Saab Australia distribution in the news

Earlier this week I covered some preliminary news about Saab’s near-term distribution in Australia. That bulletin was a via a dealer message penned by Jan-Ake Jonsson and circulated via email.
That message indicated that in the near term, Saabs would continue to be sold via GM outlets and ordering systems would soon be in place to allow customers to order the 9-3 range of vehicles, including the new Saab 9-3x.
Go Auto has a story about Saab distribution today, covering the hunt for a non-GM importer and distributor. You’ll note that the previous story included nothing about importation or ordering of the Saab 9-5, which seems to be one of the reasons Go Auto have been asking questions about the future (i.e. when can people in Oz order a new 9-5).
The leading candidate to take on the role of Australian distributor seems to be Ateco. Go Auto justify this lead status by process of elimination. I’m not up with the importer situation here in Oz, but there seem to only be two other possibilities: Inchcape (who just do Subaru distribution and seemingly have little interest in expanding) and Sime Darby, for whom taking on Saab distribution would seemingly require a major reorganisation of their business.
Ateco currently do distribution for Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat Commercial, Maserati and Ferrari and have a dealership network in place via Alfa and Citroen that would seemingly fit in with a Saaby clientele here in Oz.
The deal isn’t done yet, however, and in the meantime GM dealerships will continue to sell and service Saabs.

“Saab still intends to operate in Australia and New Zealand and is looking for a new distributor,” said Holden external communications director Emily Perry. “However, in the meantime, Holden is helping to facilitate this process to support the dealers and Saab customers manage the transition. The ongoing commitment from the dealers and our customers show the strength of Saab brand and the new products on the way.”

And isn’t it fantastic to see Emily back on the ground here in Australia?
If a new distributor is going to be signed up, it’s still forecast to be some time before the full transition is made to that group. Possibly as long as six months away, according to Go Auto.
Looks like we probably won’t be seeing any new 9-5s on Australian roads for some time yet.

Interim news about Saab in Australia

Saab are currently looking for a company to act as distributors for the Australian market. That doesn’t mean that absolutely nothing is happening in the meantime, however.
I’ve just received the following from Djup Strupe. It’s an internal document that gives some brief advice about what’s going on down under. The quotes below are attributed to Jan-Ake Jonsson.

With regard to Australia and New Zealand it is our intention continue with an appointment of an independent importer. We are continuing our search and hope to make an announcement very soon. In the meantime we will continue to work with Holden and do everything we can to facilitate continuation of business.
We are currently building momentum in our production and our commercial system to prepare ourselves for the challenges in 2010. Later this summer we will launch the new 9-5 Sedan and already within 16 months we will be ready to launch the new 9-5 SportCombi and the new 9-4X.
In the nearest future we need to put our focus on the competitive 9-3 range with the new 9-3X on top. We are hoping, with the help of Holden, to be able to put in place a mechanism to enable you to place orders for the 9-3 range and for the new 9-3X.

So it seems that Saab will continue to be sold through current channels for some time to come. Even if a new distributor is appointed, it’s hard to know how long it will be before they’re equipped to start appointing new dealers (if needed) and supporting the sale of Saab cars.
In the interim, I just hope that existing Saab salesmen are supported by their dealer principals and given some resources to push Saab’s story and the stock they might have in place. That stock is probably minimal given that there wasn’t many vehicles shipped during 2009.

Wednesday Snippets

I’d just like to take this opportunity – before they begin – to rule out, squash and by-all-means-possible eliminate the spread of any rumours suggesting that I’m having an affair with Tiger Woods.
He was teaching me to play pool, and that is all.
There’s an interesting report here in Australia today, with research finding that our kids have a disproportionaly high number of deaths in Australia’s road toll and a big factor is the cars they drive.

A Monash University study of 250,000 crashes involving young people on Australian roads has shown their poor choice of cars is a significant factor in increasing their likelihood of death and injury…..
….The most popular cars among 17 to 25-year-olds include the Hyundai Excel, Ford Laser, Mitsubishi Lancer and Holden Commodore (VL and VP) – and they all score badly on safety ratings.
Monash Accident Research Centre member Dr Stuart Newstead said the cars young people drove were usually older, and for female drivers, smaller, than average, creating a potentially lethal mix. He added that even taking vehicle age out of consideration, the types of cars driven by young people still had the worst injury protection performance.
He warned parents against buying cars that rated low in the safety stakes for their teenage drivers.
The Ford Focus (2005-2007), the Saab 9-3 (1998-2002), the Volkswagen Polo (1996-2000) and the Peugeot 307 (2001-2007) are the top rating used cars in terms of safety.

Now if only we could get insurance companies to actually cover kids 18-25 to drive a Saab 9-3 of that era.
Insurance for any car with a turbo, for any kid aged 18-25 is about as rare as unobtainium and incredibly costly when you do find it.
Ed Whitacre’s come under more fire from the media. This time it’s Forbes magazine, who weren’t satisfied with his carefully stage-managed webchat today.

Since forcing out Frederick “Fritz” Henderson as CEO on Dec. 2, Whitacre, the former chairman and chief executive of AT&T has had three opportunities to publicly share his strategy for fixing GM. But instead of demonstrating the kind of public accountability he demands from others within GM, he seems to be avoiding it so far.

Big Ed’s going to have to face the people at some time.
And some quotes from that GM webchat:
[Comment From Tom Krisher, AP Tom Krisher, AP : ] Fritz Henderson had only about 8 months as CEO before he left. How long do the newly appointed execs have to show results before they are replaced?
Ed Whitacre: Hi Tom… Not long. :-).
[Comment From Jonas FRöberg Jonas FRöberg : ] How does the saab negotiations go?
Ed Whitacre: Hi Jonas…We’re in negotiations with a couple of interested parties. We’ve got a deadline for the end of the month and we’ll let you know how it went.
Saab Australia sold only 7 vehicles in November. Vehicle orders are not being taken at this time.
From Go Auto:

THE GM Premium Brands Australian division has been paralysed by uncertainty and may have imported its last vehicle.
Distributing Saab and Hummer, the GM Holden arm has not imported any vehicles since the middle of this year, and its dealers are simply running down existing stock with no clue as to when, or if, any more vehicles will ever come……
….Staff levels at the GM Premium Brands office, housed in GM Holden’s headquarters at Fishermans Bend, have dropped with key personnel leaving the brand in the past year, with the attrition rate increasing in the last few months…..A skeleton crew remains in place, but its future is uncertain.

Hang in there, folks.

A little news on Saab in Canada

One of the great mysteries surrounding the sale of Saab is what will happen to distribution in countries not named Sweden, Great Britain and the United States.
Saab will set up their own distribution organisations in those three countries, but it seems the rest of the world will rely on importers getting on board. One of the contentious markets that we’ve been focused on a little is the Canadian market.
Given it’s proxomity to the US, there was some thought that it may be overseen by the new Saab Cars North America headed up by Mike Colleran. There’s been little news on Canadian distribution, though, and when I asked Colleran about it in Frankfurt a few months ago he was decidedly undecided on the issue.
Turbin’s been browsing the web and noticed this comment to a story about Saab:

I can assure you Saab will be in Canada. Once the deal is closed with GM and the new owners, Saab North America will be supporting a network through a new Distributor/Importer of record that has experience around the world with all neccessary procedures. The Canadian Saab network will be made up of surviving Saab outlets and some new recruits so that Saab will be represented in all larger Canadian markets. Saab customers can be sure that the car they own will have service, warranty and parts support going forward. Saab will be launching the new 95 as the 2010 model year evolves. 2010 Saab cars will be arriving after a slight delay due to the change over from GM Canada to the new importer.
Posted by: Chris Budd | November 13, 2009 at 04:29 PM

Chris Budd is the ‘Budd’ in Budds Saab, located in Oakville, Ontario.
There was some unsubstantiated talk last week that distribution here in Australia might be taken over by a company called Ateco. I didn’t get to see the article myself and nothing’s appeared online yet, hence the lack of coverage here.
Ateco currently deal with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Citroen, Maserati, and they’ve just embarked on a new deal to distribute Great Wall vehicles from China, as well. Turbin’s also managed to sniff out that the current EO of Ateco is a guy named Edward Butler, who amongst other things, has spent some time in the past as the Asia Pacific Regional Sales Manager for Saab Automobile AB (1998-2000).
I imagine the distribution deal that might take place in Canada, and possibly here in Australia, could look something like this Ateco deal (if it happens).
It’s good to hear something on Canada, at least. Here’s hoping all these deals get sorted in the very near future.

Aussie Cabrio Challenge – November 2009

Here’s an event that’s not for the faint-hearted.
I’m unsure as to who the organisers are, but they seem to be a pack of wind-in-the-hair maniacs who like to take convertibles to strange foreign lands and put them through some punishing drives.
They’ve already done “Norcape” – a trip from Oslo to Stockholm via the Arctic Circle. And “LatAm” – which was South America from top to bottom, travelling as many as 900km a day through Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. Another epic was “Eurasia”, which took drivers from Amsterdam to Singapore.
Home_route smaller.jpg
Now they’re doing “Aussie”, which will go from Sydney to Sydney via the Whitsundays, the Northern Territory (including Uluru), South Australia, Victoria and back to Sydney.
And this is a cabrio challenge, so all entries must be convertibles.
And those convertibles will be travelling along plenty of outback roads, unpaved but hopefully with a spattering of fuel outlets along the way. They’ll also be travelling to the Northern Territory in the wet season (Darwin, the NT capital, only has two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. Temperatures all year range from 30 – 33 degrees C).
This is not a trip I’d like to take in my MX-5, that’s for sure. But the entries so far show no MX-5s in the lineup, just a small group of German convertibles and one Saab 9-3 Aero convertible.
Maybe some of you Aussie Saabisti would like to add some Swedishness (phrase copyright, General Motors) to the group by seeing some more of your own backyard?
If so, the website for the trip is here.
And for you foreigners wealthy enough to consider coming here for a month, tripping around our uninhabited areas with the dust wind in your hair, here’s a little song from the Australian tourism officials – Come to Australia (You might accidentally get killed)
Thanks to Jörgen!!

Saab Australia – XWD now on offer for 2009

Further to my news about the Melbourne International Motor Show and Saab’s improved diesel and BioPower offering here in Australia, there’s another release about the availability of XWD for 2009.
In summary:
* XWD is coming, though it’s only mentioned in terms of the V6 (i.e. no 2.0T availability)
* The eLSD is not standard, but part of an upgrade pack
* V6 engine is the higher-rated 206kW version, with 400Nm
* Pricing starts at around $79K
Saab Introduces Upgraded V6 Engines and New Cross Wheel Drive Models
Saab9-3V6XWD.jpg Saab’s widely-acclaimed all-wheel-drive system – Saab XWD (cross wheel drive) – is given broader appeal and is now available in the latest 9-3 Aero Sport Sedan and SportCombi models.
Premiering at the Melbourne International Motor Show later this month, these new models feature the cutting-edge XWD system which has been specifically tuned for the Saab 9-3 chassis and fully exploits the power of an upgraded 2.8-litre V6 turbo engine delivering 206kW* (increased from 188kW*) and an impressive 400Nm* (increased from 350Nm*) of torque (convertible torque figure increased to 370Nm*).

Read moreSaab Australia – XWD now on offer for 2009

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