One important point that’s been raised from Gripen’s coverage of the San Diego 60th Anniversary event is the following:
SAAB USA is trying to get the word out that for the price of a well-equipped Toyota Camry or Honda Accord you can drive a SAAB. SAABs start at USD$27,000. They want everyone to know SAAB is the “closest thing to driving a jet” and SAAB is “the jet you can afford”.
This went through a bit of a mild transformation in subsequent discussions whereby it was noted that these models were seen as the competition for the Saab 9-3. It’s a natural transition to make, but there’s a subtle difference to keep in mind.
I say it’s an important point because Saab USA penned a brief note to me this morning about it. They wanted to clear things up a little:
……Saab’s competition is not Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Those owners/consumers, in particular, are good targets as “move-up” buyers.
The email also mentioned that they’ve enjoyed the coverage immensely *cue applause for Mike, please 😉 * – but I digress.
It’s a fine line with regards to this competition/opportunity issue, but I think I can see which side of it Saab are walking.
You have your traditional Camry owner who’s now a little older and can afford to consider a vertical move with their next new car. Do they go for a better version of what they’re familiar with or do they make a choice to go for something else? In that situation, are they likely to consider a Saab as an option, or are they likely to write it off considering that it’s European, the perception being that it’s going to be much more expensive?
These owners represent an opportunity for Saab to compete as they move up, either to a top-spec Camry or Accord et al, or to an entry level premium European model. Their default option will likely be something they’re already familiar with (ToMoCo, Honda) or something they’ve heard a lot about (BMW, Audi). If they’re not yet familiar with the value that Saab represents in this segment then they’re not even going to have Saab on their radar, and that’s a situation that Saab want to change.
That’s how I’m reading it, at least.
Of course, the one question that begs to be asked in reply to SaabUSA’s clarification above is: Who exactly are Saab’s competition?
So I wrote back and asked.
Hopefully there’ll be an answer forthcoming soon, and as soon as I know, you’ll know it too.