Saturday Morning Snippets

“They don’t understand, and don’t want to understand, the European consumer,”

At right we have an interesting perspective on the push that Cadillac, Corvette and Hummer will be getting in the UK under Saab GB’s Jonathan Nash. Promotion of these brands is transferring to Nash and a similar structure to Australia’s GM Premium segment. Nash will also retain Saab’ portfolio as well.

This quote appeared in Marketing News and was from a former GM Marketing exec, Alastair Welham, who’s quite possibly feeling a little disgruntled, but is also quite likely feeling it’s time for some honesty (like several pot-smoking MPs over there at the moment).

Please remember that all the money being pumped into these brands could be promoting Saab or even developing new Saabs in Europe right now.

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BMW continue to re-define ugly and in Brenda Priddy’s own words, use form over function, with the development of a new X6. I’m sure their 2-seater minivan will be coming soon.

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Via ctm…

Saab Sweden have some excess capacity at their Trollhattan plant and local paper TTELA (Jenny, where’s my translation??) are reporting that there’s a possibility that their presses could be utilised for pressing panels for Scania.

The union’s all for it and Saab themselves were apparently keen for the deal but GM Europe have heard about it and halted negotiations.

Having visited there I can tell you that I feel a great affinity with that plant and what it means to that city – and therefore what it means to Saab. A deal like this that would keep things ticking over can surely be nothing but beneficial. Where’s the downside?

ctm’s opinion was that perhaps GM Europe have some production planned for the plant after the 9-3 and 9-5 move to Russelsheim, production that isn’t known yet at the local level. A distinct possibility.

But if Scania already have the press mouldings made up, then what’s the problem with renewing an old friendship and making some more money on the side?

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Robin M found this photo of a car that he and I both missed at the Saab Festival back in June.

The car nearest to camera is a regular 9-5, but the next one has had some treatment to the headlamp surrounds. It’d be interesting to see a full-on frontal shot of this car and see how the effect looks from that angle.

Click to enlarge:

Saab 9-5 lights

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When journos get too enthusiastic…..

The XWD will be available in Aero versions of the Sports Sedan and SportCombi and will be available this September. The convertible also gets XWD and will be available in October…..

…..To get a better grasp and understanding of the evolution of the 9-3, I traveled to the birthplace and home of all Saabs, Trolhattan, Sweden. Once in Trolhattan

I’m a little unsure about that convertible bizzo. And this also reads as if XWD will be available sooner than what it will be. Oh, and Trollhattan has Two Ls, please. but I digress.

This one I can agree with….

a new 2.0T BioPower engine that is confirmed to come to the U.S. by 2009.

…..but back to the questionable stuff:

The XWD combats ice, water, mud and even gravel with no remorse (?? – SW) that further enhances driver confidence. Driving at high speed through a gravel-road course, the XWD really holds up, and believe that Saab has a serious contender for the World Rally Championship.

Now, I’m all for getting good press, but the 9-3 a serious contender for the WRC?

Maybe our author is a British MP moonlighting as a journo…..

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The Financial Times in Germany also have an XWD review, which I’ll translate later.

This entry’s been scheduled for Saturday morning, but as I write it’s just past midnight. If you read German, the writeup is here.

Thanks Joachim.

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13 Comments

  1. That 9⁵ with the headlight bezel treatment looks a lot better. If I owned this iteration of the model, that’s definitely a mod I’d look at having done. Much more understated and classy while remaining just as “aggressive”. Kudos to that owner.

    There’s a “new” 2.0T BioPower engine coming to the 9³ by 2009 and it’s been “confirmed”? By whom? And what’s “new” about this engine? It’s the same 2.0T engine we’ve had in the 9³ here in the States for five years except that it’s got a fuel delivery system capable of delivering ethanol, right?

  2. Here’s a crappy translation of the TTELA article. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    GM Intercepts Saab Business
    “The decision is idiotic”, according to the union chairman
    Published July 20, 2007 kl 10.05.

    Trollhättan: The management for GM Europe intercepts Saab Automobile from carrying out work for Scania, which adds fuel to the discussions regarding if parts of the Trollhättan manufacturing capabilities may quickly disappear.
    – We cannot understand why GM will prevent us from earning money, says Metal’s (big Swedish industry union organization) chairman Paul Åkerlund.

    The press workshop at Saab Automobile produces panels that are in the factory car production. Moreover, certain works are carried out to other companies. It is a way to use the capacity better and to improve the profitability.

    Recently, the press factory has discussed about carrying out works for Scania, the truck and bus manufacturer. According to TTELA sources, the parties where very near a settlement when Saab Automobile’s owner, GM Europe, decided to interrupt the business.

    The union chairman Paul Åkerlund confirms the information when TTELA reaches him via telephone. He does not hide his irritation regarding GM Europe’s way to act.
    – We are often told that we must become more profitable. This deal would have become a clean earning for us. I think that the decision is idiotic. It seems plain stupid, frankly speaking.
    Meanwhile, he is not astonished.
    – GM Europe has taken several tricky decisions during the last years. In my experience, it is more politics than economy that rules.
    Within Saab Automobile, the decision has caused some concerns. The decision of GM Europe can be interpreted as a first signal towards a shutdown of the press factory when the production of Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 is moved to Rüsselsheim within a few years.

    A shutdown of the press factory can in turn be interpreted as the first stage towards a total phase-out of the car production in Trollhättan.
    – It is clear that one can draw such conclusions. I do not want to to paint Satan on the wall (Swedish expression, means that something bad is coming within a near future), but I understand if the employees become nervous, Paul Åkerlund comments.

    Paul still hopes that it will possible to reach an agreement with Scania. Paul Åkerlund has contacted Carl Peter Forster, who is the chairman for both Saab Automobile and the entire GM Europe. Now, Paul hopes that the GM central office in Zürich will change their decision.
    Saab Automobile’s information director, Eric Geers, assures that the final decision is not yet taken.
    – The negotiations are still ongoing. We sit down with GM and discuss how we can reach a solution. That is my only comment at the moment, he explains.

  3. I’m going to put a positive spin on this –

    GME has indicated they want Trollhattan to build delta II in the future; both Forster and Lutz have gone on record stating that Saab needs hometown/Swedish manufacturing to be considered Swedish, right?
    GME is worried about both falling sales for the vectra and the 9-5, right? (they were so worried about vectra sales it got first nod for production) Why not move the 9-5 back to Trollhattan and let Russelshwim start the Vectra concurrently.

    They can’t have the machinery tied up with outside business if they’re going to be using it fairly soon. Plus, what about the 9-4? Everybody seems sure it’s going to MX, but there’s been no direct statements from GM/GME.

  4. Gripen: Agree, that’s a very good mod indeed on that 9-5. It really looks like the sniper rifle it is. Just change those horrible red tail lights to something more Saabish and I would be really interested.

  5. The Corvette was modelled after European sports cars, so frankly, I see no reason not to sell it in Europe. Cadillac makes some nice cars, if they would package the cars they have withe diesel/hybrid engines, they could probably sell them to people who want a different type of luxury car than the ones they are used to. And if they nix the BLS. Hummer, though…ok. Range Rovers are popular in Europe because they can actually rove the range. If there were a smallish Hummer model (about the size of, say, a Range Rover) that was very very very capable off of the road, I could see it selling in Europe. But not as they are now, they’re too big.

  6. that x6 is ghastly.

    __

    “The management for GM Europe intercepts Saab Automobile from carrying out work for Scania…. We cannot understand why GM will prevent us from earning money, says Metal’s (big Swedish industry union organization) chairman Paul Åkerlund.”

    (to say “no” and to not say why is cruel, gm.)

    __

    “A shutdown of the press factory can in turn be interpreted as the first stage towards a total phase-out of the car production in Trollhättan.”

    (this can’t be good for morale. take the passion out of the people building cars and you’re left with people just doing a j-o-b. big difference.) yikes!)

  7. I have expressed surprise before about Saab pressing their own panels and I get the feeling from Swades factory tour that Trollhattan make a lot more of their cars than rivals.
    The world of car manufacture is moving on again and when major players are looking at subcontracting the entire construction of a car Saab and GM cannot put their heads in the sand. The union statement is what you would expect – thay are never going to say it is a good idea and and will secure the future of Trollhatten so it needs to be viewed with caution.

    Rememeber the reason for the 9-3 and 9-5 going to Germany is beacuse that is where that platfom is asssembled. Sweden will be churning out 9-1s and Astras.

    It is the role of management to motivate staff and keep morale high during periods of change – thats what we are paid to do.

    Yes it is sad and I prefer to old days but unless we restructure, the global economy change will still happen.

  8. Jon, you say it is more the norm to use subcontractors for things like pressing. Why can’t Saab Trollhättan play the role as subcontractor, then? You talk about business, does not sound too much of business to refuse pure-earning contracts?

  9. Ken if Saab sell the press factory then yes it is possible they may subcontrct to them. What was the value of the Scania contract? How long did it last? What was the profit margin? You need all the facts before supporting or condeming this decision. I dont know the facts however we cannot just take a union statement as the whole story. I agree it could be 100% accurate.

  10. Why didn’t Mr. Wade say that flagging Saab sales in North America were due to Saab saying ‘They don’t understand, and don’t want to understand, the North American consumer?’

    The road runs in both directions.

    Jeff: The Hummer H3 is about the same size as the best-selling Range Rover.

    The Hummer will do well in Eastern Europe, mark my words.

  11. I didn’t realize that the H3 was that small, it looked bigger. There ya go. There’s a smaller H4 due out at some point, too, I think it’s a pickup though. Also, when I think of Europe, I always forget Eastern Europe :p. I just think France, Germany, Italy, and England. Hummers will indeed sell well in Eastern Europe…but nowhere else and GM shouldn’t waste resources trying to change that.

    Also, eggs, I think Saab does understand the North American customer…but they don’t have the money to make the North American customer understand them.

  12. Regarding the XWD – it BETTER be available in the convertible, or I for one will be very unhappy 🙁

    I’m hoping for a Black Turbo convertible too.

  13. Unsure about Conv XWD. Will try and find out.

    But from a guy in Sweden I spoke to, Black Turbo will be Sedan and Combi only. And it’s a limited edition, too. 2000 units worldwide from what I’ve heard.

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