Sunday Snippets

I’m in a bad mood.

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I’m currently filing my way through Consumer Reports’ 2007 car guide, emailed in chunks thanks to Gripen.

I still haven’t seen a section listing recalls yet. The Volvo S60 is a recommended pick despite their description as neither luxurious nor sporty and below its highly competitive class. Gripen’s noted some other things too.

I get the feeling that CR impresses because of layout, glossiness and a reasonable case information overload.

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This is on my mind and it’s annoying the crap out of me.

What’s your thoughts on why the Saab 9-3 tanked during February? It’s been suggested to me that the stories about the 2008 9-3 are a prime culprit, placing this website in the firing line. I didn’t break the photos, but was largely responsible for the story over the last few months.

So what do you think?

My thoughts will be forthcoming later.

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It’s the month of unofficial 99 loving and I’ve just received some pics of a magnificent example. One that’s been seen here before but has recently had some more work done to it.

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Carlton won the football game last night. Can’t imagine how foul I’d be right now if they didn’t.

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20 Comments

  1. Re the poor 9-3 US sales for February, I wouldn’t blame your ’08 info. I think Saab has simply waited too long – 4+ years – for the exterior freshening. I don’t have a long history with Saabs, but the Audis and BMWs that the 9-3 competes with have been radically resyled lately. Saab’s restyling delay is great for me – my
    ’04 Aero sedan and ’05 Arc convertible still look brand new – but I suspect that a lot of new buyers are looking for the latest thing, so that at least the other afficianados know that their ’07 9-3 really is new.

  2. The release of the pictures has nothing to do with it. The well-known **plans** for a refresh might be affecting sales. Even that is a stretch, though.

    Let’s not read too much into one month’s numbers.

    It occurs to me as I write that the ’07 model is a bit of orphan — it will be the only model year to combine the original 9-3ss/sc exterior with the new interior.

    That’s a lot of change spread over two model years. I wonder if prospective buyers aren’t getting a touch confused.

  3. trollhattansaab.net is very informative and well written. if anything, it’s increasing sales, not impeding them.

    re “fence-sitters”:

    since we really don’t know what the ’08, 9-3s’ final look will be, any expectation of ordering an ’08 (instead of an ’07) has to based on the confirmed news that all wheel drive will be an option. maybe folks are waiting for awd. that’s certainly one of my reasons. (another is i want as much aero-x as possible; and the final big reason is a model i wish they’d make and ends in “atch.”)

  4. SAAB’s 9-3 sales being down about 500 units for February can’t be due to this website alone. I know you have a broad readership but I find it hard to believe that 500 people decided to hold-off on buying an ’07 9-3 in February because they saw the spyshots at this website. Actually, as you mention you didn’t “break” the spyshots anyway: the Swedish newspaper and motoring press did.

    Also, the spyshots shown so far have featured body styling which has been pretty divisive (like the 9-5 refresh). I believe SAAB has purposely been driving these on Swedish public roads trying to see what the reaction will be (akin to a “screening” before a film comes out to see what needs to be edited before further release judging by public reaction). If SAAB really thinks that the spyshots are hurting ’07 9-3 sales they have nobody to blame but themselves for showing it in public. As someone mentioned, all the spyshots shown so far have been VERY clear (even a shot of the underside!?!? Come on!), as if SAAB wants pics of it to get out. In the past SAAB has been VERY secretive in testing new models, as evidenced by the creation of “the Toads”.

    Further, though 9-3 sales went down, AUDI sales went up. I’d argue that many, if not most, of those lost 9-3 sales are not people waiting-out the ’08 9-3, those people went to SAAB’s closest competitor and bought an A4.

    I hate being the bearer of bad news, I love SAAB (so much so I own two and I’ve been trying to get my mom to buy one as her next car!!!), but I think it’s pretty weak to blame websites which are getting the word out on how great SAABs are. Swade, you’re HELPING SAAB much more than hurting it.

    SAAB needs to get some other things in order, IMHO. They should work with Consumer Reports in learning what they need to improve to get better ratings. Like CR or not, the truth is a good rating in CR (especially in reliability) will directly translate into many more sales in the U.S.

    It’ll be hard and cost money (when money’s already tight), but SAAB needs to improve their quality, reliability, and interior materials quality to get more sales. There’s too much competition out there.

    If anyone from SAAB USA is reading this: I love you guys! Don’t shoot the messenger! πŸ™‚

  5. I can’t believe I left something out after all that rant, but to answer your question about recalls, I don’t believe CR lists number of recalls or nature thereof in their car issue. They SHOULD have some kind of count of recalls. That’s a good idea. I know they have a special section in their magazine dedicated to product recalls (not limited to cars), so in the car edition they should keep a running count of how many recalls a model was subjected to. That would be directly indicative of quality. Good idea.

    Also no offense to TrueDelta, which I think is a great idea, but Consumer Reports has a monopoly in the market as to reliability ratings. I can’t think of any other source that tracks this sort of thing in the U.S. except CR. That’s why smart car shoppers pick up the latest edition of the CR car issue to consult when buying a new car. They have no other choice. Either that or you buy blind in respect to reliability.

    I just thought of something else: though CR’s annual car issue just hit the newsstand this week, it was preceded by a summary which stated that SAAB is on the “least reliable cars” list. Perhaps that’s what hurt sales?
    http://autos.msn.com/advice/CRArt.aspx?contentid=4023544

    I’m sorry to read you’re in such a bad mood. Was the suggestion that your site might be partially responsible for the drop in sales what’s bothering you? I wouldn’t worry about it. Whoever suggested that was probably under a lot of pressure (I’m assuming it was an “insider”) due to the numbers and really didn’t mean it.

    Just focus on the fact your football team won. It could be worse. You could be an L.A. Kings ice hockey fan…

  6. Bollocks to pessimism, take the Viggen out for a sunday arvo fang around Hobart. I’ve been tooling around some country lanes in the Southern Highlands in the wagon today, no goose writing for some mag in the states can take that away.

  7. I repeat my assertion in the prior thread, it is all a matter of pricing.

    In the US, ’07 9-3 have no decent incentives and interest rates have crept up to almost 7% since Saab Financial turned over financing to GMAC. In the lease side, money factors have crept up and residuals have been in decline.

    While ’06s are a steal, they are impossible to find at this point.

    The fact that the Audi A-4 leases are at the same price point per month with less money down means that Audi is going to sell more…

    As far as financing goes, Saab is at 7% and many competitors at 2.9%, allowing people in the US to get much more for their money elsewhere.

    At our local dealership, the poor Saab interest rates are only serving to sell Caddilac CTSs from the Caddilac side of the shared dealership….

    I am very worried about this situation and the effect it could have on Saab’s long term growth….

  8. I think the slumping sales might just be word of mouth due to the 9-3’s known issues with radiators, transmissions and water pumps.

    Sure, it’s the type of thing where the part gets replaced once and then it lasts forever, but no one is going to be happy about their brand new cars with 170 miles on it needing things like that replaced.

    And maybe it shows that the public doesn’t like the new dash. I know I still haven’t warmed up to it and it’s been over six months since I first got behind the wheel of a 9-5 with the new dash.

  9. How strange that when one of the auto magazines in Sweden last year did their normal one-year-test (40.000 km) with a bunch of cars in all sorts of situations, only one car stood out as problem-free – Saab 9-3 SC.

    You can usually get any result you want. depending of how you measure.

  10. As I said in an earlier thread, the 9-3 is 4 years old and a dip in sales now is natural.
    A lack of a broad range with wide appeal is mostly to blame, not model spy shots.

    Audi has a 12 model range.
    BMW has a 14 model range.
    Mercedes a 15 model range.
    SAAB has a 5 model range.

    BMW and Audi offer turocharged engines right in the SAAB heartland and the Audi 2.0 turbo from the Golf GTI is widely recognised as the best turbo 4 cylinder in th world.

    Look at Alfa with their Aero X, the 8c Competizone, they just went ahead and built it. We debate wether putting the SID into the dials was a good idea or not…(which it was!!!)

    On a related rant did anynone notice that ALL Audi models were down in January except A4 and Q7? so while this site had a campaign for a hatch 9-3 (no difficulty with that by the way) where was the campaign for SAAB to launch a competative large 4×4? (ok SAAB has the 9-3x but that will not attract the X5, Q7 driver) Or campaign for a small Astra based coupe?

    We should be lobbying SAAB for a 4×4 that meets SAABs ideals as BM did with the X5 and Volvo with the XC90. Both vehicles with strong DNA from the rest of the range.

  11. I agree with eggsngrits in an earlier post. N.E. US got hammered with some of the coldest snowiest weather ever, and that’s where Saab is usually strong. Gripen says Audi sales went up, but are they concentrated in the N.E.? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

  12. First, do I think that the release of the spy pics has an effect of Sales? Yes it does (but we all know that they where releasd by Swedish press and Leftlane etc.

    But I think that we should be abit moderate in how much damage it might do. It is probably fair to say that the impact would have been the largest in Sweden, given the amount of press covering the face lift.

    Swedish sales went down a bit for the 9-3, on a market that grow. I imagine that the decline can be due to people waiting to get there 9-3 until the face lift as well as people that have ordered, but not received the 9-3 biopower.

    Swade, you said that during February you had some 7000 individuals visiting your site each day. If we say that they do it every second day – does that mean approximately 14,000 individuals per month? I would guess that the majority of those are people for which SAAB is the brand, weather they currently own one or not and I do think that a blogg like this reinforces the feelings for the brand.

    My point is that the sales might be hurt from the spy pics, but the benchmark for how much the effect would be should be the Swedish market. As such the decline in US and Cdn marketshare has to be found in poor pricing, lack of supply of cars, and to some extent spy pics. I do not think that the fact that the interior face lift was done 1 year ago has an effect, as the question here is – what the hell happened between January and February 2007.

    Hopefully we can see some grounds being recovered during March.

    Anyone seen market data from UK, Spain and Germany?

  13. saab9x: From the link, I’m surprised to see Audi sales up 117.6% in Cleveland for February. Might shoot down the “snow” theory.

  14. Swade;
    If you ARE having an effect on Saab sales by this blog, then the payoff for Saab s that the MY ’08 9-3 should scream out of the showrooms when they hit the dealers’ lots this summer. If that’s true, then it says to Saab that the car-buying public wants more innovation, better product, and great design faster than then long product cycles they’ve had in the past. So, if that’s true, you’ve done THEM and US a big favor!

  15. If you’re worried about reliability why not push your dealer for an extra 3 years warranty like I did for a friend who bought a beautiful 93 anniversary convertible. 6 years new car warrantee made her very happy and didn’t cost her a cent more.
    TGhe current environment is perfect for the new car buyer. These figures will show you the dealers will do ANYTHING to sell their stock. Haggle, tease, and push and I think you’ll find your deal will be FAB! Make sure you mention you’re thinking about an A4 and it’ll make the dealer go nuts!
    It wold be very interesting to start a competition to see who can get the best deal on their new car purchase.

  16. Regarding the sales numbers in Sweden versus the U.S., it should be pointed out (correct me if I’m wrong) that there is much more fierce competition in the U.S. in the 9-3’s segment.

    There’s the AUDI A4/A4 Avant, BMW 328i, Volvo S60, Volvo V50, Acura TL, Lexus IS250, and Mercedes C-Class.

    I don’t think the Acura or Lexus are sold in Sweden, are they?

  17. Acura? No! But Lexus? Yes!
    Also, other competitors are:
    Toyota Avensis
    Renault Megane
    Pegout 407
    Citroen C5
    Ford Mondeo
    Mazda 6
    Opel Vectra
    Skoda Oktavia
    VW Passat

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