US sales data – February 2006

There’s good news for sales in the US once again.  There’s also some slightly worrying news if you look closer, but mostly it’s good stuff.

Saab sold 2,787 vehicles in the US during February – a rise of 9.51% over February 2005.  There’s little other than good news in that figure.  That means Saab are up 19% for Jan-Feb over the same months in 2005.  Little other than good news there, too.

As always though, the devil’s in the details:

Saab 9-2x: 61 units sold (161 in 2005)

Saab 9-3: 1,969 units sold (1,933 in 2005)

Saab 9-5: 325 units sold (451 in 2005)

Slumping 9-5 sales continue.  I suspect that that’s partially due to stocks only just arriving now of the new 2006 model.  The launch for 2006 was only a few weeks ago.  The 9-5 ad campaign has just begun in earnest, so here’s hoping things pick up from there.

Having already dug and descended already, the 9-2x continues to backfill it’s own grave.

The worrying number for me is the number of 9-3 sales.  I know it’s marginally up from the previous February, but with the 9-3 SportCombi in full flow now, I’d expected a more noticable rise reflecting some conquest sales from other brands and particularly small SUV defectors.

You’ve noticed that I left one model out of the data above?  The shining light in the sales data for February appears to be the 9-7x.

Saab 9-7x: 432 units sold (0 in 2005)

In the six months the 9-7x has been on sale, this month is second only to December 2005 (466 units), which was assisted by some end-of-year campaigning.  The 9-7x seems to be finding its market and the recent spate of 9-7x road tests, all of which were very positive reviews, should hopefully see the trendline continue.

Congratulations again, SaabUSA.  Just need to fire up that 9-5 campaign and get the 9-3 models singing.

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  1. As suspected the 9-3 is the bread & butter line carrying the ball for Saab Global and in North America. But the 9-7X prolly obviously has a superior profit margin. The 9-2X is all but invisible in the scheme of things. And as good of a Subaru, oops I mean Saab, that it is, I can’t help but wish an early demise for it so the typical Saab showroom is somewhat “more Saab” (let’s not start a debate on this folks). It’ll be interesting to see how the 9-5SS and SC sales change over the next six months.

    BTW: I saw my first ’06 9-5SS in the wild last Monday. Front looks great. But the rear end …. ughhh I couldn’t stand it. I hope the SC looks better in person.

  2. The good figures of the 9-7x are again proof of the results of what a good ad campaign and favorable reports can do to sales. And this is in spite of of world wide falling sales of SVUs. Hasn’t GM got that fact as yet ???

  3. 9-5 sales down, I am shocked – actually I am not one bit surprised! 😉 Stop kidding yourself that its because there is a shortage of cars guys, just look at the thing!

  4. Here in Washington DC area, Zippy, I can confirm we have, and have had for quite some time, plenty of choice of the 2006 9-5 models available; choice of many colors, either transmission, and all accessories. As an owner of a 2002 9-5 Aero, I’m not quite as appalled by the new look as you (plus I value most what’s under the “skin”), but … it’s an old car as far as the buying public is concerned. Also, while I understand GM’s desire to lower the 9-5’s price, cheapening the interior in my opinion was an error. If and when I buy an ’06 or beyond model, I’ll be looking to replace the new dash with the old one; honest, I hate it that much! I know of no quantifiable reading of how the public’s reacted to the exterior design. Yes, as I’ve gone on record, the 9-5 in Aero guise beats or matches up to the most serious of performance machines on any road, yet fickle Americans simply see an old design, even with the “freshened” face. Compare that attitude to the British, who are still buying the thing because those wonderful blokes appreciate a good drive. Hence, GM is “spinning” a slight increase in SAAB 2005 European sales as good news, when in fact Britain carried the load.
    BTW, I neither share nor understand SWade’s seeming excitement over 9-7 sales. Volvo’s XC90 was down slightly in February from a year earlier, yet had sales of 2,519. Sure, the XC90 is car-based and therefore generally more attractive, but its sales number is nearly six times — I repeat, nearly SIX TIMES — as many sales as the SAAB rival!
    Well, here’s some “better” news: BMW’s X5 sold “only” 5.28 times as many units as the 9-7 — 2,283, a slight decrease.

  5. Bill, the problem Saab has in the 06 9-5 is I wouldnt want to be seen dead in the thing not matter how good a drive it was. No wonder there are lots to chhose from in DC! Your so called “fickle” American sees the car for what it is, butt ugly and sales will continue to slump and therein lies the big problem. Even if Saab comes up with a cracking car in 2008 will anyone be remotely interested.

    Saabs future is in that BioPower technology and is somethig that they need to pursue – BIG TIME!!

  6. Zippy – I get it. You don’t like the 9-5. There’s quite possibly a number of people out there that agree with you. It’s also highly likely that there’s a number that don’t.

    I don’t.

    My take on the 9-5 stock situation was obviously incorrect. An assumption that made an ass out of me.

    Bill – I think the 9-7x’s sales are encouraging. They’re growing amidst an environment when SUV sales are down, Saab is frequently mocked by the motoring press and the public at large in the US has little real knowledge of Saab anyway.

    No, they haven’t sold as many as Volvo, but neither have any of Saab’s other comparable models (off the top of my head). The point is, for a vehicle that’s had to fight it’s way towards acceptance, it seems to be finding it’s market at an encouraging pace.

    Volvo in general have been marketed more aggressively and have a higher visibility and acceptance so I’m not surprised by higher sales at this point. What I’m hoping for is a continued growth in sales for this model. I see it as a pretty important bridge between ‘now’ and ‘then’ – when Saab will have this SUV of their own that they’re all talking about (yet saying nothing).

    And Zippy, if all US consumers are as fickle as you presume, then the 9-5 is truly in serious trouble for a long time to come as I can well assume (at considerable risk of “assing” myself again) that the driving experience, if anything like mine, is much better than what people think.

    And yes – I get it – you hate the new 9-5 (just thought I’d better reinforce that one).

  7. i have to say, the new 9-5 looks butt ugly… i like striking designs that challenge the beholder, but… geez! interior too has lost something in the mix, i’d agree.

    the 9-5 used to be the last bastion of a Saab-before-GM-looking Saab. it is a pity they couldn’t do GM900 to 9-3 trick and completely redo the nuts and bolts underneath while leaving the skin alone.

    oh well… perhaps we’ll be able to pick up 2000-2005 models even cheaper now?

  8. I don’t see you made an “ass” of yourself with that assumption, Swade, in that I’m only citing the 9-5 situation in the Washington DC area, where many people are in a position to purchase a US$40,000 plus automobile. I don’t know the stock situation elsewhere, without comments from others. However, I do believe that cheapened dash, together with the 9-5’s age, means big sales trouble. People who shop around — Audi, BMW, Volvo, Lexus, etc. — say the “aging” 9-5 lacks certain modern touches. As one who focuses on the driving experience, short of the lack of side air curtains I’m oblivious to what is so lacking. But, obviously, it’s an issue with many — whatever “it” is. The “all new” 9-5 is out — as the Alfa 159. GM should never have nixed that joint development! As the 9000 and Sonetts before it so proved, the Swedes and Italians make beautiful car music together. When the 9000 premiered, it was a big hit in the USA. Unfortunately, exchange rate issues soon increased the car’s price, and that along with an economic downturn nipped sales and volume never recovered. Thanks to GM, we’ll never hear the latest Swedish-Italian tune.

  9. Should also note that, from the Washington DC market, the 9-3 Sport Combi is not exactly “jumping” out of the lots. In fact, units sit for many weeks, with vehicles including V-6 ones that arrived in January still unsold. While it’s only one market, the general stagnation in overall 9-3 sales suggests the issue might be USA-wide. The motoring press here does invariably say “Americans hate wagons,” and I’ve never seen anything to dispute that, 9-3 and 9-5 SCs included.

  10. Bill weather we like it or not but the sales volume of the 9-7x despite our dislikes (me included) supports very much Swade’s excitement. A reality check is necessary every now and then. The continuous appetite by consumers of SUVs has sent many car vendors on a spin in search of producing vehicles that the public really wants. We (the true real Saabaties) do have a huge problem since Saab was caught with no options for the dumb general consumers whereas BMW, Merc and certainly Vovlo had a lot more appeal to the demands and trend from ordinary consumers. I had a very good ‘real market lesson’ by one of the leading Saab dealers a few years back when I literally stormed in through their show rooms in disgust and throwing my hands up in the air when told that the 9-3 hatch back was no longer going to be produced and the 9-3 SS was the only option. To my surprise the Saab expert I knew showed me the figures of what the consumer trends were and I was simply floored when I saw the declining demand for hatch back vehicles. Unfortunately Bill we are all caught in this silly consumer driven trends when vehicle producers bring out what the public wants. If anyone out there believes the interior of the new 9-5 is ugly, cheap, nasty etc etc go and have a look at the current 911 interior and compare. I have no doubt the Porsche dye hards are also spewing in disgust. Back to your other valuable observations, you have highlighted what I have been stating for the last 5 weeks. Why are the Britts doing so well and literally carrying the bulk of the sales in Europe ??? Is it because they drive on the right as we do in OZ ??? Or maybe because they invented the English language ??? Simple, good advertising campaigns, positive press releases and a positive branding and image. That is what Ford has done with Volvo far much better and Volvo as a car vendor has been able to deliver what consumers want: it’s own SUV for the last 3-4 years. Let’s be real and accept that fact: BMW & Merc have also maintained their market share world wide because of being able to offer SUV options. Not entirely because of their own passenger vehicles which many of them are dam ugly, out of date, boxy and boring. Much more than our beloved 9-5. Anyone that sees the 9-5 as ugly needs new glasses and re-evaluation of Saab altogether. I will question their devotion to the brand. The 9-5 will be a classic.

  11. Guys, I really think that the problem with the low sales of 9-5 is the advertising.
    Here in Bulgaria (although of course it is such a small market for GM) we generally think that 9-5 is the last true Saab. Why? Because I have heard that many of the parts of 9-3 are interchangeable with parts of other brands of GM (most notably Opel). Hell even the same V6 2.8 is also put into Opel Vectra (only that it has 230hp instead of 250). I know that the V6 is developed by Holden and most probably it is great, however I am really worried that the engine management system is not Trionic but Bosch.
    Now with the Saab 9-5 only about 10% of its parts are interchangeable with the parts of other brands.
    You will remeber that in the 80-s and early 90-s Saab was predominantly advertised as:
    1. Performing incredibly (not 0-100km/h, but overtaking) – there are still some videos at google showing that various people were assembled in 1990 to testdrive the 9000 with 2.3 engine at Talladega – i.e. real people from real life. In that respect why not make the Aero Academy for everyone.
    2. The most intelligent cars ever built – This slogan is just perfect and trully fits Saab.
    3. In general – that Saab is unique.
    I am not mentioning “one of the safest cars in the world” because (thank you Saab engineers) this is implied always. One of the greatest ads was “To crush with a Volvo is extremely safe. If you’re sitting in a Saab” (
    So basically IMHO GM should stress on the uniqueness and give as much people as possible the chance to drive the car.

  12. This is the one “To crash with a Volvo is extremely safe. If you’re sitting in a Saab”
    Even in Bulgaria (smaller market than OZ) the real pepople identify the opportunity you are missing. This is a great advice Georgi and you are dam right: the advertising !!! But which advertising since there is none.

  13. Promblems with the 9-5: Too long in the tooth, 4 cyl only (no comments about how it’s better than any 6, we’re all 4 cyl guys here but the market in US wants a 6, and that’s a reality our love of the 2.3 will never change) and the refreshening of the looks seems half hearted at best.

    I would be shocked to see any considerable inprovement in the 9-5’s sales numbers.

  14. Excellent and useful observations, Joe and Georgi. While I still may have my opinions about driving tastes in various markets influencing sales to some degree, you’ve reminded me of the great old advertising I used to see. I wonder if GM and its advertisers — independent or in-house — have done a real SAAB clinic to get the kind of input the two of you just provided “off the ‘cuff.” I seriously doubt they even read Swade’s TS, I honestly do. All they can seem to come up with are “airplane, airplane, airplane” themes. Hey, the “Born from Jets” ads are pretty, but each ad opens a door GM doesn’t want to enter: SAAB aircraft and car have been separate for 16 years. Gone are the materials and design that division gave the cars, from the space age material on the bumpers to the interior ergonomics to the dash panel design and colors of the instruments. For example, the green and orange colors on the instruments were from the aircraft division, which researched the most comfortable yet effective color for the eye to see in a “flash.” GM’s morons, while boasting of aircraft heritage, have gotten the instrument colors all wrong with the current 9-3s and 9-5s, although they appear to have somewhat corrected it in the Aero X.
    Two final thoughts:
    1. When inquiring why Volvo — let alone BMW, Merc, and even Audi — so strongly and consistently outsell SAAB, I’ve long heard the term “SAAB turbo” scares many people off, as they equate it with engine problems. This certainly seems to be the case with non-SAAB types in the used car market, so I assume there’s some of it in the new car market as well.
    2. I understand where Joe and Swade are going with the 9-7 sales being encouraging. With all due respect, I remain unimpressed. Time will tell who’s correct, so no need to belabor the points further. While unscientific, I’ve been struck by how many of the buyers here are former GMC Envoy and Chevrolet Trailblazer owners who’ve seen a great chance to upgrade to a “SAAB” due to great lease deals and steep discounting. Now, I’ve only met two such people, as with barely 400 a year sold I’ve only seen two 9-7s on the road in all these months it’s been out. However, I’ve had people involved in SAAB sales and service say my impression is 100 percent to strongly accurate. The same thing happened with a friend who owns a Subaru Forester. “Wow – wow – WOW,” he said as he admired my black and shiny 9-5 Aero and its gray interior for the first time (I remind, it’s a 2002, to protect ZIPPY and Ben from heart attack or stroke). “You know, I’m going to go up to the SAAB dealer and see if I can get the SAAB version of the (B9) Tribeca for around the same price. I mean, if I can get a SAAB for around the price of a Suburu … .” You all know the rest –SAAB’s B9 spin-off never came to be.
    I hear you, yes, these are SAAB conquest sales for a change. However, when vehicles like the 9-7 — and, yes, the 9-3 SC — are being discounted right from launch, it is always a bad sign. There is a short window of opportunity in making a car model a hit, and that’s right at launch, which is now well past for all current SAABs. The only exception I recall on the “hit” rule is post 1978 SAAB 900s, which took off when Yuppies went wild in America (sounds like a good horror movie) 1985-1989. Gas mileage and the turbo also worked in that model’s favor. So ZIPPY is definitely on to something – hang SAAB’s downsized hat on ethanol engines! Quick, to the SwadeMobile!!!!

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