The Boston Globe has an interview with Brian Nesbitt, Vice President of GM Design North America.
Toward the end, Nesbitt is asked by Globe reporter, Royal Ford, what he’s driving:
I had a Saab 9-3 Aero for the summer. I test drive a lot of the stuff we’re dealing, and right now we’re kind of in the 2012 time frame, so now I’m driving next-generation Enclave, next-gen Acadia, next-gen Escalade.
Well, at least he had one for a while. It’s important to get these movers and shakers from GM into these vehicles so that they can see where the strong points and weak points are.
He also had a few things to say about Saab’s target market, which were interesting:
That’s what I love about working for GM today, because there are so many brands to target to different customers. I mean, there’s Hummer, with extreme mission equipment. With Saab, we target upper liberals, small engine displacement, appearances that originated out of the Nordic region, all those play together to portray an image and a value system that upper liberals appreciate.
I….kinda……really……really……hate that sort of thing.
The cars were built a certain way for a reason, whether it be practicality or safety, or whatever. He makes it sound like their designing Saabs just to suit a particular demographic.
“This is Joe Saab-buyer, and he will be attracted to X, Y and Z”
Therefore, apply X, Y and Z to chassis “E” and all will be right with the world.
The problem is that the market, especially the American market, can be so fickle. And what if you get the definition wrong? He’s pushing Saabs at ‘upper liberals’ when polling here amongst Saab readers indicated that the minority of respondents were left-leaning, politically. Perpetuating the stereotype at a cost to the integrity of the car’s a dangerous business.
Perhaps I’m taking his response the wrong way here, but it sounded a lot like formula-driven planning. I worry that marketing is structured the same way.
It’s great to see that Nesbitt has a familiarity with the brand and has been driving around in a 9-3. We need GM’s brass to be familiar with Saab on a day to day level.
I just hope they’re getting it right, and getting the right insight.
Royal Ford has also put together a list of vehicles that’d make good acquisitions in 2008.
Amongst them was the Saab 9-3:
A classic for New England drivers, this Saab features an all-wheel-drive system that, combined with stability control, made it virtually impossible for me to toss it off a test track in Sweden. Simulated ice, wet corners, gravel, nasty potholes, sudden lane changes – they were all no problem. Expect to pay from the mid-20s to the high 30s.
He’s a great appreciator of Saabs in all the time I’ve been checking out the motoring press, so it’s good to see Saab making his list once again.