In what’s got to be a bit of a blow for Saab Oz (or is it?), City Saab in Melbourne closed it’s doors yesterday. I got wind of this earlier in the week, though the timeframe was unknown at that point.
CitySaab must have enjoyed some good time back in the halcyon days as I can remember seeing a LOT of CitySaab stickers on the rear windows of 900s and 9000s over the years (I grew up in Melbourne). In speaking with a rep from CitySaab just this morning I asked what happened – “things just weren’t going well at all” was the reply.
It’s just my hypothesis, but CitySaab has likely fallen victim to a three-pronged attack of product, logistics and geography.
The product line has been based primarily on sedans for a number of years and the alienation of tradition Saab hatch buyers hasn’t been offset by a sufficient number of people interested in the sedan-only base level. The SportCombi has quite possibly come too late.
Support logistics are gaining ground again, but the changeover from a Saab-run support base to a Holden-run support structure produced some monumental stuff-ups at the time it was executed. Unhappy customers will forgive to a certain extent, but to a certain extent only and I’d guess that with a thinning customer base the line got finer and finer in the last few years.
Finally, CitySaab was located right in the city of Melbourne – in King Street on the inner fringe of the CBD. As Melbourne has got bigger, access to the CBD has become more of a task. Many of CitySaab’s customers would have likely been from the eastern and south-eastern suburbs and whilst it’s possible to get into town, why go out of your way to do so when there’s several Holden-linked and established dealers in that south-east corridor?
These are just my guesses, but I’ll be happy to amend them should other info come to light.
In line with that suburban trend, a new dealership including Saab will be established in the Richmond area, an inner suburb of Melbourne. It’ll be under the Alan Mance banner. This will be Alan Mance’s first foray into the east, being based in Melbourne’s western suburbs since establishment in 1978. I don’t know yet whether this will be a GM Premium showroom, including both Saab and Hummer, or a standalone Saab dealership.