Whatcar report – watch your Saab get built and pick it up at the factory

If anyone sees a shipment of cameras heading towards Trollhattan, it might be to set up what’s been reported in Whatcar? today:

Saab buyers will be able to watch their cars being built online – and then collect them from the company’s Trollhattan factory in Sweden.

Saab wants to put more focus on the customer experience now it is no longer owned by General Motors (GM), and plans to start installing cameras on the production line from next year.

The live-build images would be fantastic, if they can do it. I believe Spyker used to do it at their facility in Zeewolde (and may still do so at their new factory in England – I don’t know).

That they’ll use the factory for deliveries makes plenty of sense. They’ve already built the viewing and presentation area at the end of the production line, which was used for the global launch of the new Saab 9-5.

What remains unknown is whether they’d use these factory deliveries to reinstate the European Delivery Program that was cut off a few years ago when things started going pear shaped. It’s a tough logistical exercise and one would have to question how much it adds to the bottom line, but if you’re looking to enhance the customer experience, then it’s one of the best programs there is.

I’ve sent a carrier-pigeon to Sweden to find out more and will report back when it lands.

Saab USA European Delivery Program – the latest info

In my post last night, asking who’s signing up for a new 9-5, a few of the US commenters mentioned waiting for the European Delivery Program and asking if there was any new information about it.
Yes, and no.
Back in early March, Eggs n Grits did a great interview with the head of Saab Cars North America – Mike Colleran. Eggs asked about the EDP during the interview, with the following exchange being on the record:

Eggs: In the past, Saab has had one of the best European delivery programs available. Do you have any plans to reinstate it? Perhaps 2011?
Colleran: I’d like to re-start the program; customers loved it. It was a very difficult program to manage for us, so it’s not my first priority to bring it back as we try to work those priorities that I gave you earlier, but it is on our radar screen to examine and potentially bring back if it makes sense.

Here’s a tip for Mr Colleran – it makes sense.
The European Delivery Program was loved by everyone I’ve ever spoken to who participated in it. It’s a premium offering and befits the market that Saab are going after – especially when you’re looking to lure back old customers who may have done the program in the past.
My concern – Colleran’s answer to this question, and a lot of what I’ve read or heard from him since his appointment, is straight out of the GM playbook. I heard answers like that about diesel from SaabUSA for 5 years. I would have preferred if they just said “no, it costs too much”.
GM had a decades-long culture of not taking risks, not rocking the boat, because it might stall your career. I’m worried that Colleran has that culture ingrained in his psyche so deep that we’re going to see a few years of GM-like non-behaviour as a result.
The challenge for him is to not merely survive, but to do something in order to flourish. There’s no ass upstairs to kiss. There’s no-one who’ll get upset in the US if he rocks the boat a little.
The buck stops with him and his team. What are they going to do in order to blow things up and put Saab back in people’s minds and shopping lists again?

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