This article was written in autumn 2011 after the Saab dealer tour in Germany. He was never released because of the tragic events in Trollhättan. At the request of some readers, I now publish this article, which reflects the optimism of last year. A reading for the start of the weekend.
Close to dying of thirst. That's the right expression when I want to describe the state of Saab customers and Saab dealers. We literally long for new models from Trollhättan. Because, let's be honest, after the third Saab 9-5 in a row since 1998, things are slowly getting a bit bland. The most important question at the end of the series of articles: How do the fans like the Saab 9-4x and Saab 9-5 sports suit?
At least with the Saab Germany team there was a lot of enthusiasm during the pick-up in Sweden, which continued over the following weeks. Even with the Saab drivers who filmed us on the highway or spoke to gas stations or ferries, the approval was great.
In the dealerships it went on. The design of the Saab 9-4x and Saab 9-5 sports trolley was considered very straightforward and Scandinavian. Modern but not fashionable. Very often came the comparison with the new Mercedes E-Class, which drops in design and celebrates a beading and Edging Festival. That does not work well.
Even the interior design is considered as typical Saab. The Saab 9-5 sports trolley pre-series model 2012 anticipated and has a new design of the center console. That was very well received.
The surprise star was the Saab 9-4x. Actually, we had expected a diesel discussion in the team. Because there is no diesel, and neither does it come. Regardless, there are many customers with relatively low annual mileage, so the question of petrol or diesel no longer matters. The current price development for diesel fuel does the rest.
Very often we heard the following words: “I'm actually not an SUV fan. No, I never wanted an SUV. But the Saab 9-4x ... ”Many drivers from“ third-party brands ”also came to the Saab centers and found the Saab 9-4x absolutely great. Had our 9-4x been for sale, it would have been sold in Hamburg. I venture a prognosis: For Germany there will only be a small number of Saab 2012-9x in 4. I bet we'll see a Saab “sold out” for the first time in years.
The majority of customers will still resort to the station wagon. The Saab 9-5 with four-wheel drive and powerful engine is high on the wish list. Without exception, the continuous LED taillights were admired on both models. Light on, light off. More than once, our battery was empty.
Is the size of the 9-5 sports suit a problem? Apparently not. Because it is large, but still looks elegant and also offers a corresponding value in the interior. This is accepted by the customer.
What about customers who have churned? Quite a few Saab drivers have switched to Jaguar or BMW in the past few months. I've spoken to a few and the opinion is so clear that I'm almost tempted to say it's representative. The cars are good, but you don't feel comfortable. "This is just not a Saab" you get told. The customers come back.
Then there are Saab drivers who have switched to the other brand in Gothenburg. Strangely enough, they still come to the Saab presentation, usually have a second Saab in the family. Some Saab dealers also have the Gothenburg brand on offer. In a quiet half an hour I took a closer look at the alternative from Sweden. After careful consideration, I came to a decision. You are a Saab person and feel comfortable in the Saab, and only there. Or you are a fan of the other brand ...
Petrol stations are a special mood barometer. If I were a pollster, I would set up my office there. At gas stations you meet people who were guaranteed not to have Saab on the menu beforehand. Saab's enthusiasm for the new Swedes went from "Sau-g ... .." (Hamburg gas station) to an immoral exchange offer from a young lady to the blogger (Hessen gas station). To ask?
All right then, after the tour. Nearly. Because the tour is just a start. I could see how Saab Germany is ticking and working. I know the ideas for the future and I see the change. Saab moves close to the community.
If I asked my glass ball about the future of the small brand from Trollhättan in Germany, they would say the following:
“The course is right and the first step has been taken. But it is only a small step. Customers and dealers will need a lot of attention in the coming months and years. This requires listening and the willingness to break new ground. The path is not easy, but the products are right, the dealers are loyal and motivated and the Saab fans are unique. "
As always, she would be right, my crystal ball. And yes, I know Frankfurt is reading along.