Friday Snippets

The other day I mentioned that Autoblog Green was doing an overview piece on “green” fuels. At that time they covered E85 (and the Saab Biopower, specifically) as well as Compressed Natural Gas.

Today they take on Biodiesel, Straight Vegetable Oil and Electricity.

They rate electricity as their #1 choice, which should be no surprise as it’s a car blog with an environmental perspective.

Me? I’d probably go for E85, though not for the promote-Saab reasons you’re thinking.

I love driving, I’m less of an environmentalist than most ABG readers and I’m fortunate enough to not have to worry too much about the fuel economy of a thirsty Saab (a thirsty V8 SUV would be another matter all together). I love acceleration and I love the sound of a car. The feel. They may build an electric car one day with heaps of torque and a decent range, but what are they going to do to recreate the sound and feel that a passionate motorist is used to?

For me then, it’s about performance. Out of these “green” fuels, E85 gives the best performance because of the high octane rating and Saab’s turbocharging and engine tuning.

Call me selfish.

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ConsumerAffairs.com deals with, surprise surprise, consumer affairs.

It’s not a website I’m familiar with and I’m not sure of it’s reputation. But I don’t like what I see so far.

This story is a narration of complaints they’ve received from Saab owners. The story weaves it’s way around seven different people and their complaints about their cars and the service they say they’ve received from their local dealers. They have another section that reproduces those seven letters as well as seven others: click here.

We all know that Saab have had some quality problems and haven’t rated well in recent surveys (mostly pointed at MY2003 vehicles). I don’t want to minimise that issue as it’s an ongoing issue that they genuinely need to address in order to be competitive.

What concerns me though, is that this may be considered a reputable consumer website and actually influence people’s purchasing decisions.

1) They must have been bored at the office. They’ve based this entire damning tome about Saab’s quality on fourteen complaint letters they received over a period of six years!!!!

2) Two of these fourteen letters give very strong indications of driver error and in another a woman is complaining that she paid for a $700 repair that started as a $150 repair but got more expensive as more potential problems were found. The increased cost, from her own writing, seemed to be an exercise in preventative maintenance.

3) There’s no attempt from Consumer Affairs dot com to seek an answer from Saab

4) There’s no indication of these complainants service records

Like I said, I don’t want to minimise the need for better quality control at Saab. A good dose of customer service wouldn’t go astray either.

But this is shoddy journalism at it’s finest. I hope this isn’t a widely read site.

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7 Comments

  1. Ahh yes… the Viggen….. love to have one of those…. but wait, I Do! I’ll put $$$ on the comfort of the Viggen seats over the Germans.

  2. Absofreakinglutely Richo. I’m sure they’ve improved it, but an S4 I drove (for the video we did) was a very disconnected experience in terms of driver feel.

    Give me the Vign and the blue-black interior any day.

    btw – Airfares are booked, confirmed today. Just waiting on creds.

  3. I’m surprised – especially with this Born from Jets campaign- – that Saab hasn’t produced a Viggen version of its (relatively) new convertible. Such a move would make buyers look away from the Volvo C70’s cool new roof.

  4. Swade, unfortunately I think consumeraffairs was on the mark with that article. I know more than one person with a 2003 9-3 and even newer 9-3s that have consistantly had an ever growing list of problems. Not to mention little help from their dealerships. Aside from quality issues, I think that there is a real problem with our dealerships that needs to be addressed. While the article might not have been completely fair to Saab, it is truth that can’t be ignored.

  5. Seth,

    I’m not arguing that Saab don’t have some problems. I’ve stated that quite plainly. What I take issue with is them caning the whole company based on a sample of just over 2 letters per year over six years, and without no input from the company itself.

    Shoddy work, and unreliable.

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