WooDz vents on Opel and the Saab 9-4x

WooDz is one of our long-termers from the days of Trollhattan Saab. He’s got a bit of a unique perspective on things given that he lives in Germany but it is an expat Brit. Oh, and he used to sell Saabs for a living, too, so he’s pretty familiar with markets and customers, etc.
He’s sent me a little ventitorial and I figured it’d be good to get out in the open.

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There’s a few things that have been going through my mind lately and it’s now reached the point where I need to vent a little.
First up is OPEL and the recent news that Nick Reilly is convinced that GME OPEL can return to profit if they kill off 20% of their production and 10% of their workforce (not meaning they’ll literally kill 10% of their workers, but…..you know….).
I can only guess that means 95% blue collar, hard grafting people and 5% white collar managers on 4 times the blue collar wage, who for the past year have endured a few bouts of RSI, churning out bar graphs and pie charts in true GM fashion, quite possibly showing the forecasted levels of ‘Pi**ed-offedness’ felt by Magna and the German government for each month they dragged their heels on the sale of said German company.
The Great Plan also consists of injecting 11 billion Euro and bringing 9 new models to market. Naturally this 11 billion isn’t just for new models, it will also be used to improve OPEL’s facilities, meaning the canteen will now offer latte and cappuccino as well as regular filtered coffee. Maybe that’s where the nearly 3 billion Euros will go from requested government aid.
What confuses me, and maybe some of you would like to open my eyes to something I’m missing here, is why should the German government give 2.7 billion Euros in aid, when the result still leaves over 2,000 people in search of work? In January, 340,000 people registered for state benefits in Germany, pushing the total of unemployed, in one form or another, to over 10 million for this month.
How about OPEL cutting its production by 20%, cut off the dead wood in redundancy packages, stop ‘crying wolf’ to the EU and invest 8 billion Euros instead?
Even 8 billion Euros is an obscene amount of money. This is a company who couldn’t find 500 million Euros to invest in a premium brand like SAAB each year. OPEL has 9 products and is looking to increase that by a further 3 new products. SAAB, on the other hand, should have at least 5 products. A Sub-Compact, A Compact, Mid-size Sedan/Estate, Over-sized Sedan/Estate and an SUV/MPV. If you want to give them names be my guest.
If GM had invested 4 billion Euros into SAAB I’m 100% convinced that SAAB’s product wouldn’t be in so much need of attention. This 11 billion Euros is just another reason why I am so happy to see SAAB finally setting off on another course and the quicker they can stop using GM components the better. I’d much rather see SAAB use Peugeot/Citroen as a supplier than have GM receive one more Euro of their money ……..which brings me to the 9-4x.
I like the 9-4x, it fills a massive void in SAAB’s product line-up. If you don’t like SUVs then it’s not going to be for you. However, please don’t be all elitist and start spitting fire at the thought of a SAAB off-roader. If Porsche can have one, then any manufacturer can have one.
However, why on earth are we waiting until 2011 for this vehicle?
The concept debuted 2 years ago. It’s production ready. What excuse does SAAB have not to launch the 9-4X sooner? Production costs? Shipping Costs? This is the beauty of the 9-4x. GM build it, SAAB slap on their margin, customer pays for it.
I know what you’re think though. Marketing; we need flashy TV adverts. No we don’t! TV is dead and expensive. Stick to print and online marketing.
So SAAB what are you waiting for? Place an order for 100 Units per month to get started and watch your demand rise to over a 1,000 units a month by the end of the year, without the need to discount them. Keep at least a 6 month waiting list as orders rise and see how well the residuals hold on the used car market. I’m not teaching these boys anything new, just reminding them that flooding the market with unsold cars is very bad for business.
With SAAB producing just 100 units per day they are in a very advantageous position over presumably all other manufacturers who are looking at cutting production and down-sizing. SAAB doesn’t need to just right-size their vehicles – they can right-size their production too.
My hopes for SAAB are high but maybe, like many of you, I’m still getting over the fiasco of the last 15 months. I’m tired of all the what if’s. I want to see some action, new products and I want to see them soon; not in summer and not in 2011.
Now’s the time to capitalise on all the press coverage and launch a new model every 6 months, starting with the 9-5 sedan in March. If it can’t be ordered, it can’t be sold. If it can’t be sold it’s not earning you money.
Just remember you own advertising “The Time is Now!”

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