Is Price The Answer?

So many times we have heard over and over again that price is the most important thing to a successful brand and was where Saab went wrong. Do we all believe this though? Was Saabs biggest mistake simply price? For me it is not that simple. Of corse price is important but it’s not that simple and you need more than just a good price.

The average consumer is not like most of the readers here and do not know their intended purchase like a Saab owner does. This makes the need of salespeople to help get the purchaser familiar with the car they intend to purchase which is partly why I so strongly disagree with Teslas sales network. This post is not about Tesla though and I wont focus on why I so strongly disagree with their way of business but to say that I feel a dealer body is needed no matter what kind of car you sell and as a consumer it gives me more confidence in a brand to see dealers who are happy to sell the product.

Back to price. Now it must be said, I am not comparing cars here because there is hardly any similarities at all. When we talk about price or even type of car needed for the market, people often say that Saab needed a small car and a low $20’s price in the american market. Another auto maker with small cars and low prices is Suzuki and just last week American Suzuki Motor Corp announced plans to leave the US market. I know, I know, Suzuki is nothing like Saab. The comparison though is that if Saab had brought out a small and cheap car, would it had sold? Sure it would to some extent but how many would they need to sell to make it worth doing? In the first ten months of this year Suzuki sold 21,000 vehicles, a feet that Saab hadn’t reached since 2007. With the sales Saab had seen in the last years, 10,000 units a year seemed hard to crack but sales were steadily increasing and I believe the 9-4X would have added to that year end total but Suzuki couldn’t make it work with sales of 21,000 cars in the US and one analyst stated rather harsh the comment below.

“Basically, Suzuki does not need the United States, and the United States didn’t need Suzuki,”

So, a small car or cheap car, is that what was needed? I think not, would it had been nice to see? Sure it would. In all fairness to the great people at SAAB, I think they were headed in the right direction with the 9-4X. The 9-4X would have ignited the North American market and because it wasn’t built in Sweden meant that it was possible to make money on it. The trouble would have been that GM could limit how many were built and therefore how much success SAAB would have with it.

It will be interesting to see where SAAB Cars goes with NEVS and what they introduce to us in the future. As far as what they need to be a successful company selling cars to the masses, heck, I’m in the business and even I don’t think I have a clear enough picture as to what they need to say what it is. My personal thought is not in line with people who figure cheaper is better or a small car is the make it or break it. I think that wether we like it or not, EV’s are a part of the future and they should invest into it and build from SAABS success in the past. Look at where Saab has experienced success and build from it. Make another cross over down the road to replace the 9-4X because it was an anticipated vehicle that was going to sell well but don’t rush into anything without clearly understanding the cost and payout.

We all want to know everything that is going on in NEVS and feel that we have a right to know because we love everything Saab, Saab is our drug of choice and we all have opinions as to what is or isn’t needed. In the end, they have the right people doing the right research who are way more qualified than me or any of us and I trust that they will know what is or isn’t needed for the brand to rise again wether that be price or model.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Jason: First off, the answer to your question is a resounding yes. Second, actually, it is sort of simple. Let’s take your Suzuki example. I will speak for the U.S., since that is what I’m most familiar with. Suzuki is best known here for selling motorcycles. Thus, $24,000 for a Suzuki seems to be a king’s ransom. A consumer might ask “Why should I pay $24,000 for a car that’s made by a motorcycle company?” Saab? Their reputation is for luxury performance cars. That same consumer might say, “Wow, a Saab for $24,000? I thought they were over $40,000. If… Read more »
Harriet
Member
3 years 10 months ago

No, we wanted our Saabs to be a comfortable car with the bells and whistles, and we were willing to pay for it. I never saw Saab as a mid-20s car, more of a competitor with BMW, Audi or even Mercedes.

TonymacUK
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I love my MY12 9-2 SC TTid, but, sorry, it`s not in the same league as BMW, Audi or even Mercedes.

dave elloway
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Tony, I agree with you, I love my ’11 9-3 Aero XWD, but it doesn’t share the same category as my ’10 MB C-300 4Matic. Both are excellent vehicles, both have things that they do very well. Both are very comfortable for long distance travel. They aren’t in the same league, despite my 9-3 being a year younger than my MB. The build quality and feel of the MB is superior hands down, I love it’s styling, but when I grab keys to go, they are for the SAAB. Both put a smile on my face, the SAAB fits me… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Harriett: Problem is, now you don’t have Saabs at all. You might have been “willing to pay for it” but not enough people were—or they wouldn’t have gone belly-up. Also, I’m not suggesting that they not offer what you are describing, only that they also offer an entry level car to bring new buyers to the brand.

Harriet
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t know which Audis and BMWs you are driving – but the BMW I drove (which was a small one), handled like I imagine a truck would have, and Audi has the worst track record for repairs – I will miss the Saabs I drove and hope there is something out there – my daughter just bought a Volvo and is happy with it – but the news on Volvo isn’t great either.

mrrun2fast
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I have owned 3 Saabs and none of them have been perfectly reliable, but I knew that going into to it when I bought them. I think the same could be said for any European car in terms of reliability. If you truly want a reliable luxury vehicle, then you would look at Lexus or Acura.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

True. If you want your car to be as reliable as a kitchen appliance, and frankly just about that exciting—-get something from Japan. I also bought a Saab fully expecting some issues. I’ve been surprised that at over 8 years old, it really hasn’t given me problems—-although it’s very low mileage because I have other cars to drive too.

SpinM
Member
3 years 10 months ago
In reality there is no right answer right now at all. There is no way, you can sell 9-3’s at prices as they were in numbers required to make profits and if prices are lowered to the extend to make possible to sell numbers, they would not allow for profits. While there are currently no other options available to NEVS to remedy this situations, the question is: Do benefits of restarting the production of 9-3 (if it is even possible considering the parts availability) outweigh the downsides od doing it. The benefits would be: – activating supporting industry, – accelerating… Read more »
Can
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I think part if the problem was that GM was trying to make Saab something it would and could never be. The vehicles are built so well you can drive it for 10 or more years and put on more than 250,000 miles (my last car a ’97 9000 was retired last year with 230,000 miles on it). They are not throw away cars–you buy one, fall in love and you never want to let it go or at least I do. How many of us that have become part of the family? My mothers favorite child is her ’88… Read more »
Sylvie Garceau
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Just a quick comment… I can tell you though.. that they were more SAAB cars I ve ever seen in my life in the USA….. so can we compare with Suzuki? not sure…… For me, it will remain a mystery as why SAAB sales were not bigger….

900 classic cab
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Maintain the price but they have to feel just a bit more premium. BMWs 3 series aren’t that good (and quite an old fashion interior design in my opinion) and people aren’t afraid to pay extra money for that. And what a plague they are…everywhere you turn your head there’s one.I think SAAB didn’t sell more mostly because of the German competition and reputation, which, by the way, isn’t that great for someone who knows a few garage mechanics. It’s all about image !

Baver
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Have to agree with you 100%.

Seb
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Dave, Thank you for your insight as I agree there alot of reasons why SAAB could of been more successful than BMW over the years and we all know why.. I love my 9-5 and how it drives, how it smells, and how it engages me in an emotional way which the BMW fails miserably (mother drives a 328i) However, I do believe that BMW, albeit expensive to maintain albeit, strange and inconsistant reliability (in some models) are screwed together more competently than SAAB (pre and post GM). (I am just being honest) My mother’s 2012 BMW 3 series just… Read more »
Kimberly
Member
3 years 10 months ago
> BMWs 3 series aren’t that good (and quite an old fashion interior design in my opinion) Yes, they are that good. > And what a plague they are…everywhere you turn your head there’s one. Come to Boston. SAABs are a plague here; they are at least as commonplace as the Toyota Camry. > I think SAAB didn’t sell more mostly because of the German competition and reputation, which, by the way, isn’t that great for someone who knows a few garage mechanics. You don’t know what you’re talking about. BMWs are superior to SAAB in every performance aspect, and… Read more »
guy davidson
Member
3 years 10 months ago

BMW overpriced marketing car like apple is to computers.. not that nice in my opinion…Based on test driving the 3 and 5 series this fall for my wife’s car options…Plus they are for smaller people -at 6-2 and 225 – my 9-4x is perfect

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Dave: I have a ’93 BMW 325i and I also have a Saab 9-5. I love both cars for different reasons. But really, have you driven a BMW 3 series? My ’93 feels as tight and responsive as when it left the showroom. The plastics/leather are exceptional. The paint still shines. I love the feel of the car and the exhaust note. There’s a reason why BMW consistently gets rave reviews on the 3 series—-it’s a great car. Doesn’t drive worth a damn in the snow—-but I have four other vehicles to choose from.
Jesse Crandle
Member
3 years 10 months ago

After Saab dropped the hatch in the U.S. a lot of hot hatches seemed to crop up here. Personally I loved the European feel of a Saab, or what I as an American thought a European car was. It looks like to me that hot hatches are a big deal in Europe, and that’s what I love about Saab, it was a real European hot hatch, not a watered down for the US version. Small, light, relatively powerful, relatively spacious, good cargo, very well executed, timeless form. That’s what I want back…

Mark
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Saab intended to bring back the hatch. It even originally intended to make a hatch version of the 9-3 SS but GM put paid to that.

Catriona
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Yes, yes, a hundred times yes. The European car market in Australia is already fiendishly overpriced, but SAAB Australia over stretched itself – a 2012 Audi A4, for example, retails for about AU$65k, and brand new Saab 9-5s when they came out sold for close to the A6 price (around 80k).

This was massively, massively overpriced for a car that was realistically more in competition with a VW Passat as far as brand prestige is concerned. Even now, dealer 2011 9-5s are listed at ~$49k. Way, way, way too much.

turbin
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Except that the 9-5 is even more spacious than the A6 without that many true compromises, reputation aside.

Baver
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Reputation/image counts for a lot. Fit and finish in the German vehicles were better than the 2011 Saabs. That being said, I love my 2011 9-5 Aero XWD and I love that it was made in Sweden. I would’ve dropped the money for the 9-4x, but when I found out it was assembled in Mexico I ran away. I think a lot of people would’ve done the same.

Catriona
Member
3 years 10 months ago

That may be true, Turbin, but you’re missing my point – market *perception* of a Saab in Australia is, and was, around the VW range. Not the Audi/BMW/Benz range. Saab effectively priced itself out of its own market, which turned off even loyalists (let alone failing to attract new buyers).

It’s exactly the same problem being faced by GM/Holden with their Commodores, trying (and failing) to compete at the same price point as Audi etc without having the market perception of the product to match it, regardless of the quality of the product.

hughw
Member
3 years 10 months ago
There’s obviously no one answer why Saab sales in the US weren’t bigger. Back as recently as 2007 and 2008, Saab sales were probably closer to 30,000 than 20,000 and that was down from years prior. Then there was a huge drop to near nothing with the uncertainty regarding the company during and after the sale from GM. It’s not a stretch to think that Saab could have rather easily had 30,000 in sales if not for a few factors: — continuing uncertainly about the product — lack of a crossover (9-4X) until it was too late — a stale… Read more »
hughw
Member
3 years 10 months ago

and as for price, I’ve always thought that the sweet spot was about 10-15% less than a comparable BMW or Audi, but certainly higher than VW, etc.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I agree with you about pricing of the cars Saab has offered. 15% less than a COMPARABLE BMW or Audi is about right. But my suggestion was that they also needed a new, smaller model, likely a hatchback, that would be about 15% HIGHER than a COMPARABLE VW or Mazda, to get new buyers to the Saab brand. Fact is, Saab could have successfully floated in between VW and Audi (and the others mentioned) with cars that were perceived as “better” than VW/Mazda/Subaru, and worth 15% more—–and cars that were considered “as good as” Audi and BMW, and a good… Read more »
Silas
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I agree with this too. If you don’t have a smaller, lower priced model to attract younger buyers then they will go buy a VW GTI and then just move up the VW line to a Audi or go with a Honda Civic then move up to an Acura (which to me is more of the comparable level). BMW and Mercedes are in another league with Lexus trying to get there. All of the Lexus IS turbo owners should have been Saab owners with the right price point and quality. Acura IMO is a good competitor for Saabs because they… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

It makes a lot of sense. If Mahindra had won the Saab sweepstakes back in the Spring, it’s possible Mahindra could have sold their sport ute wares (and maybe a couple small cars) in the same showrooms as Saabs, with the same service departments, etc. Then, you’d have parent company Mahindra as the Honda from India angle, and Saab as the Acura comparison.

Jesse Crandle
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I shouldn’t have jumped the gun with my last post, there was much I could have added, but here’s the dilemma I see with I see with the U.S. market. Americans want big tacky chromed out blingy rides with a water bed suspension that glides over ripped up pot hole filled roads, they want lots of room, they want to take the kids and their 5 friends to soccer practice… they want an Escalade or something similar. That’s not at all what I want in a car. I want a car that fits 4 or so people and the ability… Read more »
rune
Member
3 years 10 months ago
My dad’s observation is that a typical Mercedes is built to feel like a big car (i.e. boat with wheels). His favorite story is of a Mercedes driving friend who worried about stopping over for a visit. The road leading up to my dad’s place is apparently very narrow… My dad got out his measuring tape, and the Mercedes was no bigger than my dad’s 9000. Yet, on the road, the feeling of “big” was overwhelming in the Mercedes. If ‘size’ keeps you from taking the NG 9-5 out for a spin, then you are missing out. Big time! 😉… Read more »
MarcB
Member
3 years 10 months ago
The Suzuki situation cannot be compared to Saab. As I understand it, there was basically one model, and the image of a motorcycle was a problem. I’m amazed that they sold 21,000 vehicles. With Saab, there was a line of cars, and it made sense to develop Victor’s concept of an entry level car that could be purchased in the mid $20K’s … to experience some of the Saab brand … comfort, reliability, sportiness and handling, and move from the 9-1 to a 9-3. and then a 9-5 as the new Saabista built more financial capability to trade up. over… Read more »
meccano
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Suzuki US had (has, they are still for sale with a warranty) a small four door car called the SX4, a hatch back version of same called the SX4 SportBack, a AWD version called the SX4 AWD Crossover, a mid size sedan Kizashi (that’s a problem right there), a SUV called the Grand Vitara and a full size pick truck called the Equator also available in a 4 door crew cab version (American built by Nissan). Seems like a small, but pretty well rounded line up to me. Perhaps is not a fair comparison because Suzuki is known mainly for… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
But in 2006—-was that when they were selling rebadged Daewoos? Or was it prior to that? For a time, didn’t they just slap a grill and emblem on Daewoos and sell them as Suzukis? And they moved a lot of them as I recall. Anyway, their initial success was with the Samurai and Sidekick—inexpensive little Jeep-like vehicles that totally played well to the image as a motorcycle maker and those vehicles were embraced by bikers as well as young people—-because of the image of being made by a motorcycle company and also the low prices. The names “Grand Vitara” and… Read more »
meccano
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I’d have to dig around for the reason, but they stopped selling rebadged Daewoos (by then called GM Korea) in the US around 2006 or shortly there after which was also around the time that GM divested their holdings in the Suzuki. The SX4 and variants were made in Japan as was the Kizashi and the Vitara SUV leaving only the Nissan built pick up trucks made in North America. Since they had low profit margins to begin with and they didn’t sell that many cars added with they certainly weren’t distinctive from their competition plus they had to try… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
About a year ago, I wanted a weekend hauler, used, and relatively cheap. I was thinking if I could find a Suzuki XL7 in good shape, cheap enough, I’d take a chance on one. As it turned out, for some reason, they weren’t very cheap. And to make matters worse—-the nearest dealer (if I needed dealer service) is in another state. And I live in Virginia, near Washington, DC, not exactly the sticks! The nearest dealer is Maryland, outside of DC. In morning traffic—-easily and hour or more from me. No dealers in Northern, VA????? Anyway, I ended up with… Read more »
reino
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I’d say, that Saab needed a smaller, more fuel efficient model in their portfolio due to the 9-3 and 9-5 getting bigger and bigger. But the focus would not lie in the specific U.S market, but in the European market instead. Maybe not a small car like the Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 or the Peugeot 107, but more like a VW Golf, Citroën C3, BMW 1-series and the Mercedes A-class That size, with maybe a price around 20-25000 Euro, i think it would have been better to make a car like that, instead of f***ing around with the Saabaru 9-2X… Read more »
turbin
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Price is/was not the answer. Presenting and selling the deeper value in Saab was the answer. Jason, how hard did you find it to sell a Saab once you had somebody in the dealership, demonstrated the integrity, quality and safety and had them take a drive? My belief is that Saabs involve a deep integrity of manufacture and that you pay for the intangibles as much as the touchy feely stuff on the surface. This became diluted a bit in later years with decontenting, less real leather on seats for example. Safety, longevity, general ruggedness are all things I would… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
In the U.S., many decades ago, Packard went out of business. Many people say that Packards were better than Lincolns or Cadillacs—-that they were the finest American cars ever made. But they lost the competition and went away. People say it was hard to describe in a brochure why they were better—-that their superior build and engineering only became evident after years of ownership, and there was not a good way to say that and make it stick. “Imperial” (Chrysler owned) also made incredible luxury cars and ended up losing to Cadillac and Lincoln. Funny thing is that Imperials cost… Read more »
Šarūnas Burdulis
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I think this study is still a good read: Who killed Saab Automobile? I find myself re-reading it from time to time. In a nutshell, small auto manufacturers stand little chance these days, if they try operate alone. As sad as it is, Saab had a chance within GM. Unfortunately Saab management didn’t succeed outsmarting GM dimwits enough in order to maximise use of GM resources, yet keeping producing something distinctly Saabish. The whole premium/luxury trend probably wasn’t right either. Sharing a platform with GM shoudn’t have been a “liability” and all the name calling, regarding Opel Vectra etc. (more… Read more »
Thylmuc
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Ui, Mifune! Audi does not really share “a” VW platform. They share the same platform for A1 (iirc, not sure) and A3 (Golf). And that’s it. The A4/5/6/7 are based on the MLB, while all others use the MQB. (longitudinally mounted vs. transversally mounted). The A8 shares some parts with the VW Phaeton/Bentley Continental, but is Aluminium.

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 10 months ago

That is confusing. I meant all other VAG cars use MQB or related, older platforms. Sorry

Šarūnas Burdulis
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Thylmuc, thanks for the explanation.

Another case study might be Škoda, which now survives as part of VAG, if I’m not mistaken. They might have had little chance going it alone.

Šarūnas Burdulis
Member
3 years 10 months ago

A bit more re: price. After a lot of trepidation, I just traded in our trusty 2007 9^3 SS for a new 2011 9^3 Turbo4 XWD here at one of the former Saab dealerships in New Hampshire, USA. It took me several weeks to make a decision, and all that time almost none of the new inventory at a few ex-Saab dealerships here has “moved”. They are being offered at nearly 60% MSRP. And it is not too hard to get another $2k off. Yet these great cars are still not selling…

rune
Member
3 years 10 months ago

The parts situation is still not 100%. It is getting there, and I believe most of us 9-5’ers will be fine. But meanwhile, I think the perceived uncertainty (and lack of warranty of course) takes its toll. As a result, you probably got quite a bargain out of this!

MeanSabean
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Angelo it’s time to buy another Kia or maybe a Hyundai!!!!!!!!!!

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Mean: Yes, it might be time for that, and they’re available. If it’s time for another Saab, I’m afraid I can’t buy a new one. Gee, I wonder why?

MeanSabean
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I’ll tell you why,you don’t have the cash $$$$ or your to darn cheap! Don’t use availability as an excuse, if if they where available you still wouldn’t buy a new one!

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Mean: I bought a new one in 2004, when my son was about to be born. Had no problem with that new car purchase and still have that car. Sticker was discounted about $6000.00 or $7000.00 as I recall, making the car worth what I paid. The record shows (the bankruptcy/going out of business record that is) that the masses disagree with you. Those who had enough cash decided Saab was charging too much and they opted for a different brand—-be it for refinement, resale value, image, etc. Makes no difference. Those who didn’t have enough cash also opted for… Read more »
Quixcube
Member
3 years 10 months ago
If your brand is strong enough, you can get away with charging a premium price for ordinary materials and performance. Saab’s brand hasn’t been strong enough for that in a long time. When your brand lacks strength, you have to put more out there for people to experience if you want to charge a premium. This could be done with noticeably better materials + better operation (either better economy or better performance) + better service. It could be done with a great story and clever image. You have to put something out there that buyers can tell their friends and… Read more »
Chris Hansel
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Jason; You are a car salesmen, and a very good one I’m sure. Let us take a trip down menory lane shall we? If you look up Saab in the old NADA books you will find that until GM purchased the company in 1990, or so, Saabs were coming into the North American at list prices( below) that of the big 3, and lower than most imports as well. Saab did not enter the US market as a luxury manufacturer. That came later. Saab established itself in America as a VW competitior. It later tried to compete against BMW and… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I’ve tried to make that point many times, but you just did it better than I have. Right on.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

(Responding to Chris Hansel above, well said)

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Car buying is not about price, but about image. At least in the ranks where Saab played. Build the car that your target audience wants, and they will come. Look at Jaguar. When being sold to Mahindra, they decided to provide more equipment and raise the price, since they knew they had to make more money per car. The target number of cars sold was however lowered. Seemed to work, at least until the recent crisis. Or Porsche. When they introduced the Panamera at a higher price then the competing S class etc., I really thought that they would not… Read more »
Mark
Member
3 years 10 months ago
It was Tata not Mahindra that bought Jaguar and also Land Rover. I still feel it was GM who was much to blame for Saab exiting the hatchback market. One more step to making Saab a bit more ordinary. Like you say, was it not better to be king of the hatchback market than just another pawn in the saloon/estate (sedan/wagon) segment? However there are admittedly some markets where an ordinary 4 door saloon/sedan seems to sell better than a 5 door hatch. For that reason I think Saab might have considered a ‘twin door’ style 5 door (supposedly Saab… Read more »
Bravada from GMI
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I have been in many businesses for many years as well, and all I can tell you is that it is always easier to start with an expensive product and work your way to make the costs match your break-even than the other way around – hope that a cheap product would sell at volumes high enough for the thin margins to cover your fixed cost base (and pray to God your variables don’t get out of control eating any thing margin you have). It is also relatively easier to sell on price, so that you have more competition in… Read more »
talladegan
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Good solid post that. Well reasoned and insightful.

jond
Member
3 years 10 months ago

+1
IMHO also, got to be the way.

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Regarding dealership: Am I the only Saab buyer who decided without being talked to dead by a salesperson? Weird. When I had to buy a knew car, I first scanned the market for all FWD, European built cars. Then, I ordered broschures on those models. Those that were still interesting regarding their look on paper, and technical data, then got a look in real life at a dealership . Only after that, I test drove cars on a (very) short list. At no instant, I needed someone to “explain” anything to me. Nowadays, I decided that the best thing to… Read more »
rafael guerra
Member
3 years 10 months ago
First, we have different concepts, cheap car is not the same definition that small car, cheap car is a basic car without extra equipment and small car is a car below average in size. Some luxury cars are small and expensive Saab was a nich brand, with an appropiated market position, luxury european car, for top executives, saab was not for the masses, instead the saab commercial advert. and marketing was targeted on different type of people, smart people who recognized the real value in terms of money paid. In my opinion the time changed and the companies need to… Read more »
zippy
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I dont think price had anything to do with it. The perceived lack of quality in the interior plastics plus that dumbed down interior introduced in the 9-3 in 2006 didnt help.

TonymacUK
Member
3 years 10 months ago

The lack of quality in the creaking, groaning and squeaking interior plastics – not forgetting the clicking/tinkling rattle fronm the Auto A/C knb – was a big disappointment to me. But I still bought the car, (after a hefty discount, I would not have paid top whack) and thoroughly enjoy it – except for that bloody rattle!!

Carl-Oscar Alsén
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Didn’t they try a lower priced car with the 9-2X? From what I understand, initial sales were low but they eventually picked up. Not that that was a real Saab, but still…

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Carl: That car had virtually no advertising behind it at all and frankly, it was TOO MUCH like the Subaru it was derived from. But it still could have sold very well had they promoted it properly.

LarsG
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Is price the answer how to sell Saab? No, I don’t think so. The price for a Saab is depending on which market but also on the quality of the car. To many times I have read in Car magazines that the interior and exterior are not competitive with Audi. The look of a car is subjective but journalists influence on people should not be underestimated. 9-3 is the volume model and I think that Saab has never had a variant that can compete with Audi S4 and BMW M3. TurboX was good but not enough. Is the opinion among… Read more »
DUTCH900C
Member
3 years 10 months ago
The price for a SAAB wasn’t very much more for others cars of it’s size and specifications as engines and thing like that. In my opinion the biggest fault was that the people by the factory didn’t listen to the market. What i mean about that? As an exemample: Then i think back in the eighties and what SAAB said about a car with a Diesel-engine*. That was an engine they never would introduce. But then i look at MERCEDES-BENZ, OPEL, PEUGEOT, and as last example AUDi. those brands sold a lot of cars with a DIesel-engine. Why? The customers… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
“The price for a SAAB wasn’t very much more for others cars of it’s size and specifications as engines and thing like that.” Actually, Saab was charging as much or more for cars with 4 cylinder engines—-than the luxury brands were selling with 6 and 8 cylinders. Me? I like my 4 cylinder turbo that makes 220 HP (and had I stepped up to the Aero, it would have been 250—-both very respectable numbers in 2004). I like the fuel economy and the “buzz” doesn’t bother me a bit. I find it “robust.” But other luxury cars shoppers wanted refinement/smoothness.… Read more »
Samuel
Member
3 years 10 months ago
well i agree with you in a diesel engine for europe, i live in Portugal South of Europe, and here what the people want is diesel engines everywhere, those premium brands such as bmw audi mercedes benz only sell diesel engines here and have a huge reputation those kind of engines and are more economic and reliable, that was/still is a problem for SAAB. SAAB really needs a smaller car like bmw1/audi a1/mercedes benz a-class to compete and get younger people to buy those cars, i own a SAAB 9000 CSE from 1996 2.occ 150hp love the car, but peoples… Read more »
Samuel
Member
3 years 10 months ago

this his in my opinion a hit if it will see the daylight
http://saabsunited.saabklubben.se/members/samuka/album/picture/519/

melvin
Member
3 years 10 months ago

For a generic car the price has to do it. If you design and build a proper Saab, something special, you can set a higher price. I am for the later.

xelav
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks for this new post, I was getting nervous for seeing nothing new on this site for days. I think that the comparison with suckyouki is wrong, better compare a new small Saab with a mini or an Audi A3, or bmw1. That’s the league for a small Saab . People who are in the market for those cars could also be interested for a small Saab or Volvo v40 and are willing to pay a little more than that they would for a skoda or seat or Opel .

hans h
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I notice that a new small nice-looking Opel is on its way; Opel Adam. Too late of course, since GM always seems to react slow. But this car, Adam, could have been a base for a small Saab 9-2. But since GM is GM, Opel is of course getting all sorts of blame from Detroit. GM claims to make a lot of money, while also claiming that Opel loses money fast. Probably the same amount I would guess. And the deal between GM and PSA seems to be off, since the French government are loaning Peugeot money with the catch… Read more »
witek
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Here in U.S price is not only point to sell. look at bmw. their 3 series starts at 40k (holy F). im subsrcibing to all 4 major car magazines here(motor trend, automobile, car and driver and road and track). In 6 years since i started(the same time when we bought first SAAB 9-3) maybe, maybe a couple of times i saw a article about SAAB. Otherwise nothing. No tests, no drives pretty much nothing. Car magazines acting like SAAB didnt exists. I remember one of the test not too long ago in motor trend when they put together luxury class… Read more »
Šarūnas Burdulis
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Correct. I can attest that — at least for the last 9 years that I’m in US — there was virtually no Saab marketing of any form here. Probably the only reason I noticed those few Saab commercials is because I already was very interested in Saab. And yes, a complete absence from automotive media…

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

And they did spend a fair amount of money on “Born From Jets” but what a goofy campaign that was. They wasted their budget on nonsense that probably didn’t attract one new buyer to the brand.

witek
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I forget to add that BMW and MB they sell their cars like hot cakes these days so price is NOT the only thing

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
BMW and MB, at least in the U.S., have image and reputation that has taken decades to achieve. They are status symbols, with very high resale value and a dealer experience that treats owners very well in many cases. They are considered cars for the rich (unless you drive a BMW 3 that is almost 20 years old, like I do). Anyway, Saab has never, ever had this reputation. Saab built its trade, in the U.S., as the “Under $2000.00 car.” Then it was a quirky “college professor’s car” somewhat like the Peugeot 504 or 505. Eventually, it went upmarket… Read more »
RS
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Angelo, please stop with the ”the bankruptcy proofs Saab going upmarket killed them” mantra. They short time they were just that was the most successful in the company’s history but they needed big money to develop new models and modernize production. Then GM entered the scene. At first Saab was going to be their European luxury brand until someone probably noted this could expose the crap made in Detroit and everything changed. THN was left so deep in no mans land it became impossible sell cars by the numbers. Just look at the platforms, model range, engines and interiors offered…… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
“The short time they were just that (higher end luxury brand) was the most successful in the company’s history but they needed big money to develop new models and modernize production. ????? Huh? This was the most successful run in the company’s history, but they didn’t generate enough profit to develop new models and modernize production? “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” If at their peak, they weren’t doing well enough to modernize and engineer new products, the venture was/is simply impossible to succeed with. And my “entry level hatchback” idea—-I said they (i.e. Muller) should have made it a priority.… Read more »
RS
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Angelo, you are just shooting too much from the hip. It was the current OWNER in the mid 80’s that wasn’t committed to putting billions into Saabs next step in becoming a major player, not that step had been the wrong one to take. That’s why they sold to GM. It was going to be a match made in heaven. GM’s money, factory technology (reduced unit costs), dealer network, huge parts volumes etc. Are you saying they should have dumped the turbo, stayed in the C segment and just surrendered to the bigger Volvo’s? I do not agree. Base cars… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
We agree on a lot. A couple points: Toyota and Honda built their reputation for reliable/high quality cars—-selling smaller, basic cars at low prices. The Civic, Accord, Corolla and Corona/Camry—-back in the late ’70s into the ’80s—-is why they now sell Lexus and Acura cars, why they sell large and expensive sport utilities, Avalons that are priced as high as Buicks, etc. I’m not suggesting that Saab build a Corolla. I’m suggesting a small car that sells at the higher end of what small cars go for—with a nice quality interior and good engineering/reliability. Yes, base cars sell because of… Read more »
Seb
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I remember in 1982 when I sat in my first SAAB, my Uncles 5th Saab, a brand new 900 turbo. The interior was very functional, yet bland and not very attractive IMHO. And then I asked him what he paid for the car. I thought he got ripped off in a major way. Then he handed me the keys and told me to take it for a spin. I immediately fell in love. I got it. The road feel, the surge of the turbo, etc. I then felt around the dash, the glove compartment and was puzzled. Quality was not… Read more »
rune
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Seb, if someone gave you the choice, back in the 80s: The car will cost x USD, but it can either have great interior or superior passive safety. — Which option appeals to you? AFAICT, the interior suffered slightly as more resources were put into passive safety. If you wanted nice interior, there were plenty of brands that could have provided you with that in the 80s. If you’d rather have a fun driving experience combined with superior safety… Well, that was the Saab you speak of. Maybe it is possible to get everything right: Exterior styling, performance, good winter… Read more »
Bernard
Member
3 years 10 months ago
This price myth should end right now. The fact is that former Saab owners have disproportionally moved to other premium brands like Audi and Mercedes (at least in the US). They haven’t moved to low-price brands like Kia or Dodge. People here may not think that Saabs were premium cars, but their owners were certainly premium car buyers! The thing about cheap interiors baffles me as well. I had the opportunity to spend significant time in a Mercedes over the summer. This car was the same age as mine, had similar mileage, and originally sold for $10,000 more. The interior… Read more »
Thylmuc
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Interesting insight into MB! Incidently, I believe that I remember (;-)) once having read that Saab drivers have the highest average income of all “normal” brands (I assume that Bentley and Aston Martin will be exceptions).

phermansson
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Your facts that former Saab owners have moved to premium brands is not accurate, at least not in Sweden. I talked to one of the biggest Hyundai dealers in Sweden, located in Stockholm and he has traded in a huge amount of Saab 9-3’s in the last year, he told me that the same thing was applicable to the other Hyundai dealers around the country. He had more former Saab and Volvo owners than any other brand… not very strange since Saab and Volvo were the two biggest brands… At least here, people are going for more low-priced cars. Thats… Read more »
Bernard
Member
3 years 10 months ago
The data comes from a link mentioned on Swade’s blog. I left a comment there correlating the brands that Saab owners had moved to and their sales rankings overall. It was US data. Swedish data will be different, for obvious reasons; Sweden is the only country where Saab had a big overall market share. Volvo made 4 of the top 6 selling cars in Sweden last month. The top-selling Hyundai (i30) sold half as many units as the lowest-selling Volvo (XC60). I suspect that your dealer friend was exaggerating somewhat; or that he doesn’t realize that the overall Swedish market… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Bernard: I don’t know if we have or will ever have the statistics to prove one way or the other—-if former Saab buyers have gone upmarket now that Saab is gone, or downmarket as Tim suggests. I don’t know. Here is what I do know: There weren’t enough people buying Saabs. So whether this small group has decided to spend a little more for an Audi, or less for a Huyndai really doesn’t matter. There weren’t enough people buying the cars for Saab to be viable. The question is, what should NEVS pricing strategy be? My ideal is for there… Read more »
mrrun2fast
Member
3 years 10 months ago

It comes down to a value proposition. I bought a ’06 9-3 2.0T as new for $27k. I remember when I bought it, I knew I wouldn’t pay more than $29k because my perception of Saab was on par with VW. The build quality and interior was no where near BMW or Mercedes.

After Saab collapsed, I have since moved onto Audi. I recently purchased a ’13 Q5. If Saab truly built a luxurious car then I probably would have paid something similar to my Q5. It probably also didn’t help that Saab had terrible depreciation.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

All true. In my opinion, Saab can sell for more than VW, but not as much as Audi. There is a sweet spot for them—-they never seemed to find it.

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

SAAB needs what it has lacked. Cars it can sell for a profit regardless what price segment they are in.

phermansson
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Absolutely right… but how is that accomplished?

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Obviously it won’t be easy, especially given the current economic state of the auto industry. NEVS has decided that EVs will be their product (notwithstanding consideration of a petrol version, at least in the near term). I don’t know how the EV business model will work out, but it may be a market in which they can succeed, especially if the cost for which they acquired the SAAB assets in bankruptcy is low enough to enable them to produce and sell made-in-Sweden SAAB EVs at prices that the market is enthusiastic about. There may be other ways to succeed, but… Read more »
100%Saab
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Price is always a factor, but it’s really the competition in the final analysis. For GM, Saab competed against it’s other brands particularly in the US. The financial crash, however, ultimately forced the issue. Politics played a part also. Notice how the votes in Michigan and Ohio for US President are credited as being influenced by the US Auto (GM) bailout by the winners. I don’t know any US politician advocating moving US manufacturing jobs to Sweden. For 2010 and 2011 Saab just did not compete against BMW despite price.

Just a thought.

jim
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Yes. Saab collapsed because sales volumes of new models were close to zero. Why? Every car magazine generously covered and praised the beautiful new 9-5 and even the 9-4X. Yet very few were sold and almost none exist today (Well okay, about as rare as Ferraris). Sales volumes collapsed because pricing was totally unrealistic. The volume curve goes like this. At $10,000, Saab would sell over 5 million 9-5s per year in the USA alone. At $20,000, that number is probably 200,000 cars per year to start out. And it goes down. At $40,000, that number is maybe 500 cars… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Jim: In my opinion, the sticker pricing should have been: 9-1: $19,950 – $26,950 U.S. (Hatchback) 9-3: $24,950 – $34,950 U.S. (Sedan or Hatch, Sport Combi slightly higher) 9-5: $35,950 – $45,950 U.S. (Sedan, Estate slightly higher) Sport Utility – Roughly the same as the 9-5, with a wider range—-perhaps $32,950 – 46,950 My plan would be as follows: The entry level small hatchback would not have a “cheaped out/stripper” version. They would be a high quality little car, well equipped—even the base model. By adding another $7000., it could be “loaded.” The mid range and larger cars could be… Read more »
3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Before any talk of bankruptcy, well equipped SAAB 9-3s were advertised and readily available for less than $30k (often a lot less). Even OG 9-5s could be bought for under $30k in the last few years of their run. These prices didn’t exactly create a flood of sales.

Honda Accords can sticker at over $30k, and they are made in quantities that would have been impossible for SAAB to achieve in the short to medium term so a $30k (or even $35k) NG 9-5 was not a realistic expectation.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

The prices I listed are MSRP. Dealers would have backed off of them a little bit. I think my price ranges would have been realistic—-and yes, assuming the dealers would knock a couple grand off now and then. If Saab couldn’t sell the cars described for the prices I listed, there’d be no point in trying to succeed. My prices are in today’s dollars too. Higher than this for the stickers—-no deal.

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

If SAAB built an NG 9-5 to be sold in low 30’s, it would either be a huge money loser or a car no one would want.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

My starting price was around 36K—-maybe to be routinely sold for 34K. That’s mid 30s. That’s for the basic car without a lot of garbage on it. If they can’t sell a mid-sized car, decontented, for 35K, they will fail. They are not BMW or Mercedes. They never will be. Time to recognize what they are capable of and who they are capable of selling too—-and for how much. Living in a fantasy land of them moving 50K cars without sunroofs is over. It ended badly in fact.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

And I’m talking gas engine, not battery pack.

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

At that price the gas engine might be a Kohler riding mower motor.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

How is everyone else doing it? That is, selling larger displacement, more powerful engines, in cars under or around 30K, with leather, power moonroofs, navigation, kick ass stereos, etc.? Why is it that in your opinion, only Saab has to put a lawnmower engine in a car that I price as high as forty-six thousand dollars?

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

It would take years of losses for SAAB to build volume to where they could sell an acceptable 9-5 for under $35k. In the meantime, it might be a vehicle for people who like the idea of an optional mower deck attachment for their car.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Maybe they need to start building up that volume with a nice little hatchback at 20-25K.

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Maybe, but NEVS appears to have other ideas.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Hmmmm….or, they can buy some cars from KIA at fleet prices—-rebrand them as Saabs and charge a few thousand over the KIA sticker and still sell quite a few. Like that idea?

3cyl
Member
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t like it. Not that it won’t work if the goal is to increase KIA’s production, but I can save a few thousand by buying a Kia and replacingthe logos with SAAB badges – or I could save even more and simply leave the KIA badges intact.

Seb
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I have enjoyed all of your input but at the end of the day the product that SAAB was offering was too late too soon and way way way overpriced. The 2010 9-5 XWD V6 got decent reviews (not great) from TTAC, car and driver, autoblog, winding road,etc. Although it was a gorgeous execution every reviewer came to the same conclusion: GM interior controls that felt too much like a Buick, and the car was not very engaging and quite boring on the road despite the great handling capability on the track. The 4 cylinder 9-5 that was launched a… Read more »
scand
Member
3 years 10 months ago
The power of the brand is what ultimately sets the price (assuming your car is ‘as good as your competitors’ – and it seems that, for instance, a Suzuki Kizashi is on paper just as good as its competitors. Why then, did it only sell 310 units in the US in October, compared with 29000 camrys, 16000 Sonatas, 8000 Passats. It seems in the US, for a new car dealership to be successful, you need to turn approximately 30 – 50 new units of that brand a month. Audi average 35 (high average transaction price) VW is currently 50, Toyota,… Read more »
Nicola
Member
3 years 10 months ago

Problem wasn’t price. I’d rather say problem was GM. It was “from the beginning” that GM didn’t understand or was not interested to understand how to manage Saab as a brand. So, models innovation was low, advertising was not existing, so brand value was not supported while Saab good engineering was included in many GM products. This is just my perception as a passionate user.

Mark
Member
3 years 10 months ago
I’m not sure that the 9-4x could ever have been very profitable for Saab. When Saab left the GM fold, GM hit Saab with development costs for the 9-4x which were probably factored in to the unit cost of each vehicle which Saab sourced from GM. The 9-4x gave Saab a valuable car for US showrooms, but eventually replacing it with proper Saab sourced product was probably going to be quite a high priority once the 9-3 was replaced. As you suggest Jason, if perhaps the 9-4x sales had started to bite into it’s sister Cadillac model, GM would’ve simply… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 10 months ago
Responding to someone’s post here, a question came to mind: Are Saabs orphan cars? When a brand goes out of business and/or when it leaves your market, if you’re an owner—-you’re driving an “orphan.” Peugeot pulled out of North American, leaving me with an “orphan” 505. Ditto for people with Plymouths, Mercurys, Pontiacs, Hummers, Saturns, SUZUKIS, etc. What about Saab? They are no longer selling in North America and they are no longer manufacturing them. That would seemingly make them an orphan brand. But wait: If a new company owns the brand and is at least TALKING about returning to… Read more »
hughw
Member
3 years 10 months ago

This is one person who has purchased nine new Saabs over the last 30 years that will not be moving “downmarket” to a KIA, VW, or Hundai. Unless Saab/NEVS pulls a rabbit out of a hat and puts a new Saab on the US market in the next two years, my next car will be an Audi Allroad or Q5.

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