Over the last months there were only few positive things to report about. Responsible for a few of those was the team at the German office of Saab, or as it is called now, Saab Parts. Relatively short after bankrupcy was declared they managed to replace the then void dealer contracts by a delivery agreement between the dealers and Saab Parts AB. This spring they ran a special spring offer for the most needed wearing parts. As a next step a warranty solution was found that has now been implemented by a majority of dealers.
After the issue of the parts supply chain and warranty was saved they went on to find a new location. Since they moved out of Rüsselsheim they lodged more or less provisional in the rooms of the Saab Centre Frankfurt. Since May 1st they found their new home in an office tower in Eschborn near Frankfurt. Being located in the Taunus region this brings up fond memories as Saab Germany was also located in the Taunus in the glory days before they had to move to the Opel headquaters.
This move to the new office was the initial reason for my visit but of course it was also about hearing what progress they made in terms of keeping the Saab service network alive. I personally got to know Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, who is the head of the German three-people-team on the sidelines of the German dealer tour in fall last year. Coming from Jaguar/Land Rover he started his job in April of 2011, just as the production hiccups started. I am very pleased that he stayed through those times of uncertainty because he fits quite well in the Saab team, bringing in fresh ideas.
As Jan-Philipp told me he enjoys to be part this process of re-building Saab. “It’s a unique chance to do this with a heritaged brand like Saab. You make a complete restart being able to avoid the mistakes that have been made before.” I have to agree with him here. A restart from zero with the right new owner holds more chances than a Chinese takeover last year had ever offered.
In our extended chat I learned that the network of Saab service partners in Germany is still very alive and that there is much activity underneath the surface. Right now the main focus is of course service and maintainance. Currently the dealer locater is updated and a relaunch of the Saab websites that mirrors the current motto “we care for your Saab” is also in the works.
As a next step the setting up of a legally independent German subsidiary company of Saab Parts AB is planned. First steps towards this have already been taken.
It was extremely refreshing to see how motivated and positive the team is. While the current business model is service and maintainance you can also feel that there is hope that Saab can come back to making cars. The work that is done by Saab Parts throughout Europe right now is twice important. On the one hand the current Saab drivers have service partners to look after their cars and on the other hand the former dealer network stays alive so a future owner of Saab can build up upon this.
As I can imagine quite a few comments from people who have cars waiting for parts, let me add something here. I know that not all issues are solved yet and certain things can be annoying. But for Saab Parts this is no easy task at all, even more as they are currently practically state-owned. But still, the steps they make are getting bigger and the service they can offer is getting better and better by the day.