Selling Saabs In Canada – one guy’s view

This just appeared in comments and there are parts of it that resonated so much with me that I thought it would be good to bring it here to the front page.
I don’t know what International Fleet Sales has in store for Saab in Canada, but as stated below, Canada has the potential to be a really lucrative market for Saab. All of the geographic and environmental prerequisites are place. In short: Saabs make sense for driving in Canada.
Our commenter is Bernard, and here’s what he had to say in response to the news that Saab would be re-starting their Canadian effort with the 2011 model year:

This is a great opportunity for Saab to rethink the way that they are sold in Canada.
While Saabs are fairly popular here (or have been in the past), it’s always seemed to me that they’ve under-achieved. After all, Saabs builds cars that are perfect for the Canadian environment (salt, bad roads, long distances between major cities).
Saab needs to capitalize on this. Almost everyone (outside of Toronto and Vancouver) knows that you don’t drive a BMW or a Merc in the winter. Their wiring looms just melt away in the salt, and their suspensions aren’t sturdy enough for your average Canadian pothole. Saabs, on the other hand, thrive in these conditions.
I could see Saab offering a standard package that includes 4 Hakkapeliittas, steel rims, and 10 years of complimentary high-quality rust proofing (not that less-than-useless “electronic rustproofing” that some dealers have offered in the past).
It should go without saying that heated seats and mirrors should be standard in Canada.
The next step is to look at the servicing experience. Having a small number of dealers is O.K., as far as that goes, however having to drive all the way across one of our major cities in the morning and evening to get your car serviced is a non-starter. That adds four hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic to your day.
Saab definitely needs a network of authorized independent service facilities. Dealers may not see things this way, but it helps them in the long term (more market penetration, more sales).
I would also like to see a sales process that is more geared towards getting the exact car that you want at a good price rather than haggling on whatever the dealer has in stock (which is typically almost nothing).
That can be achieved with a strong web presence and more transparency. In other words, tell me what you have in stock and how much I should expect to pay for it (including any fees that magically appear after the deal has been made).
That goes against Canadian car-selling tradition, but Saab isn’t Chevy and today’s consumer has way more options.

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