It was 2008 that Saab was able to sell larger quantities for the last time. Then followed the first bankruptcy with subsequent reconstruction. A low blow from which the brand could never really recover - and which initiated the long road to the final in 2011.
The darn 10th year leaves its mark ...
10 years later, the effects are noticeable. The number of vehicles is declining, sales of spare parts are falling. In the first quarter of 2017, Orio AB, the supplier of genuine Saab parts, reported a 17% drop in sales. The previously strong sales markets in the USA and Great Britain are particularly affected.
This is neither surprising nor unexpected. The question was not if, but how fast and when it happened. Germany has been the exception so far, from Saab's point of view, better than the rest of the world. But even here it does not look that good anymore. Traders report a disappointing first quarter, and sales expectations for the remainder of the year are being revised downwards.
Bitter - after all, Saab workshop turnover is a constant for many companies. The reasons for the problems are obvious. The diesel scandal breaches the Saab portfolio. Saab, that was also a diesel brand, and most 9-3 IIs have a Euro 4 diesel engine under the hood. The scrapping bonus is having an effect, it sweeps many 9-3s off the road. Particularly tough: It is the checkbook-maintained copies, cared for with kid gloves, which are now disappearing and being exchanged for a new VW, Mercedes or Skoda. They will be missing from the used car market in the future and will accelerate the disappearance even more.
It would not have had to go this far if the Berlin politicians had timely set the course for retrofitting. Many vehicles would have been preserved, and even for older Saab Diesel there would have been a perspective. Instead, there is a total failure of creative will. Courts and municipalities will do the actual cleanup work, first driving bans will be available later this month. This is not sustainable, but sustainability does not seem to be desirable either.
What does not end in the junk press goes to export, to the Balkans, Belarus and the Ukraine. There you are excited about the many well-kept diesel from Germany, with which you will have many years to enjoy.
Answers to a changing customer structure?
Orio and the workshops are facing a big change. The small cult brand Saab mutates in the coming years to the hobby and leisure brand. As a vehicle for daily use, a Saab is used less and less, he is the object for the beautiful days. Many of our readers have a Saab convertible for pleasure and a first car another make. And there are more and more. Even in the blog team, the years have left their mark. Mark, with his gigantic 60.000 kilometers of annual mileage, switched professionally to the other Swedish brand. And I use in the fleet of a car rental company, if it has to go long distances for the job.
Where are the prospects? Youngtimers and classics will become increasingly important to the brand. Orio Sweden is clearly having a hard time with this. Sheet metal parts for the Saab 9000 were scrapped just as interest in restorations was skyrocketing. Where Orio leaves gaps, other companies see their opportunity. And they use them. There will be fenders for the 9000 again. Just not from Sweden, but from a German provider.
Orio needs to find good answers to the challenges of a shrinking market and a changing consumer stratum. In the past you always had adequate strategies in the drawer, and once again you will find a way. The workshops will also have to adjust their business. Restoration, maintenance and care come first, and some Saab screwdrivers have a convincing service today. But not all.
What we can do!
What can we do? It is important that we develop a certain sensitivity for the situation. It does not matter whether we continue to drive a Saab in everyday life or only in good weather. Regardless of whether we are fascinated by a classic 900 Turbo or an 9-5 NG. There are little things, such as the oil change at the start of the season. Instead of letting him perform at a large workshop chain, we could drive to the nearest Saab-Orio partner. Even if that's a few miles further, and if it costs a few euros more. And instead of buying the cheapest spare part on the internet, we should either order it in our workshop, or at SKANIMPORT, Skandix or Sweden partswho work closely with Orio.
A good Saab service is not self-evident. We are spoiled, at a high level with a high availability of parts. Of course, not everything is perfect and never will be, but the supply situation is good. It is up to us that she stays that way. Let's pay more attention to where we buy our parts and where to screw them.