Automotive News quiz Kurt Schirm – SCNA Dealer Council head

Whilst I’ve had email dealing with Kurt Schirm for some time now, we first met in person just a few months ago at the LA Auto Show. Like all the dealers I met there, Kurt’s passion for the brand was obvious and he was a wonderful guy to talk to about Saab and the future.

Automotive News have just published an interview with Kurt and I think you’ll see that passion come out in his heartfelt descriptions of life under GM, the sale process, and the outlook for the future. Kurt gives some sage words of wisdom about how it feels at the coalface when it comes to selling Saabs and the message that needs to be promoted in 2011.


What can Saab do to help dealers sell more cars?

I think it’s really just staying focused on creating the brand, relaunching and re-educating. In a lot of instances, educating for the first time the U.S. consumer base about the brand, really digging into the history and heritage.

I think that’s one of the things that makes European cars special and makes them worth the premium. You know, there is a heritage and history to each of the brands that makes them worth more than the sum of the sheet metal and components.

Saab has a very rich history, especially for a company as small as Saab, [such as] the level of engineering, the number of innovations that they’ve brought to the industry, the number of patents, the number of industry firsts. It’s really an impressive story. And the way they think about engineering, it’s always to bring things to the simplest common denominator so they don’t overcomplicate design when it doesn’t need to be.

We need to pound that message as to what Saab is, what the brand means, and what products we have in our current portfolio that are the embodiment of that heritage. We need a very well thought out efficient method of communicating that.

I think Kurt’s right on the money here. I’ve always been a solid believer in Saab’s heritage playing a part in building their future. The first thing that got me interested in Saab was my first ride in a Saab 9000. The second thing that got me interested in Saab was the incredibly engaging story of where they came from and why they did things differently to other car companies.

Saab need to promote their product first and foremost, but they’ve got a lot of other great stories to tell, as well, and I hope they dig deep and bring them all to the proverbial table.

Recommended reading.

Thanks to Gerhard for the tip!

SaabUSA website now updated

Goodbye to the old.

Hello to the new.

Saab’s US website has now come into line with the international site and updated themes from many countries around the world. Now, all the people seeing those groovy new Saab ads on TV and in print will land somewhere inviting when they look up

We’ve been talking about this (and a few other things) for a long time. It’s great to see it all coming together, at last.

Saab US sales data – January 2011

Sales for January 2011 are as follows:

Saab 9-3

– 512 Saab 9-3s were sold in January 2011. This is a rise from the 429 sold in the same month last year.

There are 2,798 Saab 9-3s currently in dealer stock in the US.

Saab 9-5

– there were 146 Saab 9-5s sold in January 2011. This is a rise from the 65 sold in the same month last year.

There are now 1,840 Saab 9-5s currently in dealer stock in the US.


There were 658 Saabs sold in the US in January, which is up from the 511 sold in the same month last year (incl 17 units of the Saab 9-7x).

There are now 4,638 Saabs in dealer stock in the US.


On the bad side……

Comparing all brands, Subaru spent the least in January 2011 at $548, followed by Porsche at $656 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, Saab spent the most – $8,124 – followed by Cadillac at $5,641 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Saab and Chrysler spent the most, 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent of sticker price, respectively; while Porsche spent 0.75 percent and Subaru spent 2.1 percent.

Someone’s going to have to come up with a sales strategy that doesn’t involve giving cars away. I still prefer the better equipment theory, with a touch of competitive leasing thrown in. To their credit, Saab are now working hard on the awareness side of things.

Thanks to John.

New Saab advertising – started in WSJ today

I talked about Saab’s US advertising blitz a few days ago and today, it’s begun. It’s understood that they’ll have four days of significant advertising in the Wall Street Journal, for starters.

Thanks to Steve for this snapshot from today’s WSJ (pages A10 and A11)….

I know it’s unclear, but Saab have posted some clear versions of the new ads on Facebook so we can all see where they’re going.

The first ad (which you can see in the WSJ, above) is made up of the following two parts. Click to enlarge.


The second ad is made up of the following two parts:


We’ve had a lot of conversations about advertising here on Saabs United. I imagine people should be well pleased seeing Saab tell the story of the support Saab received.

Personally, I think it’s a very human story and it’s well worth the telling. The photo of that young lady in the first ad is directly from the St Petersburg Saab Support Convoy (though the sign she’s holding has been photoshopped, understandably).

I don’t know who’s composed the ads and I don’t know how much the public conversation about advertising has influenced the content, but I think the conversation has definitely been effective and for that reason, my thanks go to everyone who took part in it.

Update – Hirsch in the US and Canada

There are a couple of updates to be posted following yesterday’s publication of a Hirsch dealer list for the United States.


People should note that Hirsch won’t be available in the US until the second quarter of 2011. A more exact date is not known. The publication of a preliminary dealer listing doesn’t mean it’s available now.

The reason why it will take until Q2 is that certain equipment is needed to do the software updates and they’re trying to secure adequate supply and distribution before things get underway.


As mentioned, the list was a preliminary list and in fairness, it was too early to place it online. It had a good list of Saab dealers, but there are more who are very likely to jump on board (it’s a dealer’s choice as to whether they opt in).

Hopefully a complete list will become available in Q2.


Questions were asked in comments to that post about availability in Canada and whether or not Canadians can go south of the border, get tuned and still be covered by warranty. From what I’ve heard, the answer is “No” to that particular scenario….. BUT……

The good news is that SCNA are currently working with Transport Canada and plan to launch Hirsch products there (no timeframe given) and of course, they’ll be covered by warranty there just like everywhere else.

USA Hirsch dealer listing

Hirsch recently loaded up the dealer listing for the United States on their website. As you can see, it’s a small selection of dealers, but most of the Saab-populated areas should find themselves with some coverage.

The Hirsch website’s listing seems to be sorted by the name of the town the dealership exists in. I’ve organised this one by state, which hopefully might give you a quicker reference.

UPDATE: Whilst this list does appear on the Hirsch website, since posting it here, I’ve been advised that it’s a preliminary listing and may not be a complete representation of dealers that will carry Hirsch products. More may opt-in in the near future.

Also note that Hirsch products won’t be available in the US until the second quarter of the 2011.

Thanks to Sapan for the tip.


Continental Motors, 617 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA-92054, Phone +1 760 722-1868

Mitchell Saab, 384 Hopmeadow Street, CT 06070-Simsbury, Phone +1 860 408-6065

Meyer Garage, 2687-480th Street, IA 50455-McIntire, Phone +1 641 737-2239

Charles River Saab, 570 Arsenal Street, MA 02472-Watertown, Phone +1 617 923-9230

Shaw Saab, 22 Pond Street, 22 Pond Street, MA 02061-Norwell, Phone +1 781 982-7222

128 Sales Inc., 614 North Avenue, MA 01880-Wakefield, Phone +1 781 224-3700

Hyannis Saab, 600 Yarmouth, MA 02601-Hyannis, Phone +1 508 760-2700

Pioneer Valley Sales & Service, P.O. Box 254, MA 01373-South Deerfield, Phone +1 413 665-2140

Stetson Auto Sales, 1174 Eastern Road Route 131, ME 04864-Warren, Phone +1 207 273-2345

O’Connor Saab of Augusta, 268 State Street, ME 04330-Augusta, Phone +1 207 622-6336

Saab of Troy, 1819 Maplelawn, MI 48084-Troy, Phone +1 248 205-1333

Trio Motors, Inc., P.O. Box 190178, MI 48519-Burton, Phone +1 810 742-7250

Morries’s Cadillac – Saab, 7400 Wayzata Boulevard, MN 55426-Minneapolis, Phone +1 952 544-0096

Dana Saab, 2046 Grand Avenue, MT 59102-Billings, Phone +1 406 656-7654

New Jersey
Reinertsen Motors Inc., 295 Route #53, NJ 07834-Denville, Phone +1 973 627-0616

New York
Sports Car Centre of Syracuse, Ltd., 3105 Erie Blvd. East, NY 13214-Syracuse, Phone +1 315 446-5010

Checkpoint Foreign Car S&S Inc., 487 Kenmore Avenue, NY 14223-Buffalo, Phone +1 716 836-2033

Brownell Motors, Inc., P.O. Box 413, NY 12524-Fishkill, Phone +1 845 831-3000

Kunkle Motors, RR 1, P.O. Box 386, PA 18612-Dallas, Phone +1 570 675-1546

International Motors Ltd., 540 S. Washington Street, VA 22046-Falls Church, Phone +1 703 534 0770

P J’s Auto Village, 2073 Williston Road, VT 05403-South Burlington, Phone +1 802 862-0875

Saab to kick off independence anniversary with US ad blitz

The deal was closed in February 2010, but the initial deal to sell Saab to Spyker Cars was actually agreed on January 26th.

I’ve heard earlier today that it will be on this date in 2011 that Saab kick off a big advertising blitz in the United States, including:

  • Four straight days of significant ads in the Wall Street Journal
  • Ads on cable channels – Discovery, Food Network, NatGeo, History, Travel etc
  • Billboards in major US cities (kudos to all who talked about billboards a few months ago)

It’ll be interesting to see the content of the print and TV ads as they come online.

The good news is that this campaign is apparently scheduled to run until April. That’s a long time to tell a story. I trust they’re going to tell the right one.

I believe the update to the SaabUSA website is due to come online very soon, too, so it’s going to be very helpful to have these points of customer contact properly sorted.

Things are moving, people.

US Saab 9-5 SportCombi will have 2.0T engine

There was a bit of uncertainty surrounding the US release of the Saab 9-5 SportCombi yesterday.

US press material referred only to ‘a turbo engine’ and Inside Line quoted Saab staffers stating that the new wagon will only come with one engine. Several different publications speculated as to which engine that will be.

After posting some enquiries over to Saab Cars North America, I can now tell you that the one engine in the Saab 9-5 SportCombi will be the four cylinder, 2.0T 220hp engine.


It makes sense.

Whilst some will lament the lack of a V6, the 2.0T is the volume seller and the economical choice for Saab’s new wagon. Those looking for a halo model, the usual argument for more power, are generally not looking for that halo vehicle in a wagon body.

If they’re only going to certify one model variation in the US market for the time being, the 2.0T is the right choice. It’s a great engine and priced accordingly, will create a lot of interest.

Good call.

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