Another day another club. Below is an email I received from a club from Belarus called SAABotaZH. Now not knowing Russian or trusting google translation, I will let the email speak for itself. It’s been nice getting to know more and more of these clubs and groups across the globe and as always, I invited any club or group to send me an email at [email protected] or to [email protected] to tell us about you and your group.
- Saab continues to expand distribution network with appointment of new
importer in Russia
- Moscow-based Armand Import major player in Russian automotive sector
Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is continuing to expand its international
distribution network with the appointment of a new importer and distributor for the
highly important Russian market, Armand Import. Effective immediately, Armand
Import will take over all marketing, sales and distribution responsibilities from GM
CIS. Official sales are expected to start mid-2011.
According to di.se, Antonov is setting up business in Sweden. His Latvian bank Latvijas Krajbanka has already set up representation in Stockholm and are making plans for running a bank there.
Antonov comments that the process of investing money in Saab is ongoing. He and a partner are able to invest the 3.5 billion SEK “that are needed” (presumably in order to terminate the EIB loan and thus enable Saab even more freedom?). Finally, the plans for a Saab factory in Russia are not dead. However, the retail network in Russia needs to get organized first in order to determine what kind of sales volumes they are looking at.
Right now I’d rate Inside Line’s accuracy when it comes to Saab stories as “questionable”. We all remember the Michelle Krebs story from a month or so ago, right? Auto Observer is Inside Line’s cousin so we have to wonder if the family gene for accuracy has been carried on or skipped.
Inside Line are running a story today that makes one or two interesting claims.
Swedish automaker Saab is considering expanding in Russia and China in the near future, through the establishment of its own production facilities as well as resumption of distribution in both countries.
In the case of Russia, according to Jan-Ake Johnson, managing director of Saab, the new plant might be established in the Far East. Earlier this year, Russian media also reported about the plans of Spyker, new owner of Saab, to build a plant in the Kaliningrad region for the production of Saab models with a total capacity of 10,000 cars per year.
According to some Russian analysts, the new plant may specialize in the production of new Saab models including the 9-3 sedan for the Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakh markets, priced no higher than $12,000.
To put these reports into perspective, I’ll have to take you back in time a little.
The young Russian banker, Vladimir Antonov, was officially excluded from the Saab purchase by decree of General Motors, but it’s fair to say that unofficially, he has fingers in various pies.
Earlier this year, Antonov spoke to several publications about Saab, talking about his plans to build Saabs in Kaliningrad – cars that were based on some of Saabs older technology that hadn’t been sold to BAIC.
Inside Line manage to include Jan-Ake Jonsson in their article, above, however there’s no direct quote from him about production in Russia, just an invocation about producing them in “the Far East” (which is a long way away if you’re talking about Russia’s far east. I wonder if Sarah Palin will be able to see the factory 🙂 – sorry.).
The only quote I’ve seen from Jan-Ake Jonsson about Antonov’s plans for Russian production played the plans down a little.
Of course, Russia is an emerging market which is interesting for Saab. But I can not comment on the substance of what he has said. I have just read what he said and has not spoken to him myself, “said Jan-Ake Jonsson.
Bear in mind, that was back in April and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Inside Line could have spoken to the man himself but just not included a direct quote.
Cranking out some older-architecture Saabs for Russia and “the Stans” might well be a good little earner. As long as it doesn’t hurt the prospects of Saab selling their new models to Russia’s nouveau riche.
For the moment, I’ll place this in the wait and see basket.
And in the same article, about China:
At the same time in China, Saab is planning to open 10 to 15 dealerships, under a single network, which is expected to allow it to sell up to 5,000 cars in the country a year. In addition, there is also a possibility of launching the production of a new generation of 9-3 sedan in this country in 2012.
Can’t come soon enough.
And completely unrelated, but whilst we’re talking Antonov……
His Snoras Bank are sponsoring the Lotus Renault F1 team next year, which are part-owned by Genii Capital (who were one of the contenders looking to buy Saab).
There were a few news-ish pronouncements made during the LA Auto Show that didn’t receive a lot of airtime here on Saabs United because of the sheer volume of news and the decision to concentrate most on the Saab 9-4x.
Sales organisations for China and Russia
It was mentioned in a couple of interviews, but most notably at Saab’s LA Auto Show press conference introduction for the Saab 9-4x.
During that press conference, Jan-Ake Jonsson mentioned that Saab would make announcements soon with regards to Russia and China:
Before the end of the year, we will sign agreements and create solutions for distribution in the very important markets of China and Russia.
China and Russia will join the 51 other countries where Saab are currently selling, or setting up market solutions.
Sharing of the Phoenix vehicle architecture
This was first mentioned on site in relation to an interview that Victor Muller did with John MacElroy from Autoline Detroit.
CAR Magazine also have some information about it from an interview they did with both VM and JAJ:
Saab won’t only buy in technology from other manufacturers, but will sell its own Phoenix platform (which will underpin the next 9-3) to car companies as well.
…..Both execs are adamant that Saab can survive at a volume of 100,000 sales per year, but to do so it is crucial (as it is for every manufacturer) to drive down Saab’s break-even point.
One way of doing this will be flogging its Phoenix platform, offsetting the development costs and adding millions to the company coffers.
Reuters has more….
The company is talking to potential partners, Muller said, but he declined to name any. Muller said the company is in talks with “a few” potential partners to share its new Saab 9-3 platform.
Finally, something we already knew, but it’s good to see in print again anyway….
The estate version of the current 9-5, which Muller calls ‘gorgeous’, will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2011 and UK sales will commence in July 2011.
Just received confirmation this morning that – for the US market at least – the Saab 9-4x will come with two six-cylinder engine options, not a four-cylinder as has been previously mentioned on some websites around the traps.
The two six cylinder engines will by the 3.0L normally aspirated direct injection engine and the 2.8T as per the Saab 9-5. Essentially, the same engine offerings as in the Cadillac SRX.
There will be five trim levels offered, similar to the 9-3 setup in the US. Base FWD, Base XWD, Premium FWD, Premium XWD and Aero.
From Ola at Bloomberg today:
Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker owned by Spyker Cars NV, aims to start selling cars in China, Russia, Brazil and Mexico in the first half of next year, its sales chief said in an interview…..
….In China, Saab is talking to “numerous potential partners,” including Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., which last December bought technologies from Saab for about $200 million. “BAIC is part of the process but they’re not the guaranteed distribution partner, far from it,” Hallmark said.
For now Saab is only seeking a distribution deal in China, and next year it may study whether local production would be feasible, he said.
“If we only import cars to China I think we can sell 2,000 to 5,000 cars a year,” he said. “If we build cars in China it could be 50,000-plus cars per year.” Saab sold 860 cars in China in 2008, the last year it had a presence there…..
…..Hallmark declined to identify any other potential new distribution partners. For Russia, Saab is holding discussions with four candidates, while for Brazil and Mexico it’s talking to a total of 15 companies, said Hallmark
There are more details at the link above, but I know some people are very keen to know about these markets, particularly Russia.
Hilton Holloway’s brain is like the venus flytrap of car facts. He doesn’t miss a thing, which is why he’s the first one to point out how Saab has come full circle with it’s latest engine deal with BMW.
A very good read. He seems to have a Sixth Sense for these kinds of facts.
Motor Trend have had their first test of the new Saab 9-5:
Weirdness aside, the 9-5 enthralled a majority of our staff with a stylish, functional, and roomy interior, not to mention a contemporary façade that would not be out of place on the cover of a book highlighting great moments in Scandinavian design. Car of the Year guest judge Chris Theodore observes, “The exterior is modern with smooth flowing surfaces, yet still looks uniquely Saab.” Technical director Frank Markus on the interior: “Feels like a Saab right to its core — dash shape, far overhanging windshield header, night panel — and I like the user interface. Most stuff can be done on the touch screen but just enough buttons are offered below to get you to the frequently used functions.”
Once we figured out how to get its turbo V-6 breathing, we took the 9-5 to the test track. We were not disappointed. Weighing a somewhat porky 4238 pounds, the 9-5 Aero nonetheless turned in a slew of respectable numbers.
They also complain about the positioning of the Night Panel switch because it’s in a similar position to where others put their ignition.
Oh, Saab, why are you so, so quirky?
We’re not. We can’t help it if others do it wrong 🙂
I got an email today from Kelley Kelly, owner of Kelly Cadillac Saab in Lancaster PA. They had a surprise visitor at their dealership today – Victor Muller!
He made a surprise visit this morning to “rally the troops”. He was very please to discuss the joint venture that Saab entered into with BMW and about all of the exciting new products on the horizon!
That’s the sort of thing I like to hear 🙂
The following letter has been sitting in my inbox for -well – almost a few months now. I’ve been saving it for a time such as this. A pause in the hectic pace of this site, so that it could get some quality time on the front page.
I’ve edited it as little as possible. English is, of course, a second language for Sergey. He’s 21 and lives in a place that seems to me to be beyond remote (and I live on an island at the arse end of the world!).
The fact that a young guy in such a remote place should come across Saabs vehicles, and come to love them to the point where he’ll struggle through such a letter to tell someone how much they mean to him…….. it says a lot.
Great design crosses boundaries. Geographic, language, economic. Like music, it’s recongnised by all.
Here’s Sergeys letter that was written not just to me, but to you and to Saab as well.
Hello! First of all, I’d ask to read up my letter up to the end. It will not take away from you a lot of time. But I shall be immensely glad, that you have given me and my letter your attention (with hope for the answer).
And now as a matter of fact, who am I? Osipenko Sergey from Irkutsk-city (Russia, Siberia). What for do I write? I wish to tell to you a small history and to thank you for something that I don’t have, as strange as it sounds!
In the middle of the 90s when I was 7 or 8 years, I have borrowed in drawing and practically at once began to draw machines. Gradually it became a hobby and a hobby for cars. Then in employment of vital importance, as soon as I had a free minute, I took a pencil and drew cars. I drew much, with all soul. Happened, what for the sake of it endowed a dream, decorating the next sketch in four one o’clock in the morning.
Together with drawing I opened new makes of cars, studied characteristics, looked automobile programs on TV and bought automobile magazines. So I have studied the majority of marks – even the most rare! Already then I have made the list of the best, in my opinion, cars. It has entitled Saab 9-5 and Saab 9-3 Viggen… Meanwhile, I have left school, and time which has gradually taken away the most part of a free time has come to enter the institute. As the result, drawing should be thrown. Very much about it I regret!
What now? It’s july, 2009. I’m 21 years old. I study at Automobile faculty, I try to find new work (before I worked as the automobile journalist, but has left work because of low wages) as it’s necessary to feed family. Behind a window grows dark, the sun disappears behind horizon, carrying away heavy week-day. Tomorrow will be precisely the same. In headphones Nina Simone – Blackbird (Remix) plays from well-known advertising Saab Aero X, in a head – ideas on for what I write this letter turn? Has passed 12 years, and I still consider Saab 9-5 (as, however, and all other cars of Saab) as works of art. And I consider, that the car should look as Saab!
For this purpose I also have written to you the letter. It as the answer to all questions of my subconsciousness and gratitude to Saab!
I entirely and completely realize that fact that the car of my dream hardly will appear in my life. But, nevertheless, I would like to tell you a lot of thanks! That you are, that you make so fine cars of which it is possible to dream only! Thanks you for everything that you have made for this world and for me personally. For happiness, presented to owners of cars Saab.
Thanks! And sorry for my English! 🙂
As I told Sergey – his English is a million times better than my Russian 🙂
One of the reasons I loved this letter was that it is one man’s feelings laid bare. That’s also why I’ve barely edited it. It’s more honest that way.
The other reason is a common belief between Sergey and myself that Saabs really are a superior car compared to what we are/were accustomed to. My first 20 years revolved around old Holdens and Fords and the thought of something so eccentric and of such higher quality than what I was used to seemed excessive. I know Saabs and their class of vehicle are the norm for some, but I was never one of them.
Sergey has a dream for a 9-5 one day. I had a dream just to get a Saab – any Saab – that at one time I thought would never come to pass.
I really hope Sergey’s dream does come to pass and I want to thank him for his honesty and willingness to share his thoughts here.
Sergey included a couple of photos with another email:
my photos of one of Saab in our city (on a background – sacred lake Baikal!). I will be grateful, if you publish them on a site and write that in Siberia too love Saab!
I can’t tell you enough about how good an evening I’m having. It’s soooooo good, I may just never go to sleep.
My football team had a famous, unexpected win and booked a place in the finals. Our Australian cricket team is finally playing to it’s potential. The big project acquired another car and I’ve just viewed some footage of it, and tomorrow morning I’m looking at another car for myself (the MX-5 may be the shortest-lived car in my collection).
OK, all the Koenigsegg drama is a bit of a downer, but still…….
On top of all this good stuff, I just got a link to this set of photos in my inbox.
The Russian Saab Club recently had an outing and took over Domodedovo Airport. Click to enlarge.
You can see more of these images here at Flickr, with thanks to Total Abstainer for sending them through.
What a great shot!
That photo should be on every Saab Club magazine around the world.
Perhaps there should be a worldwide Saab Club competition for formation photographs? Saab Global – please give this some thought.