Australian Saab Sales – November 2006

Earlier this year Saab Australia was running a campaign centred around a fictional dopey guy names Sven.

Sven had ordered too many Saabs for shipment to Australia and so they had to sell them all at $XX,XXX – that was the marketing campaign earlier in 2006.

New Saab Australia Director, Parveen Batish, arrived from the UK back in May of this year. Shortly thereafter, Sven was killed off. It was thought that a campaign like this was contrary to the brand image that Saab should be trying to project.

I agree to a large extent, but the fact is – it moved the metal.

Saab Australia sold 99 vehicles during November 2006, which is a decrease of just over 50% from the 199 sold in the same month in 2005 – which was a bad year for Saab.

Because of a great start to the year (the Sven factor?), Saab Australia are still 10% up on 2005 year-to-date, but in a year when they must have been aiming at 2000-2200 cars, there’s going to be a lot of butt kicking going on. They’re currently at 1,504 for the year.

I’ve only met Parveen briefly, at the Sydney Motor Show back in October. I was having a ball with the Aero-X and he was busy doing the things that Saab Directors do on press days at motor shows. The point being, I didn’t get time to form a concrete impression, but the brief time that I had with him was great. Every other report I’ve heard about him has been stellar.

But the numbers don’t lie. In the last few months, Saab sales in Oz have gone through the floor and there has to be some reasons why. The correlation between Parveen’s tenure and the sales flow is unmistakable and I’d be interested to know if there’s GM-obstacles to the brand’s current presentation, and what his marketing department is going to do to try and turn things around.

There’s been a recent emphasis on Biopower here, in a market that has E10 as a maximum ethanol mix. Money well spent? We won’t know until the press appraises the vehicles and writes them up, but this is a very long term strategy when Saab Australia seems to have some serious short term problems.

The introduction of the diesel range early next year will hopefully go some way to addressing some of the problems, but Saab Oz are still going to need to work some magic in order to avoid a real drought prior to the remodeled 9-3 late next year.

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8 Comments

  1. I think a few things are at play here. But the main thing would be VW.

    First, the VW Passat. The base model is a 103kw/320Nm turbo diesel with a much larger fuel tank and 6-speed DSG. In wagon form this would be giving the Sportcombi enormous grief as the price is pretty lineball. The VW has 17″ wheels, is slightly larger and reeks of newness. Also Passats have pretty good resale.

    Also from the sedan point of view you also have the Jetta which is slightly smaller but starts at a much lower price and has a great range of engines to choose from.

    Both these models have hit the market in the 2nd/3rd quarters of this year and you can bet that they have had a lot to do with the Saab downturn (or end to the upturn).

  2. Turbin,

    Those are my local dealer’s exact thoughts. He knows for a fact that he’s lost sales to VW recently, and dealers are screaming out for product rather than concepts.

    Of course, Saab Oz can do little about new products, but perhaps they can tweak the features of the existing ranges to provide better value.

    They have to meet this challenge.

    UP

  3. Swade,

    I gave the Passat a good look. Feature packed for sure. Style of the Sportcombi combined with price and availability won out. Will take a kicking on resale for sure. Being a prior Saab owner counts for alot as I think Saab has a hard time attracting noobs .

    Have close friends that have a 9000, tried to convince them on the 9-3, they were leaning towards the Jetta and ended up getting a ’03 Passat. Still have the 9000 which is some consolation.

  4. There is absolutely “0” visibility on the re-priced, repackaged Combi options other than from Swade’s video at the Motor Show. How can anyone expect to sales increases when ther is nothing to excite customers other than the same old regurgitates ??? No wonder sales levels are where they are.

  5. You know they need in Australia, especially Melbourne,

    DEALERSHIPS!!!

    our local dealerships in Melbourne are a bloody joke, all but 2 are Holden showrooms, and their is presence is tucked in a corner, looking like the bastard child that the dealer had to have due to there Holden franchise obligations.

    Rant over!!

    al

  6. Here in Sydney on a saturday is the huge broadsheet Drive liftout of the Sydney Morning Herald which is the front page as an article and the other 30 or so pages adverts. Nearly all car manufacturers have full page ads scattered throughout the liftout. Saab normally have something the size of a couple of cigarette packets way back amongst the tiny Saab classifieds. I deliberately look to see how they are advertising as i have an interest and sometimes i have to search hard. Someone browsing would never notice Saab exists. It’s pathetic. I never liked the Sven ads but at least they took up a bit more of a page.

    Looking at the way sales have gone woeful recently i still have the uneasy feeling that the huge increase in sales earlier in the year was dealers buying and registering stock and that’s come to an end in recent months as they’ve probably run out of budget.

  7. Paul,

    I think it might be more of a case of Sven and the Midsommar campaigns stealing sales from the rest of the year. Like the Employee fire sale did in the US last year.

    I’ve possibly got some news on the scheme you mentioned coming in the near future though. Stay tuned.

  8. If what Al suggests is the true state of the nation where the HQs are based, what hope would the rest of the country have ??? In Sydney the Rick Damelian dealership was thrown back to GMH as they did not see any future and feasibility in combining Holden with Saab. The dealership issue is one of many matters that are not helping the cause. Paul also is highlighting another comparative deficiency in the public eyes. So, is Praveen going to be allowed to do what he did in the UK ??? I doubt it.

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