Saab Australia – Where are you?

A journalist at Forbes wrote the following as an introduction

Sitting in a movie theater a few weeks ago sleepily waiting for the previews to begin, a sleek add jolted me to my senses. It was an advertisement for the latest cars built by Saab, supposedly the automobile brand that had vanished due to bankruptcy.

While many have doubted whether he was really unaware of Saab’s survival, the point is that the advert would of let the average punter know that Saab was still around. Saab in the USA are letting people know they are alive and kicking.

Meanwhile a look at an article in the Sydney Morning Herald written by Elizabeth Farrelly, a columnist, author and architect, on the 3rd March 2011 tells us that Saab have suspended sales in Australia. Farrelly is on the quest for a car that is “green” and has flair.

In the end, I decided a Saab, and only a Saab, had the right mix of intellect, Left Bank queerness and reliability. I do like a car that goes. It was also moderately green, in terms of road-load, with a good turning circle and an enjoyable acoustic, as evidenced not just by the satisfying thunk of its door-closure but also by the lovely flickety-sound its indicator makes.

But the clincher, re the Saab, was the room. It may be Saab’s airplane-making origins that led them to it, for the interior is as much cockpit as car (to the point where you expect push-button machine guns on the dash). But as a room, especially for the driver, immensely flattering. As a good room should, it makes you feel loved. And of course, I love it right back.

Only now, heartbreakingly, I’m back at square one, for Saab has temporarily suspended selling cars in Australia.

A trip out to my Saab independent mechanic always ends up in a chat about all things Saab. A trip out there just last week found us discussing the new offerings from Saab. The guys told me that many of their customers were asking about if Saab were still selling cars in Australia.

The Saab enthusiast would know that Saab is still alive down under. The average punter on the other hand, who recycles the motoring section in the weekend paper and never picks up a Motoring Magazine, thinks that Saab isn’t doing business down under.


29 thoughts on “Saab Australia – Where are you?”

  1. It does feel like Saab should be doing more in Australia. I know here they are on a tight budget, but there’s got to be some cost effective ways of letting more people know …

    Hopefully its that they are just waiting for the appropriate models and numbers before properly advertising.

    I do think they should somehow conmunicate that the 9-5 and 9-4x are coming soon….maybe a press release with equipment levels or something?

    • Hopefully its that they are just waiting for the appropriate models and numbers before properly advertising.

      Hit the target.

      There’s been some small ads in newspapers advertising the 9-3x, which has arrived here in Oz, but bigger advertising won’t come until the 9-5 comes. Thankfully, that’s not far away at all (press drives next month).

      • I sent off an email to SAAB Australia asking about a dealership here in Adelaide or lack there of a couple of weeks ago and I received an email back followed up by a phone call from the new Manager of the Saab outlet.
        He informed me they are moving from Port Rd, Thebarton back to Main North Rd, Prospect. What were they thinking to move it in the first place to Port Rd, it was a pig of a location, great for Holden’s but thats about all.

        I was told the whole car yard at Prospect is being rebadged to a full Saab dealership over the next few weeks and they have lined up service staff already, I hope they can get back the people they had working for them when the dealership was on Hindley St/West Tce. the service was always good. Chris was excellent as the service manager.

        I was told i would receive an email re details etc, if this comes in I will pass on any info.

        its great news for Adelaide.

        • The Saab outlet in Adelaide appear to offer good value deals, I am looking for a 9-3ss tid/ttid and can source a car out of SA or VIC at a lower landed cost than purchasing here in WA. Unless you know Saab they are off the radar of the average punter and the current 9-3 range does not offer value for money, Perceived lack of competition between existing dealers is also a major obstacle, I will refrain from buying new until the warranty gets a positive rework.

    • A situation similar to the one here in Canada. Nothing to be seen for advertising by Saab, SCNA or IFS (the importer). We do what we can locally, but nothing can work like a national push, showing off these cars in the best mediums whether it be TV, radio or otherwise. Strangely enough, even with the amount of American programming on our TV, I still haven’t seen any of the Saab ads that were supposedly coming and that are being seen in parts of the US.
      As you said, even on a tight budget, surely the powers that be have someone able to give them a cost-effective way of reaching a wider audience.

  2. …to the point where you expect push-button machine guns on the dash…

    I knew something was missing in my Viggen!

    • I understand that is the option the switch blank next to the HVAC cabin sensor is for. I plan to have mine fitted next week and will report back if successful:)

    • Hey now there is an idea.
      The OG 9-5’s dash is full of blank buttons.
      Can someone make a range of decals (letraset – is that still arouind??) of various button icons we could add, like machine guns, auto road rage etc. there’s prob a good market out there at bargain motorparts shops!

        • How about a rotating thumb wheel to ‘sharpen steering’ response? It could go not from 0-10 but from ‘wander across road’ to ‘track mode’

  3. Elizabeth Farrelly did or still does, have a 9-5 as a few years back I was selling my OVLOV 850 and she came to have a look .
    ADVICE please. I am in the process of selling my 2000 9-5 AERO . I have seen a 99 Viggen convert for sale . Sholuld I sell my 1999 9-3 S convert and get the Viggen? The seller is asking 3 times the trade on the 9-3 vert and I have always lost thousands within 2 years each time I decide to get another Saab and sell ..

    • Just ask yourself what you in general do with your car. If you just enjoy cruising with the top down then a Viggen is just overpowered. A Viggen is for most purposes pretty much overpowered, it’s only fun if you like to push it to the edge on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, the Viggen can be used as a pretty benign daily driver, excellent for long distance driving and with good mileage. Floor the accelerator and it turns into a monster which can be difficult to control. The running costs are also something to consider. As with any high torque car things will wear much quicker, especially tires and clutch.
      What’s the mileage on the Viggen you’re looking at?

        • Considering that it has 86,000 miles and is BSR-ed I would definitely like to talk to the mechs that have serviced it since 2005.
          Dunno what this should do in the Aussie market, but $23k sounds a bit steep.

          • HOW much? Wow – I’d nearly put my in a container and send it to you if you’d pay me that much. In UK, you’d be asking between 4 and 5k GB pounds, maybe more for an exceptional case, e/g/ an Abbott Racing version. Mine was 4.5k for 84k miles. Now 99k miles and 2 years older, hoping it’s not lost more than 1 / 1.5k BG pounds in two years. Fully paid off and hoping job security will allow a leased 9-3 later this year 😉

  4. Brendan- there is one other and It has done 98,000 KS. GerriN- thank you for your practical advice- I think I just got carried away with the idea of the Viggen- as 2.3 non aero 9-3 vert is very slow compared with my 9-5 aero . Does any one think Viggens will ever retain value or possibly become desirable?

    • According to my number about 3000 Viggens were produced from 1999 through 2003, about 1300 of those were convertibles. Btw, my numbers could be wrong since they don’t any Viggen convertibles for 1999!
      I have no idea how many Viggens are still on the road. Because of their potent engine many of them were tracked and totaled, I’m sure that many suffered the same fate at the hands of too turbo-rushed drivers.
      This definitely means that the left crop will become a collectible some day, but that can be still far in the future. In the US I see the prices for used Viggens still going down, it could be a while until the price levels off and starts going up again. Since you are planning to drive it I wouldn’t considering this a long term investment, except when you are planning to lay it up for a couple of decades.

  5. The only real presence Saab has (advertising wise) in Australia is, from what I’ve seen, internet advertisements. Banners and Side bars on sites like Carsales.. But then the only states to have a reasonable dealer network are VIC and QLD, and I’m being generous when I say reasonable. I live in NSW and from what I know, there is only one dealer in the whole state and that I believe is Alec Mildren Saab in Sydney… I think when the new 9-5 hits our shores that we will begin to see Saab more present in all media, which will translate into a renewed interest in Saab which will mean more sales 🙂

  6. A couple of weeks ago, that same Viggen was advertised at $15,000. Now it’s up closer to $23,000. Very interesting

  7. Cant someone inform Elizabeth Farrelly on the situation on sales organisation in aussie land?
    Sounds great having her behind the Saab wheel.

    • People do correct her on that in comments to the article. Hopefully she reads them 🙂

      The next problem to be overcome is that there’s currently only one dealer in Sydney, which is at least two less than what I’m sure Saab would like. It’s difficult because Saab’s initial appointments have been previous dealers from under the GM arrangement. GM won’t allow those dealers to continue with Saab unless they have a separate building to house them in.

      They’re working on it. Ian Jordan’s comment, above, is evidence of that. But it’ll take time.

      • A few years ago one of two main VW dealers tried to stop the distributor from opening more dealers here in WA. The distributor fought and won, there are now 5 dealers in the metro area, VW sales continue to climb [rapidly] and the public get a better deal. I find it weird that the economic powerhouse that is WA has 3 Mercedes dealers but only one Saab dealer.

  8. Bank SNORAS executives will drive Saab 9-5 cars (in Lithuania)

    Bank SNORAS has innovated its vehicle fleet by seven new business class cars Saab 9-5 Aero 2.0 Turbo. Heads of Bank SNORAS will use the new model cars complying with the highest requirements of safety and environment protection.

    “During nineteen years of activity we have always devoted a lot of attention to the newest technologies, whereas proactivity and innovations are among the most important foundational values of the bank. While evaluating the significance of the investments in the Scandinavian quality car production and endorsing such a promising investment, we have purchased the cars of the exclusive design which meet the highest standards of safety and environment control,” states Raimondas Baranauskas, the President of AB Bank SNORAS.

    Vladimir Antonov, the main shareholder of Bank SNORAS, at the end of February this year reached an agreement concerning acquisition of the Netherlands company “Spyker Cars” which manages “Saab Automobile” and “Spyker”. After V. Antonov decided to invest in “Saab” trademark, the factory continues its activity and creates new models.


  9. Viggen stats: 863 5-doors, 1305 convertibles, 764 2-doors.
    Stephen, I would check if it had the bulk head crack repaired (most right hand drive cars would be cracked by now, with the Viggens enormous torque.) SAAB used to do this under warranty. But I’m not sure if they still do.
    By the way it was a nice article in the Courier Mail from the Geneva show about the Phoenix this weekend.

  10. Same story in Canada, all they did was ship a few cars to dealers, that’s it! Not even a single newspaper ad, on you still have 09 Saabs, and website is not even up yet. How do they expect people to know Saab is alive? Everyone in Canada thinks Saab is out of business. The sad part is they sold more cars per capita in Canada than in the U.S, there are still quite a few Saabs on the road, which means there is potential for the brand here, but they are just not using it.

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