Germany – an example of the hard road for Saab

We’ve all been pretty pleased with how things are going – and rightly so. Saab are alive and kicking and doing what they can to recover from their near death experience.

But as enthusiasts and consumers, we also get pretty impatient when we can’t see the progress in our own backyard. Saab Sweden, Saab GB and Saab Cars North America all have their wheels rolling, but in other locations, we’re still waiting for things to pull together.

Germany is one such market and it’s an important one, too, being the biggest automotive market in Europe. It should, by rights, be at least the fourth biggest market for Saab but it lost that title to Spain several years ago. The Spanish market has since receded and Germany may well have this position back, but sales are still very low.

If I told you there were 418 Saab sales in Germany, you’d think that was pretty good for a single month. That number, however, is the total number of Saabs sold in Germany for all of 2010 so far. There were 70 Saabs sold in Germany in July 2010.

What’s most difficult about this is that dealers are still wondering when cars that have already been ordered will arrive. There is a small team working as Saab Germany who are trying to ramp up marketing and support, but according to my sources, distribution is handled in Sweden and dealers are getting mixed messages about manufacturing and delivery times.

One dealer was told that his customers’ vehicles were ready for delivery to Germany, only to have no truck arrive and be told in a subsequent enquiry that the cars were still at the factory. He says that customers are still supportive, but ‘nervous’.

One concerned German customer has written to me stating that there are only a handful of dealers in the country with a 9-5 available for testing and in the region where he lives, it’s practically impossible to get a test drive and one dealer local to him has just one Saab 9-3 left and the rest of his space is filled with Hyundais.

These are teething problems and I’m quite confident things will get sorted out.

It’s an indication, though, of just how far the shutdown of Saab progressed when GM were looking to sell the company. There are multiple countries that still haven’t got the level of support or distribution that Germany have got, my own included.

Saab will get it sorted, but it’ll take time.

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