Facts on the Hirsch Performance launch in the USA

Last week I posted about Hirsch Performance finally being available in the USA. The discussion that followed in comments was quite emotional and made it clear that a lot of questions are still unanswered. What is needed are reliable info and facts. So I picked up the phone and had a long chat with Erik from Hirsch Performance to get into the details of the processes behind the US launch and to hear about the challenges.

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Saab Cars Nth America takes ad campaign to next stage – and you’re invited

Back in January, Saab Cars North America launched a new marketing campaign called “The Story of Saab”.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCK55wht8BQ

The campaign also included a number of print ads, which Saab shared on their Facebook page. We shared them here on Saabs United too, as they became available. They’ve been used in magazines and newspapers since then, with other ads appearing on billboards in major cities.

They’re now moving on to the next step. Here’s what they said back in January…..

Online/social-media will be an important part of this campaign. Saab will preview the television commercial January 30th on its Facebook page. In addition, Facebook followers will be asked to write ads for the company, one or more of which will be used in future online advertising.

And here’s what they’ve announced in a new press release, today:

‘The Story of Saab’ Goes Social on Facebook

  • Program enables Saab fans to create and star in their own web banners
  • Select consumer-generated web banners to be used for national campaign

ROYAL OAK, Mich., March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Saab Cars North America has debuted a social media effort within Facebook designed to tap into the passion and enthusiasm that Saab fans and owners, present and past, feel for the brand.

Through Saab’s Facebook page, fans can write and star in their own Saab web banners using a template that mirrors the look and feel of “The Story of Saab” online and print creative, post to their Facebook wall and share with friends. Saab will choose a selection of the consumer-generated banners to run on an array of websites that could include AOL, MSN, the websites of The New York Times and Wired, among others, in late March.

The first of its kind social media program is an extension of “The Story of Saab,” a multi-media, multi-faceted national advertising campaign, which debuted in the U.S. in late January.

“Saab has an incredibly loyal owner and fan base. Over the past year we have heard from fans all over the world and they are so passionate about the cars they love. Who better to tell the Story of Saab than the people who make it what it is,” said Nicole Jankowski, Saab Cars North America’s Marketing Communications Manager.

Purchased by entrepreneur Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars N.V. in 2010, Saab is working to regain its place as an independent and viable automaker in the minds of potential consumers in the U.S.

“Saab fans are a very devoted and passionate group,” said Jennifer Swantek, Vice President, Account Director, McCann Worldgroup Team Saab. “As we were working to relaunch the brand, we knew it would be important to find ways to leverage Saab’s loyal fan base. People want to share their passion for the Saab brand. They just needed an outlet. Now, through Facebook, we can give our enthusiasts that voice.”

“The Story of Saab” was created by McCann Worldgroup Detroit’s Team Saab for the U.S. market. Team Saab also has the responsibility of creating the global launch campaign for the company’s next product, the 9-4X. Team Saab also partnered with iWerk, a Royal Oak, Michigan based software development company, to create the Facebook technology.

Willing entrants to the competition will need to enter it through Saab’s Facebook page. It’ll be open to US residents only, so all you budding European or Asian designers will have to sit back and watch this time.

I made some ungracious remarks about some aspects of this competition that annoyed me. I’ve since had an opportunity to bring these issues up directly with the McCann team and consequently, feel it’s inappropriate to keep them on site.

I hope that as many of you US-based Saab nuts enter the competition as possible. It’d be great to see an SU reader with some of their work posted to the online masthead of the New York Times.

Saab USA lease offers

I’m hearing a lot of talk about the need for Saab to fix leasing in the United States.

I’ve just taken a look at Saab’s latest leasing offers in the US, and I’m struggling a little bit to see what’s so lacking. In saying that, I fully acknowledge that I live in a market where leasing is not commonplace for private buyers. I’m therefore a little unfamiliar with the options available to customers outside of what’s on the manufacturer’s pages.

The numbers I’ve reproduced below are all from the websites of the manufacturers mentioned, except for the Audi A6. As I couldn’t find lease offers for the Audi A6 on their website, I used LeaseCompare (3.2l FWD model, 15K miles p.a., 780 credit score, $2,600 downpayment).

The Saab 9-5 lease is based on a Turbo4 Sport Sedan, so it’s not as well equipped as some of the higher end Teutonic competition. It’s still a cracking drive, though, and if you opted for a Hirsch upgrade (when they come online) then it’d be even moreso. I think the price differences noted here are pretty compelling.

[table id=14 /]

(1) I couldn’t find a Mercedes E Class offer on any model less than the E350 (if in fact they offer a model smaller than the 350 in the US).

(2) The base model A6 seems to be called ‘Premium’. Maybe I should have used a higher downpayment (upping the downpayment to $3500 lowered the monthly cost to $551).

As mentioned, these figures are from the manufacturer’s own websites and I haven’t gone to the trouble of comparing all equipment levels, etc. I’ve chosen the most basic models I could get a lease figure for and threw in the BMW 3-series for the benefit of those who might have doubted the validity of including a 5-series.

The G37 comes up smelling like roses in this comparo, but bear in mind the loss of rear leg room (some four inches) and a significant loss of cargo space in the trunk as well. The G37 is a bit bigger than the 9-3, but it’s more expensive as well (see 9-3 leases, below).

It might just be me, but if these lease offers are correct, then the 9-5 should be seen as competitively priced. If there’s something I’m missing, please let me know in comments.

IF the 9-5 is indeed competitively priced, as it seems, then maybe there’s something else that needs to be fixed – customer trust, dealership experience, marketing, equipment levels, etc.

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The Saab 9-3 is going for $299 a month for the 2011 models and there’s 0% finance available on both 2011 and 2010 Saab 9-3 models.

That is unbelievably good value, if you ask me. If I could get a 9-3 for $299 a month, I’d be all over the sucker.

Saab US sales data February 2011 – and other stuff

Accusations have been voiced that I passed over Saab’s US sales data for February because numbers were lower that desired.

Actually, it had more to do with numbers coming out on the same day that the PhoeniX concept was released (we did around a dozen entries that day related to Geneva events and the US sales numbers came late on that day). They weren’t picked up later as a front page item because they were mentioned and discussed a little in comments already.

Lest I continue to have to wear darts being fired in my direction, I’ll share the numbers and some other ‘hard stuff’ here on the front page.

LOTS to come after the jump…..

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Grand Opening – Saab of North Olmstead

Apparently we’ve got the OK to show this here, and you’ve got the OK to attend, as long as you RSVP beforehand.

Saab of North Olmstead has built a brand new, state of the art ‘Iceblock’ showroom and they’re having a big party to celebrate the opening.

Victor Muller will be there, and you can be too.

Click….

I know we’ve got a lot of Saab fans in Ohio who read SU. This event is a fantastic chance for you meet up, as well as seeing the newest showroom in the US, the Saab 9-4x and 9-5 (if you haven’t already seen it), the guy who saved Saab Automobile, and all the other entertainment that will go along with such an event.

The important thing is to RSVP Jim at the dealership. His email address is [email protected] so get in touch and let him know you’re coming.

Who’s in the market for a Saab 9-4x?

I ask these sorts of questions from time to time. I’ve already surveyed SU readers about automotive plans for 2011, but not specifically about the Saab 9-4x.

Now that we’ve had a better look at the Saab 9-4x, and especially now that the first evaluation vehicles are rolling off the production line in Mexico, it’s fair to say that people considering the Saab 9-4x might be getting slightly itchier trigger fingers.

So……

  • Are you considering a Saab 9-4x?
  • There are believed to be 5 models to choose from in the US (9-4x, 9-4x XWD, 9-4x Premium, 9-4x Premium XWD and then the range-topping Aero). Which one do you think you’ll choose?
  • Have you already pre-ordered a Saab 9-4x and got your iPad?

The Saab 9-4x is scheduled for customer release in the US market in May 2011 (August for Europe). I’d love to hear your thoughts and intentions for this newest vehicle to Saab’s range.

SaabCarsNA forecast for 2011

Lately Automotive News had an Interview with Kurt Schirm, the SCNA Dealer Council head.

One day later (February, 7) SCNA had a meeting with the dealers at the NADA convention in San Francisco. And according to another article at Automotive News SCNA had a lot to tell.

Sales

SCNA is forecasting 15.000 till 20.000 sales in the US this year. They hope the 9-4X, which will arrive in May will help reach this figures.

Portfolio

Saab showed its dealers a picture of 16 different vehicles that are being considered for the Saab portfolio.[In summer 2011 Saab will have 7 different vehicles in its portfolio]

Dealers at the meeting say there was a hatchback model that might be a 9-3 variant. It had a Porsche-like rear with a fin, said one dealer.

Another vehicle was a sports car.

“I saw it and said, ‘Wow, now that’s a Saab!’” said Lynn Thompson, general manager of Saab of Southwest Missouri, Springfield, Mo. “It was something cool.”

Dealerships

Saab wants to rebuild its dealer network. One of the possibilities is adding well performing multi brand dealers.

New promotion

Saab will send/has send promotion kits to its dealers for a new promotion called “Independence Day” to celebrate the first anniversary since Spyker purchased Saab.

The sales forecast is the expected one. To reach 80.000 units world wide they need to retail between 50.000 and 60.000 units in the three big markets S,UK,US.

16 different vehicles is quite a lot, it would be interesting to know which of them can be build on Phoenix, and which require a different platform.

Saab 9-4x: US key equipment listing

I’ve just had some (update) information about the Saab 9-4x DjupStrupped through to me and figured people might want to know what’s going on with Saab’s first ground-up crossover when it comes to market.

The following table summaries some of the key equipment and the manner in which it will be available amongst the three model lines of Saab 9-4x that will be offered in the United States.

This is not an exhaustive options listing, obviously, but has been put here just to provide a basic overview of some of the packaging that will be available for the 9-4x.

Equipment included in the various packages has been listed below the table.

[table id=11 /]

Power Pack: Auto dimming Inside and Outside Mirrors, Memory Mirror Settings, Power Adjustable Pedals, Power Liftgate, Riewview Camera Displayed in Inside Rear View Mirror, Heated front Seats.

Tech Pack: Front and Rear Park Assist, Bi-Xenon Cornering Headlights.

RR Pack: Rear Seat Dual Display DVD Screens, Remote Control, Auxiliary Jacks, 2 Wireless Dual Channel Headsets, Heated rear Seats, Tri-zone Auto Climate Control System.

Tow Pack: Trailer Hitch

Interior Colors: Jet Black, Gray, or Parchment

Exterior colors: Diamond Silver*, Black, Atlantic Blue*, Zodiac Black*, Crystal Red*, Ice Pearl*, Birch White, Cobalt Gray*, Moreland*

* = metallic (extra $)

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For those coming across the Saab 9-4x for the first time….

  • The Saab 9-4x is the base model, with a 3.0L non-turbo V6 engine.
  • The Saab 9-4x Premium has the same engine but an expanded equipment list.
  • The Saab 9-4x Aero is the top-line model, with a 2.8T V6
  • The base model and the 9-4x Premium will both have FWD and XWD sub-variants, making for five models in total. It’s unknown if equipment will differ between a FWD and XWD version of the same model, aside from the drivertrain.
  • Further specs, as of November 2010, are available here.

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