Last week I posted about Hirsch Performance finally being available in the USA. The discussion that followed in comments was quite emotional and made it clear that a lot of questions are still unanswered. What is needed are reliable info and facts. So I picked up the phone and had a long chat with Erik from Hirsch Performance to get into the details of the processes behind the US launch and to hear about the challenges.
The most important info is that, albeit delayed, the launch of the Hirsch Performance products has taken place. The dealers were informed by SCNA at the US dealer meeting in June that products and the IPRO can be ordered from the 20th of June. Many dealers have already placed orders and the first parts and programming tools are on a ship to the US as you read this.
At the end of last year Hirsch had ordered a bunch of IPRO engine programming tools for the dealers in the US. The normal delivery time is six months but you have a free market for the electronic parts needed for the IPRO that allows you to speed things up by chosing the supplier with the shortest delivery time. Not so after the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. That market disappeared and parts like the touch screen were simply not available any more so they had to wait until now to get delivery.
As already known the distribution channel for Hirsch in the USA is SCNA. With logistics, cashflow and so on many processes had to be implemented in the existing distribution network. At SCNA are, like at any other local Saab sales organization I know, relatively few people dealing with many tasks, trying to do their very best. When looking at the issues Saab had to deal with since April I think it is fully understandable that dealing with the Hirsch Performance launch was not their first priority.
In the US like in any other market you have to do certain tests to be allowed to offer your products. Those approvals cost money you have to earn back. So based on expected sales Hirsch Performance had to decide which performance upgrades to take to the CARB approval. As mentioned before, these are the software upgrades available in the US:
9-3 2,0T MY 2007-
9-3 2,8T MY 2008
9-5 2,0T MY 2011-
9-5 2,8T MY 2010-
Those are software upgrades only, because they are relatively easy in approval. Much more difficult are upgrades that require additional hardware like the intercooler for the 2009 9-3 Aero upgrade. While this is bad news for owners of that model I also think it is understandable that there are limits to an initial investment when entering a new market.
For those who already bought a new Saab I’ve some additional good news. On the initial statement from January it was said that new cars have to be upgraded within sixty days from purchase to fully retain the warranty. This is no longer the case, you can upgrade your car at any point of the warranty period without negative consequences.
I know it has been a long wait for the US Saabers to get the Hirsch products available through the local Saab dealers but this wait is over now. Finally you can experience the feeling I had on my test drives with the 9-3 Griffin and the 9-5 Hirsch Performance.
If you want further information there are many ways to get it. Of course the best would be to see your local dealer because he is the one who knows if he has already ordered and how long it will take until he gets it. These requests at the dealer will show them that there is demand and will show them that offering Hirsch is a good idea. Of course you can also contact SCNA. Or check the Hirsch homepage for availability of the products in your market. As the dealers activate their IPROs they will also be added to the dealer list there.
An additional source for information is the Hirsch thread in the SU forum where you can ask your questions and get answers from fellow Saabers like me.