero-X on GM’s premier weblog, and (c) a good way to start a caption contest if people are interested.

    So please, take your personal soapbox elsewhere and have a think about what you’re reading before you get all hyped up.

    Other than that: welcome to Trollhattan.

  5. This shot of the Aero X is by far the best and it looks awesome. Interestingly one of the related links supports some of my previous arguments on how Volvo is traveling much better under Ford than Saab under GM. I hope Luz & Co learn from these facts (ie Volvo sold 440,000 units and Saab 130,000 in the same period) and accept this as is, ie it can be done and there is no reason why Saab under GM can be the most profitable unit in the luxury bracket as Volvo’s performance and standing under Ford suggest. GM has a lot to learn and deliver on this true fact. I just can’t get over the fact that Volvo has done so much better since 1999 when it was fully acquired by Ford and Saab is selling just ¼ of their volume in almost the same time since its full acquisition. GM this is an embarrassment !!! Instead of talking all these years about how bad Saab is do something useful and fix it.

  6. North America is Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat), Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America

    It is not whipsering anynmore, SAAB will get a crossover

    http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060301/FREE/60301003/1003/newsletter06&refsect=newsletter06

  7. Well, before I could even warn you folks that the comments from GM’s liar savant, Bob Lutz, regarding Jerry York’s “new” position on SAAB was just, well … crap … comes this CBS News clarification regarding where Jerry York really stands regarding SAAB.

    “GENEVA (MarketWatch) — General Motors Corp. (GM) board member Jerome B. York is still considering the future of the unprofitable Saab premium-car brand within GM, said Bob Lutz, GM’s vice president of global product development.
    Lutz was reported Monday as saying York had been convinced of the Saab model but told reporters at the Geneva Motor Show Wednesday that York had since clarified his position as being open to a possible sale of Saab.”

    I anticipated the above even before a previous news item revealed a York spokesman had refused to confirm Lutz’s comments. How was I so sure? As I’ve previously said, GM for many years has been running and trying to sell SAAB’s purely through PR — public relations. I’ll counsel you SAAB friends again and again, until one-half of one percent learn it: don’t so readily believe anything you hear from these corporate types, ESPECIALLY when the corporation is in the direst of financial troubles.

    And while I’m quoting news reports, hey JOE LOBO, I rather invariably agree with your SAAB-GM observations, but keep in mind as the quotes below show, people in the USA, and in continental Europe, have a very negative reaction to GM’s ownerhsip of SAAB that is very damaging to sales. Among those with authority who’ve told me of the negative impact from GM ownership are SAAB dealerships sales people weary of hearing traditional SAAB owners’ unhappiness regarding the GM element, which also turns off potential conquest sales. The negative image played the major role in why the original GM V-6 put in the 9000 failed, and why (sorry, OZ) the new one in the 9-3 will also fail to improve sales. (Trust me on this, SAAB friends; I’ve been watching, studying, and making inquiries of learned individuals about SAAB sales for 16 years.) I’ll allow this paragraph from an excellent February 6 Forbes magazine article say the rest:

    “The gist of GM’s sales problem is summed up by Don Freda, a suburban New Yorker who has run an independent auto-repair shop for 52 years. What, he is asked, do you think about the quality of GM’s cars these days? ‘They’re very good,’ he answers. ‘They don’t break like they used to.’ Then, immediately, ‘But nobody will buy them.'”

  8. Bill, I hate Saab’s ownership by GM as much as everyone else around the world. Don’t doubt that by the second. The same that your report suggests has happened here in OZ within the dealership network and overall negative reaction from the public. But regardless of this, the news of what has happen with Volvo under Ford is a huge insult to the injury we are carrying through GM. As much as we hope and we do wish that Saab is offloaded but, if it gets in to the hands of the likes of Hyundai or so, we will be all longing for GM. In my opinion the best would be Renault which makes sense, but Porsche is best but I don’t think it will happen. You are one of the most feverish and loyal Saab I’ve come across outside of OZ. I hope we can meet one day and continue our dialogue.

  9. Likewise, Joe. I guess my SAAB feverishness comes from my driving style, which a rather surprised Brit described when I was 21 as being European in style, not typically American. Most Americans could care less how a car handles, while I share SWade’s love of SAABs and Alfas, plus Lancia. All they want is nice looks and, in some cases, speed as they perceive it. Hence, the weak sales of a car like SAAB. Americans will buy a BMW or Porsche instead, just for the name cache, then drive it like it were a base Hyundai.
    Thanks for the information regarding OZ public reaction to GM’s SAAB ownership. I didn’t know about that. I do somewhat puzzle over why Volvo shows no noticeable negative impact from its own ownership by a lesser car company. I can only assume Ford has a little more respect from people than oversized GM, and that Volvo is further helped by the fact it has operated fairly independently and been left largely intact as a car company, while SAAB recently was torn asunder, its technical team moved to Opel in Germany and its once legendary Swedish manufacturing now scattered outside that country. I fret there may not be enough left of SAAB to sell, unless only the technical people are sold, not the name. I was told last year by an American with links to SAAB in Sweden/Germany that GM wanted to sell the pieces, but not the SAAB name. My take on that was SAABs would become re-badged Opels and Caddy’s. To that end, Lutz’s comments about SAAB no longer being a saleable entity made me shudder, even though I see him having little-to-zero credibility.
    Finally, I want to apologize if I insulted anyone with my comment about “one-half of one percent” learning not to believe the distrustful corporate types such as Lutz. I was pointing out — unnecessarily caustically — that by far most people, be they folks on any street or readers of this blog — are trusting types who want to believe what they are told, especially when it is good news to them. These are who I call the “nice people,” and for better or worse I stopped sharing their gracious trust long ago while working inside and outside the USA as an investigative reporter. Worse, as The Washington Post reported a year or so ago, lying has become quite a part of the culture here in the USA. With the dire consequences facing GM, these folks seem downright apoplectic.

  10. Bill, we certainly see eye to eye in our views. I am amazed at your devotion especially when you are living in the US. Maybe we have the same star sign or we were born on the same day or maybe because we both own a 9-5 Aero (01 and 02 models). But I do enjoy you feedback and overall comments. Thanks for reading all of mine. No one else out there engages so intensely in most topics like you. If I am ever in your neck of the woods I’ll call in !!!

  11. By all means, Joe, do call in. A rather seasoned world traveler, I’ve long hoped to get to OZ, particularly since watching your summer Olympics sometime back, but the terribly long flight keeps me delaying the visit.
    BTW, note the article link below, which I’ve also Emailed to Swade. An analyst is quoted as saying SAABs are not respected among European buyers, while others believe GM lacks the money and resources to give SAAB the major overhaul it needs.

    http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/mar2006/bw20060302_024903.htm?chan=autos_autos+index+page_autos+lede

  12. And BTW, again, Joe, I was born April 27, 1954 under the Taurus constellation for which the long popular Ford model in the U.S. was named. Perhaps that somehow explains my ages old preference for Ford over GM. I have said, adamantly, and mean it, that I will NEVER own a SAAB with a GM engine. My irascibility would have been somewhat less intense with Ford. Ironically, I was ordering a deeply discounted SAAB 900 Turbo through diplomat sales (journalist connections) one morning in 1989 and as I walked into the U.S. dealership my saleslady exclaimed excitedly with a VERY wide smile, “The Ford deal FELL THROUGH!” We were referring to Ford’s offer to buy 51 percent of SAAB from Investor AB, and were so happy that appropriately clear and bright morning we nearly hugged. A short time later I opened the Saturday Washington Post business pages to learn Investor had spurned an angry Fiat to let GM own half of SAAB. Horrified doesn’t begin to describe my thoughts, and Ford ownership in hindsight suddenly became much less undesirable. You’d think I would have learned from that, however strong my hatred of GM, to remember the old saying: Be careful what you wish for.

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