Tuesday Night Snippets – profits, boats, incentives and Audis

The official US launch of the new Saab 9-5 took place today and there’s a reasonable amount of news arising as a result.

Unfortunately, I was away doing non-Saaby husbandly holiday things (i.e. touring the Tate Gallery here in London and then seeing Tap Dogs – both worthwhile) so I didn’t get to see the launch, but hopefully video will be available soon.

To the news……

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Saab makes a profit

Journalists can scrub away the prefix “GM’s previous loss making unit” from the Saab name as Saab actually made a profit in 2009 – sort of.

Deals with creditors and the BAIC deal to sell old IP actually led to a US$531 million profit for Saab in 2009. Those are extraordinary items, however, and the truth of the situation is summed up pretty well by Saab’s Eric Geers:

“2009 was not a normal year. Saab went in and out of a reconstruction phase. 75 percent of the debts were written off and we sold tools to BAIC. The annual report has limited relevance, as it does not show Saab’s global results,”

Still, whether technical or not, people will now have to say that the last time Saab made a profit was in 2009!

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Saab to make electric vehicle test fleet

From Auto Observer

Saab also is going to produce a 100-car test fleet of all-electric vehicles based on the current 9-3 with Boston Power as a partner

…and from Motor Trend:

Saab said the fleet was simply for research and development purposes, and it will only build an EV for the masses when the timing is right.

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The Saab 9-5 will land at US dealer showrooms soon

Victor Muller as quoted by Just Auto:

“We are loading boats as we speak in Sweden with 250 units of 9-5s and another 100 will leave in a couple of days,” said Saab chairman Victor Muller.

“We should see units landing in US dealerships by early August.”

He also said that there should be 20 dealers on the ground in Canada by late August, with cars arriving some time in September.

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Saab product plans – no changes

Comments today about Saab’s product plans indicate no changes from what we’ve heard already.

  • The Saab 9-4x will come in April 2011.
  • The Saab 9-5 wagon will come in July 2011.
  • The new Saab 9-3 will come in 2012. At the festival, the last quarter of 2012 was mentioned, so it will effectively be a MY2013 car.
  • The Saab 92 is still unfunded, but is regarded as a critical missing link in Saab’s portfolio.
  • All Saabs will be turbocharged (which personally, I think is a crucial decision in terms of respecting the brand. Now we need to get heated seats as standard in all markets….)

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Loyalty bonuses

There is some talk online about a loyalty bonus for purchases of the new 9-5, however no specifics were given.

There is already a $2,000 loyalty bonus available on the Saab 9-3. Details are on the SaabUSA website.

I’ve got a feeling that the online chatter is confusing these two, as an incentive on the new Saab 9-5 before the car even hits the ground in the US would be disastrous for the brand’s image rebuild. It’s be the same old GM approach and Saab are supposed to have changed from that.

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Saab GB to relocate to Milton Keynes

There’s a great article over at Autocar about Saab’s future plans for the British market. In short:

  • Saab GB to move to Milton Keynes, separating physically from GM, by the end of the year.
  • The aim is to increase sales from just 7,000 last year to 20,000 by 2014/15.
  • Saab aren’t forecasting big efforts in terms of attracting fleet sales, which is a significant surprise and will certainly make the growth they’re talking about quite difficult to achieve (the UK market is dominated by fleet sales).
  • That 20,000 figure includes 5,000 sales of a vehicle that isn’t certain yet – the Saab 92.

I’m not sure about those targets. I remain pretty convinced that the 92 will come to fruition, but I would forecast and bet the farm on it. Firmer efforts in the fleet area would seem a more conservative way to build up the market to me.

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Saab 9-1 fanbase being heard online

OK, so they’re referring to it as a Saab 9-1 instead of the Saab 92 being used by VM, but I think we’re talking about the same thing here.

Facebook efforts at designing and thereby compelling Saab to build a new smaller car are getting attention in the online motoring media. There were several reports online today, but this one seems to have the most pictures….

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Audi A7 comes

And finally, meet a new competitor to the Saab 9-5….. and it has a hatch.

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