Press Release: Saab Automobile Appoints New Executive Sales Director

  • Experienced automotive executive Matthias Seidl joins Saab
  • Responsible for Saab’s global sales operations

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile today announced the appointment of Matthias Seidl as Executive Director Sales, effective from January 1. Seidl joins Saab’s senior management team from Detroit-based automotive consultancy API, where he was President and CEO. Prior to that, Seidl spent 20 years in the Volkswagen Group where he held several senior executive positions in the sales organizations of Audi and Volkswagen.

At Volkswagen, Seidl was COO for the brand in the United States. During his 12 years at Audi, he was a senior sales and marketing executive in the European and Asia-Pacific region prior to running the brand’s North and South American sales region. Seidl will be based at Saab’s headquarters in Trollhättan, Sweden, where he will report directly to Saab Automobile President and CEO, Jan Åke Jonsson.

“I feel extremely honoured to be joining such an iconic brand as Saab,” said Seidl, 47. “This is a very exciting period for the company and I look forward to helping increase sales volumes and opening up new territories for the brand in markets around the globe.”

Announcing the appointment, Jan Åke Jonsson said: “I am very pleased to welcome Matthias to our senior management team. His experience and skills will be very important to Saab as we continue to establish ourselves as a successful independent company.

“Over the next twelve months we will be launching two new products – the 9-4X and the 9-5 SportCombi – and Matthias’s contribution will be vital in optimizing the sales of these exciting new vehicles.”

As reported earlier, current Executive Director Sales Adrian Hallmark will be leaving Saab for a position within Jaguar. “We wish Adrian all the best and thank him for his contributions during his time with Saab”, said Jonsson.

Saab sales chief, Adrian Hallmark, resigns and goes to Jaguar


Bad news from Car Magazine overnight…..

Jaguar Land Rover today announced a raft of management changes. Phil Popham, currently MD of Land Rover, is global sales and service director; John Edwards, the European MD, becomes global brand director of Land Rover; Adrian Hallmark quits Saab and comes back to the UK as global brand director of Jaguar; and Mike Wright is new executive director of JLR (Jaguar Land Rover)

UPDATE: A release from JLR confirms the appointment, which is effective as of December 1st (Thanks Dave!).

Adrian Hallmark, joins the company as Global Brand Director, Jaguar. Hallmark, 48, who will have global responsibility for the Jaguar brand, joins Jaguar Land Rover from Saab Automobile, where he was Executive Sales Director; prior to this he held senior management positions at Porsche, Bentley and Volkswagen.

Adrian Hallmark’s appointment was the coup of the year when it happened, a great signal of faith in the future prospects for Saab.

His resignation after just seven months, then, has to be a cause for concern.

Maybe he simply got a Godfather offer from Carl-Peter Forster, the former GM Europe head who’s now CEO at Tata Group? Maybe Victor’s renowned work ethic and drive were a touch too much?

I sure hope it wasn’t simply a matter of some extra dollars per week. The Saab opportunity was a unique one, resuscitating an established and respected brand that had been so neglected. One would think a challenge like that would appeal to someone with Hallmark’s CV. It’d be interesting to find out.

Hallmark’s successor is yet to be announced, but I’m sure they’re hunting far and wide even as we speak. Whoever it is, they’ll have a tough job with big responsibilities. Hallmark was in the midst of establishing new Saab sales operations in China, Australia, Russia and a number of markets in South America.

Saab Australia to kick off February 1

Thank goodness this is finally out there. I’ve hinted here and there that Saab were going to go it alone in Australia rather than appoint an importer.

Now, Carpoint have had a lengthy chat with Saab’s Executive Director of Sales, Adrian Hallmark. They’ve put to print about as much detail as the Aussie Saab customer could possibly hope to read at this early stage.

February 1 is the date and Saab will be running the organisation themselves. I can tell you that some dealers have already been meeting and the first order of 60 cars was made a few weeks ago. From what I know, the model line will consist mostly of Linear and Aero models and as you’ll read in the Carpoint article, there are big hopes for the 9-4x here.

Here are some dot points. And thanks to Jonathan L for the tip!

“Monday, we agreed the business plan,” he began. “It’s taken longer than expected by about three weeks — the reason being, looking at all our priorities as a company, we need to put cash into Australia to start the business moving, of course.

Read moreSaab Australia to kick off February 1

Adrian Hallmark on Saab in Latin America (and elsewhere)

E24 have followed up on the story about Saab expanding into Latin America, speaking to Adrian Hallmark today and getting some more details.

Following is a Googletrans of the original story, which can be found here, in Swedish.


Why are you establishing a company in Latin America?

– Latin America is one of the world’s largest car markets and we are not there, we see a future for biofuel in Brazil, “says Adrian Hallmark.

– The car market in Latin America has a climate suitable for a premium brand like Saab, we see great opportunities to grow.

He says that the market in Latin America is polarized, with both very cheap cars in large volumes and bigger and more expensive cars in low volumes.

– It makes it a very interesting market for us. We want to beat us into a more expensive brand and compete with BMW, “says Adrian Hallmark.

Which countries are interesting?

– Brazil is our first choice but Argentina is on our list of interesting markets and we plan to re-establish ourselves in Chile and Mexico in the long run, “he says.

What is the timetable for setting out?

– We hope to have found our dealers before the year is over and then we can get started with sales in the first half of next year, “says Adrian Hallmark, who believes that sustainability is the key to good performance in the new markets.

– We are not looking for overnight success, we want to build from scratch and it will probably take us two years to achieve decent volumes. But we want to start now and find good partners as soon as possible.

Are you looking to other countries aside from Latin America?

– We also look at Russia, China and India. We have just re-introduced ourselves in Japan, and want to re-establish ourselves in Australia.

– This year we plan to invest in Russia and China, next year we will take on India, “says Adrian Hallmark.

General Motors distributed Saab cars in 23 countries around the world. But Adrian Hallmark says that GM was not fully focused on the Saab and sales were, in many cases, modest.

– Look at Australia for example, we know that there is potential for many more Saab sales than the rather mediocre market we had before, “says Adrian Hallmark.

– GM also tried launching Saab in Russia, with neither major investments or strategies. Now we can do it on your own and we can do it properly. We ship to which a project team that will lead to the establishment at some point next week, says the former Volkswagen director, who was recruited by Saab earlier this year.

Even in Russia, Saab plans to start setting up care and have a long term plan.

– It is important to think long term if you want to enter these markets and we do. We will attack them systematically over the coming years so that we can get them on their feet, “says Adrian Hallmark.

Report: Saab to launch ad blitz, trim dealers

Bloomberg BusinessWeek have come out with a report today (no link yet, received via email) stating that Saab will soon launch an ad blitz to promote the new lease of life for the company and more prolifically, the new Saab 9-5.

“There’s a huge wave of media and communication” that will start in Sweden when the 9-5 goes on sale June 19, Adrian Hallmark, executive director of sales, said in a phone interview. Saab will spend more than $150 million on marketing in the second half of 2010 after spending “nothing” on promotions since the sale by GM, he said….

…..The Swedish carmaker will release the 9-5 in Belgium next week, the Netherlands the following week, and then other markets. U.S. dealers will start selling the car in early August, Hallmark said yesterday from the company’s North American headquarters outside Detroit…..

…..The marketing will feature “all media platforms” and include applications for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, Hallmark said. Saab dealers will arrange “hundreds of test drives” for potential customers in each market. “It’s coming in waves, market by market, as the cars are imminent and start to get launched,” said Hallmark

The same report also speaks of dealer cutbacks, in what could be an interesting and controversial move.

The spending on promotion comes as Saab plans to reduce the number of dealers by 50 to 100, from about 1,000, by the end of 2011, Hallmark said. The move will reduce expenses such as manager visits to dealers, shipping, training and support, he said.

“If we have 10 percent less dealers and the same volume, those dealers make more money and we have less cost,” the sales chief said.

Note that that proposed cut of up to 100 dealerships is a global figure, so there’s plenty of geographical scope there.

There was significant criticism in 2009 when a proposal was put forward to cut one third of Saab’s US dealers. This was whilst Saab were under potential ownership of the Koenigsegg Group.

This is a much smaller cut in percentage terms and spread much wider in geographical terms, but it’ll be interesting to see who is cut and why.

More good work by Ola Kinnander at BBW.


With regards to the advertising angle in that story, it’s good to see that print ads are already starting to appear in various markets.

This ad was in the Daily Telegraph on the weekend, sent in via email by IVR007:

I’ve also got it on very good authority that select US TV markets will soon see the following clip edited slightly and used as an advertisement:


Adrian Hallmark on Saab in China

There’s been some detailed reporting at Wards Autos, who have been speaking to Saab’s new Executive Director of Sales, Adrian Hallmark. There are a lot of topics covered, but the most fascinating one is possibly a more aggressive entry into the Chinese market.
We know that Saab has pockets of enthusiastic fans all over the world, and that includes China as well. The Saab Support Convoys saw a number of gatherings there – Guangzhou, Shanghai (twice), Ningbo, and Beijing. Hallmark is quite keen on Taiwan as well, and we know how much they love their Saabs.
Here’s what Hallmark had to say:

Newly reorganized Saab Automobile AB intends to enter the booming Chinese market Oct. 1 with a soon-to-be-named distribution partner and an eye on growing sales to at least 5,000 units annually within three years.
“And if it all went well, maybe close to 10,000 with our current product range,” says Adrian Hallmark, executive director-sales.
China represents just one of several new markets Saab plans to enter near-term…..
…..also wants to restart operations in Canada and Japan and launch sales in Australia, Russia, Brazil and perhaps India in the coming months.
But China, where first-quarter sales totaled 4.61 million units, nearly twice the U.S. volume, easily carries the most potential.

The following shows the value of recruiting Hallmark. It really was a strategic masterstroke.

Hallmark knows the situation in China firsthand. Before joining Saab in March, he worked as executive director-Asia at Volkswagen AG and also oversaw the introduction of Bentley Motor Cars Ltd. in the region.
Volkswagen, he claims, has very little brand awareness in China. It sold 970,000 cars and trucks in the region last year by linking with local companies Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and FAW Group Corp., but sold another 13,000 without their support.
“If Volkswagen can do 13,000 import cars with virtually no brand awareness and no benefit from being linked to FAW, or SAIC, anybody can enter the market,” he says.

Hallmark believes Saabs coming vehicles, the 9-5 and 9-4x in particular, place Saab in a great position to make inroads into China.

“…..for us, either by design or serendipity, we are well-positioned in terms of the footprint of the vehicle and the drive trains that we’ve got planned,” Hallmark says.
“They are perfect for China. And with my little bit of experience there and passion for the market, it’s just a question of being hyper-aggressive, hyper-prioritized in terms of where you go,” he adds. “Don’t get distracted, find the right partners, get the back office support and go.”

It’s a very interesting read from Wards. It’s subscription only, though there’s no need to subscribe to comments, where it mysteriously appeared earlier today.
The article goes on to talk about the importance of the US market and the position of the company as it builds its inventory and tries to re-enter the marketplace.
Thanks to Aaron C in comments.

Adrian Hallmark and the Saab challenge

Now this is the spirit I like to see!!

Adrian Hallmark, 47, says he turned down a job from a stable European carmaker to join Saab AB as executive vice president of global sales.
“I had to decide whether I wanted safe and the same thing every day or this — a challenge,” he says.
Few would dispute that Hallmark came to the right place for a challenge.

Hallmark is speaking to Automotive News there and his words are indicative of exactly the sort of person that Saab needs right now.
There’s no doubt that they all face an uphill battle in their quest for success, but they’ve got several things going for them – loyal and eager customers, great new products, great people and a tenacious spirit.
I hope there’s a list of all the nay-sayers on Hallmark’s office wall and they’re the first ones to get the press release when Saab turn a profit.

Saab Automobile Appoints New Sales Director

Seems Saab managed to pinch one back from the Germans.



Saab Automobile today announced the appointment of Adrian Hallmark as Executive Director, Sales.

AdrianHallmark.jpg Hallmark joins Saab´s senior management team from Volkswagen, where he was Executive Director of Asia, responsible for operations in 50 markets, including China and Japan. He takes up his new position with immediate effect and will be based at Saab´s headquarters in Trollhättan, Sweden, where he will report directly to Saab Automobile President and CEO, Jan Åke Jonsson.

Hallmark assumes responsibility for Saab´s global sales operations from Knut Simonsson, who retains the position of Executive Director, Brand and Marketing.

“Saab is embarking on a new era as an independent company and I am delighted to be joining the management team at such an exciting time,” said Hallmark. “With three new products about to be launched and a re-energized dealer network in place, I look forward to building sales volumes and reinforcing the brand´s presence in major markets around the world.”

Announcing the appointment, Jan Åke Jonsson said:

“I am very pleased to welcome Adrian to our senior management team. His broad range of experience makes him ideally suited to this role and I am confident he will add significant value as we start to regain our position in various markets and further grow the Saab business.” He continued: “Over the next 16 months we will be launching three new products – the 9-5 Sedan, the 9-4X and the 9-5 SportCombi — Adrian´s contribution will be vital in optimizing the sales of these exciting new products.”

Hallmark is a former Managing Director of Porsche Cars GB Ltd and has also been responsible for Bentley´s global sales, marketing and PR activities. He served as Executive Vice President Volkswagen of America Inc, based in Detroit, before taking up his position as Executive Director of Asia.


Commence greeting card jokes…………. now.

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