Saab: the Saab-Scania era VS the General Motors era

I thought it might be interesting to go over the last 40 years and take a look, using 5 year segments, at what’s happened at Saab.
It’s basically the Saab-Scania era vs the GM era, and I want to take a look at the innovations, models and sales that happened during those periods.
The sales figures have been sourced from Ryan’s graph at Saab History. The iinnovations are from the innovations page here at SU, and the model stuff is out of my head.
1970-1974
Models: The Saab 96 and 95 were still on offer, continuing on from their heyday in the 1960s. The big mover in Saab terms was the Saab 99. Only two years old by 1970, the 99 range would be expanded with the addition of the 99EMS and maybe one of the most important developments in Saab design – the Combi-Coupe.
Innovations:

  • 1970: Headlights wash and wipe
  • 1971: Energy Absorbing Bumpers
  • 1971: Electrically Heated Seats
  • 1972: Side Impact Protection

Sales:
1970 – 61,711
1971 – 73,982
1972 – 72,960
1973 – 83,997
1974 – 89,467
Total sales – 382,117
Average sales – 76,423
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1975 – 1979
Models: The 99 range expanded with a 5-door GLE version but the big news was the Saab 99 Turbo. Even more than the Combi Coupe, this car was a total gamechanger and gave Saab a fantastic reputation for innovation and technology. In 1979, Saab took the game even higher with the introduction of their best selling car – the 900. It was a huge leap in terms of luxury, ride and equipment and set Saab up for the golden years of the 1980’s.

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Is my Saab warranty still valid? Yes.

I’ve been getting a few comments come through the blog and a few emails coming through my inbox asking about Saab warranties. These are typically from people either considering buying a car, or people who have one that’s just a year or two old and still covered by warranty.
The uncertainty is fair enough. GM plan on selling Saab or closing the brand down if a buyer can’t be found. With that sort of fate on the horizon, it’s understandable that people would be worried about their Saab warranty.
Everything that I’ve seen so far points to the fact that all Saab warranty work will continue to be covered by General Motors for the full term of the warranty. They sold you the car with a warranty attached and they have to honour that warranty as long as it’s in effect.
In a mailout to US customers, GM Premium Brands group chief Mark McNabb said the following:

To current Saab owners and loyalists, be assured that all warranties on Saab vehicles remain valid. The warranty for both new and Certified Pre-Owned Saab vehicles are provided by GM and remain intact. GM will support continued availability of parts and service. Prepaid scheduled maintenance also remains in effect on all current product offerings.

In an interview at the Melbourne Motor Show last week, Saab Oz chief Parveen Batish had this to say:

But, again, to emphasise that as far as customers here are concerned, we are GM Holden, we are selling cars under that umbrella, and every car that we sell is completely warrantied and guaranteed – just as it always has been.

He mentions Holden by name as that’s the umbrella group for all of GM’s brands here in Australia, but in the context of the interview he’s talking about Saab and Hummer.
Bottom line: Your warranty is provided by General Motors and they are obliged to honor the warranty and service agreements attached to the car they sold you.
The normal weasely exceptions apply and make sure you use a dealer with a good service reputation, but at the base level: everything I’ve seen says you’re covered.

EnG General Motors News

From my own Djup Strupe at the GM Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, comes the news that the notion of true plant closures here in the US are really gaining a great deal of momentum. That plant has been shut down since before Christmas, producing only a handful of cars as required to test and modify production equipment, procedures, engineering, etc. Full production is scheduled to re-start there today on one shift only. The Spring Hill plant makes the full-size Chevrolet Arcadia Traverse (thanks, Stephen and Ryan!) SUV and its Buick and Saturn kin.
In the past, GM was severely handcuffed by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union when it came to shuttering a production facility. The so-called “jobs bank” program that required automakers to continue to pay workers for up to two years even when they were not working made true plant closures almost impossible, not to mention the other costs of closures. Thus, many plants (see Chrysler) continued to produce vehicles even without a market for them simply because the marginal costs were low.
Now, with the Lansing, Michigan and Spring Hill, Tennessee plants making similar models and both operating at well less than capacity (Lansing is also at one-shift-per-day currently), it is doubtful that both can survive unless production from a third plant is shifted to one of them.
On top of that, it seems that GM has prepared the salaried employees for more job cuts in the very near future. I’m told that these cuts will be as deep as necessary to match the company’s current sales rate, which we all know is exceedingly low. Every GM employee knows where they stand in terms of seniority and job category and that will directly translate into longevity or lack thereof. It’s going to be tough. Very, very tough.
However, there are some “silver lining” moments, even as dire as things seem. For one thing, lower gasoline prices and deep discounts are making sales seem a little better, even if they aren’t sustainable. Additionally, some leading automotive indicators (heavy trucks, for instance) are looking as if they are creeping off the bottom toward recovery. New products such as our own 2010 9-5, the Chevrolet Camaro, etc. will create some sales.
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In other news, General Motors Europe has reorganized to separate the marketing functions for Opel, Saab and Chevrolet into their respective business units rather than as a unified support function servicing all three brands. Thus, Saab marketing now rests solely with Jan-Ake Jonsson, with former GM Europe marketing chief Alain Visser assuming those responsibilities for Opel alone.
This makes sense given that General Motors needs to at least try to sell Saab to satisfy the demands of the bail out and the pending Swedish support.
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As for Cadillac marketing in Europe, as Swade has questioned, GM states simply that “Sales of Cadillac outside of the United States were supported by strong growth of the brand in Latin America, Africa and Middle East (up 22 percent)“. What’s not stated here is that Cadillac sales in Europe, while still lackluster, did go up last year.
I’m thinking that Cadillac, with its hands full trying to survive in its home market, will pull back a bit from the European market given the cost of access and lack of growth. The most notable exception would be Russia, where General Motors in general has had a good run, and gasoline is plentiful and cheap.

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