9-7x: Where it’s at?

The most powerful vehicle that’s ever worn a Saab badge has just been released in the US. It’s an Aero, the highest designation currently attributed to a Saab vehicle and it’s on a model that’s widely reputed to be the best of its siblings. It’s an SUV that whilst most journos (and most Saab fans) don’t quite “get”, the ones who have a chance to actually drive it end up appreciating it. What’s more, it’s a limited edition and it’s Saab’s only current SUV, a class that was seen as so important that the production of the car was initiated in the first place.

So why the heck has it’s been release accompanied by just a handful of 2nd class photos and no publicly visible campaign aside from a press release?

The launch happened at a smallish car show in Michigan and even Bob Lutz himself flew himself in (literally) for the event. He’s written about it on his blog, penning a few paragraphs of support for Saab:

As I told the folks there, although I grew up in Europe, in my younger days I was never what you would call a Saab enthusiast. And I have to say that one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had since I returned to General Motors in 2001 is the affection and affinity I’ve developed for the Saab brand and its vehicles. I’ve become a big fan of the driving dynamics. And I’m out to create more fans. We in senior management are convinced that Saab is a jewel in the GM crown, and we’re determined to ensure its success.

Read that, and read it again – Senior management at GM are convinced that Saab is a jewel in the GM crown and they are determined to ensure its success.

If that’s the case, I’m sure we can expect cars in the next five years that will be Saab to their core and exude enough quality and character to make it in Europe and in the US. They’ll be genuinely European and will even post great strides in that most lucrative and elusive of European markets, Germany, where Saab only sold just over 300 vehicles last month.

And they’ll do this regardless of what they see as a need to establish Cadillac in Europe.

If it’s really the case, I’m sure that GM will give Saab some real marketing clout so that the American market will actually want to check Saab out.

If it’s really true then GM will will put the designers and engineers on the case to ensure that Saab’s interiors are distinctly Scandinavian and of such quality that they don’t creak, they don’t have bits or labels falling off them and they don’t feel like they’re Korean. They won’t share an entertainment interface with a GM vehicle that’s 10-15K less in price.

If GM want Saab to be a jewel in GM’s crown, they’ll ensure that service outlets are within reasonable range and that each one of them will have at least one Saab specialist. They’ll ensure that the job gets done to a standard so that the Saab owner can accept what might be a slightly higher price.

Want to know something else about the launch of the 9-7x Aero?

It coincided with the first public outing of the 2008 Saab 9-3 in the US.

What? You haven’t seen the pictures?

It’s a fact that was stated quite plainly early this year: GM gave Saab no extra marketing or promotion money for 2007. Whilst Saab continue to be lampooned by much of the motoring press they get nothing to fight back with. As good as it is as a grassroots campaign, dragging a truck around the countryside isn’t going to get you the type of vehicular wider-market exposure that a brand like Saab needs to succeed.

As always, the purpose of this success is to see Saab’s continued existence and more Saabs made in the Swedish tradition. Bob Lutz has committed to it in virtual print.

Here’s hoping GM make good on it.

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  1. Also concur on the low level of promo around the 97X Aero & the clash with the 08 93. This sounds like marketing 101 but – don’t confuse your customers.

    Com’on guys, if you are going to make it, make a big deal about it. I don’t mean that we need Uma Thurman on billboards ( hmmm, then again…) but get the messages right and get the timing right.

    WRT the European market, from my particular ivory tower the 97X would be a lot more palatable to most European markets than a Cadillac. Its never going to really sell volume there until it gets a diesel (and would that be so hard?) but it will attract people who otherwise would be driving a RangeRover/X5/Q7/Cayenne.. ..and it won’t get their attention without marketing.

    Exhibit A: Volvo XC90.

    I know that the real SUV market is the US but the halo effect of the 97X in Europe could be quite powerful for Saab.

  2. PT, I think you need to go into the room full of mirrors and take a good, long hard look at yourself.

    There are no circumstances known to man or alien under which there could ever be too much Uma.

  3. Interesting idea, perhaps I’d meet the Saab marketing team in there? Or JAJ?

    Ahh, Uma. The only woman I can openly admire without starting a domestic skirmish. Why? I have no idea… the mysteries of women.

  4. Uma should be a Saab ambassador. GM, please get on to this.

    I can see the promo now. Uma in a Saffron Yellow Convertible, possibly with a black stripe on it.

    Kill BMW.

    Maybe thay need to bring back the stronger Monte Carlo yellow for that.

  5. Anybody got Uma’s number? I’m sure she’d love to help.

    Perhaps she could be the TrollhattanSaab Ambassador as well? You need to start thinking big Swade.

  6. I think Uma is already selling tires, so probably not available to sell cars.

    How about Scarlett Johansson? At least that sounds kind of Swedish.

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