Dear Steve….

UPDATE:

I’m elevating this back to the top (again) as I believe it’s an important chance for you as a Saab owner and enthusiast to have your say to new chief of Saab USA at what is a very important time in their history with a new 9-3 coming this year and more new models in the pipeline.

Now that you Americans are starting your work week, why not spend a 5-minute break telling Steve what you think?

———-

Steve Shannon took over from Jay Spenchian this week as General Manager of Saab USA. Do you have a message to convey to Steve?

Here’s the place to do it.

GM are making much greater efforts to reach out and listen to bloggers and forums at the moment. That’s why you have people like Bob Lutz doing sit-down interviews with bloggers at Auto Shows, something that was probably unthinkable 2 years ago.

Your comments on the Steve Speaks! post a few days ago are now in his inbox. That’s right, he’s getting this feedback via email.

So – I’m opening this comments thread up for your messages to Steve Shannon. Pass on your hopes, your well-wishes and your wish-list for Saab in the US market over the next few years.

Over to you…..

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33 Comments

  1. Good luck Steve!

    Take a few minutes to think of who is your (and Saabs) target customer. Be very specific in the offerings to reach out to these specific groups. Your resources will be limited and you have to reach out to the right group.

    Right now, think of the products that you try to sell. Great products, but who will you target? Mothers with kids, I do not think so because they go for the van. Fighter pilots, not too many of them (Wanna be fighter pilots might be a better group), but also you have to be careful. In most families (including mine, but I am working on it) the girl has a few things to have opinions on. The fighter thing will not do it for her, but versatility, safety and the fact that she will have a unique car might do the trick.

    Maybe do campaigns aimed towards certain groups that have the money, the right age and want to be unique. This includes sports such as golf, sailing and tennis. Do not be afraid of the gay community. Most Saab customers would not be offended if they drove a brand that was open to homosexuals.

    Do not know how much is done on this, but one of Saabs strengths (as well as its uniqueness is safety and performance). Maybe produce a “drive test” manual, giving parents that are practising driving with their kids advice. Maybe start a program where dealers can come out and talk road safety (and demonstrate saabs strengths) at rotary meetings (they have money and the age to by a new car) or maybe similar female associations. Maybe (together with Saab in Sweden) introduce child safety (chairs etc) for sale by the dealers that could be part of the safety program demonstrated.

    But most important is to bring out the cars. You have a great product, but not enough people know about it. Get the dealers out in the community – do not wait for the people to come to them.

    How much would it cost to offer owners of competitors cars one free oil change if they took a test drive?

    Finally try to embrace the Swedish part (and introduce the Swedish delivery program in Canada… I am waiting!). Maybe provide the customer with a gift package (a book about Sweden, saabs history as well as some Swedish candy etc (try the daim at IKEA). Ensure that you keep your customer happy. Why not provide the customer after each service with a small gift (candy, CD or so). A $5 spent takes you quite far, and if the service is $500, its only a marginal cost.

    Why dont you also start a hotline (maybe together with GM). After the service each dealer (maybe with the gift) leaves a card in the car saying that we hope that you are satisfied with the service. If not please contact the GM hotline, and we will do our best to help you (most customers are afraid of going back to the dealer and complain, and the one who are not will do it anyway).

    If you managed to read it all, well done and good luck!

    Carljohan

  2. Steve,
    Please do all Saab owners in USA a favor and do not tie Onstar to any other usefull features like navigation. Most Saab owners do NOT want Onstar and want full integration bluetooth. First generation 9-3SS already had a fiasco with analog Onstar, please don’t repeat it again.
    Second, customer service – phone and website customer services is not very useful. There is no indepth product knowledge at all.
    Same goes for many dealers – saab fans know more about cars than service writers and sometimes techs.
    Good luck.
    Thank you.

  3. Steve well done on your appointment. SAAB UK do a lot if these things already, except for the free gifts and the gay bashing. I am quite happy for anyone to drive what ever SAAB they would like, without feeling “offended” myself.

    You know your job better than anyone so all I will say is that in the USA you have inherited a loyal customer base with some strong views on the company and the product. I think this will prove to be a blessing and a curse 🙂

  4. Mr. Shannon:

    Again congratulations. Saabs are great cars and it appears that the new generation of vehicles will be a great step in the right direction.

    We, the faithful, ask only the same in return — your faithfulness to the fundamental elements that make Saab what it was and what it can be. We ask that you guard our brand against dilution for short-term gain and against expedient mediocrity.

    Finally, we ask that you advocate stronger dealer participation in all aspects of the marketing process. I believe that too many of our dealers consider Saab as one of their ‘other’ brands. I hope that we can gain effort and mindshare with your leadership.

    Here’s to the new 9-5 hitting the market ahread of schedule,

    Mike

  5. Hello steve. welcome to the Saab community of the world! As a Saab Tech and shop owner in the U.S. for several years now, I feel like saab is moving in the right direction with the “Born from Jets” compagin and sticking with that slogan is what separates Saab from every other Euro car out there.
    By the pictures I have been seeing of the 2008 9-3
    I am very impressed by the redesign. I hope the new 9-3 has the LEDS on top of the headlight trim. That would make the car stand out so much, especially at night. Kinda like a jet flying through the night skies.
    I also would hope that Saab would consider the makings of the Aero-X. Saab needs a Halo car even if only a handful of them are made and only the rich are able to buy them. It would tell the world that Saab is competitive with the other Euro premium brands.

    It also would be great if the BIO cars would be considered coming into the U.S. market once the E-85 fuel is more avilable in the states. Lets not let toyota take this environment green card away from US.

    Good luck steve

    Mike

  6. Sheesh, why do morons who know nothing about Saab pretend they do and post idiotic comments. I was reviewing the comments on the Fastlane blog from Steve Shannon, and a guy named crayon said the following:
    —And that transverse engine going into the Saab in the commercials? A priceless advertisement of GM’s lack of attention to details. Saab never has had a transverse engine in modern history. Apparently GM is in the “knows nothing about Saab crowd.”—

    They’ve only had transverse engines since the 9000 in 1985. Guess he doesn’t keep current;-( Makes the rest of us look bad.

  7. I beg to differ with carljohan’s comment:”most Saab customers would not be offended if they drove a brand that was open to homosexuals”.
    What evidence does he have for making such a blatant statement. Has he taken a survey of Saab owners. I, for one would be very offended. Suppose you see a lot of Saabs turning up in a ‘pride’ parade on the tv news. I’d switch to BMW overnight. At least they don’t kow tow to any group.

  8. If I may play the moderator role here (and I may as it’s my blog) – can we please keep the comments on this post confined to messages for Steve Shannon. I’d prefer we don’t get into the whole gay debate here.

    My brief thoughts – market Saabs to any potential buyers.

  9. Steve, it’s really simple.

    The best known and most profitable brands stand for something. They consistently and reliabily deliver a desirable product.

    Your corporation has enough products that don’t meet that definition, it doesn’t need more.

    Ensure investment in Saab and make it excellent or be rid of it.

  10. Steve

    Congats on taking over the SAAB reigns. I bought a Certified 2006 9-3 last week. My immediate family and I have owned 8 Saabs since 1983. I think my current car has, IMO, the best styling and drives the best of all the others. That said, I am left a little wanting with the interior. The value equation is fantastic on the car but I would have paid up to 1500.00 more for nicer interior fitments and less Chevy/Pontiac quality plastic on the dash. Some of the Cadillac interior parts are the kind of quality that Saab owners should enjoy. I have never felt that Saab interiors were particularly fetching but the current 9-3 is a move in the WRONG direction . Again, best of luck leading Saab. I am happy to be a Saab owner once again.

  11. I want to offer some input from a perspective that not too many other Saab owners have. My first experiences with Saab were the 2-cycle 96, and then 3 different models of the 99. However, the last Saab I drove prior to my 2004 9-3 Arc, was a 1975 99 LE Wagonback, after having a 73 LE Sedan and a 1969 99 when they were first introduced here. So, I haven’t gradually adapted to each new generation of Saab, getting used to each new generation. Instead, I see the big change from 1975 to current, kind of like last seeing someone as a teenager, then as a middle-aged adult.
    Something has gone missing. I know the current 9-3 will outperform any previous Saab, both in handling and power (except the Viggen of course), but the tactile feedback and sense of control that I used to have are gone. I feel like I’m driving a video game. Please let me explain. The first time I drove a 96 model, and later the 99, I felt immediately as if I was in command, in full control, man over machine. Not so with the 9-3, I am still adapting to it, not the other way around. The steering was manual in the old Saabs, but that let me “feel” the front wheels gripping the road. I knew when they were losing their grip because I could feel them giving up in the steering wheel. The present steering is much too light, giving me the feeling that I can steer where I want to go, but I just have to sort of wait and see if the car goes there. The older Saabs let me know immediately if they were having difficulty.
    My old Saabs didn’t have a tachometer to share between them. Didn’t matter. I could feel and hear the engine. Not much mind you, but just pleasantly enough that I could feel the shift points, and if I had revved the engine enough for a smooth downshift. No more, I can’t hear the motor, and my hearing is still good! When I attempt a heal-and-toe downshift, I have to look at the tach to see if I’ve even revved the motor, and I don’t want to do that; I’d rather keep my eyes on the road. I was riding with my brother in his 2004 BMW M3, and I noticed the exhaust seemed rather loud, resonating up through the floor. I mentioned that to him and he said, “Oh, they do that by design.” He explained that they do it for feedback. It’s got me thinking of buying an aftermarket exhaust just to get some feedback.
    In summary, I don’t want a “luxury” car. I want a “premium” driver’s car (and family car at the same time), one that’s different from the crowd, not different just to be different, but different to set a new standard. I love my 2004 9-3 (except for the center console toy plastic squeak!!!), but as soon as you produce a smaller Saab that gives back what I’m looking for (tactile feedback), I will consider upgrading. But above all, keep them the safest cars in the world!
    Good luck Steve, I’ll be watching and waiting!!!

  12. and Steve…
    did I mention, please get rid of the center console toy plastic squeak!!! My 63 Studebaker center console doesn’t squeak at all!

  13. I’ll bring a different perspective to this forum. I’m not a Saab owner nor have I ever owned one. I have test driven some and am interested in buying one. However, I’ve also tested the competition, and for Saab, that’s the problem. For the last 15 years I’ve driven Japanese cars and have gotten very used to a level of reliability that, quite frankly, I don’t see Saab reaching. I don’t want a car ‘born from jets’ that will be a ‘hanger queen’.

    The #1 thing you need to turnaround at Saab is the percieved lack of quality and reliability. This must be consistent across the entire range vehicles over multiple years. Until then I will stick with my boring, but dependable, Acuras and Lexus.

  14. Mr Shannon,

    Congratulations on your new position with Saab.

    I recently purchased a 9-3 SportCombi and love it. However, what I discovered after my purchase was disheartening at best. Many friends and family love the car but state they’ve never seen a SportCombi or even heard of it though it’s been available for a couple of years now. When I called XM Radio to activate the service which came standard with my new Saab, the girl at XM was confused when I told her the make of the car. It seems she had never heard of Saab. This should give you a good indication of how poorly advertising and PR have been handled of late.

    While never huge sellers, now days Saab seems to have fallen to the niche brand bin. But this could be used to your advantage if Saab starts behaving like a niche company. To do so, Saab needs to work faster, harder and most importantly, smarter than mainstream brands.

    Saab needs to do a better job of handling its critics, generating positive press mentions and focusing its advertising.

    JD POWERS
    +Please address the years of poor JD Powers Initial Quality results. You were successful at improving quality at Buick, please bring that to Saab.
    +Set a goal of being the top ranked European brand

    CONSUMER REPORTS
    +Determine why Saab continues to rank so low at Consumer Reports New Car Survey and address the issues.
    +In the meantime, don’t accept the negative CR results lying down. Fight back like Mercedes did when they issued a press release highlighting what they do best after CR gave them a last place ranking. Take control of the conversation.

    REVIEWS
    +Most Saab reviews foolishly focus on a few issues with the interior quality and the quirkiness of having the ignition between the seat. Address this by spending a little more to upgrade the materials. We all know Saab isn’t turning a profit on these cars so spending more on materials may seem like a step in the wrong direction for GM, but spending more to create an interior befitting of it’s class will go a long way in eliminating much of the recent negativity towards Saab. And the less negatives written about Saab can only be good for sales.
    +As for the ignition between the seats, would someone at Saab please, once and for all, spin this into a positive for the company. Bash the reviewers over the head with the fact it’s not being quirky, it’s about safety. It’s about not having a piece of metal sticking out of the dash at knee level. And go out of the way to make the point if Saab is this concerned over the little stuff, imagine what goes into the safety features you don’t see.

    SAFETY
    +Saab recently received the highest score possible for front and side crash test results in the US. Saab also receive accolades for its SAHR. However Saab was not mentioned by any of the news outlets I saw cover the stories. Volvo was mentioned every time, (incorrectly in the case of crash test results) but the Saab 9-3 never garnered a mention. Another lost opportunity for positive press. Saab needs to do more to make sure the Saab name is mentioned when it’s so rightly deserved.

    ADVERTISING
    +Saab should dump expensive national advertising campaigns and focus on selling cars to target segments. For instance, create ad campaigns directed at women for the 9-3 convertible and men with kids and weekend warriors for the 9-3 SportCombi. The campaigns should be targeted to sell cars today, not the costly Born From Jets brand building which is obviously not driving sales and is doing a poor job of making consumers aware of the Saab product line.

    CREATE POSITIVE PRESS
    +Build more Aero X concept cars and put them on tour all over the world. Advertise the tour as “come see the car of tomorrow, today”. Treat the concept car like the rock start it is. Use it to generate free, positive, local press for Saab and Saab dealers.
    +During the week have events around the Aero X at local dealer show rooms before the Aero X heads off to the local auto show for the weekend.

    BUILD THE SAAB SONETT
    +Use the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice platform to build the Saab Sonett. Use the aesthetics and performance of the Sonett to sell the Saab brand, just as Dodge used the Viper to sell the Dodge brand back in the early 90’s.

    Thank you for your time.

    A Saab Fan

  15. Congratulation Mr. Shannon on your new appointment.
    I would like to say that second only to my 1972 MGB of 26 years, SAAB has always been a favorite of mine. My very first experience with one was when I was in the 5th grade. I had a girlfriend who’s parents had a 1975 Jensen-Healy and a 1979 or so SAAB 900 turbo. I loved the Jensen, but was totally blown away by the SAAB. It was bright metallic green with the “Inca” wheels. At the time, my parents had a boring Caprice Classic and a truck. The SAAB was something from outer space! The key was by the manual transmission, it was a large hatch back, it had a wrap around front wind shield. It was gorgeous!
    My point to the story is this, the SAAB was an amazing car that left a huge impression on me. It was unlike anything else I had seen, unique, attractive, highly useable and highly desirable. There are not may accessible cars that this can be said of nowadays. SAAB needs to be that again. I have owned a 1993 9000 CDE turbo and currently have a 2003 9-3 SS. SAAB has been the only manufacture I have purchased more than once. I love my 9-3, it is good looking and has been a very reliable car (regardless of what Consumer Reports says…) Aside from the floor mounted key though, I do not think there is much to the 9-3 or 9-5 that would generate that same impression on me again. They are great, nice looking cars that are a blast to drive, but they are not the bold statements they used to be.
    I think SAAB has the driving dynamics down, but need to step it up in the interior quality and exterior styling departments. A SAAB needs to look and drive like nothing other than a SAAB!
    Thank you and Good Luck,
    David
    Dallas, Texas

  16. Steve,

    We are trusting you with our brand, and excited to see what you can do for Saab.

    Saabster has made some excellent comments and many others have gone over the most pertinant issues that concern us. We all know about the poor reliability ratings, the cheap interior problem, GM’s mistakes in badge engineering, inconsistent customer service and second tier treatment in dealerships, among other problems.

    Amid all the problems with the brand, underneath lies an astounding product with some of the most loyal and fanatic owners in the industry. We LOVE Saab.

    The one thing I would like to say is get to know the brand from an enthusiasts point of view (im sure you’re one already ;)). I understand you are visiting the dealerships, and that’s a great start, but along with dealerships and the large Saab meets around the country, I also encourage you to visit with local car clubs. Attend meetings, go on rallies. We are the blood that keeps Saab alive, and to deeply understand the cult affection behind Saab is invaluable. Not many people have the kind of customers Saab has.

    That being said, I hope you will love Saab as much as we do. Glad to hear you’ve spent some time living in Europe, we need more of that sensibility in Detroit 😉

    Cheers and all the best.

  17. Can just agree with Saabster, great comment btw.

    One thing about taking control. As far as I know, its the 2003 9-3 that had the significant problems with reliability, which was adjusted for 2004, but quality is not only to fix the problem, its also about publicly admiting to them but at the same time specificaly point out what has been done to adress them AND why these things are sufficient to eliminate the risk that this error would occur in the future.

    And to adress vagabond’s comment. I hope you wont trade in for a korean car after this.

    http://www.gaywheels.com/osd/osdSaab.htm

    The point is not that saab should be the gay car, but gay people have 2 incomes, no kids, generaly (ok I might use steriotypes now) are very aware of how they look and have often a high level of education.

    The point, that has been made in other comments is that if you are going to use your advertising budget smart, you can not just launge a BFJ campane and think that will do the trick. BFJ is great as a first “awareness maker”, and I would like it to continue, but it has to be combined with directed advertising towards female (safety for you and your family, stylish european design, environmental friendly turbo etc), men with kids (turbo power, sporty but safe for your family.
    And the older couple smaller size than a suv but still lots of room to bring the grand kids, safe, european design and quality.

    I discussed cars iwth my realtor, who drives a volvo and is Swedish from the beginning. I asked her why not a saab, and she replied to me that they do not have a good quailty roomer. I think this is what you have to start with, and it might not be that hard as I think that the 9-5 is a great (and quality) buy, and the 9-3 errors where corrected in teh first year – but I doubt that this has been communicated.

    If you can improve the routine for approving press releases as well (the 9-3 cab was not great) that would make it even better.

    Good luck!

  18. My only wish from Saab USA is this: Get people to test drive the cars, that will help them understand that a 4 cylinder turbo car is a match for any V6 or V8 in terms of driveability and with the added overtaking performance and low-ish fuel consumption hopefully will make the sale easier or at least get people talking positivly about the car.

  19. Congratulations and welcome, Mr. Shannon.

    I’d like to suggest that SAAB put back some of the “quirky” into their cars. In recent years in an effort to appeal to a wider audience SAAB has “mainstreamed” the car a bit too much for many of us SAABophiles.

    While this was intended to gain a greater customer base it has alienated some of the traditional base. While sales increases have been seen since, for example, the elimination of the hatchback they really can’t be pointed-to as having been a result of going to a “notchback” body style.

    So many changes have been made to either appeal to a greater audience or to reduce costs, but that is not paying off in substantially greater sales.

    I know it’s not SAAB USA’s decision, but please try and encourage SAAB Global to do things their own way, at risk of being called “quirky” rather than making another “me too” offering in the premium segment.

    Thank you for your time and again, welcome to the SAAB community!

  20. Mr. Shannon
    Hello from a rarity in the organization, an enthusiast who is also a technician. You may have noticed a comment above:
    “Same goes for many dealers – saab fans know more about cars than service writers and sometimes techs.”
    This is a factual statement many times. Not that the techs or service writers are necessarily inept, but rather they aren’t trained in saab-specific topics. Take a good look at the training curriculum for an up-and-coming saab technician, Mr Shannon. You’ll find very little information on saab-specific topics. Many of your GM brothers will probably tell you that saabs are still on GM platforms using GM parts etc etc, but your average Cadillac technician *cannot* effectively work on a saab. Even a GM World Class Technician may not be able to effectively fix a saab.
    There is an extra catch as well, Mr Shannon. Warranty times. If you are even going to acknowledge the fact that warranty repairs exist, do yourself a favor and take a look at a few of the labor ops and what they pay. This is an issue that anyone will admit is a problem. Even the brand quality manager will tell you that the service schedule and labor ops are *way* out of whack right now, and yet it probably won’t be fixed before we’re done with 90% of the 10k mi services on 07 vehicles. Who in their right mind would want to work on saabs? There’s extremely limited schooling and instruction to aid in learning the product, and it’s near impossible to make a living repairing the product.
    So in short, what you’re winding up with are fewer qualified technicians repairing cars and far more unqualified schmucks doing a hack-job trying to get to a pay check at the end of the week.
    I apologize for cutting this short, but I think you get the jist of what I’m saying here. One of the keys to selling new vehicles is proving that you can serve the old ones.

  21. Mr. Shannon,
    I am a proud owner of a Saab 9-5 and love the looks of the 2007 model. However, the quality of the interior materials have been downgraded (alot)and do not meet Saab standards. Please work hard on upgrading quality to Saab standards…that’s all I ask for.

    Thank you.

    Israel.

  22. Ok. I’ll be quite frank. I’m not sure if you will be reading these comments or not in your inbox, because there is a lot, it would be convenient for you to just press “delete”. BUT what I am sure of, is that I will keep it short and sweet, because i’m sure you are a very busy man.
    Mr. Shannon,
    I’ll be honest. Some Saabers out there can get a bit carried away with their negatives of the brand. This week, Trollhattansaab explained a review done by BMW on the 5 series and the 9-5. It was plain as simple to see that the 9-5 wasnt too far behind the competition, generally speaking. Now I’m not going to sit here and beg you for new models, like everyone else on this blog has done, and Im not going to beg you for new interior, new exterior, dealer, etc refinements.
    I’m just not. It’s not in the budget, and I know this now.
    I’m sure, now I have your attention. (I told you i’m coming to you frankly).
    But what I will ask you, is to do me a quick favor, and think back to the first Saab you saw. Now look back at the LAST Saab you saw. What a way we have come. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.
    I’ll be honest. I never owned any model made before 1999. Thats right, its official. To me, this is a good thing. Because if it wasn’t for the 9-5, I would have NEVER looked at Saab the same as I do today. The 9-5 for me was a revolution. It casted saab into the Modern age of car design. Now that we are here, now what.
    You are the leader, you decide. Its not my place. Its yours. Im just a consumer, not a designer or manager, such as yourself.
    However, what I will also ask you to do, is think of all the things you can that are swedish. go ahead. All I could come up with are 6 things: Volvo, Saab, the ‘Northern Lights’, Meatballs, a lot of Ice and water, and lastly, Ikea.
    I wanted you to come up with swedish stuff for a reason (thats next…)

    Now, Germany is home to 3 luxury car makers, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW. Saab has something they don’t. I dont exactly know, but it IS something. So does the majority of those things that you named and came up with last paragraph. Why don’t we combine some of these distinct Swedes? I mean for advertising purposes. Born from Jets. Nice. When I think of that, I always seem to think of the time when I was on a flight, and a women went into labor on the plane, and had her baby, right on the plane. If only this advertising campaign was around 5 years earlier, I would have said “name him Saab”.
    Now lets redo this whole advertising deal (or more like, ordeal). Why cant we strike a deal with Ikea, and ask if we can display 2 models in each store? And in return, we can advertise along with them in a joint 50/50 commercial, and pass out pamphlets and magazines while Saab owners get their cars serviced, and new ones are bought. That seems fair.
    And what about serving Swedish meatballs to customers while they wait for their cars to be serviced, or while buying a new car (paper work takes TOO long).
    It is a great Idea to me, but you may think otherwise. It will help Saab regain what some call lost “swedishness”.
    However, I must stress, that in order to do something like this, we must hurry. There is this little Brat that is used to stealing all the light from us, and their name is VoLvO.
    But like I said in the beginning, I won’t beg you for new interior, new exterior, dealer, and what other types of refinements some may want. Its up to you. I said YOU are the designer and the leader/manager. You decide.

    Hehe, and I also said I would keep it short and sweet. I didn’t stay true to that, now did I…
    (take it as you wish…)

  23. And also…
    Why not sign a deal with eriksson (hope i spelled that right), to make new technology available straight to saab and its customers. eriksson can also come together with, lets say, Verizon wireless, and you can get a free cell phone, and reduced cell phone plan, if you sign up with onstar, and order bluetooth. Just another thought.
    Also, to broaden that Ikea thing, we can also supply the AeroX to any New stores opening around the globe on opening day. To cast some brand awareness for saab. We can pass out some flyers or whatever for people to look at.
    Its up to you to pass info on to saab global, because obviously they are deaf to bloggers and customer complaints. so you can pass the message, or the message can end when you delete these messages. You can decide. its up to you, remember?

  24. And thank YOU for this, Andy:

    Mr. Shannon, please take a minute to listen to the link above as a hint as to what many SAABophiles would like to see in SAAB’s future. 🙂

  25. Another thing,

    you need the papers to give you lots of free advertising.

    One thing you could do is to use the saab academy (Atlanta). Bring a bunch of journos down there and have them practice performance driving or something. Let the boy’s play and you will not only have them converted to like the brand, but also get lots of interesting articles (give them 5 things that ordinary people can practise to save gas, safer driving or something just so that they have something to base the story on.

  26. Welcome to the family,
    I’m 30 years old. I’m a very happy Saab owner. I have a 9-5 and I always feel very proud when I’m driving it. Let me tell you what I think about the current situation with Saab as a brand. Everybody knows that Saab is synonymous of safety and some people sometimes guess that it is originally from Sweden, but that’s all. In the last months I been doing something while I’m driving, I’ve been trying to look at other Saab’s drivers ages and what I found, is that 90% or more of them are older than me!! And that makes me think that Saab has been targeting just these types of costumers. My brother is 21 years old and he likes very much Saabs (9-3), my cousin is 15 years old and likes 9-5’s. I’m not saying that this costumers are able to buy a Saab right know but I know that as soon as they have the opportunity they will. I think Saab new advertising campaign should also include younger people. One more thing, continue offering as many as you can non- optional features, that’s great on Saabs. That is a very important thing to consider, Volvo’s, BMW’s, Mercedes’s, Audi’s have a huge list of optional features that elevate the final prices considerably. Consider this on new advertising campaigns. That’s a very strong aspect on Saabs.
    Good luck!

    P.d.
    Please do something with those cheap interior materials in the new models! And do not offend but please try to avoid Buick parts, interiors etc on new Saabs!

  27. I wish someone would mention the cheap-o plastic interiors already. :p

    Mr Shannon, hello and welcome to one of the pickiest crowds you’ll meet in your automotive career.

    Saabs have a stereotype of being driven largely by graphic designers and similar creative types. Not just “educated” people, but uniquely and passionately so. People who eat, breathe, and sleep design. Creative people often influence those around them when it comes to what’s hip and what isn’t. Saab has been lucky enough to earn their loyalty, and this is a huge advantage for you. Use it wisely and I think it will pay dividends.

    I am a design professional myself and I happen to enjoy this stereotype very much. In a sea of BMW/Merc/Audi clones, I think my Saab stands out as a lovely, unique design that people with sensibilities for substance and aesthetics can truly enjoy. I feel smarter for driving my 9-3. Saab owners don’t want The Shiny — they want The Smart, The Different, and The Safe, and The Go.

  28. Hello Steve,

    congrats. If you ever find time in your busy schedule please take a trip to Sweden, meet some actual swedes, talk to them and understand them. Perhaps you can even visit the plant and see where the cars are made, meet some of the people that engineers them and puts them together.

    Perhaps this will help you in your new role to understand that Saab is not just another GM brand. Saab customers care what happens with the brand, they don’t want to see short term thinking winning over long term success.

    Perhaps every now or then listen to what the marketing guys in Sweden are talking about. They know the brand better than anybody that has been working for Pontiac or Chevrolet the last twenty years. Work with them to create powerful global campaigns. Don’t be selfish or territorial about what Saab customer in the US need or don’t need. Saab customers around the globe are pretty consistent wherever you look. If you realize that then more resources can be pooled to create better campaigns aimed at the correct customer groups.

    Instead of getting your next company car handed out by the GM fleet folks, buy it yourself, go to a dealer meet the salesperson and experience what a normal customer does.

    Put all those elements together and put them to use and you’ll see your sales growing.

    Good luck with your new job

  29. Steve –

    Never change the illumination from green, never move the ignition, give a two-tone interior option, build a Kappa Sonett, bring back the hatch, bring back the Viggen, start driving a Saab.

    Also, while we’re dreaming, try and convince whoever runs Buick now to bring back the GN-X. Saab could help with the turbochargers. If not that, then maybe a GS version of the new Camaro. Mercury doesn’t have a Cougar anymore, GM could profit from a slightly upscale muscle car…maybe.

    I’m getting off track. Here, this is my best piece of advice: When in doubt, ask this website to do a poll.

  30. Dear Steve
    In Sweden people are always on first name basis, so I’ll start with that.

    If you looked around on different Saab-sites, you would find a lot of people are unhappy with Saab turning more and more into “just another GM brand”. This may be impossible to avoid if this direction has already been set, but you should know it is a major concern with a lot of Saab-people. Then of course is the question whether the Saab-owners of today and the past are considered as the important customers in the future…

    Good luck!

    Rgds
    Ken H

  31. Mr. Shannon,

    Congratulations on your promotion.

    Some things I would like to see on up coming models.

    – more variation between the 9-3 and 9-5
    – biopower in the USA
    – LED lighting all around
    – upgraded interior materials
    – hybrid technology
    – keep turbocharging as standard on all models.

    between my dad and I, we have owned 5 Saabs. I want that number to continue rising. With the right products, it will.

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