Pollhattan Saab: the 9-7x

This one’s pretty simple.

On balance, do you think the 9-7x has been a net-positive or a net-negative for Saab as a brand?

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A few positives:

– the 9-7x has sustained sales levels in the US market, where it’s the second best selling Saab in the brand portfolio, as well as adding some fringe interest to some European markets as well. Some people may have come to Saab for the first time in the last 18 months through purchasing a 9-7x. Some people may have stayed with Saab for the same reason.

– for a relatively inexpensive investment in terms of development, Saab now has an entrant in the SUV category.

– The 9-7x is an exercise in decent badge engineering. No it’s not a ground-up Saab, but it’s aesthetics are are close enough in the critical areas and the interior retains a Saab feel (much more so than the 9-2x). All reports on the vehicle have been quite positive and consistently rate it as the best of the GM360 siblings.

– Assuming an average selling price of $37,000 after rebates etc, the 9-7x is bringing in about $18.5 million in revenue for Saab USA each month, a reasonable portion of which would actually be profit.

And some negatives:

– It’s an SUV, which has typically not been Saab’s demographic

– It’s resemblance to it’s GM360 siblings is more noticable than you’d like in an ideal world

– It’s been a divisive inclusion into the Saab lineup, with many traditionalists turning their nose up at the vehicle.

So, the poll is yours……on balance, given its role as a fill in SUV model, do you think the 9-7x has been a net-positive or net-negative inclusion into the Saab lineup.

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7 Comments

  1. Well who’d a thunk it !
    The 9-7x has won us over.
    I’ve had many customers wanting to buy this car, but I cannot supply in either LHD or preferably RHD for my UK market.
    Crossovers are naturally the importance here, but I think Saab still needs a real Off-Roader to take on the likes of the Range Rover and Co.

    I hope that GM authorise a GMT900 replacement. The 9-7x has made a nice home for itself and it would be a shame to lose the momentum. GM have chance to start to push the envelope now and maybe even encroach on the other European Marques.

  2. Net bad. Good in the short term but bad in the long term.

    In the short term they get some sales.

    But in the long term, it’s not authentic. Authenticity creates brand value. Brand value means people will pay more.

    The most respected brands stand for something. You’d never see BMW put a new nose on a Trailblazer.

  3. I have owned one for over six months and 10,000 miles. My last two cars were a 9-5 and a 9-3. I needed more room and AWD, but wanted a Saab.

    The 9-7 has proven to be a good road car, much better than I thought it would be.

    A true Saab SUV would be a better option, but this one wins over everyone who rides in it. It’s not 100% Saab, but the part that is keeps reminding me it’s there.

  4. Nobody saw BMW buying into Rover to gain 4×4 Technology from Land rover, because BMW needed to enter the SUV market. Neither did we see them keeping Rover’s Mini revival project which was well in progress before BMW got involved and have everybody believe the idea was theirs. BMW now have a brand that has no rival.
    So will the Mini Brand just stay to authenticity? No; BMW is looking to launch an extended Mini Crossover With AWD. (Expected debut end 2009 for 2010MY.)
    Did BMW them selves just stick to performance saloons. No they have expanded their profile and over the past 25years have broken into the Wagon Market, SUV, and now with the 1-Series the compact segment. Granted BMW are market leaders and people may buy the car for the badge. But if BMW didn’t offer the variant the public couldn’t buy it, thus loosing out to the competition.
    All of the Top Marques have adapted to meet consumer needs in a post-modern society. Porsche with the Cayenne, Mercedes with the A-Class. These are by no means brand authentic vehicles yet yield good profits for the companies.
    There are certain areas that I feel Saab should not venture. RWD is one of them. However, a car manufacturer can still pursue advancement and innovation without loosing their identity. I firmly believe that success came be achieved by creating and acclimatising to market trends.

  5. WooDz, you’re missing my point and maybe I wasn’t clear.

    I don’t think brand identity is as closely linked to doors and ground clearance as it is to the characteristics the brand represents.

    The BMW X5, for instance, may be adapted from the 5 series or whatever but it’s unique to BMW. In line with the BMW brand it handles well, looks Germanic, and has BMW’s inline 6 and V-8 engines.

    If you’ve seen the Saablazer, it’s a new nose and tailights on a lowered Trailblazer. Nobody is fooled. They did do a better job on the interior.

    Yes, Porsche does share the Cayenne underpinnings with VW but last time I heard, after the initial demand they couldn’t move those off the lot. And, it wasn’t the same body panels as the Toureg either.

    I think Saab could, better than other marques, do a small SUV within its current brand image. It would be something sporty rugged quirky along the lines of the 9-X concept. And I think the 9-6 that was supposed to be developed alongside Subaru would have been a step in the right direction but unfortunately we won’t see that.

    My point is, like the Saabaru, which is a nice car but not at all a Saab, the public recognizes the difference and then we get $5000 cash back offers.

  6. I think despite the bit of “rushed” badge-engineering (albeit better than 9-2X) and the somewhat low sales figures, the 9-7X sent out a positive message. That message is Saab is at least listening to its market and is intending to compete for the interests of existing and new Saab owners. I also think the lessons learned from the 9-7X were priceless for Saab and GM, all without having to lose and arm and leg on a new SUV development costs. Honda and Acura did the exact same approach adopting the Isuzu Rodeo (Honda Passport) and the Isuzu Trooper (Acura SLX) in the mid-90s. While Saab is late to the game, you can bet they’ll come full swinging with the 9-4X and the 9-6X.

    “You can’t have success without making mistakes”.

  7. As for Porsche, The Cayenne Still produces the goods and generates more profit than the boxster.

    The 9-6x was heading in the same direction as the 9-2x, which would of left the Saab looking inside an out like the Tribeca. My area manager saw the car and said canning it was the best thing GM did.

    Cashback offers are given by the majority of manufacturers to sell aging models and out-going stock. You can’t expect to sell a 5-Year old design for the same price it was when it was first launched. You can’t reduce it either because that would make too much of a gap comparing the old car to the new one. At present I can take as much as $6000 of a current 9-3 Sedan. Next Year I know I’m going to lose that support from Saab when they launch the enhanced 08 Model. (Which if you ask Saab marketing about a facelift, they completely deny)

    Right…. now back to the 9-7x.
    Let me start with one of the main reasons the 9-7x has not come to Europe is because of After-sales support. If you’re driving your 9-7x across the US and you happen to break-down. There’s a very high probability that the little garage you find in the middle of nowhere could well have a GM/Chevy part to at least get you to the nearest town. In Europe you could run into problems in the middle of Frankfurt and you’re not going anywhere until the part arrives from the US about 2 weeks later. The 9-7x is not a global vehicle. It is a re-badge and good one at that. This has also been recognised not only by the industry in commending Saab for creating the best engineered vehicle based on the GMT360 platform, but the buying public too. There is also no doubt that the 9-7x has retained a certain amount of customers that would have been forced to buy a different brand. More over; the 9-7x has introduced new customers to Saab who would not normally have looked at the brand in the past. It could well be that the latter may well make up the high percentage of Sales. The 9-7x is not trying to be something it isn’t. It’s an American built euro-styled American SUV. The 9-7x to all intent and purpose has full-filled its job and exceeded initial targets. In retrospect, Audi’s daughter company SEAT, is just launching the Altea XL this weekend. VW has put €600 Million into developing this vehicle ‘from the ground up’ as they say. What ever Budget GM gave Saab to develop the 9-7x, I think it is fair to say that it reach this sum.

    I get the short and long term point perfectly.

    Short term the 9-7x has been executed well and has filled a much needed gap

    Long term the vehicle must gain momentum and build on its strengths. The model needs to continue or suffer the consequences of losing a key market sector that they have tapped into. The focus should be on taking the 9-7x to the next level. The next generation GMT platform with full off road capabilities. The model should embody all Saab design cues, from fuel efficient Turbo charged engines to driver focused functionality.

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