GM – don’t kill Saab’s EDP

For once I get to rant about a Saab issue in the US and the rant is in no way directed at SaabUSA. I always feel terrible when that happens as they’re great guys and girls there, but it happens nonetheless.

But not this time.

I first wrote about trouble with the European Delivery Program a few weeks ago. In response to queries about the EDP, SaabUSA indicated that the program was postponed for 2008 and it is being incorporated into a new worldwide ordering system.

In the last few weeks I’ve had notice from several different sources that has gone the distance between the European Delivery Program being postponed and it being cancelled all together. I believe the truth is somewhere in between, that negotiations are ongoing and that the program will be a late starter for 2008, possibly postponed until 2009, but that’s just my speculations based on the various things I’m hearing.

In saying all this, let me make it clear that the people putting the clamps on the European Delivery Program – from what I hear – aren’t SaabUSA at all. It sounds to me like they’re trying to negotiate it’s survival. The villains in this scenario appear to be a bunch of faceless beancounters somewhere in GM who see it as an unprofitable exercise.

Saab have been running a European Delivery Program for years. It started long before GM took over. I’d estimate that thousands of US Saab buyers have enjoyed it since its inception, and what’s more, they’ve likely talked about it with others.

So, faceless beancounters. Take a look at Saab’s aspirant competition:

BMW have a European Delivery Program on their US website.

Mercedes Benz have a European Delivery Program on their US website.

Volvo have a European Delivery Program on their US website.

Audi have a European Delivery Program on their US website.

Now, it should be noted at this point that neither Acura, Infiniti or any of the other entry-luxury brands have an overseas delivery program. This is something that’s distinctive about the European players in this market. The EDP’s a good sales tool against these strong, buttkicking Asian competitors, is it not?

It should also be noted that Saab are GM’s global premium brand, and that the US is Saab’s biggest market. Perhaps it should also be noted that a new Saab 9-3 has just been released and that this new 9-3 has XWD and is getting predominantly very positive reviews from a wide range of automotive publications.

What more do you beancounters need to see that this is a good idea?

The US is indeed Saab’s biggest market and it’s a market that thrives on service. The EDP is one of those things that any other market in the world would love to have. I know of a number of US Saab owners who have made the trip previously, raved about it, and want to do it again. I know a number of prospective Saab buyers, both first time and repeat customers, that are looking forward to the possibility of doing it in the future. And all of them share their stories.

Whilst you financial boffins are considering all this, here’s something else for you.

Potential Saab owners: how would you like to do this little journey as part of your European Delivery trip?

Saab to Hirsch

That’s the route from Trollhattan to St Gallen, in Switzerland, where you could go visit Hirsch and get your Saab personalised whilst retaining your factory warranty. Of course, you could also get it done at ANA in Trollhattan, but if you’re looking for somewhere to drive……

The Hirsch issue is a SaabUSA thing as far as I know. If Saab could get the relationship with Hirsch up and running in the US, and if the beancounters could pull their heads in and realise that the EDP is a kicker of a program then maybe US Saabers would really have something to look forward to.

Seriously, this all seems like such a no-brainer to me. I don’t see how Saab have anything but bad news ahead of them if something like the EDP can’t stand up to common sense scrutiny in the offices at GM. It’s an investment in the brand. If you’re looking at improving the brand, and future model plans indicate that you are, then why would you get rid of one of the premier programs it has to offer?

Someone ought to teach these pencil-necks that the car business does indeed have the word ‘car’ at the front.

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  1. You ‘re absolutely right! This is not something that the beancounters should not kill. A program like this is often difficult to establish wether it brings you profit or not, but kill it and you will loose customers.

    There is however one comment that i want to make. You write:”It should also be noted that Saab are GM’s global premium brand, and that the US is Saab’s biggest market.” Well, that depends how you look at it. If you look to the European market as one, it brings twice the volume for SAAB than the USA does. And please don’t argument that the EU has a lot af countries. The USA has 50 states, and the market in Kansas differs very much from the market in Massachusets.

  2. I think I’m going to have to give up hope that the MY2008 EDP terms will be released by the end of the week. With my lease ending next week I do not have the luxury of waiting to see if the program will continue.

    I guess this means no Autobahn driving after all…

  3. Playing devil’s advocate here, but if the EDP isn’t making enough money — don’t just kill it, restructure it and lessen the discounts.

    It had been one of the most aggressively discounted prices you could get in the U.S. — with the stipend and the discount you could “save” more than $9,000 on the top-end vehicle. Even the lower-priced vehicles had a very significant discount.

    I hope to take part in the program some day — if it still exists. The price was a big reason I looked at it originally, but now I covet the experience …

  4. Wait a minute…hold on. I thought SaabUSA said last week that it was going to be available for 08 models, just delayed because of computer system restructuring.

    Now they are killing it for this year altogether? Did I read incorrectly?

  5. Joe – it looks like Swade is saying that he is hearing different stories about EDP from different people. If the program was definitely being killed, then I would think that it would have disappeared from SaabUSA’s web site instead of saying “check back later”.

    It sounded to me like the objection to the program was that it’s underutilized, not that they are losing money on the sales. If it is the money, then they should focus on beyond-the-car items like optional packages (Volvo’s EDP discounted their packages for a limited time too), accessories and more “adventure” tours like the Ice Experience (but closer to Trollhattan).

    EDP was featured in a New York Times article this summer. My sister wanted me to consider something other than a Saab until she read that article. Can’t GM anticipate the negative press that would come from canceling the program?

  6. If they drop EDP, I will probably not purchase a Saab. I was looking forward to picking up a 2008 93 next July or August.

    I will end up sticking with my Honda Accord.

  7. Yeah I guess we’ll just wait and see. I think I might have to wait until mid-year now, which might be better as EDP may be around (or not) and the centerpoint will be available, and heck who knows, maybe bluetooth.

    Regardless, I think like Swade said, even for Brand image along you need to keep it. It can’t cost Saab that much to keep EDP around. I wouldn’t think there is much overhead.

  8. i was planning on “european delivery” for my next saab. such an attractive package. seems mean-spirited to kill it. penny-wise; pound foolish.

  9. Does anyone have any information of Saabs purchased through the EDP? If it’s less than 5% of total vehicles sold in a year, then it’s almost impossible to justify. Yes. Corporate America has clouded my mind!

  10. I’m a 2006 IDS customer and took my 9-3 2.0T delivery on the 4th of July. The thrill of that, the package immenities, Euro-driving, Factory tour and Saab Museum visit combine to create an irreplaceably great bond between the owner and Brand that promotes loyality and word-of-mouth advertising tha GM would be loath to ignore!

  11. I hope the program is not foolishly eradicated. Actually I wanted to do this, I was going to get a 2007 9-3 but financing was messy, so I was going to save up the next year for a larger down payment and do the EDP, and I explained the program to alot of people because a fair amount of people I know had no idea it existed. Its a great marketing tool and entices many buyers, first timers (like myself) and re-occurring customers. Don’t be stupid, GM.

  12. Too bad if true. I’ve been starting to research the EDP program for a pick up next August (though I wasn’t sure if that would mean on 08 or 09 at that point in the year). Anyway I looked at this as an enticing way to get back into Saabs (owned numerous Saabs in the past but wanted AWD for the snow), given that we will looking to get rid of our current Audi Avant next year. The 93 XWD Sport Combi & EDP seemed like a nice way to combine a vacation with the new car purchase.

  13. There really is nothing cooler in all of Saabdom than picking your new car up in Trollhattan. Hope there will be a chance to do it again. Sadly the value of the lame dollar vs. euros or kronors surely makes this more difficult. Its pretty well confirmed…another victim of Cheneys “global war on terror”?

  14. With the current $4K-$5K discounts, there really isn’t a financial reason to do the EDP anymore. Would you still do the EDP if there was no discount or if you would have to pay a premium on top of the MSRP (or MSRP minus the current discounts)? I would…!

  15. Have owned 11 Saabs, the last 3 of which were part of the European delivery program. Was planning on returning to Trollhattan in the fall of 2008 to pick up our 12th. Perhaps that is not going to happen. Too bad.

  16. I too was considering the EDP for ’08. Not just for the Saab but the full experience. Without the discounts and experience this program provides sadly I can not justify spending 30+ thousand on a new car at this time.

    I’ve enjoyed reading this board the past 6 months – keep up the good work Swade!

  17. The Saab EDP/IDS was the 5th largest selling Saab “dealership” in 2006 to give you an idea of volume. It would be very sad if it were discontinued but from my perspective not unexpected.

  18. Maybe Sweden will kill the EDP! My car arrived yesterday. That same day, I got a ticket in the mail from the Swedish traffic authority. I was assessed a “congestion fee” for driving into the old town center of Stockholm (a camera got me). Had there not been a gay pride parade going on, I never would have been diverted onto those hellishly narrow streets.

  19. I wish I could do the EDP. However, SAAB does not currently offer it for leases, only purchases. I trade in too often to do a purchase, so EDP is ruled out for me.

  20. We did the EDP in May of 2006 with all the frills (travel subsidy, taxi from Goteborg airport-in a Volvo V70!? to Trollhattan and the Ronnum Manor, a plant tour, Saab Museum visit, fabulous dinner, breakfast the next day) all culminating in the delivery of our 9-3 SportCombi. We toured Southern Sweden, Denmark and Norway for two weeks before dropping the car off in Goteborg on our way home. The 9-3 was delivered to our dealer seven weeks later. It was a wonderful experience, and we were planning to do it again in a couple of years, maybe scoring a 9-1 ???

  21. We’re also planning on doing the EDP this year, hopefully for a TurboX if at all possible. I called a local (B&B in Santa Clara–nice, but they had only vague information about the availability of the TurboX) dealer last week about Euro Delivery–she mentioned the program being unavailable til sometime in October. No mention of the program being cancelled at all. The Saab program looks great, but I suppose I’m ambivalent–I’d be just as happy with an S4. Perhaps it’s time to try something new.

  22. I was originally skeptical of the corporate-speak being put out about the European Delivery. We’ll see what ultimately happens, but I think it would be a blow to the Saab brand to end the program.

    We’re very interested in the EDP for 2008 and very much the kind of customer GM needs to reel in for Saab. We’re not interested in any other GM brands. And like some of the other posters here, a Saab would be the most we’ve ever spent on a car.

    We were blown away by the ’07 9-3 Aero on a test drive and all but decided we’d be willing to spend more on a car for it, especially once we learned about the ’08 changes and the EDP. The idea of driving your own car in Europe — and getting a great deal on it, too — would be hard to pass up.

    If the EDP is canceled, there’s still a decent chance we’ll buy a new 9-3 Aero, but would have no urgency and could even wait until MY09. If the program needs to be a bit less financially attractive (as has happened with the Aero Academy), so be it, but I’m sure there’s a way to make it work.

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