US Saab 9-5 pricing – the peanut gallery is murmuring

Edmunds Auto Observer is the first prominent column to come out and criticise Saab’s US release of the Saab 9-5.
As you may know, the US release starts with the V6 Aero version, which is priced just short of $50K and on first glance, looks like it costs more than it’s Teutonic rivals (until you option them up and completely hoover your wallet clean).
EAO goes with the subtle headline….

How To Say ‘Suicide’ in Swedish: 2010 Saab 9-5 Is $50 Grand

… which I’ll come back with:

How to say Kneejerk in American: Edmunds Auto Observer

My emphasis added.
I’m not going to sit here and defend Saab, or Saab Cars North America, and their release strategy but it does pay to look a little deeper when considering these things.
1) Saab are starting from a very small manufacturing base and have to make very delicate decisions about what to send where. The writer calls to mind the pricing of the first Lexus as an example, which I assume must have been priced ridiculously low in order to get attention and make up the money on volume.
Well, Saab can’t do what Lexus did and it’s dead stupid to think that they can. They can’t produce the volumes that Blingoyota produce.
2) From what I can tell, Saab will start the US release with a V6-only, Aero-only lineup for the 9-5. They’re bringing the best equipped model they can into the US (with one exception – no sunroof for 2010 apparently). If you’re going to get some out there – and it’s going to be a small volume, probably less than 1,000 2010 models – then it doesn’t hurt to get the best ones you can out there.
3) Focusing on this small volume of 2010 models – which will suit 600-900 customers perfectly – takes one’s eyes off the fact that there will be lower priced and more economically specced models coming down the line in a matter of months. The 2010 model run will be very short.
4) Imagine you’re a car company and you’ve got to re-stock your global market, virtually from scratch. You can only build so many models and you can only make the best of the model mix you’ve got available. Where are you going to send the V6s and where are you going to send the I4’s?
To the places where they’re most likely to sell. That’s where. For the V6, that’s the US and for the I4, it’s Europe. You can do a broader mix when more options come online in 2011.

Like I said, I’m not trying to stand here and play defence for Saab or Saab Cars North America. They can fight their own strategic battles.
But publications like Edmunds should look a bit harder and a little further down the rabbit hole before firing off like this.

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