The past six months or so have been trying to say the least for those of us in Saabs dealer world. We can look back to when this all started and the first shut down at the plant that was started when one supplier stopped deliveries, the start up shut down that happened shortly after. We can see how just as things were looking up and volumes were starting to be realized, the rug was pulled out from under us. For the first three months of 2011 Saab had sold just shy of 10,000 cars worldwide and were poised to release the 9-4X and 9-5 sport combi that was sure to add to sales volume. As dealers, management and sales staff, we can look back on all of this and be frustrated or we can look forward to the rebirth or whatever symbolism you would like to use for this great brand of ours. We still have a lot to be proud of and we now have partners that are ready to invest the money needed for us to all enjoy good times once again.
I have been asked many times by too many people to count, “how do you feel about Chinese owners”? To be honest, it makes no difference to me of the nationality of ownership, what matters to me is the commitment of ownership to investing into this company and keeping Saab, Saab. Do I fear that down the road the factories being moved to China? Yes and no. I fear that break even costs and making more affordable cars seams to make sense that to build in China would be more cost effective. That being said, I don’t see the factory in Trollhattan being idled by Youngman/Pang Da as the factory in Sweden is as much a part of Saab as the cars themselves and I feel there is perceived value in a car being built in Sweden and the attention to detail.
I think I can speak for most dealers in saying that we are very happy to see that a new agreement has been reached. We are all very thankful for Victor and his never give up or never quit attitude that he has shown throughout the last year. Without Victor, this deal surely would not have happened. It is safe to say that the dealer body looks forward to being able to offer you all the exciting present products and future products as well as having the parts supply chain free flowing again so as to better serve you. We also would like to thank our customers that have been so patient and understanding with us as we all went through this together. I truly believe that the absolute worst is behind us no matter what twists and turns can still be ahead of us and like so many have said, I look forward to more conversations about product and promotions rather then the conversations of the last six months.
From this point forward we can look at things with optimism and some excitement. Soon production lines will be moving again and the 11,000+ orders sitting in the order books will be built and customers who have had the patience of saints, will finally get their cars that they ordered months ago. For some of us, we will be able to finally order the 9-4X and build some excitement around this beautiful vehicle. Will things get back to normal over night? Of course not, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and things are looking brighter then they did for the last six months.
As with any of my posts that have something to do with the dealers or how we feel, I invite every other dealer to share their thoughts as well.