There’s been some detailed reporting at Wards Autos, who have been speaking to Saab’s new Executive Director of Sales, Adrian Hallmark. There are a lot of topics covered, but the most fascinating one is possibly a more aggressive entry into the Chinese market.
We know that Saab has pockets of enthusiastic fans all over the world, and that includes China as well. The Saab Support Convoys saw a number of gatherings there – Guangzhou, Shanghai (twice), Ningbo, and Beijing. Hallmark is quite keen on Taiwan as well, and we know how much they love their Saabs.
Here’s what Hallmark had to say:
Newly reorganized Saab Automobile AB intends to enter the booming Chinese market Oct. 1 with a soon-to-be-named distribution partner and an eye on growing sales to at least 5,000 units annually within three years.
“And if it all went well, maybe close to 10,000 with our current product range,” says Adrian Hallmark, executive director-sales.
China represents just one of several new markets Saab plans to enter near-term…..
…..also wants to restart operations in Canada and Japan and launch sales in Australia, Russia, Brazil and perhaps India in the coming months.
But China, where first-quarter sales totaled 4.61 million units, nearly twice the U.S. volume, easily carries the most potential.
The following shows the value of recruiting Hallmark. It really was a strategic masterstroke.
Hallmark knows the situation in China firsthand. Before joining Saab in March, he worked as executive director-Asia at Volkswagen AG and also oversaw the introduction of Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. in the region.
Volkswagen, he claims, has very little brand awareness in China. It sold 970,000 cars and trucks in the region last year by linking with local companies Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and FAW Group Corp., but sold another 13,000 without their support.
“If Volkswagen can do 13,000 import cars with virtually no brand awareness and no benefit from being linked to FAW, or SAIC, anybody can enter the market,” he says.
Hallmark believes Saabs coming vehicles, the 9-5 and 9-4x in particular, place Saab in a great position to make inroads into China.
“…..for us, either by design or serendipity, we are well-positioned in terms of the footprint of the vehicle and the drive trains that we’ve got planned,” Hallmark says.
“They are perfect for China. And with my little bit of experience there and passion for the market, it’s just a question of being hyper-aggressive, hyper-prioritized in terms of where you go,” he adds. “Don’t get distracted, find the right partners, get the back office support and go.”
It’s a very interesting read from Wards. It’s subscription only, though there’s no need to subscribe to comments, where it mysteriously appeared earlier today.
The article goes on to talk about the importance of the US market and the position of the company as it builds its inventory and tries to re-enter the marketplace.
Thanks to Aaron C in comments.