GM and Saab Wednesday snippets

I haven’t covered GM much at all in the last few weeks. The less written about them the better as far as I’m concerned.
But does their recent backflipping on several things reek to anyone else?
Leading up to bankruptcy they were as contrite as a swagger-driven company could be. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir. Want us to change the old guard? Yessir! Our went Wagoner and Bob Lutz announced his pending retirement as well.
Then the very same day they emerge from bankruptcy proceedings as “New GM”, Lutz reverses his decision to retire and is retained as head of marketing.
Leading up to bankruptcy they were all about small cars and Volt Volt Volt. Now they’re out relative danger, they’re talking about keeping the RWD Commodore/G8 and talking up the Chevy Camaro like it’s an automotive god.
It’s salesmanship at its best and worst all at the same time. I wish them well, but I really can’t wait for Saab to separate from this crew.
Automotive News report that RHJ International have put a figure on their bid for Opel, at around 300 million Euros in equity plus a whole heap in state guaranteed loans.
Magna is still the frontrunner, though, and I’ll be very surprised if Opel goes elsewhere. Talks with RHJ are nothing more than a sideshow.
The mainstream automotive press has been given access to the 2010 Saab 9-5. The press must be preparing their reports for upcoming editions. These are real, photographable versions of the car rather than the test mules we’ve been seeing. The cars were handbuilt in Russelsheim and after doing their initial rounds for the cameras at press events and motorshows, they’ll most likely be used for crash testing or sent to the crusher.
The press are also having a chat with Saab people whilst they’re there and the results are starting to pop up in the press.
Unfortunately, I can’t get the links to work at the moment (not even the front pages of these sites will show up on my computer right now), but Whatcar and Car Magazine, both from the UK, should both have stories up there at the moment or in the next day or so.
Obviously, we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the photos, but hopefully the stories will give a good read.
The latest info coming through on the Saab 9-3 is that it’s due to get another facelift for the 2011 model year.
This will not mean much in terms of exterior changes as I’m led to believe that the main focus of the facelift will be the interior.
And it’ll be most welcome.
The changes will most likely be to bring the car into line with the new Saab 9-5 and 9-4x that should be out by then.
The NY Times keeps up some reporting pressure on JD Power over those Initial Quality Surveys.
Last report, we read how the Mini fared badly but sells incredibly well. The contrast was due to customer perceptions of initial quality being turned around by actual quality once they’d got used to the car.
Read: the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes the customer is an ass.
This time, the NYT is focusing on the inclusion of “brake dust” on the JD Power survey.
A link was placed in comments by Gunnar and emailed to me by Mike L.

A look at the quality of JD Power’s quality survey

Good evening all. I’m currently on a wireless connection that’s the internet equivalent of trying to pee through a straw. I can only open one window at a time lest the web gods curse me for impertinence.
Entries are therefore brief. Even though I’ve been through the fire of owning seven Saabs and helping raise two teenagers, there’s only so much patience one can have……
We all winced a little at the JD Power Initial Quality study that was released recently. Saab once again had a lower-placed ranking in what is, I believe, a flawed piece of work that gets far too much attention (says he who’s giving it more attention right now….)
The New York Times ‘Wheels Blog’ recently covered the survey from a singular perspective – the placing of the Mini.
Mini placed dead last in the survery, in case you didn’t notice or remember. That result surprised me, and it obviously surprised the NYT, too, so they looked into it a bit further.

……Mini has been a much-beloved brand with strong sales. Last week, Mini announced it would be adding 17 more dealerships in the United States over the next 18 months in anticipation of double-digit sales growth by 2011.
So what gives?
As it turns out, some of things that Mini owners absolutely adore about their little cars are also the “problems” that owners mark down in their J.D. Power quality survey.
“Mini has some idiosyncrasies that we engineer into our cars,” Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, told The Associated Press (via MSNBC). As examples, Mr. McDowell cited the Mini’s unusual ambient interior lighting and windshield-wiper control, which is a button instead of a knob.
David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power, confirmed Mr. McDowell’s claims. “A number of Mini’s problems are related to the intuitiveness of the car’s interior dash controls,” he said. The Initial Quality Survey covers the first 90 days of ownership. And during that time, owners are still getting used to the controls of their cars.
One of the quirks of the J.D. Power survey, when it comes to the interior features category, is that it gives equal weight to items that are broken (and need to be fixed by the dealer) and items that are difficult to understand or use, or designed in a way that’s not so intuitive, Mr. Sargent said.

In the most basic terms, the survey’s a dud and JD Power acknowledge their own flaws.
I guess Saab’s job remains – continue to improve, work to get the message out to people and work even harder to get people to drive the cars.

Thanks Brooks!

German TUEV report on Saab 9-3 quality

As another follow up to the JD Power report from earlier today, I thought I’d pass on this TUEV report from Germany, which Fuzzi has emailed to me.
I’ve not included the various bits of text, but just these tables.
Apparently the Saab 9-3 is highly rated in this report, which came out in an edition of Autobild earlier this year.
I’m not sure exactly how to read these tables, but I’m sure we’ll get some assistance shortly, either via email or in comments. All I know is there’s a lot of green in the bottom table, which I assume is a good thing.
Click either to enlarge.

More on that JD Power initial quality survey

I reported on Saab’s showing in the 2009 JD Power Initial Quality Survey earlier today. It would seem that Saab didn’t do so well in the survey if you go by the graph alone…..
JD Power
……but what this graph misses out on is improvements in the industry over all, and by certain brands in particular. Those details might be in the accompanying text, but I wouldn’t know that because like what I imagine is a majority of people, when faced with limited time and the choice between a whole barrage of text and a simple chart, I’ll look at the simple chart.
The Detroit News has an interesting blog post about this today:

J.D. Power won’t disclose the vehicle with the most problems, but will say it had 181 problems per 100 vehicles sampled. That is less than two problems per vehicle, and a respectable showing compared to the early years of the study.
“No one is building junk anymore – those days are over,” said David Sargeant, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and author of the study. “We’re really talking about the difference between a really good car and a great car these days.”

It’d be nice if that quote was presented with the main chart, rather than buried in some accompanying text or an external website.

Saab has 138,000,000,000 problems per 100,000,000,000 vehicles!!

……and that’s 30 billion problems more per 100 billion cars made than the industry average!!!!
The latest JD Power initial product quality survey has just been released and as has been the practice since Adam wore short pants, Saab hasn’t done well.
The actual measure that JDP use is problems reported per 100 vehicles. On this scale, Saab had 138 problems recorded, though there’s no description as to what these problems are, or the reliability of the data.
The best brand was Lexus with 84-per and the worst brand was MINI with 165-per.
Here’s the table. Click
I’m sure that car companies have a love/hate relationship with this survey. Those at the top probably love it and those lower down the list probably cower at the thought of it coming out.
Because being at the bottom of this report gives an initial impression that product isn’t much good in quality terms. The measure of problems-per-100 doesn’t help this.
But if you move the decimal point a few digits to the left, you’ll see that the actual measure per car makes the race a lot closer.
In fact, as the Associated Press points out, there’s less than one problem-per-vehicle difference between first and last on that table. Add to that the fact that industry, as a whole, is improving and things don’t seem so bad after all.
They just look bad on a graph.

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