Ok, I know it’s MY changeover time, but current numbers and circumstances are giving Saab’s critics and those who aren’t fond of GM’s large brand portfolio a huge target to aim at.
It seems that people at GM definitely are working on Saab – but not in a good way. Whether it’s Saab USA or GM’s beancounters at work in these situations, something’s definitely amiss.
Consider the following:
1. The European Delivery Program is believed to be under threat thanks to some over-zealous beancounters in GM’s corporate office. Check the comments at that link to see the number of people who have done it or are planning to and you can see, because of the great word of mouth advertising that this program draws, that this will be a blow for Saab in the US.
2. Sales for anything but the Saab 9-3 are down. Way down.
3. Saab’s advertising spend has been bottled up this year to give some more punch to the new 2008 Saab 9-3. That’s great for the last quarter of this year, but the brand’s total ad spend for next year hasn’t been increased at all. Thanks again, beancounters. Way to grow a brand.
4. Word has come through this morning that GM/Saab has suspended all leasing programs for outgoing 2007 models. There’s still a bunch of these left and dealers are going to have to push them at buyers only, rather than lessors. With some of the bigger dealerships doing their business with around 80% of customers leasing, you can see how hard they’re going to be doing it. I just checked the current offers at SaabUSA and there’s a “check back soon” message with regard to 2007 offers.
5. Saab was once again the highest spender when it came to incentives offered during September. Want to clear those 2007 models without offering lease deals? Then look for this unwanted title to stay planted firmly on Saab’s shoulders.
Again, a lot of this boils down to the fact that GM has under-invested in Saab, leaving dealers with only one mainstream model to sell that’s perceived as being a current model. The 9-5 is a great, great car but gets little love from the press and virtually zero advertising money.
The 9-7x is a niche vehicle inside a niche brand. A good SUV, but well under the radar.
The pipeline’s looking good over the next few years, but until a time when Saab dealers can show people a 9-4x, a new 9-5 and a 9-1, it’s going to be tough going.
Whilst the 2007 offers aren’t up on SaabUSA’s site, I’ve had advice come through that there’s cash on the hood of 2007 models AS WELL AS 2008 models.
There’s nothing on the Saab website, but the story is as follows, from advice via email this morning:
Saab 9-3 2.0T Combi —> $4,500
Saab 9-3 2.0T Sedan —> $4,000
Saab 9-3 AERO Sedan —> $5,500
Saab 9-3 AERO SportCombi —> $5,500
Saab 9-3 Convertible —> $5,000
Saab 9-5 —> $5,000
Saab 9-7X —> $5,500
Saab 9-3 2.0T Combi —> $2,500
Saab 9-3 2.0T Sedan —> $2,500
Saab 9-3 AERO Sedan —> $2,500
Saab 9-3 AERO SportCombi —> $2,500
Saab 9-3 Convertible —> $2,500
Saab 9-5 —> $2,500
Saab 9-7X —> $3,000
CNN Money have an article today on “GM’s plans to out-maneuver Toyota”, which actually praises the multi-brand strategy. I don’t say “actually” because I disagree with them, it’s just that I’m surprised as most media outlets talk about stripping down GM’s brand population.
They cover each brand individually and in brief, have this to say about Saab:
Some people just absolutely will not buy an American car. So GM has an answer for them. In 2000, GM took full ownership of Saab.
The famously quirky Swedish car brand presents a challenge for the famously corporate American company, though. The very reason for GM’s existence, after all, is platform sharing. What’s the point of being General Motors if not to share engineering and development costs across different consumer brands?
On the other hand, the very soul of Saab is that of independence. Saab is a counter-culture product. You buy it because you want to be unique. They look and feel different from other cars.
And that’s how it should be in an ideal world.
But an ideal world is some time off at this point. Right now we live in a world where the guys charged with selling Saabs to the public have very little in the way of variety to offer. As good as the coming models are believed to be, right now they’re still ‘coming’ rather then ‘here’.
Saab might well be the automotive equivalent of New Orleans right now. It has a less than stellar present but the possibility of a bright future if the decision makers can pull their heads out of their own asses.
I love the cars. I love the brand. But some off this stuff just makes my blood boil sometimes.