I’ve spoken this morning with Mike Colleran, head of Saab Cars North America, about the story I wrote last night concerning the Sewell group of dealers in Texas and their forward decision to stop selling Saabs, adding a Subaru franchise in what looks on the surface to be a replacement of their Saab sales effort.
The underlying condition in this situation is one where GM may be insisting that dealers do not have Saab in the same space as other GM brands. The wider concern with this condition is that it may force other dealers to shed Saab for their showrooms as well, as they may not want to invest in a new building to retain Saab.
So, to my conversation with Mike Colleran.
There are a few elements in this story that will benefit from some clarification.
First, Texan customers should know that Sewell still have Saab stock left and reported deliveries last month. Mike Colleran couldn’t comment in any way on their decision in terms of confirming or denying. That would breach agreements between Sewell and SCNA. But he did indicate that they’ve still got stock to sell and can still service Saabs and will still be able to service them, so Saab customers in the area shouldn’t feel like they’ve got no place to go.
Second, the requirement to have separate showroom space was one that GM and Saab/Spyker agreed upon when signing the deal to sell Saab. In short, there was a three-year time period set and all selling spaces should be separated by that time (Feb 2013). Connected to that is the fact that it’s quite normal for brand management, whether it be GM, BMW or Audi, to ask dealers for separate space on their lots.
Third, the addition and subtraction of a number of dealers is normal in any given year, for any given brand. Dealers come and dealers go from time to time. This is normal.
And finally, the good news as far as SCNA is concerned is that they do have parties contacting them quite regularly about becoming Saab dealers. They see the range that’s coming down the pipeline and they want to be part of that in the years to come.
My thanks to Mike Colleran for getting in touch and giving the issue some wider perspective.
A lingering concern in the last article was the loss of the Sewell Group, who are very highly regarded by everyone I talk to who have had dealings with them. It’s a decision that I hope they’ll reconsider because they’re a major asset to Saab in their region.