Goodbye and thanks to Saabs United – hello new world!

Wow. After six years, it’s time for me to sign off from Saabs United.

My thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts, comments and emails since the announcement was made that I’d be leaving SU (thanks to RedJ for the banner that’s been up for the last few days, too).

It wouldn’t be a true Saab story, however, if there wasn’t another twist in the tale…..

I’ve mentioned previously that my decision to leave Saabs United is due to me having too many balls to juggle all at once. My regular job, my family and my work with Saabs United were too much to fit into one personal 24 hour period. Something had to change and the first change was to sell Saabs United. I’m pleased to be able to tell you that it’s not the only change that’s taking place, however.

My regular job was getting in the way of my Saab duties, so I’ve set my regular job aside.

Saab Automobile are going to take some very big steps in bringing the company closer to their customers. Saab has hired me to be involved, as part of a global team, in a sustained social media presence that will see Saab presented from an inside view, allowing you access to company events, key people and of course, the cars themselves – in a way that no bigger car company can do.

We will aim to create relationships between the company and the community that supports it, giving you greater access to the company and the types of experiences that Saab are already known for.

Saab are very appreciative of all the community support they’ve received and they want to build on that relationship and give something back. It’s a very exciting challenge and one that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.

There will be a press release from Saab in a few hours from now. Exciting times!

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The following is a note I received today from Victor Muller, who asked me to share it here as part of this post.

Steven,

It is a given that you have played a key role in saving Saab last year by mobilizing tens of thousands of enthusiasts to rally in support of the company. You have single handedly proven the importance social media has nowadays in situations like the one Saab went through. You became one of my most powerful allies in those trying times which now are fortunately behind us.

We have learned that with the right approach, a brand can be activated in ways which were inconceivable just a few years ago. As a result we have made you an offer to come and work for us at Saab so as to allow you to dedicate your talents to the company which made it in part also because of you.

I thank you for what you did as Saabsunited and welcome you to Saab Automobile, where you will continue to unite all of us who cherish this iconic brand.

I wish the new owner of Saabs United and his committed crew all the success in the world and am confident that they will manage to enthuse countless avid Saabisti to support our brand and company in the years to come.

Victor

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I have a whole bunch of thankyous to give here as part of my sign off. It just wouldn’t be right to finish up here without recognising the people who have provided support along the way.

This is a long list, so buckle up.

Read moreGoodbye and thanks to Saabs United – hello new world!

Press Release: Saab Automobile Hires Saab Blogger Steven Wade

Um….. Wow.

  • Wade to join Saab Automobile’s global Interactive Marketing team
  • Appointment adds to company expertise in social media marketing

Trollhättan, Sweden: Building on recent successes, Saab Automobile today announced the further strengthening of its global Interactive Marketing department by appointing Steven Wade to its social media marketing team. Wade joins the company effective April 4, and will be based in Melbourne, Australia. He will be part of the global Saab Interactive Marketing team at Saab Automobile.

Wade gained worldwide recognition as founder and editor-in-chief of the website SaabsUnited. Through his website, Wade played a pivotal role in rallying support around the globe for the Saab brand during negotiations for its sale by General Motors. In reaching out to Saab enthusiasts in this unique way, Wade gained invaluable insights in how to communicate with customers through social media, something that Saab Automobile will leverage to the fullest extent with Steven on the team. The website SaabsUnited will, under new independent leadership, continue to play an important role for Saab and its customers.

Announcing the appointment, Mårten Wahlstedt, Director of Saab Marketing Communications, said: “I am delighted to welcome Steven to the team here at Saab Automobile. Engaging with customers through interactive channels and social media such as Facebook and YouTube is of the utmost importance for us. Social media play a major role in the Saab marketing mix, which is why we are keen to strengthen our expertise in this area.

“In recent times, Saab has received enormous interest from the online community. During our Independence Day celebrations on February 23, we added more than a thousand fans per hour on Saab’s official Facebook page. Also, the recently released YouTube videos on the new 9-5 SportCombi and the IQon in-car infotainment system were viewed more than 100,000 times within only a few days of release. I am confident that by bringing in Steven, we can build on these recent successes.”

A few parting thoughts

I don’t want to get too dramatic here. And I don’t want to be a drag on your time. I’ll do a final SU entry around this time tomorrow and there’ll be lots to say then – about the future and in thanks to the many people who have made my blogging journey so enjoyable.

But there are a few things I’d like to share before then. I’ll go in point form to keep it quick.

  • This website has been a labour of love, but it’s only because the company it celebrates is a fantastic company. I only came to enjoy Saabs because they were brilliant fun. Blogging has a certain momentum of it’s own but there’s no way this endeavour would have lasted as long as it did if the subject matter was boring.
  • Saab need your support. Vehicle sales are personal matter and whilst I’ve shared people’s purchase stories here, I’ve never implored anyone to buy. I haven’t been in a position to buy myself, so how could I compel another. But Saab still need your support in whatever way you can give it. My realm has been the online world, of course, and I can’t help but think that the positivity that’s come through this site would be good to replicate in other online places. I think regulars from this site have done a fantastic job taking some reasoned commentary to the Swedish press, for example. Can the same sort of thing work for motoring websites like Autoblog and Jalopnik when Saab articles are posted? I think it could, and should.
  • The community at this site, and others like it, is the most important thing. I managed to write a lot of stuff over the last six years, but none of it would have mattered if there wasn’t a community there to receive it, dissect and discuss it, and provide direction on the many occasions I was wrong. Preserve your sense of community. And on that note….
  • I learned a hell of a lot from the people that visit this site. I learned perspective from Greg Abbott and I learned to harden up from Turbin. Remember that your circumstances are your own. When you press to keep Saab accountable for this, that, or the other, always remember that there are cirumstances bigger than yours that govern the way the company operates. A little understanding and some awareness that your tone can influence those around you, can go a heck of a long way.
  • Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word for the guys who operate this website from now on. They will make the occasional mistake and they will take it hard when they do. They will get frustrated and they will scream some of your names across the room in frustration every now and then. They’re human, and need the support of their peers as much as anyone else does.
  • If you ever get the chance, make sure you attend one of the bigger Saab events that happens in your region. Whether it be the Saab Festival, IntSaab, the Saab Owners Conference or a national club meeting or other large gathering – get there. These events and the people that attend them are first class and there’s nothing quite like seeing all these vehicles and all these people in one place.

That’ll do for now. Tomorrow I’ll finish off. Sorry if that sounds like preaching, but there are a few things that running a place like this teaches you about managing this type of communication medium and I just wanted to help you help the new crew.

Now, back to some car stuff….

Saab advertising – Landvetter airport

I wrote about Saab Billboards last week and in that post, I asked if someone could take a picture of the billboard at Landvetter airport, just outside Gothenburg.

I have a penchant for good advertising from any source – but Saab in particular, of course – and I just loved this billboard when I saw it straight after the Geneva Motor Show. I didn’t have my camera ready at the time, but thankfully Johan R was heading that way this weekend and stopped for a couple of shots.

The billboard features the Saab 9-3 Independence Edition Convertible. And a big, beautiful butterfly. It’s double-sided, hence the white flap to the left side (which is the butterfly wing for motorists coming the other way).

Thanks Johan!

The distance shot…….as you approach in your vehicle…..(click to enlarge)

And up close for detail……

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Sunday Night Snippets – Bowler Edition

It’s a long distance relationship that we hinted at a few days ago thanks to a tip from SUHRT’s Jorgen Trued – now confirmed.

CPP has bought Bowler.

I’m not sure if I’ve got all this correct as I’m writing off the top of my head, but here goes……CPP Global Holdings Ltd is the same group owned by Vladimir Antonov (and I believe, also part owned by CPP Managing Director, Brendan O’Toole) that recently agreed to acquire Spyker’s sports car business. They are also the coachbuilding company that now makes Spyker vehicles since their move from Zeewolde.

And if you’re not familiar with Bowler’s vehicles, do yourself a favour and go Google them. Brutal beasts, they are. It’s nice to have them in the extended family.

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The Saab 9-3 Griffin is now being advertised in Sweden…..

…. nice image, that one. The ad also talks about the Saab 9-3 SportCombi now getting under the 120g/km bar.

243,000 crowns is around $38,000 US dollars.

Thanks to JH for the scan.

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People are still buying Saabs……

I’ve had two emails over the weekend relating to people shopping for Saabs. One for a Griffin and one stitching up a deal on a Saab 9-5 Aero.

It’s great to see, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about these purchases as time ticks on.

In the meantime, I’m making a few enquiries of my own. I’m still not in a position to buy new, but am having some thoughts about some vintage Swedish steel. I’ll keep you posted.

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This is the front of the Saab PhoeniX Concept….

And this is a quick photoshop of how the PhoeniX concept front end could be adapted for a future Saab 9-3. The artist wishes to remain nameless…..

Nice work. I’d give that a second look. For sure.

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The Saab IQon video is definitely proving to be the hit of the Geneva Motor Show news releases. It’s been picked up by motoring websites, as well as plenty of technology mags.

I took another look at it today using my Apple TV device to stream to my 40-inch screen and it looked absolutely fantastic. As of that viewing, it had been watched over 110,000 times.

It’s hard to say what was the bigger hit for Saab in Geneva – PhoeniX or IQon. Great to have them both there, however.

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It’s a long weekend here. Woohoo!

I have a lot of writing to do tomorrow, as well as trying to fit in a visit with fellow Saabnut Drew B and a good cleaning of the Monte Carlo. Busy days.

I hope you’re having a great weekend.

Zippy and the Saab 9-5

Zippy’s a Saab 9-3 owner and one of our long-term family here at Saabs UNited and I know he’s been very keen to get behind the wheel of a Saab 9-5 V6 for some time.

Last weekend he had the chance to drive an Aero, courtesy of Rob over at Springmans Saab in Vancouver, Canada.

Zippy was kind enough to send in his thoughts.

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I’d love to be able to say I actually laid down $70,000 and drove away with a massive smile on my face – as well as a huge hole in my savings – but in reality I had taken my car out for an inspection when Rob handed me the keys to a 9-5 Aero with a stunning dark cocoa and parchment leather interior and told me to ‘enjoy’.

The car was loaded with every conceivable option except a sunroof. At first the sight of all of those buttons seemed overwhelming bit in actuality they are intuitively laid out and after ten minutes in the car I was an expert.

I am not big fan of automatic transmissions, but the paddleshifters, in reality, have about 80% of the fun factor of a manual, which surprised me. If I were to have an auto I’d never have the car in Drive choosing to shift “on the fly’ as it makes the car just that much more enjoyable – and drivable.

Drivable? In Drive I found the car was a little reluctant to downshift when you put your foot down, even when in Sport mode. Heading out to the highway I decided to see what the car was capable of merging into traffic. I found my slot and floored it….my response was “holy $h1t” – said out loud – as a smile grew from ear to ear.

I loved the HUD, which was easy to read and showed my current gear when in “flappy paddle mode” as well as my speed which seems to reach high numbers in no time. Its a huge safety feature as I never had to take my eyes off of the road to check speed etc.

The engine doesn’t even feel turbocharged to me as it actually feels like a small V8 the way the power is instantly fed thru to the XWD system. I just cannot imagine what this engine feels like in a 9-3 TurboX albeit with “only” 280bhp.

The offramp gave me an opportunity to test the sticky XWD system which didn’t even flicker when I abruptly took my foot off of the gas at the same time as braking trying to trick the system. You would never even know the car had XWD. It just felt like a well balanced, rock solid car. I would love to be able to drive this car up Cypress Mountain with its hairpin turns and sweeping bends to see how it handles on the twisty bits. I didn’t get the opportunity to use the SATNAV system but the car sure looks better with the full colour screen over the green screen that was in the base 9-5 I had previously driven.

Heading back to the dealer I kept getting odd looks from people thinking to myself ‘what the heck is his/her problem?!” until I realised that people were actually looking at the car. A thirtysomething couple in an old(ish) E-Class stopped just ahead of me and to the left craned their necks getting a better look at the cars lines with that “what kind of car is that?!” look on their faces when the woman lowered her window and asked me what it was I was driving. Having explained her it was the new 9-5 I also took the opportunity to tell her who to go and visit if she wanted to get a really good look and take one out for a spin – or better yet replace their ‘German taxi’. They then held back to get a look at the cars behind as I pulled away from the lights. This car turns heads and I can only imagine what kind of response this car would get if it were driven in the busy streets of Vancouver especially in Arctic White.

My final impression? A very roomy rock solid four door sports car with a Jeckyl and Hyde personality. In Comfort mode it wafts along as a luxury sedan should but when switched to Sport mode it turns into a snarling four door sports car with the ride comfort a luxury car.

Is it perfect? It would be if it had a manual transmission. That is why I would have to get a manual 2.0T Aero Hirsched-up to 260bhp with XWD, a set of 19inch Edge rims, DriveSense and that SATNAV with HUD but no such beast exists here in North America so I guess I have to start saving up for the V6 Aero. All I can say is that anyone who owns one of these cars is very very lucky and I am 110% green with envy.

Thanks to Rob and Jason at Springman’s Saab for sharing the car with me and taking time to “talk Saab”.

Saab Phoenix Concept – one man’s view

The following comes from a friend of mine in Germany, a regular at SU named WooDz.

As is mentioned at the start, this is not his first time……

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Virtually every time SAAB has shown a concept I’ve typed a few words and emailed them to Swade. I felt that even though SU is evolving and in the process of changing hands I’d still like to add my FWIW sentiments.

With all the other concepts SAAB has released in the past 5 years, this is the one that some have noted need not have been made. What we’re talking about is financial constraints, that SAAB really needs to use the precious little money they have and use it to create revenue, not blow it on flamboyant concepts that left a lot of people genuinely shocked as to “what was so SAAB about it anyway?”

Every manufacturer needs concepts to create, establish and keep interest in the brand and there’s never been a more relevant time for SAAB to do that. SAAB had a lot to show and say at this year’s Geneva Motor show, but whichever way people try to spin things the PhoeniX concept overpowered some other important aspects concerning what the company has achieved in the past 12 months: the launch of the 9-5 Wagon and the now class leading power to emissions 9-3 Sportcombi.

However, Victor Muller can’t keep standing on a podium and repeat the words “SAAB saabs”, “tenacity” and “perfect storm” without putting some money where his mouth is and show something more than GM based vehicles.

Read moreSaab Phoenix Concept – one man’s view

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