One of the things I’ve heard off-and-on over the time I’ve been writing this site is that there’s not enough Saab dealers going around. I know from personal experience here in Tasmania that Saab’s been relegated to true red-headed stepchild status (with apologies to any red-headed stepchildren reading this). GM’s uber-integration of Saab in the last couple of years is yet to bear a whole lot of fruit.
This just makes the following story even more of a gobsmacker.
P&W Automotive Co. on Baum Boulevard in Shadyside has closed its Saab dealership, cutting the number of Saab franchises in the Pittsburgh area from three to two, officials said. The closing followed a decision by General Motors Corp., which owns Swedish automaker Saab, to purchase the franchise, vetoing a deal by P&W Automotive to sell it to the Bowser Automotive Group, of Pleasant Hills…..
…..GM had the right of first refusal on any Saab dealership sale, Foster said. A Saab spokesman could not be reached for comment.
I’m sure it’ll mean incremental gains for the remaining dealers in the area, but I’m also sure that some of the folks who were on the borderline between dealerships will do the “ah, screw it” thing and take their business elsewhere.
A regular commenter here asked me last night via email: “What are we going to do with GM?”.
My answer: I really don’t know. There’s a whole lot going on right now with GM and other parties that’s really frustrating me. I’ll shoot and show you some film of our new dealership space here in Hobart and you’ll see what I mean. If it’s typical of how Saab are treated in redevelopments in other parts of the world then we may as well all go and buy Alfas now and forget about it. Fair warning to Saab Oz.
I’m constantly reading about other companies developing and investing (Audi are investing around US$15.5 billion over the next 5 years) and whilst I know that Saab have some things in the pipeline, they seem averse to actually blowing their own horn, or restricted from doing so by a corporate parent that wants any advances tied to a more saleable brand.
Earlier this year I was in contact with someone at Saab that had the potential of really sharing some great stuff here. Not secret stuff. It wasn’t going to be a Djup Strupe (i.e. deep throat)situation, but a really valuable insight into Saab and one of the best cars they’ve ever developed. I urged this person to clear the contact with his bosses and guess what – the whole thing was knocked on the head and no such sharing or experience has popped up elsewhere in the meantime.
GM extended Saab a lifeline and it’s fair to say that Saab shot themselves in the foot with the development of the 9-3. But what GM’s doing to Saab at the moment makes that all pale into insignificance.
Look after your enthusiasts.
Saabhistory has latched onto a recording of an interview with Peter Gilbert, owner of the million mile 900SPG. Gilbert was interviewed by Canada’s CBC network and it’s an interesting insight into his 40-year journey with the brand in general and the SPG in particular. There’s also a great follow-up section in it that is yet to be reported elsewhere.
The initial story broke at the Saab Owner’s Conference in August. It received a rejuvenation a few weeks ago and travelled like wildfire around the automotive web. At that time it became apparent that Mr Gilbert had received very little other than a handshake and a photo for his loyalty and providing Saab with some great PR.
At that time, I wrote the following here at TS:
Saab USA should have given him something other than a handshake and a photo. It’s certainly not new-car-worthy but why not use it for more publicity and then fly him down to Road Atlanta for the Aero Academy or something.
I’m not saying that one thing led to another. I’ve heard nothing to that effect….BUT…..
In the interview, recorded just a few days ago, Mr Gilbert advises that Saab USA are going to shout him a trip to the Aero Academy and they’ve provided him with a new engine for his current ride (not the SPG).
At least it’s good to know we’re thinking on the same track.
Go have a listen to the podcast and feel good about your own long-term Saab ownership. New buyers might be keeping it afloat, but it’s the enthusiasts that are the heartbeat of a small brand like Saab.
The sooner GM figure that out, the better.
On a personal note, I feel like I’m about to open the wastegate and quite possibly burn some bridges. I should really go get the Viggen fixed as things-Saab seems a lot brighter when I can drive it.
And on a much, much brighter note – Richard Hammond and Top Gear are back in January.
It’s like an old friend coming home.