Life is colorful and full of surprises. Especially if you are a fan of the small Swedish brand Saab. With Saab you go through ups and downs, you suffer with the brand and still loves it or just because of it. Saab, or rather the new Saab owners, want from the 34. Week in Trollhättan build new cars. It is not yet safe to 100%, but possible. In the next few weeks, the confirmation, then the adventure really starts.
It is the one side to build cars. The other is to market them. The skeptic would say that it looks bleak here, the optimist would see the challenge here. Let's see it as an adventure and ask ourselves some questions.
The basis for the reboot is 10 years old and has a big facelift 2008 already behind. Currently, the Saab 9-3, he would run unchanged from the tapes, so in Europe no longer eligible. The regulations for pedestrian protection changed at the beginning of the year, a redesign of the front building would be necessary. What new crahtests would entail to get approval for sale.
The classic 9-3 would then run for 24 to 36 months from the Swedish bands. Would convertible, sedan and station wagon find their buyers? Saabsunited discusses this topic over and over again, and commentators, mostly from the US, say Saab should be guided by the prices of Hyundai and Kia.
Which would be as realistic as asking Aston Martin to offer the model range at the VW price. Saab is a small manufacturer, and whether it's 60.000 or 100.000 vehicles, Saab is and remains small. What we have a problem with. Selling over the price would be fatal in our case. Small is synonymous more expensive and with a vehicle that is no longer fresh. The prizes will be more geared to Audi and BMW than to Kia and Hyundai. What is feasible if you provide a well-equipped equivalent, paired with individuality, Swedish design and a story that only Saab can tell.
Because the missing size does not have to be a blemish. Small can be good, if small is different. If you remember that Saab is simply Saab and does not want to be BMW. Neither the brand appearance nor the dealer structure. Saab once again has the chance to become something very unique. Presumably, the brand really has 9 life, and we're probably at number 8 or 9.
Where the new vehicles are to be sold to is still a secret today. At first the focus was only on China, but actually they only wanted to build electric cars. With the move to conventional drives, this plan will have become superfluous, as will the pure focus on the Chinese market. One thing is certain: NEVS-Saab does not have its own sales network. If you want to sell cars in 7 or 8 months, you have to accelerate. And now it's getting really adventurous and not for the faint of heart.
The market in China ...
For China, “Sabo”, according to the current brand name, is absolutely unknown. A distribution network does not exist, the brand is not on the shopping list of wealthy Chinese. There was the story - we remember - with Pang Da. The big Chinese car dealer had ordered a lot of Saabs and had already paid for them. Pang Da was very optimistic at the time and wanted to start big business with Saab. However, the signs were different than the current one. Pang Da would have primarily ordered the 9-4x and secondly the 9-5 II. Then only the Saab 9-3. As everywhere in the world, the rich and beautiful, or those who think they are, are crazy about chic SUVs. NEVS-Saab has no SUV and no large, heavy prestige sedan. In China, status and horsepower count. That's why there are vehicles in China that we don't have. Powerful Audi SUVs with petrol engines, for example, that would not be for sale in Europe.
It's going to be difficult in China. The brand is unknown and there are still high import duties. A challenge and a long way.
The US market ...
For Saab it was once the most important market ever. When Spyker took over Saab, people in Trollhättan assumed that Americans would continue to be crazy about Swedish metal in the future. The bill had been made without GM. The Americans sabotaged the dealer network as best they could and prevented a successful restart. By the time Trollhättan responded, it was already too late. The name Saab is damaged in the US, and even today there are unsold new cars at some dealers. Despite high discounts! The bankruptcy of Saab North America and the difficult spare parts situation over the months have contributed to that. Meanwhile, the situation has stabilized, which is pleasing. The supply of spare parts is running again, but until the brand has recovered from this image damage, it will take time.
The market in Europe ...
It looks comparatively good in Europe. There are also differences between the individual countries here, but Saab Parts AB has managed to successfully conserve parts of the dealer network. Let's talk about Germany! Germany is the home of Porsche, BMW and Mercedes. For those who want to sell cars worldwide, who want to be successful, Germany is the benchmark. This is where the competition is most intense, and the “Autobahn” and “Nordschleife” myths are well known in the automotive world.
It is not without reason that manufacturers from China sell their products to Egypt, Turkey and the Balkans. They do not (yet) dare to go to Germany. And if, then there was a bloody nose. At least so far. Will Saab 2.0 be taken seriously, then you have to achieve in Germany at least respect successes.
It would make sense to cooperate with Saab Parts AB or to buy the company from Nyköping straight away. What should happen quickly. Because the German branch, which has successfully stemmed the erosion of the dealer network, specializes in after sales. The question arises as to how many employees are needed to set up a new importer. The original Saab planning, from Victor Muller's time, provided for a workforce of between 20 and 30 employees for the German branch of Saab Automobile AB.
New jobs would have to be tendered, dealer contracts newly closed, agencies will be charged. We do not even want to talk about trade fair appearances. All this with a pretty tight schedule. Adventurous, or rather, a challenge. Germany is representative of England, France, the Benelux countries.
On the other hand, there is good news. They are somewhat specific to Germany, but can also be transferred to other countries. A well-known Saab partner sells one or two used Saabs every week. Mainly 9-3 II with low mileage, which he organizes from all over Europe. His problem is that he doesn't get enough cars. "The community is intact”He said in conversation a few days ago. Since there are no more new cars, his customer file has grown every month, and he probably sells more used Saabs a year than when there were still new ones ex works.
The Saab 9-3 II is therefore appreciated. He may be a bit "old school" in some things. No distance radar, no collision warning. No fuss, what constantly flashes, rings, warns. Driving a car, the responsibility of the driver and not the computer, can be so calm and relaxed when you drive the right car. The motor press is sure to pounce on these things when the 9-3 hits the market. But things like that can't upset us, we're used to completely different things.
The timeline is short. Damn it for a moment, and it's time to fire a twinturbo. The KW 34 starts with the 19. August 2013 after the Swedish summer holidays. Today is the 17. January 2013. There are no sales-building activities so far, the clock is ticking loud. Coming soon, the green light for the restart in the factory, then the much more adventurous restart on the markets must follow. The goals are ambitious and require a lot of money. If the investors have these funds, then everything can be fine. We are there and follow it almost live. As I said: life is colorful and full of surprises!