The US sales data is in and there’s good news and bad news. Well, it’s probably more like bad news and a little bit of interprative spin that can make it into neutral news. Bear with me….
The raw numbers would seem to indicate that the bubble, small as it was, has burst in the United States. Saab sold 3,030 vehicles in May, a drop of 21% on the 3,836 vehicles sold in May 2005.
The individual model numbers tell the story:
9-2x: 104 units sold (1,042 in 2005) -90.4%
9-3: 1,986 units sold (2,245 in 2005) -15.1%
9-5: 385 units sold (582 in 2005) -26.4%
9-7x: 555 units sold (47 in 2005) +1081% (meaningless figure though)
The bad news
1. Sales of the 9-3 aren’t building at all and it’s hard to see where any momentum is going to come from. The V6 has been around for long enough new to be making an impact, as has the SportCombi. The 9-3 should be gaining on numbers from last year, not losing. From January to May 2006, the 9-3 has had year-on-year movements as follows:
Jan —- +26.09%
Feb —- +1.83%
Mar —- -0.13%
Apr —- -2.15%
May —- -13.04%
Do I need to draw you a graph?
2. Sales of the 9-5 remain at a steady 30% (aaprox) below last year’s sales. The new model is clearly not having an impact in the US market.
3. Whilst the 9-3 and 9-5 news above is less than positive, there’s only one thing that can help the 9-2x – a trebuchet.
The positively spun good news:
1. The 9-7x continues to gain a wider audience. It’s sales have risen every month so far this year. No spin here, it’s all good and a credit to the engineers that tweaked this truck just right.
2. Given that it’s basically dead in the water, the numbers don’t look quite so bad if you take the 9-2x out of the equation. If you take away the 9-2x from both this years and last years numbers, then Saab sold 2,926 vehicles this year as opposed to 2,794 in 2005. An increase of 4.72%.
How could I justify doing this?
Well, the 9-2x, if you remember, got a huge price reduction around this time last year, even before the employee pricing scheme took hold. Hence the huge numbers for May 2005. They sold 1,042 9-2x’s in May 2005 compared to just 388 the month before. 9-2x sales continued to be huge for another 2 months until stock went dry and the employee pricing thing wore off.
Bottom line – Jay and his buddies at Saab USA need to pull a rabbit out of the hat. There’s still 7 months of the year to go, but sans another employee pricing scheme in the US summer it’s fair to say that the current trendline isn’t looking the best.