Steve Carrellas @ New York Autoshow

April 5, 2012 in News

From Steve:

Today was the opening of press day at the NY Auto show.

Aside from four former Saab folks at the show who are still in the industry (folks who left Saab in the 90s or early 00s), I found two notable folks and had a chance to chat. One was Jason Castriota and the other was my fellow New Jerseyan, Tim Colbeck.

Jason would be happy to work with Saab if the potential new owner restarts the brand and gives him a call asking for that support. As for Tim, his badge still said SCNA. And he is apparently still “working for Saab” via the US administrator to see what can be done to improve the warranty situation and ensue the Saab Parts company works out. He is doing all he can to support current US Saab owners given the situation. And he felt it was an obligation to do so. That bodes well no matter how Saab’s future turns out.

Thanx for this Steve! =)

19 responses to Steve Carrellas @ New York Autoshow

  1. Good to see a positive attitude across the pond!

  2. Any news about Simon Padian? Once Saab is resurrected we would like to see as much continuity as possible – the beauty that is the new 9-5 is his team’s baby.

  3. Agreed!

  4. … as I said: don’t be too quick to discount the US. We want more Saabs!! :-)

    • Yea Ryan, the US needs Saab’s but they also need to sell the cars without discount… just selling Saabs and making zero profit is not good =(

      • As a dealer employee, I understand that selling the cars at 0 profit only serves to de-value them in the public eye and in the market. But, really, what would you have a dealer principal do? These are 2011 MY vehicles- already a year old and in need of discount in order to remain competitive in the market. Then add that there is no warranty support for the vehicle. Now don’t forget that there were so few 9-5 models built that folks considering purchase of one have to also be really careful because God forbid they have an accident- where will they get the body parts? Ideally, no, we should not have to discount the vehicles, my beloved SAABs, so deeply. But realistically I don’t see how we cannot. Just another POV

      • Actually I had a discussion with Wesley Harris at Dirito Brothers Saab in Walnut Creek about this very point and it turns out that the dealers over in the Mid-West/East Coast of the United States actually had a huge amount of Saab inventory, and when the bankruptcy hit, they had no choice but to sell off a big chunk of inventory and downsize their operations. Yes, there were (sadly) some dealerships that had to close down completely but, the point I am making is that they couldn’t sit on such a large stock (Julie@KellySAAB, please chime in on this: Is it true that a dealership needs to cough up insurance payments for every car that is sitting on the lot?).

        But aside from a necessary downsizing of inventory, there doesn’t seem to be a “fire-sale” by any means. Dealerships, such as the one in Walnut Creek, has not had this problem of needing to drastically cut inventory so while there are some big discounts, it’s nothing like what we saw with the larger dealerships. Going forward, I strongly suspect (and Julie feel free to chime in on this one as well) that they are going to hang on the best they can albeit on a smaller scale and once the new owner takes charge, SCNA will spring back to action.

        • I feel fortunate to be at a store that was not a single-point so is still able to sustain business operations. We had just 14 SAABs on the lot on Dec. 19 so were not in the position that larger dealers were- some with 100 cars from what I understand. However, looking at it from the dealer principal’s POV – all he can see when he sees SAAB right now is red ink. Sure, if SCNA is revived as part of whatever happens in Sweden that would be great and I have to think we will want to be a part of it. But, in the event that does not happen, or does not happen as quickly as we may all want it to, he needs to move this inventory which is only losing value every day. And yes, we had to buy these cars and insure them as you suggest, Ryan, so that only added to the expense.

        • I suspect that Tim is concerned with Saab’s revenues from the US market even before the bankruptcy, and perhaps even before the bad news of the past year or so. In Europe Saab cars command a higher price and thus more profit than they do in the US. That’s a fact. But, if Saab is going to have a presence in the US market, it cannot be in a vacuum. It has to compete with other brands and thus the pricing has to be very strategic. BMWs and Audis sell for more than Saabs, as do Volvos. If Saab wants to compete with these brands at the same prices it will need to make some significant improvements, both to the interior feel and the exterior of the vehicles. A facelift upgrade every 5 years is probably not sufficient. And here’s the thing, at least in the US I see Saab fitting into a different category than the above (though similar to Volvo in many respects). It’s more in between a VW and a BMW/Audi–a near premium or near luxury, with an emphasis on a professional buyer that isn’t as much interested in showing off. And for that, the price Saabs sell for (under normal circumstances) in the US is about right. For better or worse, the US is a market-driven economy, when it comes to cars and anything else. If Saabs are to be sold in the US, it has to find its place in the market. Some real advertising would help, too. Volvo, VW, BMW, Audi all flood the TVs with ads. Even before its big troubles Saab didn’t. So, that, will have to change, and maybe then the prices could increase. But really, Saab will have to decide who its market is, have a plan for regular upgrades, and price competitively.

          • The automotive market in the US is particularly competitive for sure. And with US gas prices being lower than that of Europe, that means the market for high performance yet fuel efficient cars is smaller in the US as well. But, with that differential in fuel prices at risk of changing (and other political reasons): the auto market in the US is gradually becoming more like what you find in Europe.

            But you are correct SaabMan in the fact that marketing needs to stepped up here. I personally like the late Saab interiors, and get many compliments from people on it, but I do admit that some parts could be improved for sure (the stock door handles being *the* big one).

            • I love my interior, too. No question. But the trouble is that most buyers are comparing the interiors of one make with another. On its own the newer 9-3 interiors look really nice. I particularly like the two-tone of my parchment seats with the black dash/console, and even the wood grain. It’s a nice, clean, “Scandinavian” look. However, if one is comparing it with all the bells and whistles of other newer models, especially with BMW, Audi, and the new S-60, it’s probably not quite there for most buyers. That’s perfectly fine for me, as I am not most buyers. Saab wasn’t competing to get my business. I was a previous Saab owner who went to a Saab dealer to buy a newer Saab. Going forward, though, Saab can’t rely only on those who are already committed or it will end up in the same place again. So, if anyone has good ideas about how to sell Saabs in the US for MSRP to increase profits I am sure the dealers and SCNA would be all ears. But until then, Saab faces a tough market with loads of competition both at the higher end and at the more economical.

  5. Tim your right about that but I feel that there are way to many factors that played into the trend you’re referring too.

    I would have been willing to pay more for all of my SAABs and I think the dealers would have happily made a profit per unit had the chance been there.

    Sadly though there are to many people that just look for “the monthly payment that they can afford” rather than anything else.

    Then add to that the wonderful, all knowing, all seeing, great and powerful group of omnipotent visionaries that is GM (sarcasm anyone?) and you end up with a product that while it will appeal to the core fans, it will appear to be an underachiever in its design and luxury to the masses.

    In this country (the USA) everyone wants perceived status (i.e. the brand name that supposedly makes them sound wealthy) but wants to pay Daewoo prices.

    It’s a bad mixture.

    There are several more reasons and many lie with GM trying to “force feed” SAAB to too broad a market but it is 5:30am here and I have not even gone to bed yet. I’m tired and really only checked in for any updates.

    Oh well…here is to a new day for us all and a new day for SAAB (soon).

  6. I’ve always been impressed with Tim Colbeck and what he has done for SAAB in the short time he has been with SCNA. The fact that he feels “an obligation” to stay on and try to help SAAB owners and dealers through this diffcult time just confirms my respect for him.

    • Tim is a real plus for Saab. I hope if things work out he’s able to stay on board.

  7. What a bummer for me this year’s show is. I live on the Hudson River about 40 blocks north of the Auto Show and have zero interest in the show. Last year I made a visit just to see the new 9-5SC PhoeniX and wasn’t disappointed. I would have purchased the 9-5SC off of the showroom floor if I could have as I contemplated the long wait until November 2011 when they were expected to go on sale. There had just been a first shutdown of the assembly line and bad things were being written about Saab. As a reader of SU and “knowing” the companies long term prospects, I was concerned but not overly worried. Boy was I wrong. Now a year later, we’re all reading tea leaves and clutching at straws about whether we’ll ever see a new Saab again. So its a sad sad thing to read about the show and know that Saab is missing, perhaps forever.

  8. Saab was the only reason I went to that show in the past years.. looks like I’m not going there this year..

  9. It is very sad. Knowing that the majority of people here in the U.S. would rather
    have (and pay more) for a Toyota or Honda with steel wheels, hubcaps, and drum brakes..sigh.
    Except for the flying car the show has not gotten much press.

  10. Oh and one other thing-I am not surprised to hear that Tim is being so supportive. I had the pleasure of meeting him at our January We Are SAAB event and he struck me as quite genuine.
    SAAB Up!

  11. Interestingly, I went to the Chevy gig for work and saw the new 2014 Impala. After a brief presentation from a GM employee (drone), I approached him to ask a few questions. One was the platform used for the impala. When his answer started going in the wrong direction, I said no…Holden, or epsilon. He looked at me like I had 2 heads and said epsilon. I replied saying that I did see a lot of Saab in it. Don’t think he know what to make of me, and turned away…….