Alain Visser, the brand chief for Opel, has given an interview with German publication n24 during which the topic turns to Saab.
You can read the entire interview, in German, by clicking at the link above. Alexandros has been kind enough to provide a translation of the bits pertaining to Saab:
Visser: ….Saab is a “boutique brand”, i.e. a really unique brand. In the German market it is of course not easy for Saab. Audi, BMW or Mercedes occupies the premium segment. Everyone else who tries to get into this segment is going to fail. I refer to Lexus or Jaguar. In other countries it is working, but not really in Germany. We suffer under the same phenomenon: Germans want their Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. But I believe that there are more than 5300 Germans, who want to drive a Saab.
n24.de: How long will GM allow itself the luxury of having Saab?
Visser: The Saab Business-Case isn’t only based on 5,300 vehicles…
n24.de: …but 133,000 vehicles world-wide isn’t really satisfying…
Visser: …the goal at Saab isn’t 300,000 vehicles; Saab must stay a “boutique brand”. The problem with Saab is that you can’t make any big marketing activities. You almost have to speak to the potential customers individually. I believe that Saab is a dream brand. We invested into the brand Saab and I am confident that the brand will grow due to the coming products.
n24.de: What will come except the SUV?
Visser: First the facelift of the 9-3 will come, then the SUV and further models, about which I can’t speak right now. But the portfolio of Saab will be decisively broader, than it was before.
It’s always interesting to hear the perspectives brought forth by GM Europe executives. This guy in particular as Saab is so undersold in Germany. I’ve mentioned before that I think the German market could possibly be the best barometer Saab could ever wish for. Build cars that satisfy that market and lead to rising sales and I’ll bet sales will be rising in just about every other market at the same time.
2008 will probably be one of those barometer years. The 2008 Saab 9-3 is considerably quieter than its predecessor and with the addition of XWD and the TTiD engine it should make for a better year for German Saab sales. There’s plenty of upside potential there.