Full update on the Norwegian Car of the year

Arild has been kind enough to send me this full translation of an article covering the Saab 9-3x winning car of the year, according to the people’s vote, in Norway.

Again, it’s good to see both the Dagbladet newspaper and the Saab organisation in Norway acknowledging the massive following Saab had on the internet. Their good humour in reporting it is also appreciated.

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“The whole world” voted for Saab

Enthusiasts worldwide voted Saab as “the people’s winner” in the Car of the Year Competition in Norway.

(Dagbladet): A powerful mobilization of Saab enthusiasts from the brands biggest fan site – www.saabsunited.com – ended in a crushing victory for the crisis struck brand in the poll part of the car of the year.

The distance down to the silver winner – Mercedes E-class – was more than 5000 votes.

– People have a “passion” for Saab that is absolutely unique. We notice it on people from all over the world. We get inquiries from both the U.S. and Australia from people who wonder what will happen with Saab, says public relations and information officer at General Motors Norway, Anita Svanes.

Entered the field

A jury – which naturally takes into account the vote numbers, but which nevertheless is sovereign – will determine which car ends up as the car of the year in Norway. The result can be read this coming Tuesday.

We in the newspaper Dagbladet have noticed the past week that Saab has many extraordinarily enthusiastic supporters. In connection with the issues surrounding the brand’s future, investors with among others Norwegian Bård Eker and not least the participation of the Saab 9-3X in the Car of the Year competition, the enthusiasts really have entered the field.

Small brand

But that more than 10 000 of them would stop by Dagbladet’s web site to vote the Saab 9-3 as the car of the year in Norway, is more than even the biggest fan could dream of. And it was some kind of dream. But the statutes do not say that one can not vote the car of the year in Norway from abroad. And that is precisely what has happened.

We in the newspaper Dagbladet were also a little curious about how a relatively small brand could crush the other big favourites in this way. It appears that the Saab enthusiasts from around the world have voted for their favourite. Many of them have also left compliments to the photographer Krister Sørbø, who has taken the trollish images of the Saab 9-3X at Tryvann.

Enjoyed themselves

In mid-October, it was published a post on the fan site that the Saab 9-3X was in competition to be the car of the year – with a link to Dagbladet’s voting page and the post encouraged readers to vote. The following week it was published regular updates that showed how the Saab climbed on the charts. In recent weeks, the Saab enthusiasts have enjoyed themselves with the fact that no one could catch up with the Saab 9-3X in the vote.

– It has not been done anything particularly to mobilize so many. But the Saab people are very active on the Internet, on blogs and various forums, so the news that they can vote for the car of the year has spread, Anita Svanes says.

She is a little touched by the involvement.

– The Saab people are like a big family. There is so much enthusiasm and love for the brand. And for foreigners Trollhättan and Scandinavia is very exotic, says Svanes

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My thanks again to Arild for the translation and to several others for the heads-up via email. Much appreciated.

Norway Car of the Year 2009 update

I posted an article a few weeks ago about the Norwegian 2009 Car of the Year poll being run by the Dagbladet news website.
At the time, the 10 nominated vehicles had received the following votes:

  1. Audi A5 Sportback (1285)
  2. Mercedes E-Klasse (424)
  3. Toyota Prius ( 373)
  4. Mazda 3 (373)
  5. Skoda Yeti ( 354)
  6. Saab 9-3X (348)
  7. Opel Insignia (343)
  8. BMW X1 ( 323)
  9. Peugeot 3008 (275)
  10. VW Polo ( 204)

Obviously this is a situation that needed immediate action :-). Being beaten out by a Skoda was bad enough, but a Prius?
I received an update via email the other day, and the votes now stand as follows:

  1. Audi A5 Sportback (1982)
  2. Saab 9-3X (1504)
  3. Opel Insignia (829)
  4. Toyota Prius (637)
  5. Mercedes E-Klasse (588)
  6. Mazda3 ( 459)
  7. Skoda Yeti (444)
  8. BMW X1 (417)
  9. Peugeot 3008 (408)
  10. VW Polo (257)

That’s a much better looking table, with a respectable sencond place all but cemented for the Saab 9-3x.
Apparently voting is still open so if you haven’t had your say, you can still do so at the Dagbladet website.
(I assume that) Saab thanks you, Bard Eker thanks you (he’s Norwegian, you know) and I know that I thank you as well.

Your vote for the Saab 9-3x would be welcome in Norway

Saab has a new Norwegian part-owner (well, they will soon).
The Saab 9-3x is a candidate in a car of the year poll in Norway.
I think one is closely enough connected to the other to justify a vote, don’t you?
Saab96NorwayRusty.jpg
If you’d rather see shiny new Saabs on Norwegian streets instead of rusted Saab 96s on the Norwegian coast, then give the Saab 9-3x a hand in this Dagbladet car of 2009 poll and get the editors thinking about The Saab a little more seriously.
Why vote?
Aside from the fact that it’s a Saab, it’s just a darn good vehicle and a great player in that alt-SUV niche.
As of a couple of hours ago, the top 10 standings were as follows:

  1. Audi A5 Sportback (1285)
  2. Mercedes E-Klasse (424)
  3. Toyota Prius ( 373)
  4. Mazda 3 (373)
  5. Skoda Yeti ( 354)
  6. Saab 9-3X (348)
  7. Opel Insignia (343)
  8. BMW X1 ( 323)
  9. Peugeot 3008 (275)
  10. VW Polo ( 204)

It shouldn’t be too hard for the 9-3x to muster a respectable second place from there (and let’s face it, the opel Insignia is just too close for comfort!)
Click here to cast your vote by selecting your chosen vehicle (ahem) and pressing the SEND INN button..
…..and you can also read my quick review of the Saab 9-3x, which I got to drive for a few days in Sweden last month.

Question – who’s contemplating one of the new, post-GM Saabs?

I’ve done a few of these questions in the past, but they’ve tended to be backward looking i.e. who purchased a car in the last 12 months? or something similar.
Today I’d like to pose a forward looking question.
There are big, BIG changes looming for Saab. They’re right around the corner.
Assuming that all goes well, and that a new buyer is found and there’s minimal delays, Saab should have 4 new models released in the next 18 months:

  • Saab 9-3x
  • Saab 9-5 sedan
  • Saab 9-4x SUV
  • Saab 9-5 wagon

So the obvious questions are:

  1. who’s lining up with an honest intention to purchase one of these shiny new machines, and
  2. which of these Saabs are you waiting for?

Fill us in on your plans via comments.

Pollhattan Saab and Make your own news …..Snippets

OK, it’s time to try that Saab ownership poll once again.
The options are the same, except I’m just looking for first preferences here. Who do you want as #1.
GRRRRRRRRRRR – It seems any poll I try ends up in an IE abort. Freaking software giving me the irrits!!!!!
Hopefully this one will work OK.
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I am away with work again, and pretty remote this time, so I’m not going to be able to access news as easily as usual.
I’m not expecting anything big until mid-week, when The US government might push GM a little early into bankruptcy proceedings.
If there’s anything big happening, please keep each other informed in comments.
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I had my first episode of carsickness in years today. And I was driving!!
Mount Arrowsmith is the longest rally stage in Targa Tasmania and as I was driving that road today, I thought I’d give it a burst. A beautiful road, by the way. You should come and drive it.
My problem was that I’d eaten something that wasn’t agreeing with me, so all the twists and turns, whilst fun, left me a little green around the gills.
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There’s some talk coming from Djup Strupe to the effect that GM Europe might be stalling the Saab sale process a little. The word is that Deutsche Bank are actually having a hard time getting GME on the phone to make a decision of any consequence.
Maybe the Opel deal has them all tied up. I hope we still get a decision soon, even if it’s not announced, just to know that it’s been made will start the closure process.
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I’ve been thinking about the Koenigsegg bid some more and you know….I’m reeally getting seduced by it.
I can barely see a downside.
Yes, scale is an issue, but Saab management will still be in place and are used to running the Saab site. One must assume that the pockets Koenigsegg are fronting for are deep enough.
The marketing side is a HUGE upside. It’s not that Saabs and K-Seggs would be in the same showrooms together, because they won’t.
It’s just the association.
You know how motoring journos immediately write about the association, which in GM terms means bad things like badge engineering, etc. Here, the association is nothing but cool, totally Swedish and desireable to anyone with a pulse.
The only possible downside I can see is a systems issue to do with ordering, parts, communications, dealers, etc. Saab have been integrated into the GM system for some time, so setting up a new one could be a drag.
But I like the idea more and more.

The curious case of the Saab ownership poll

I posted a poll earlier today asking readers who they consider would be the best owner for Saab out of the candidates believed to be left in the running.
The results have predictably fallen Koenigsegg’s way, with Renco pulling in a strong win in the separate, second place poll. It seems the Chinese aren’t favoured by anyone.
But the voting has been far from smooth and the voting patterns certainly raise a few eyebrows.
Here’s the results as of right now:
RightNowResults.jpg
As you can see, that’s a rather large 64% to Koenigsegg with one quarter of votes suggesting that the whole process should be stopped and re-commence anew.
Notice I said “votes” and not “voters”.
This whole poll is somewhat stuffed by the fact that it’s organised by Google and I have no ability to restrict voting to one vote per IP address. This leaves the vote open to corruption and this poll is quite likely to be as thoroughly corrupted as an African politician.
The thing that really raised my curiosity was that “start again” vote. We may not be totally happy with all the available candidates at the moment, but I see every comment that gets posted on this site via email and I know that sentiments have not been running this way to this degree. There are not one full quarter of commenters at this site who think that Saab, being this close to being released from a soon-to-be-bankrupt GM, should drag out the process for another 4-6 months to get a result that will most likely be the same as the one we’ve got now.
So I looked into it.

Read moreThe curious case of the Saab ownership poll

Straw poll – who should own Saab?

UPDATED – see below
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A week or so ago I sent a few questions around to a number of automotive journalists and some of our respected Saab mates.
This is meant to be a light look at Saab’s current situation and the questions were as follows:

  1. Who do you think SHOULD end up owning Saab?
  2. Who do you think WILL end up owning Saab?

Bear in mind that these were sent out over a week ago, and we knew less then that what we know now.
So here they are….
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Robert Collin, Aftonbladet
Question 1 – Well, There are no obviously good buyers. I think Fiat would be good, and – Magna. But which is to prefer? Well, I say Magna! Because they can concentrate on Opel and Saab.
Both Fiat and Magna will do a lot of cut downs on Opel, close at least two, perhaps three factories and fire some 10,000 employees. But probably they do not need to cut away a lot from Saab.
Question 2 – No idea!
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Par Brandt, Auto Motor and Sport
Its a hard question. It feels like someone is missing. I dont believe in Fiat/Geely/GM.
It actually feels like the really good, new owner is missing. Maybe we just dont know, maybe they didn’t turn up? A shame, for new 9-5 is really great and the 9-4X too, I guess. And the new 9-3, and the … 😉
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Prominent, important Saab employee who shall not be named
Q1: Ferdinand Piech & Wendelin Wiedeking, If they can be friends – BIG EGOS!
Q2: Not sure about that yet……
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The guys at Autoline After Hours
I sent the questions to John McElroy from Autoline and whilst he didn’t answer via mail, he did pass the question as to who should own Saab on to Peter De Lorenzo, from AutoExtremist.com. Former Chrysler and Ford PR guru, Jason Vines, asked the question as part of the Rapidfire segment in last week’s show.
DeLorenzo, AutoExtremist: Someone with a Swedish accent should own Saab once again.
David Welsh, BusinessWeek: No-one’s died as a result of this global meltdown. Maybe Saab should be the one.
Eddie Alterman, Car and Driver: I agree with what David said.
UPDATE
John McElroy, the guy who runs Autoline, has now responded via email:

Swade,
Saab would be best served by staying as autonomous as it possibly can. But it needs to restructure itself to be profitable at its current sales levels, which will be extremely difficult to achieve. Since Saab is so intertwined with Opel right now, the best short-term solution is for it to stay with Opel–no matter who ends up buying the German automaker.

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Etienne Morsa – Saabhuy
Answer 1: Renault ..Why…. Renault have great expertise in front whell drive, turbo engines, Car racing and rallying…like Saab…also Renault could be ambitious in terms of design..like Saab in the past!
Answer 2: Fiat …Why …Sergio Marchione is very ambitious and needs the knowledge of making a car suitable for northern markets and climates (American and European)
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Golfhunter – Saabhuy
I would say the German bank.
Why? Because they would just give the money and would let a lot of freedom to Saab as a small identity to develop what Saab would think it is good for Saab.
Fiat are too ambitious and make me worried about the viability of their gigantics projects
Geely: My job currently is to sell chinese music instruments ………No comment…..
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Lance Cole – Author and motoring writer
I would like a private Sweish consortium to own Saab, empoying thee and me and our mates.
I think the Wallenburg, Agnelli axis will prevail and a Fiat- Opel Saab entity will win the day. And why not?
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Robin M – Unofficial Saab Ambassador to the UK
I would like to see someone in Sweden take over. Koenigsegg and maybe a Swedish consortium, even the guys in Norway, maybe all join together and have shared parts.
I don’t want Fiat to take over as I believe they will just close it down. I think they would close Vauxhall and Opel down eventually as its less competitors for them to compete with.
I don’t think I know who I could say would take over but if I have to choose from the three that were short listed (albeit not conclusive) I would go for the German business deal.
Geely – something in the back of my head thinks they would let Saab do as they wish and just take the profit and technology to put in their local cars. It’s a new section for them with out having to work for it.
I’m still 100% confident Saab will survive, just hope GM don’t cock it up by being a spoil sport.
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I also sent them to Robert Farago of The Truth About Cars, who proceeded to confirm himself as a complete and utter ass.

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