Maybe this is based on a US article that I missed somehow, but it’s unfamiliar ground to me.
Anders has sent me a transcript of an article in a Gothenburg paper, Goteborg Posten, which I’m going to try and translate a little for everyone here as it’s got some very interesting stuff in there.
Like the introduction:
Steve Shannon, Saabs new USA manager, has come on how one will succeed to sell more travels by car in the the big car country in west: Fewer dealers.
It’s the last two words that really caught my eye there. More on that shortly.
Actually, doing a little more of this translation bizzo, maybe they’ve used a little of the Boston Globe article.
There’s a bit about the Saab gig being one that’s a little different, and how he’s taking over after two years since the last chief came on board. There’s a bit about the Saab enthusiast community being quite a fanatical one, and a sentence about an open letter by a blogger that advised: Never use the word ‘quirky’.
That much all sounds familiar, but there’s some new stuff in there that is new:
The word ‘quirky’ is difficult to translate, but has clearly been used far too often by GM-cheifs in order to describe Saab as a special brand. There is probably some similarity in saying that “the ignition key is in the middle bracket”.
Steve Shannon is experienced within GM and has clearly read up before the new job. So he does not use the word “quirky” to explain that Saab is a special brand….
Any errors in there are mine. It’s half translation and half me trying to make sense of the translation. But I like the fact that he’s not referring to Saab as quirky. Quirky always sounds accidental to me. Saabs aren’t the way they are by accident.
Next there’s the stuff about Saab being pure-plus business for GM, how it’s unlike any other GM brand (if that’s so, why do we have to share that radio???)
This bit’s interesting….I believe it’s Shannon talking:
Where cars are built? We have surveys that show that 70 percents of our customers know that Saab is European. But only 25 percents know that it is Swedish. Americans are not so good on geografi…
The next generation Saab 9-5 divides architecture … with one Buick that is appropriate to sell in China. Drift ropes (unsure about that – SW), interior, handling properties are the crucial factors. These cars are dramatically different.
Suv: The 9-7X (one Chevrolet Trailblazer with Saab-modifieringar) has been good for us, but new 9-4X that will be built in USA fits Saab still better. Saab is a brand that will have a passenger car basis suv/crossover.
I’m pretty sure where that says USA it means North America. Most prior articles consistently mention Mexico as the like building spot for the 9-4x. Interesting nonetheless.
Now to the dealer stuff, which I find quite interesting:
Saab has 240 dealers in USA. Too many.
We probably will expand very little geographically in USA the nearest years, says Steve Shannon. It means that we, precise as the rest of the American automotive industry, has too many dealers in certain areas. These dealers started in an entire other time than we live in now.
I’ve never heard of there being too many dealers before. I’ve heard complaints of there being no dealer or service centre within 50 miles, but never that there’s too many of them. I know it’s got to be economically viable, but…..
we need to become fewer 25 dealers, says Steve Shannon and predicts that Saab this year will sell somewhat fewer cars than the 36,000 that were sold last year.
– how it goes between 2008 and 2009 I cannot say, but 2010, when 9-4X comes, then goes the sale up significant.
Some very interesting thoughts here from the Saab USA head honcho.
What do you all think?
I’m loathe to get into launching a full-on opinon about this because I may have made some sort of error in translation and missed a nuance or two. The over all impression I got from that last paragraph that he’s writing Saab off until the 9-4x comes, which I know can’t be true.
Perhaps an interview like this with an English language paper would sort out anything that was lost in translation.
Steve: I’m happy to provide any corrections to this if you can supply them. Oh, and you still have some questions of mine somewhere on your desk if you’re feeling bored between now, and…say… when the 9-4x comes.
Hey, I’m kidding!!