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?
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.