Sales in June

Today some countries where Saab is present will publish its registration figures. In May almost 1.700 Saabs were registered/sold in the markets we can follow, it is not much, but we all know that one of the reasons is the fact that no cars have been produced for a long time.

This month won’t be different, I’m expecting a total of 1.200 cars. It is really not much, but as people keep ordering Saab cars it shows that after production start those figures will rise rapidly.

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From SaabGB:- Saab Sales Stay in the Fast Lane

18th May, 2011

Saab Sales Stay in the Fast Lane
• Saab’s UK sales continues to accelerate in an industry that is down by 8.5%
• Year-to-date sales now up 77.7 per cent v 2010
• Saab confirmed as UK’s fastest-growing premium brand

Saab sales continue to build strong momentum, with the number of cars sold in April more than double the volume sold for the same month last year. This impressive uplift reinforces Saab’s position as the fast-growing premium car brand in the UK market.

Sales last month totalled 489 units, a 101 per cent increase compared to the same month last year. For the first four months of the year, total sales are now 77.7 per cent ahead of 2010, showing an even greater gain than the 73.5 per cent rise posted for the first quarter.

Saab sales have now increased in each of the last nine months compared to the previous year and total year-to-date sales of 2,866 units has enabled to Saab to raise its share of the UK premium car segment.

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My two cents on Saab’s North American sales (and other stuff)

When Saab’s North American sales for November were reported last week, a discussion ensued in comments that became one of the longest threads Saabs United has ever seen outside of the time when Saab were being threatened with closure.

Emotions were expressed. A lot of opinions were shared. People contributed great suggestions and ideas as to how Saab dealers in North America can reconnect with potential buyers.

I sat out of the discussion but watched with interest. I think a lot of people had very valid ideas and I really hope that some people with decision making powers were watching as the discussion developed. I know a lot of other stakeholders were watching.

After a lot of consideration, and a fair bit of consultation, I’d like to add my two cents to the discussion.

Warning – this is another long one.

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Background

Saab were sold to Spyker in February 2010. The sale set in motion a protracted process whereby Saab would have to separate their operations from those of General Motors. These included virtual separations by way of IT and customer support systems, as well as a physical separation to a separate location for their US offices.

Low sales were initially blamed on low stocks. It took a while for Saab to deliver vehicles to the United States and it was expected that once stocks improved, sales would follow.

That hasn’t happened.

Whilst Saab sales in the US did spike in a statistical sense back in September, with 1,127 vehicles sold, numbers have decreased in the months following and there were only 397 Saabs sold in the US in November.

Saab are struggling in the US. Dealers are struggling and a small number have either closed their doors or declined to continue their relationship with Saab.

In this post, I’d like to analyse the US situation a little more and address some of what I see as being the core problems faced there.

I’d like to begin by noting something that I think we should all acknowledge – we are all coming from a point where we have incomplete and imperfect information. I don’t know the exact processes that Saab have to go through to achieve something, nor do I know what budgets they have for various programs.

I’m probably going to step on some toes in this article, but the ideas expressed herein are offered with the best of intentions for the Saab company. Whilst I have decent background knowledge and good contacts after covering this stuff for almost six years, I freely acknowledge that some of my points will be flawed due to imperfect information.

Some of the points that follow are general in nature. Some of them are directed at the US market in particular.

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Market segment

Some people have suggested that Saab should be pitching themselves below BMW, Audi and other European marques. They say Saab should be placed just above the better competitors from Asia, as an upmarket alternative to Toyota, Honda (Acura) or Subaru.

I disagree with this, and what’s more, I don’t think Saab can possibly afford to price themselves or play in that segment of the market.

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Marketing the new Saab

I’ve not written a serious article here on SaabsUnited in some time, and I’m going to hesitate to actually call this an article as much as it is an editorial post. It’s just a collection of thoughts that I have about the new Saab, the one that’s a division of the Koenigsegg Group rather than a division of the world’s largest automaker. The Saab that will be more Swedish and less American. The Saab that will be more nimble and less bureaucratic.
First of all, I’m not one to be hopeful or pessimistic simply because an organization changes structure (or ownership). It simply is. The new structure can be great, but it can also be the same or worse than the previous. Only change in actions will create new directions and new capabilities. Koenigsegg Group is saying many of the right things, and that’s a great first step. Now Saab can get on with the actual changes that will build a future for the marque. It’s exciting, but it’s no guarantee.
So, that begs the question: what changes are needed, and what things will make the most impact on sales? I have a few ideas, but I believe that in the current automotive market, one must start by making it very, very attractive to buy a Saab.
That starts with product, naturally. We’ve spilled a great deal of ink on that topic, and there is promise of new vehicles in the pipeline. So, what else impacts new car sales? Financing.
In the luxury car market, financing, particularly leasing, is perhaps the most important marketing asset. Personally, I believe that the lack of attractive leasing terms has been a difference-maker for Saab sales in the United States for some time, perhaps as long as five or six years.

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