A year ago today, the Saab dealer tour 2011 began in Germany. The day before, we had picked up two new Saab 9-4x and two Saab 9-5 pre-production models in Trollhättan. The fact that it came to the tour through Germany and then through several European countries is thanks to the tenacity and personal commitment of some Saab employees.
Let us remember ... Saab had to cancel the 2011 IAA participation at the last minute. The company fled under the protective shield of the restructuring. In Frankfurt Fechenheim, at that time the seat of the German Saab branch, the idea of an alternative IAA and the desire to bring some Saab 9-4x and new sports suits to Germany arose. The idea was good because simply waiting to see what would happen in Sweden was never the alternative in Frankfurt. The plan failed due to the conditions in Trollhättan. The administrator appointed by the court, who should have approved the action, first had to be trained in the topic.
But the idea was born and the team around Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher continued to work on it. A few days before the tour started, the green light came from Sweden, and the tour schedule was created and implemented overnight, so to speak. The commitment came so quickly that there was no more flight to Landvetter. In the short term, a press car was organized to return to Sweden, and we were able to drive to Trollhättan by car. Keeping in mind the constant uncertainty of whether we really get the cars, or if the project would topple at the last minute. We were sure only in the moment when we started from the Stallbacka to the south.
The fact that an external blogger could provide media support was revolutionary. A whole new experience - for Saab and for me. In Trollhättan there were reservations about entrusting a pre-series car to a stranger. The marketing department was worried, the development department was against it, and quality assurance found the idea out of the question. But in Frankfurt they fought persistently for the idea and prevailed with endless calls.
The tour itself ran on such a small budget, approved by the administrator, that I can not write about it. Because the car industry reads with and nobody would believe that you can move so much with so little. What did we learn from the dealer tour? Looking back with the distance of one year, two certainties remain.
Saab could have moved more!
The tour through Germany was like a wake up call for the Saab driver. As if the customers had been waiting for an action like this for years. The new 9-5 sports trolley and the 9-4x were received enthusiastically everywhere. The longer we drove, the better the feedback. At the end, drivers from other manufacturers came to the Saab partners to see the new cars. Believe it or not, some people blindly ordered a new Saab during the event.
If one had allowed the national companies more freedom years ago, Saab would have sold more cars. Something crazy, or rather, unconventional actions would have done the brand good. For who is small, he must drum a little louder to attract attention. And he should not take the greats as a role model, with their well-stocked war chest he can not keep up. The marketing budget that leaked out in ads for the Saab 9-5 launch would have been better laid out in a well-organized roadshow.
The model year 2012 would have been the best!
Unfortunately, the Saab 9-5 was introduced too fast. Anyone who has driven the pre-series to the 2012 vintage will see this very clearly. The chassis of the Saab 9-5 would then have been what it should have been from the beginning. The four-wheel drive in the 9-5, then equipped in series with eLSD, would have been among the best that there was in this class. The new materials in the interior and the large station wagon, all this Saab would have promoted back on some grocery list. The Saab 9-4x would have been the treat, and the Saab partners would have had a car for the first time in years, which they could have distributed.
All this would not have saved Saab, but it would have taken the time needed to find new long-term investors.
Ok The German Saab team fought. It has - and I am proud to say so - brought ideas to Trollhättan. The Swedes were skeptical, the other markets were skeptical. But we made a difference, we showed the flag. From the most difficult circumstances, with the smallest of resources, more was achieved than was actually possible. Other European markets have taken over the tour, and if production had started in 2012, there would have been a lot of German orders on the table.
Our creativity did not save Saab, conditions were against it. But we have moved something, have shown courage. All Saab employees who were there. And if you look at the picture of the team that has picked up the cars in Trollhättan, I can only say one thing: That's what fighter hearts look like!