Just though via email…..
Today, Saab Automobile AB announced the appointment of Matthias Seidl as interim Chief Operating Officer for Saab Cars North America, effective immediately. Seidl replaces Michael Colleran, who has resigned to pursue further career opportunities. Seidl temporarily takes on responsibility for Saab Cars North America in addition to his current position as Executive Director Global Sales for Saab Automobile. Saab Automobile expects to announce a new Chief Operating Officer for Saab Cars North America soon.
Seidl has considerable experience in the United States market, having spent several years as Chief Operating Officer for Volkswagen of America in the late 2000s. Prior to that, Seidl was Executive Director Sales American Region for Volkswagen and Audi.
“We thank Michael Colleran for his service and assistance in rebuilding the Saab brand in North America and the Saab team wishes him the very best,” said Jan Ake Jonsson, President and CEO of Saab Automobile AB.
I can’t say that I’m completely surprised by this development. Things have felt a little too GM-like in the US when Saab needed to break with the past – to do something to assert their independence.
Having met Mike on a few occasions now, I can tell you he’s a very likeable guy on a personal level and one who loved the brand. He was, and is, a product of his environment however, that environment being GM Detroit.
He’s always been responsive to requests for comment from SU and cared about the content of those answers. My best wishes to him and his family.
Onwards and upwards, SCNA!
123 thoughts on “SCNA chief Mike Colleran resigns”
The short CV of Matthias Seidl:
Hopefully he’ll manage the situation of Saab in the US: Build up new dealership, destroy any bad rumours of GM is blocking Saab where they can (2.8 engine in the 94x,..).
I wish him the best. He’s a man from my country. And he’s working for a Swedish company. Really wish him the best and to be successful. He must be the best choice. The US are very important for Saabs way to success.
My predictions where right, sad to say
Hi Tobias — just curious…what were your predictions?
What had You predicted?
Then what is the probability of terminating an employment the day after the presentation of latest sales figures. To me that sounds like Mike got what we call it in sweden “the band of silk” (Silkessnöret). Been fired! I bet the winds are cold at the top of the mountain and You never know who is Your friend.
“Having met Mike on a few occasions now, I can tell you he’s a very likeable guy on a personal level and one who loved the brand. He was, and is, a product of his environment however, that environment being GM Detroit.”
There is a HUGE “however” there in Swade’s reasoning, isn’t it?
I’m curious to know what the Saab dealer in the US think about this resignment?
I am not surprised. While I, too, always liked Mr. Colleran, he just seemed too much from the American GM mold. Many of the other appointments to the SCNA team were from the old SCUSA days (for better or worse) and some how Mr. Colleran didn’t seem a logical fit to me from the outset. Wish him well. Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi!
No offence to Mike Colleran, but as Saab’s current strategies in the USA has not been very successfull, maybe a new leadership is needed. Good luck to Matthias Seidl!
JH – Funny how we must have been typing virtually the same thing at the same time!
No offense to Mr. Colleran but I think this is a good thing.
While I did harshly judge your work earlier, I’m almost sad to see you resign. While many things, such as the website, etc. needed improvement, many other things, such as the prices of US spec cars were done right. I realize that you did what you could with a limited budget, but you managed, even with crappy resources, and a limited range of cars, to bring Saab back out of its coma in the U.S. with some good ideas, such as the “Saab Drive to Give” event, and incredible deals and leasing.
I’m not going to say that you couldn’t have worked harder, because we all can, or that you didn’t make any mistakes. But then again, we all do. Things could have been done a bit better sometimes, but to be honest with you, not many people knew what was happening behind the scenes, so many people only saw the public’s perspective, and not your perspective.
I hope that all that could be done to change Saab from the GM era was done and, I wish you success in the future.
“resigned” That’s what they say in the US when they kick you out the door. It’s kind of like the Japanese allowing someone to commit suicide to maintain their honor. Chances are we’ll never know the whole story, but there certainly was “something rotten in the State of Denmark.” Oops, I mean Royal Oak, and as Swade says, Saab needs to break from the past. Let’s hope that Matthias Seidl can light a fire under SCNA
If I was a little harsh in my post above, my apologies. I have nothing against Mike Colleran as I don’t even know the man, but I guess my desire to see Saab front and center in the US as not only a viable brand, but a desirable brand, a coveted brand, a cool brand, has been frustrated from by what seemed to me as missteps while VM and the Trollhatten crowd have been bold and moving forward.
Poor US sales result even if December sales where a bit better was the reason I think No rocket science
Please find some one who knows and has the passion for SAAB…How about Victor himself? Make a whole campaign around him…What would Victor do? What would Victor say? Make WWVD bracelets? Victor is a very dynamic person who can make it happen. The dealers need the help to survive also. I just purchased a 2010 93 for 24K but the list was 35K…Price the CAR right and SAAB would have more buyers or at 35K make that AWD and Nav and everything. The big rebates are not working but i think if you have an MSRP of 26K for a 9-3 with sunroof auto and heated seats people would look more. i saw a 54K 9-5 for 40k?? is it me? again price it right because SAAB does not belong in the 50’s that car wth Nav and everything should be 42K and then the bmw and mb and audi customers would give SAAB a chance…just one person’s opinion
Just like what Prof. Karlsson argues. Saab must set the right price on the products. Guess it is simple microeconomics. Guess Saab can not be priced as a luxury segment car. Then Saab management could wish for it but reality seams to have spoken in the US. The market price is not 35`its 25`on a 9-3 and 40´ instead of 55´ on a 9-5. On the Buick level.
Same goes for Sweden, the 9-5 with some bells and whistles needs to come down in price.
I don’t know…
Was looking at a new 9-5 today (not considering buying..).
The sound of the doors when closing them and the overall quality-impression left nothing to the prestigious germans.
And the design is so superior to those marks!
(besides; both Saab and their dealers have to make money on each unit)
While crossing the street outside my house today a OG 9-5 SS (latest version) in Laser Red passed me and when I just had a quick look I actually thougt it was an NG 9-5 when I looked at the headlights for a few microseconds.. then I saw the rear lights and understood it was an OG 9-5. But damn it was beautiful. Now we’re talking design language that will work for several years still.
I think that the 9-5 hardware is comparable to Teutonic 3 to an extent that leaves the choice to personal taste. What’s needed (more of) is marketing and well-polished customer experiences necessary to get prospective customers in there so they actually can make that choice, IMHO.
The 9-5 is every bit as good as the German cars and I suspect that once that lovely bit of carbonfibre trim that is “missing in action” finds its way back into the car we will see more of them leave the showroom. For me its not a big deal but for someone cross-shopping brands I am certain it is. I think what Saab needs to do to stimulate interest is to offer a market-leading warranty that backs up what we, as Saabisti, already know are great cars!!
SAAB is NOT Buick, that’s why 35k for a 9-3 is okay. If americans want european cars then they should pay european prices! Why do americans buy european cars? Because they are different and this little extra is not for free!
Jörgen, if you can’t sell 100k premium (not luxury) cars for a reasonable price you better close shop. The price of Saab is already below the German rivals (we’ve talked about this for months on end). Saabs problems started originally from an unsustainably low profit margin. We don’t ever go back there again! You’re now say they should downgrade quality? Because that’s what price dropping is in the long run. Hell no!
Saab is no Scandinavian Nissan or Ford. Tell that to Prof. Karlsson.
You must really dislike the new 9-5? Everyone who’s bought and Aero V6 praises is it. (some over their former German cars). The OG 9-5 became the tallest of the midgets and look how well that went. (no margin to justify a new model and so on)
The 9-3 is very affordable premium car already and should stay that way. SAAB needs marketing to create demand. Ones again not price/quality dropping!
it has to be said that lowering the prices will have a negative effect on the residual values of all saabs out there. it’s not the right time to madden the remaining enthusiasts.
RS– I agree that Saab should not be Ford….but at this juncture that’s a rhetorical position. We’re not delivering the goods. Last week I tucked my head in at my local dealer and cast my eyes upon a a 9-3 Aero XWD that was more than 48,000 CDN: No sat nav…210 HP….silver 17 inch wheels …Jet black…and while the exterior trim was greyed out.(smartly)..it looked absolutely ridiculous with 17 inch silver wheels ). Who is going buy this car at that price?
An Audi S4 costs only 4000 dollars more! And leased,it’s probably the difference of a medium grade bottle of wine a week (if one could competitively lease a Saab in Canada….).
As regards, the 9-5: It is boggling to me what the Canadian dealers have stocked their lots with (and not sure where the blame lies….at Royal Oak or at the dealers themselves) A ‘premium ‘ car …7 series sized… with a 4 cyl engine…few of them XWD…with no lease provisions…and no retrofittable SatNav….plus poor wheel choices. Do you know that I didn’t see a single 9-5 Aero at either Toronto dealer.
Something’s got to give…and if it’s too difficult to load them up with content then the other end of the sale see-saw [price] takes precedence. .
Problem ist this leasing culture in the US and canada. audi – bmw have to keep their produced stock rolling. so they have small margins on this leasing deals only to bring their cars on the streets – but they have the advantage of the mass. saab isn´t a massproducer. saab cannot sell their 100000 cars to prices where all of us are happy because there is no margin left.
NTP, your absolutely right. For the money their asking you should get value/quality that’s on par with the Germans in the 9-3. (interior, engines etc.)
What killed Saab over here when the sport sedan came out where these (damn) base models that had horrendous features like thin plastic steering wheels (I’m not kidding), 2 watt speakers, cheap textile seats etc.
Nothing destroyed value and image more than ‘options’ like these in so many peoples eyes.
I don’t want to see a Saab like that (even for half the price) ever again.
Jörgen, it’s interesting that when things get out in the open there is such a consensus amongst Saaber (all around the world). Maybe there is just some of that GM mentality in THN too after all those years dancing with Detroit (do not take risks and keep things on the bland side?), which is understandable, 20 years is a long time. But now Saab can’t afford that mentality anymore.
As I’ve said before people identify themselves with success stories that’s why motorsports is so important to car companies. We only have to look what WRC did to -well, Saab itself-, Audi, Peugeot, Subaru and now Citroen (btw I’m seeing more and more C4’s on the roads). Just like Merc and BMW in F1 associates them to hi-tech, prestige and reliability. So I agree the independent Saab must be out there (winning) to impress and prove themselves to people ones again.
On the 9-5. It’s a SAAB the same way a Turbo X is. It’s not a rally car (and it’s not meant to be one) but one heck (sorry for swearing yesterday 😉 ) of a highway cruiser. If they’d but a petrol TT in it at the factory, what a autobahn monster it would become. Infact that and a 3 liter diesel could sell very well in Germany.
The current 9-3 is almost as big as the OG 9-5 so the jump to to NG 9-5 isn’t that huge in the end. I’m looking very much forward to the even bigger 9-5 SC as Saab has been lacking a big premium wagon badly.
The JC 9-3 will be at least the same size as the OG 9-5 which I believe is the perfect size for that segment.
As a Toronto area dealer, I will let you we have a few sold 9-5 AEROS on order, the reason why we dont have any now is because the initial batch of cars came WITHOUT SUNROOFs, and the “heads up” was on back order and we wanted all the AEROS to have sunroofs, so we wait, its not that we did not order them its just we are correcting a factory error
As a added note, SAAB will be at the Toronto Autoshow, and we hope to have a new 9-4X on display as well as the 9-5 AERO as it should be
Hope this helps
Lee, a non sequitur: I’m a little surprised about the Auto Show, as I checked the maps about a month ago, and Saab was listed. However, the map directory listing today no longer has Saab listed. Has something changed?
Great to read Your ideas on the matter. It is a hard balance act to decide on quality and equipment keeping the high prices or go budget. Knowing the mark-up on bells and whistles that would be the way to go just like Jaguar with the XF.
Big volumes and low prices might be a way to restart a company, more cars and the road eventually leading to bigger interest in the brand and gradually raise the prices over time.
Liking 9-5 or not RS let me tell You I must have been one of the first persons in the world contacting Saab about a delivery of two cars for SUHRT. I even sent a color scheme for the design of the cars to Saab even talked to the people at exterior design to if possible get the numerical for the areas we intended to stripe. I wanted it to be top-notch.
We never got any corporate response on this. We tried to get a 9-5 then for the Midnightsunrally. They could not find one car they could loan the team for just a week. I spoke to about 5 people in Trollhättan who pushed me on to the next one finally back to square one. No car. Then they found a 9-3x…. So we striped my TurboX Hirsch and the white 9-3x for the rally activities.
I am about to once again ask Saab for 2 9-5 SC´s for this years rally. Hope for better luck this time.
No I have not test driven the v6 Aero. No such testing cars at the dealerships in the capital of Stockholm. Just the underpowered diesels and 220bhp petrol.
I want something that can give me higher/better driving pleasures then my TurboX Hirsch. Would be nice to see some track time figures TurboX Hirsch vs. NG 9-5 Aero V6. Who is on top? Can Hiper-stuts make up for the extra weight?
I like the overall design of the big elephant but wish the would take out the more aggressive nose body mould package that sits will hidden at SAAB for the moment. Birds singing early this spring….
Cockpit design since that is my true profession (besides running the SUHRT) is somewhat an disappointment seams like other people than the Human Factors ergonomics people have had the last words on final design.
So far state of the art aerospace Saab instrument cluster design is 9000 and first generations OG 9-5 (last years was disaster). Saab should have kept the genes and explained why they where different. the reason why Saab cockpits looked different compared to mainstream cars. Well one could say there is a head-up display unit as an option in some tech package. But that is in no way novel to the car industry. Vettes had that almost 10 years ago. Anything special on the Saab HUD that sets it apart from the rest of the market, not what I could have seen.
Where is the new-thinking I could draw a few things right out of my hat, temporal displays, tactile information, eye tracking, smart-communication, sensor-fusion, smart usage of GPS (I have some really great ideas, will not share them here, possibly with Saab development)
Once Saab advertised themselves as the Most intelligent car….. time for that again. I know one guy who likes some of the ideas above he is quite young and tech oriented and drove one of my rallycars in the Rally to the Midnightsun.
Usage of green light, orange hands is best
No “chrome rings”, white hands, partial hands
You mention several great future options Jörgen, but e.g. ‘eye-tracking’ sounds expensive both in initial purchase as well as maintenance?
In a military fighter aircraft, such things make sense, because they seemingly spend more time in maintenance than in actual flight… And the components they use are said to be top-quality.
How feasible is it to use such tech in a car? What would the price tag of those options be? Would someone really want to kit out a €50000 car with €50000 in added options? (just to throw some numbers out there — they are not meant to be accurate)
I just hope Saab will invite some nit-pickers when they decide to improve anything in the dashboard area.
(My ride in an Ovlov V50 yesterday almost triggered a nit-picker overload exception — I suspect you and I aren’t condemning Saab in any way, but rather trying to push them the last millimeter towards perfection)
VM and the “business plan” is built on high margin on cars to se to that their “break even” piont are as low as possible. That means that the car price are to high cos Saab thought that they could sell there 9-5 and 9-3 just a little bit under the price of an Audi, Bimmer and BMW (not working unfortunately). They tried and failed (under the present circumstances).
We all know that it´s not happening becouse of all thats happend previous years and now. So, to sell cars in bigger number means less margins. That also means that there break even point must rise to levels that scares Saab in a way (I think).
But lets face it, maybe it´s time to lower the price so people starts to buy these wonderful cars. Forget about the 85 000 “break even” thing and say 110 000 cars and start selling.
Saab has tryed to price a little bit to optimistic if you ask me and I can`t figger out another way of solving this problem in another way then as written here. It´s not fun but the truth point at that direction I´m afraid.
I´m not a proffesional on the subjekt but I know that the market had said that Saab prices is to high. It´s not the cars fault, it´s the lack of buyer thats proves I´m right.
We are good here at SU to defend Saab in any ways but that´s not enough to save Saab. You can powdering me in “knowledge” about how great every aspect is and how great everything should be if people “know that Saab is still alive”. I´m pretty sure that sales number had increased IF the price were right from start. Now another tough battle begins, how to fix this situation. The mistake is already dun.
To change leadership is a start, hope they take the right decision from now on. And if my analysis is wrong (it would sertenly sell more cars) but I´m not sure it had get more money into Saab at first but in the long run, I´m sure.
I hate to writing down this but a coulden´t stop myself. This is my way of caring about Saab. Pleas respond if you like.
I think it’s time to raise quality and design above germans and leave the price as it is. Lower prices can only be profitable when cars are sold in high quantities – and Saab cannot afford that now. So the only way may be to be better in design, materials, uniqueness, features, be more luxurious and less mainstream at the same price so that people cannot resist to buy it. That’s what Jaguar does and succeeds. Even if Jags are of lower technical quality and less reliable and their resale value is lower, they deliver some great design and are more luxurious and more premium than german rivals. So pretty big group of people buy them. For now, Saabs greatest problem is undoubtedly the interiors – materials, some design details like dashboard of GM-shared parts like audio system, steering wheel, gearbox lever or rear HVAC deflectors, lack of colour and material choices, etc. THIS is what should be fixed in the first place. People will forgive anything else which is good but not on par with germans like suspension or steering sharpness (which are actually very good on the NG 9-5) if you deliver cutting-edge design and premium comfort and quality in all interior details. And I hope Victor Muller realizes that (Spyker’s interiors are great in terms of materials – so should be Saab’s) and the work is being done. His connections in fashion industry may be very helpful.
And the second thing is to have halo versions of the cars even if they are built and bought in very small quantities. The cars that Jeremy Clarkson drives with lots of smoke, wide-opened eyes and constant happy laughing. These versions create a dream in people’s minds, and sell lots of lower-spec versions that look almost the same. Let Hirsch superpower some 9-5s to 400-500 hp whatever it takes, make some custom all-leather interiors for them, whatever quantities are, but make them as official factory models.
I know that enthusiasts welcome traditional Saab practicality and reasonable power rather than luxury and top power, but those are needed to sell cars for premium price. If we don’t have quantity, what’s else left to do to be competitive?
Michael i think people at SAAB already know that they have to “upgrade “the interior. But this is the car industry. It takes some time to change things.
This isn´t like in an TV show where they pimp cars. So things will change in future but we should give them time and make not a whining forum and repeat things they already know.
Jörgen, that’s why I’ve said Spyker interiors are “great in terms of materials”. One can argue about the design, but then Saab has lots of really great designers on board, but in Spykers the materials are really top-notch. Steel, aluminium, glass and leather, and no plastic. Of course, I’m not asking for no-plastic Saab interiors, but there should be no faux leather or crappy plastic parts. I don’t get it – why not make some really good materials like alcantara (even VW offers alcantara!), premium leather, or even wool like it was offered in 9000’s and give such specs to auto journos? We need enthusiastic reviews with some appealing photos, and for now even photos released by Saab to press when they start a new model or restyled one feature only black, white or silver cars with a black or grey interior! Why? Show the best you have, the most vibrant and top-spec cars, not the most boring! Press photos create the initial impression – and they must be very appealing, there should be lots of them (BMW releases about three or four times more press photos on every model!), and they should be easily available to anyone in top quality (say, I want a wallpaper for my 2560×1600 monitor ;)).
Andee, I know that this is car industy, but a year passed and we still have no indications of interior upgrades! I don’t think offering a new upholstery option with a certified material like alcantara should take more than a year. I can understand plastic colours or gearbox levers. Show some clues that it’s being done and is a very high priority – because it needs to be, and I’ll stop whining right away. I just do it because I’m not sure and it’s a pity to see no clue of changes in interiors for a year. I know if you promise an upgrade it can affect current sales but then make a great interior in a concept car, try the best you can to show the materials and design will change – to more scandinavian style. Actually, materials that are traditionally used in scandinavian design are consideres premium in auto industry – steel, wood, glass, stone, all natural! And that’s how I’d like Saab interiors to be – clearly shaped, light, state-of-art, natural, modern (but cozy, not the Honda Civic or Aero-X way), using natural materials and practical, with lots of useful and thoroughly thought-out elegant details, like a cupholder in the OG 9-5 (everyone who sits in my car notices it and it’s really an inspiring and different detail). Scandinavian design, nothing more. Not its imitation.
It’s wishful thinking to compare Saab to Jag… *Everybody* I know (car people or not) equates Jag with upscale, “old money”, luxury. Yes, Ford almost killed this, but, it takes a long time to kill a brand well known as Jag. Did Saab ever reach any level of mass awareness in the US (similar to Jag)? Heck no. At best, they’re known as “quirky”. What the heck is “quirky”, and why do I want it??!?
If Saab is going to copy anybody, they should look to how Audi rebuilt their brand after the unintended acceleration fiasco… my memory is they offered a better product at a better price, and threw in free maintenance. Saab has hit 1.5 of 3 (1/2 on better price – Edmunds says better, many others do not , 1 on free maintenance). Saab’s road is steeper because GM sucked out the panache through 10 yrs of de-contenting before almost trying to kill it. Customers willing to take a chance on this struggling company should be rewarded with a great deal (like those post-ua Audi customers), and Saab benefits as having more new 9-5s on the street to increase awareness. It is a sharp looking car. Once there are more cars on the street, and more showroom activity, they can increase the prices (after fixing the interior).
I test drove a 2011 9-5 Turbo4 yesterday. It is a very nice car. Love the exterior. However, there are elements of the interior that do not match the competition, and the performance of the 2.0 was a bit disappointing (well, it’s great for a 2.0, but just barely adequate for a $+40K auto – IMHO). Handling was top notch. If I decide to buy, it will be my 5th Saab (3 OG 9-5s, 1 9-3 SS). Right now, though, I’m leaning toward a ~08 9-5 because it is quicker and cheaper (so there is less at risk with respect to Saab failing). If they can’t sell this car to me, I’m not sure who they are going to sell it to.
Fix the interior, maybe tune the 2.0 up to 240HP, and, priced in the low 40s, this is good value.. although you’re still going to have a hard time selling 4 cylinders luxury cars to Americans, at least until gas stays over $3 for another 6 mos.
I have driven a Spyker LM85 can not say the interior is great. It is different. I will say no more.
As long as the 9-5 does not have an interior that fits and feels like the german cars, saab cant ask the same or close to the same price. There are other things that also should be taken up a notch but i think the interior thing should be the first to fix. The 9-5 has such a gorgeous exterior it deserves an interior to match it. First of all they need to fix the clumsy Buick level looking door interior. Just an half-drunken opinion.
How is it possible that people around here still are screaming that the NG9-5 is way too expensive, while for example Edmunds.com already concluded that it is a bargain compared to the German competition? Saab’s challenge is not to lower prices on the 9-5, but is to educate the public by showing the facts.
Stop the soft Drive to Wish ads, focus on ads with competitive comparisons to the Germans. Instead of sending money to charity (Saab can’t afford this right now), hire bloggers that reply effectively to all the cynical people out there. Educate.
Educating custumers, are you sure? I think you have to set a buying-impuls with a good product (jes, Saab have!) and a wake-up advertising or even a good marketing strategy.
Well, I’ve got the feeling that SCNA did not move at the pace they should have and Trollhättan expected them to. Just like it was the case with Saab Germany.
I hope they can find the right guy soon.
And all the best to Mike for the future.
MC may have been the right guy as a stop gap for the de-integration of SAAB from GM. We may never know how many layers had to be removed behind the scenes. That said, he was not the right man to move the brand forward in the US. I wish him nothing but the best on a personal level. I just think that managing a brand and managing a car company are two distinctly different thing.
Welcome MS! Maybe you were picked a few months ago with this plan in motion. Bring it to the US! We need people to know that our brand is not dead and that our cars are exceptional.
All markets were down and all markets grew back slowly during last year. How USA should been different place in that regard? Especially considering the disastrous inventory situation early on. There must been other reasons than just sale numbers. Maybe he was temporary solution all the long, being a link between old and new SCNA. Anyway, maybe things should not be over analyzed.
Hope this will kick-start sales operations and bring some Prussian discipline and efficiency 🙂 He knows what an Audi customer experience is about and was there when VAG ramped up in the US. Hope is hungry to do some hard work and that we will keep him!
I sat next to Mike Colleran during the at awards dinner US Owners Convention last July. He struck me as a thoroughly decent person, motivated and hard-working. I’m sure he will land on his feet and I wish him well.
100% in agreement. I believe that he’ll be on track soon.
I am sure this will generate some more interest (although perhaps not the interest desired) at the press briefing Saab is going to hold just outside the Detroit Auto Show (as reported here recently). Hopefully they will have a well prepared presentation with some encouraging news to counter this news.
I echo Steven’s comments 100%. Mike Colleran is a very capable executive from what I can see as an outsider, and his contributions were valuable to a fledgling organization like Saab NA. In fact, the very aspect that Swade mentioned as ill-fitting — his GM history — is perhaps the part of Colleran that served Saab Cars NA so well in the last 12 months or so. He was able to bridge gaps that were in despirate need of bridging. Financing, Canadian distribution, re-connecting the Saab dealer network to a new Saab Cars structure, etc. required someone who knew how to connect with the existing infrastructure. Mr. Colleran did that.
I agree with Steven as well that Mike is a courteous man that’s been generous to SaabsUnited. Much appreciated.
With all of that said, I am not surprised to read that he’s moving on, either. Good luck, Mr. Colleran.
Huvudet på spiken Jörgen!
Saab needs to sit down and start thinking of set a resinable price on their products at least here in Sweden where Saab is NOT concidered a premium car with the same price tag. Lower the price and sell more units
I don´t agree at all, Saabs costs less than the three germans and more than ford, opel toyota etc, and I think that´s perfect. If they lower prices (businessplan would break) brand status would sink into the opel, ford, renault crowd and Saab would have no chance of surviving.
My father in law just ordered a 9-3 ttid for the same price he was about to pay for a used beemer 1 series, he phoned and thanked me for showing him the light. He´s colleuge took offerts for him and his son…….
Tobias, why do you think the 9-5 is too expensive? Edmunds.com did a road test and concluded it is already a bargain compared to the German competition…
SCNA needs someone who is proactive and I am sure Matthias will be that kind of leader having dealt with a luxury brand in the past. I wish him the very very best of luck and my utmost support!
Gimme an S ………
Gimme a W ………
Gimme an A ………
Gimme a D ………
Gimme an E ………
Mike is a good guy, but he could not get beyond the GM model,because that is what he knows; and that didn’t work for Saab and will never work for Saab. He also brought with him other GM management in key positions who amplified the wrong way to get Saab back on its feet. I think you will find that most dealers will agree….It should also be stated that VM and JAJ need to seek some input from experienced Saab dealers to get our perspective on what needs to be done…..there is still a core of dealers who have long term experience and have made a success with Saab . We know what works and what doesn’t.
Len Schrader, Reinertsen Motors
+1,000 % Len !
I was just thinking of what great news this must be for you !
About what works and doesn’t — My ’94 900s V6 is really slow sometimes — it only has 238k miles, could it be time for a new car?
Well, Mike is gone, but the rest of the transplanted GM staff is still there AND they’re still embedded in good ol’ Detroit. Time for a clean sweep and moving HQ away from the big 3 HQ’s.
To Stephen Goldberger’s point – There’s a significant number of current employees at SCNA that have been with Saab pre-Detroit. I couldn’t say how many out of the 60 or 70 SCNA employees are long-timers but the number is pretty high.
Other GM Management? John Libbos’ tenure at Saab predates GM. Randy Risley’s tenure I don’t know, but no one was ever better at managing Parts and Service. He was instrumental in tech training and the defunct Master Tech Challenge. Michelle Tinson was never with GM or any other auto company. The marketing manager – I don’t know his background.
That said, the leader does set the tone, and I agree that the tone was entirely too low profile – conservative, as in the old GM mode.
Mike was very kind in person and did seem to manage the transition from GM to non-GM position in the market. I echo the comments from Steven in wishing him well, but am very eager to see what Matthias has in mind to push Saab further in the NA market. It’s going to be an interesting year for SCNA. I think a lot of the groundwork Mike put into place last year will be in effect this year, so I’m curious to see how it all rolls out in 2011.
Matthias Seidl is an executive Director of Sales in Saab, he’s job in SCNA will be “temporarily” like the story said, could be over within a few months, or weeks.
Yes I do agree that SCNA needs new leadership and it is very possible that he was pushed to resign. Seemed like a nice guy but a bit too much GM. Also he has said that high incentives are a way of life in the US and parhaps Saab in Sweden don’t want to take that road.
When I bought my 2009 SAAB 9.3 XWD (210hp) in October 2009,I paid after GM $6000 discount off the retail price $33,500 USD. For that amount of money, I was looking at Audi A4/BMW 328xi/ Mercedes Benz 300C 4-matic. Give or take a few thousand here or there…the SAAB was NOT a cheap car. However, I thought that I would take a leap of faith and support SAAB/GM. I don’t regret it. It’s a great car. No mechanical/electrical issues.
I know General Motors (GM) hasn’t done the best job in the world in the way they have handled SAAB. However, they did save the car from extinction in 1989. SAAB also received from what I’ve been told, a “State- of the-Art” efficient Automobile plant in Trollhattan Sweden. They also have made some nice improvements and some design qualities. The SAAB 9.5 is a testimony to GM. However, now its time for SAAB to improve upon what GM has previously done.
Yep – it’s time for evolution! 😉
I do think GM used considerable resources on SAAB as a brand, and gave the brand the possibility for usage of plattform technology together with a state of the art factory. I do also think that the SAAB management failed and just simply used GM was the big bank.
I do also think that the price for the SAAB 9-55 is to high, the market price consist of 2 parts:
1) the bare bone metal + some brand attributes (quality, safety, fuel, solutions)
2) the status of the brand
SAAB can currently not take advantage on 2) and therefore another pricing must take place
and I am a happy SAAB driver
I agree on 2), sorry to say but thats the fact. I don´t understand what you mean in your other points but yes GM invested alot in Trollhättan but they did far to less to develop new models. Have you read the 2 new books this year (Fröberg and Hägglund). So GM is just a joke to me, sorry to say.
I hate to be that negative but isen´t it remarkebel that the worlds bigest car company (at that time) did such a bad jobb with Saab.
Saabdriver, why do you think the price for the 9-5 is too high? Edmunds.com did a road test and found it is a bargain compared to the German competition (E, 5, A6) …
Unfortunately the new 9-5 may be a bargain when compared to the German competition but the publics perception is a completely different thing. Most in the US don’t know Saab is still in business and others that do aren’t confident of their future. Price unfortunately is what will get customers to look at them and also buy them. Then after the brand is re-established then they can gradually raise their prices. How is it good for the brand to be discounting 2010 9.5’s by $12000…… That is crazy….. Price them correctly to begin with or the brand will never survive….. IMHO
Just think how much marketing you could do with all that discount money… SCNA got it completely backwards last year. Maybe that’s why MC had to go.
I don’t think Saab management failed at all. If it were upto Saab the new 9-5 would have been reliesed years ago. If it wern’t for Saab management, ie Jan-ake, producion would have moved to Germany and Saab wouldn’t be here today.
GM never saved Saab from extinction in 1989. It simply saved Saab from being bought by Fiat. As to whether that might have been a good or bad thing at the time, we’ll never know. Anyway GM was on the rebound in 1989. It had seen Ford buy Jaguar (which to some extent it had been courting as well) and it wanted it’s own European premium brand so it could play “me too”. Unfortunately it didn’t know what to do with Saab back then, and probably lacked the resources (even in the late ’80s) to properly polish the gemstone it had scored. Sadly in two decades, that position never really changed.
I’m from Metro Detroit but I would have moved their North American HQ’s out of Michigan, in fact, I would have regrouped in Northern Virginia just like Audi/VW. Saab has always had a good following in the megalopolis region and I would have focused more on that core group.
+1…only SAAB HQ should be back where they had their best years in the US…namely New England.
As for Mr. Colleran…thanks for your time. Good luck in the future. Not sorry to see the change.
As New England seems to be Saabs best market, it’s logical to have the HQ in that area.
Really to New England? Why? It is good for Saab that the HQ is based in Detroit where GM is, as long as they share technologie and parts for the cars. It would be a disadvanatge to go to New England, you could probaly put in this area a 100 % owned Flagstore and a strong sales Team.
I would imagine that there are some pluses to be located near GM as there is probably still a bunch of interaction between the two companies. But, it sure would be nice imagery to make a break with detroit, and might also lead to new blood. Companies often base location decisions on relatively minor things (although they will swear up and down that they don’t), including where the president’s golf club is. Chances are Mike C lived in the Detroit area and didn’t want to move. Does anyone have any idea of the staff size in Royal Oak? Assuming that it’s not large, and that new people are coming in, maybe now’s the time. And my vote for location is either Orange, Connecticut. for reasons of tradition, or Silicon Valley for reasons of a real break with the past.
I have seen Mike in action and he is a good guy – But Saab needs to move away from detroit and it’s “big three” mind set. No other Import automaker has HQ in detroit, and for good reason.
Move the Saab HQ to a really cool place to live, and hire the best. Have fun and don’t ever forget Uncle Bob and his rules to live by.
As for the pricing of new Saabs — Do what it takes to move the iron — But look at it as a means of getting the product out there for people to see and talk about. But keep Saab the premium brand it has always been — Quality always costs more, but it is less expensive.
I think If someone could guarantee a good residual on the lease cars, this would really move some cars now and when the cars hit the end of the lease — think new 9-3 or improved 9-5 .
Leasing is important, for me I was ready to lease a new aero wagon in November 2005.
There were no new 9-5’s in the country, and saab leasing could care less about putting me into a new car. So I bought my 2003 Aero from the leasing company and I’m still driving it and waiting for Saab to make a replacement ( they are almost there – 9-5 combi ! )
I agree with jimmy’s comment..”Keep SAAB the premium brand it has always been”….If I wanted a Volkswagen or Hyundai….I’d buy one then…
So why? Just after a year.
His own decision or…..?
Hope they will find someone who truly understands what Saab stands for and can convey this in a way that americans and canadians understand.
When Jaguar became (sorts of) independent, they recognised that they needed more revenue per car. Accordingly, the XF was set to an unbelievable price point, with the highest (?) base price in its class, despite having an interior space on the level of the 9-3. It is equipped with lots of stuff though, and hence still “value for money”. The XF became a huge success.
When Saab tried the same with the 9-5 Aero for the US market, they initially failed. Was it the missing sun roof? I don’t think so. More the damaged image, as extensively discussed here.
There are two options now. Lower the price. Or raise the image. Lowering the price is simple, it can be done with a swipe of the hand. But it will not work, due to profitability. Raising the image, otoh, is far more complicated. Quite evidently, no one at Saab, and no one around here as well, has a clue how to do this. Survival time will help, but is not sufficient. And this is the real problem. A frustrating hiatus we’re in.
I fully agree with you. Lowering the price is not the way to go – but the change of image is more like it. This is something they are working with, but with the GM trowing them in the trash from the moment they said the wanted to sell Saab, they have a HUGE mountain to climb. On the other hand Saab has good grip and handling, so they can take on any mountain if they want to.. 😉
Now, remember, Saab have a history attracting the customers with highest average income of all major brands. That I would say indicates that the product isn’t the main problem, and the price point is not that critical, on the contrary, there probably isn’t any brand that would be more insensitive to price adjustments.
When Saab was in trouble in 2005 I took a good look at the market, and Ihonestly can say that I could not find any (9-5-sized or bigger, non-SUV) car that would match Saabs (combined) safety (active and passive), comfort (for up to 5 persons) and reliability, no matter the price, from my perspective. (Volvo V70 was the only one within shouting distance.) So, Saabs costing 10% more or less is a non-issue to me, and 10% price change would have a huge impact on the break-even point. Lowering the price is a dead-end strategy.
Agreed! I first decided which car to get (within a certain class, that is), and then looked for the best price.
Agree! Just like I’ve written in response to Tomas TL1000R’s comment above. Value for money should be better, and people tend to value interior, design and premium feel more than technical perfection or reliability. Jaguar and Land Rover just prove that point. XF and especially XJ both have great design and some wow-stuff. I mean, changing gears with a knob – WOW! Gauges shown on a single display – wow! They deliver a fresh look and feel surrounded by better material quality – and hence they succeed.
I buy that Michael!
Something is got to happend, you can go two ways in this. Either you keep your product in there present chape and lower the price (to sell more) or higher the quality into or even better than the Germans. Next question is the cost or are where a third choice?
Something got to happend, time is short!
I think raising the image is the only way, and although it’s not easy, at least Saab is in the position to do it. An aggressive marketing campaign that doesn’t shy away from making light-hearted references to the old Saab stereotypes (college professors, tweed costumes, quirky people), instead of weird airplane references or “we’re back” stuff, could work really well. It doesn’t have to be the final definition of the Saab brand, but right now it’s more important to define it in any kind of positive way that doesn’t scream desperation.
As for the 9-5, I think it has two core advantages, that should be the focus of the marketing.
1. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
2. It’s not an Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
Saab NA needs to move to Southern California. That is the center of the automotive universe in the US. If they can better understand the californian market and trends, they’ll be succesful in the whole US. The East Coast or Michigan are *not* trend setters.
Great idea! I really like it! Maybe Palo Alto or Cupertino? 😉
IMHO, they need to move to New England, be it back to New Haven or Orange, CT, or Maine, or anywhere in New England, as the Saab following is huge up here.
We also get tons upon tons of snow up North (nothing compared to Sweden, though…) and it would feel as though Saab would be sticking to their roots, something that I think is important for Saab, because when they did keep their quirk, they attracted the most attention, and sold the most cars. Take the original 900, for instance!
I think you are a little bit too romantic, nowadays it is regardless where your HQ is. Again! a small HQ like Saab has no local impact, especially in this dense region. Important is that there is a connection between HQ, Sales and production. VW, BMW and all the other always have the HQ toegether with the production. So Detroit based HQ is almost toegether with the production. They are near to GM and their decisions relating to Saab. I think of the new SUV and sharing the asambling linie in Mexico! Many meetings floor by floor or always tacking the plane?
Agree that Mr. Colleran’s link to GM was an anchor that needed to be cut. Now, where to go from here? In the US, the challenge is image and communicating the fact that Saab is still around. Too many still lump Saab with the GM jettisoned Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, and countering this impression is an important priority. The product is strong and will improve with the new 9-3. Agree that pricing, profitability and residual value are a primary challenges. A new marketing strategy needs to be developed starting with a study of other resurgent brands … the revival of Audi being the most directly applicable. Others include Volkswagen, and the recent phenomenal success of Hyundai and Kia.
Steve Jobs. Or if he is too busy someone with the same brilliant mind. Gotta admit the guy is a genius.
Yes, he is…
But what I think would be absolutely ideal for Saab is an iOS-based navigation/data system endorsed/developed in part with Apple. People will flock to Saab faster than one can say “Saab!” Unfortunately, I do believe that Apple is so reserved in their technology that it’ll be impossible for Apple to agree to working with Saab, and that it’ll be Apple that goes to Saab, not the other way around, which is extremely unlikely.
I’ve also thought about an iOS-based navigation/data system (which has it’s unique brand and exposure value) or in some other way, a navigation/data system that allows 3rd party apps. Within limits that ensure usability and safety, of course.
Start Racing and raise the image. Nascar, ETCC, BTCC, STCC, DTM and other series. Of course Saab don’t have money, but they could raise swedish or nordic sponsors?
Is there any thoughts about racing within Saab?
Another thing is to get out and sell the the cars. Since people don’t visits the Saab shops, the salesmen should instead contact local companys in US, go there and show the cars at lunch time or so and give a good deal for the employees. That was done by Saab in Sweden 30-40 years ago and it would work today too.
Great that You mention motorsport. Thera are unfortunately a strong reluctance from some within the Saab management for motorsport. One great formula type series was more or less ready to be launched not many years ago with Saab engines, everything was A OK with FIA and a well known chassis design and manufacturing company in europe. That was STOPPED by SAAB (I even happen to who pulled the handbrake, that person is still on the ship).
SaabsUnited Historic Rally Team have tried to gain some support from SAAB but so far we have gotten ZERO Krona from them. Our 1,5 Million dollar turnover Rally operation was financed by fine sponsors to 90% outside Sweden plus from our own pockets…
Swedish sponsors… good luck!
I spoke to the Swedish Saab Dealers Association on having a so called “Dealers Team” that was turned down.
Seams like Sweden ha lost the entrepreneurial skill sets. If you do not ask for a dance You will never dance. But why showing up near the ballroom if there is no interest in dancing, that is so wrong!
SUHRT dances with anyone who likes SAAB and have our open mindset and dare!
Should be 150000 Dollar operation.
I doubt it’s coincidental that Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, and Subaru are all HQ’d in New Jersey …
This mornings Portland, Oregonian newspaper announced that Subaru was expanding and opening a 450,000 sf headquarters/warehouse facility in Portland… That definitely indicates they are doing well in our area of the northwest United States. There’s still just a single Saab dealer in Oregon though.
The Portland Saab dealership is quite Small… Service You find at Atomic Auto, Portland Pacific northwest best independent shop also sponsors to SUHRT.
Once upon a time Monte Shelton Motors Portland sold Saab next to Rolls Royces (For Bagwan mostly, biggest Rolls buyer in history) and Jaguars.
Remember that many at SCNA had moved to Detroit at the behest of GM in the years before the real estate bubble burst. It is possible that the personnel would have had an impossible time selling their homes in the current climate, and SCNA was in no position to underwrite a mass migration. My guess is that if the powers at Saab had their druthers, they would have returned SCNA to New England. Let the others have New Jersey….remember, Saab is different (no slight on NJ–I grew up there).
Why do you say they moved to Detroit? Wouldn’t most have been Detroit GM people to begin with? How many people now at SCNA? 5, 10, 20? More?
While I am all for limiting the number of executives and managerial levels, I guess Mr. Seidl could use a second-in-command for the American continent(s), if only for logistic reasons, if not the importance of the market and its peculiarity vs. European.
So, if a search is already underway, may I suggest one name to Saab’s HR department – Jill Lajdziak.
Jill Lakdziak presided over Saturn’s demise despite an all new and very good (by GM standards) product line (Sky, Aura, Outlook, Vue) and now has done nothing for Smars other than watch its death in the US market as the gas prices declined.. Bad choice!
Comment edited. The personal nature of the first sentence was unwarranted and didn’t contribute to the point. Please keep things friendly here. – SW
Well, Jill was around for far longer than that. After quite a bit of experience in the automotive industry, including various GM units, she joined the newly-formed Saturn unit at it’s very beginning and her job was to create the best sales network GM ever had, that of Saturn dealers.
She had selected the people who made Saturn a legend not because of the product they had (it was a poignant and cool product, but only for so long), but because the exceptional customer service, sales drive and, most importantly, performance. Saturn dealers sold the most units per dealer up to the very end of the road, IIRC. Saturn managed to have a US-wide and Canada-wide presence with a fraction of the dealer count other American brands had.
As concerns the transition from Saturn – the cheap plastic car maker to Saturn – the American Opel, it was quite successful, it was not entirely a performance-based decision GM took to close Saturn, it was an administrative decision acknowledging the pointlessness thereof in the grand scheme of things. On the brand level, Saturn did very well, despite having to suddenly go after a different customer base and price brackets.
I believe Jill did a really good job along the way, and most of all proved a relentless vulcan of positive energy and enthusiasm, being able to stand by all the products, good and bad, GM gave Saturn over the years.
I can’t really speak of her performance with Smart, as I haven’t been closely following it, but I guess it’s not yet something we could describe as a startling turnaround. But then, the fact that Penske wanted to retain her and gave her perhaps the toughest job in the American automotive industry after having got to know her well during the takeover negotiations proves, IMHO, she is a very fit woman for tough jobs like that.
She is a former GM person, but she is the un-GM warrior who fought against the old GM within the big empire, and succeeded. I guess coming to Saab she could offer a fresh, outside perspective, a focus on selecting and attracting the best dealers and keeping them satisfied and committed. She is also probably acquainted with many former Saab-Saturn dealers in Canada and could help increase the dealer count there and work out a good relationship with the Canadian market.
I’d love for anybody from Saab reading this to at least explore this candidacy.
I don’t know anything about Jill Lakdziak but I like this idea of having someone with experience from the Saturn sphere to deal with Saab. Saturn had a very diffrerent approach to car sales especially when comming from GM, putting the customer as king. Maybe this was’nt quite appropriate for a low to mid-end brand as Saturn, but it may be a very good idea for a brand at a higher price point.
Hope somebody higher up listens toyour suggestion!
I just do not believe my eyes, seams like some low-end manufacturers have entered the finest of halls of fame. TOP Safety picks!
Great cars like KIA Soul, Hyundai Genesis, KIA Forte, KIA Optima, KIA Sorento, KIA Sportage, NO Saabs…….
What is happening folks!!
Saab was up there with the 9-3 from 2006-2009 after that……. what!
Seams like there is never time for relaxation or napping, someone should explain what has gone sour. The test methods? To small number of cars sold to make up a statistical history???
Well, anybody (almost) can do well on test, for example the 9000 got bad results in ADAC tests in the 80’s while the Merc 190 got really good ones. In real life, though, the 9000 was THE top vehicle in almost every real life avaluation while the Merc was a severly worse than the average car.
Don’t confuse the test with real life data, in real life it’s a Saab, Volvo or maybe a (swedish spec) Toyota you would like to sit in, those are the only ones that seem to have a consistent safety records backed up with statistics, over time and model range, in real life data.
The Saab 9-3 wasn’t tested for 2011.
I don’t know when the testing was done, but Saab have had a bucketload on their plate in the last 12 months. The lack of a test might be somewhat regrettable, but it’s not a shooting offence under the circumstances.
If people bother to look past the press release and go to the test results for the car itself, they’ll see that the 9-3 meets all the criteria. It’s just that it’s the 2010 model, which is the same for 2011 (though will change for MY2011.5 – with the split model year being possibly the reason why a test wasn’t done for MY2011)
That’s just my hypothesis, but a reasonable one given the circumstances.
The 9-3 (and other Saab models) are in the stats only up to the year 2010:
That’s why they’re not listed; the cars listed are 2011 models.
Why is it like this? Who knows…
Hmm, while I was typing away Swade beat me to it. 🙂
I’ve got to think the new 9-5 would be a top pick. (1) the Buick LaCrosse is a top pick and they share the same platform and (2) for the EUROCAP test, the new 9-5 scored a 94. I think only the new 2011 BMW 5-series has ever scored better.
Now, you should be aware of that BMW’s consistently scores a notch worse than Saabs in real life data,
As I see it, a good move from Colleran to leave and for someone with real gutz to take on what, with right managenment, will be something huge. I have nothing bad to say about Colleran. But his sort of managenment did not fit in with SCNA.
Out with “the old” and in with the new.
More I reflect…Does it really matter who’s in charge at Royal Oak (substitute any other North American city –even to do something audacious and bring it cross the border)?
The problems are bigger than the 50 (?) people who are, essentially, a distribution arm of the Swedish/Dutch parent.
Who, for instance, made the choice to have 19 inch turbine wheels as the only factory option for the 9-5 (and the aero model at that) in The Americas? How much leeway does a satellite of Trollhattan have anyways in respect of product offerings? If ,say, I was to argue (as President of Saab North America!) that we need a proper counter in the next 9-3 (at launch) to a 335i (never mind M3) as a critical step to regaining our premium status in North America (in other words: that a 2.0 L petrol and bottom of the barrel 1.6 BMW diesel will not cut it) how much latitude would I really have?
Let us not forget that nearly every one of Saab’s Top Management (in Trollhattan no less)are (historically… in employment terms) ‘GM People’ . Mike C, it could be argued, is a convenient Fall Guy.
I, personally, would love to see a Swede in charge of SCNA. A thick Northern European accent would certainly help communicate the nationalistic message (Swedish design, developed for sure-footedness in adverse weather, etc). It’s all marketing, folks. Perhaps somebody who looks like Borg and measures their words like JAJ!
I have a suggestion for Saab and the NA market. Since that market is so geographical huge,covering it with official
premium-“master tech/salesmen” will be a too expensive operation for Saab.
Instead i suggest Saab allow 3rd party mechanical repair shops to take offical Saab training/tools and litterature in order to:
-Establish trustwhorty nearby service-locations for the customers and make sure people feel comfortable with buying a Saab (not that it WILL break..just in case =))
-Transform the way we see these shops into potential sales agents/points.
-Establish a very important collabortation and respect with people that meet “future customers” on a daily basis. If you are going to a
X brand dealer you can be pretty sure he/she will not talk you into buying Y. But leaving your Audi A6 (old or new version) for the fifth time on a 3rd party service and get
a suggestion on taking a closer look at the new Saab 9-5 will probably be in effect.
-Earning money for this expanded service that is non-existing today on a new “entrepreneur way” of thinking for Saab.
I hope this can be a win-win situation where the new “so-called” Saab agents ( the repair shops) can create a sort
of push-pull effect for new customers to seek intrest in Saab.I will in no way interfer with current offical Saab dealers/mechanics.
This new exec is an interim appointment….he could very well go back to Global post once they find the appropriate replacement.
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