Rant: Auto Observer and the 2011 Saab 9-5

Michelle Krebs is one of the editorial grand poo-bahs at Edmunds Auto Observer, a respected figure in the auto industry with an impressive CV:

Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst and Editor at Large, has covered the automotive industry for more than 25 years, regularly writing for publications such as The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, Parade, Motor Trend and AutoWeek. Before starting her own business, she was staff writer for Automotive News, covering the financial beat and General Motors Corp. Krebs has written a column for Inside Line, Edmunds’ high-speed online car magazine and the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site, since its launch in January 2005. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor of Business at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. An award-winning writer, Krebs has served as president of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit and is a graduate of Syracuse University.

Now that you’re familiar with Michelle and her work, click here to watch a quick clip at Edmunds Auto Observer, where Michelle Krebs hosts a chat about the 2011 Saab 9-5.

That’s Michelle Krebs, on the right.

Edmunds Saab 9-5

OK, watched the clip?

I have a couple of problems with this.

The whole thrust of the clip seems to be the Saab 9-5’s $50,000 price tag. Is the car worth this much? Has Saab ‘earned’ the right to charge this much for a car? (which, by the way, is one of the more annoying questions I’ve ever heard – ask any consumer how much ‘right’ any given car company has to charge for a car and they’ll tell you that ‘right’ is about $5-$10K lower than what they’re currently asking.)

Assuming she’s talking about MSRP, she’s pretty close to the mark for the top-of-the-line Aero model. But she seems to overlook the fact that there are three models in the 2011 product line that are priced beneath the Aero.

  • 9-5 Turbo4 MSRP* $38,525
  • 9-5 Turbo4 Premium MSRP* $43,435
  • 9-5 Turbo6 XWD MSRP* $48,030
  • 9-5 Aero MSRP* $49,565

Those prices are from Saabusa.com, but even Edmunds itself has the listing for the base model Saab 9-5, albeit at $39,800.

Krebs and her offsider talk at length about how hard it’s going to be for Saab to convince people that they’re a long-term proposition, despite the fact that they consider the 9-5 to be a very good car (and there’s no mention of other new cars that are quite literally just around the corner, either).

The other thing is that whilst $50,000 is a lot of money, and there’s no doubt about that, the 9-5 comes very well equipped at that price. And I’m not the only one saying that, either. Conclusion: it’s not aggressively priced, but it’s very well equipped for the price they’re asking.

My thoughts to Ms Krebs: Yes it IS going to be a tough road for Saab, but you don’t have to make it tougher than it needs to be. You work for a prominent organisation and you need to take care. If you’re going to do a piece on the 2011 Saab 9-5 model line then please make sure you include the whole model line, not just the one, most expensive model.

I tried to email these thoughts, but the Auto Observer contact link under Ms Krebs’ sideline bio returned a “Page Not Found”.

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