I love blogging about Saab. Saab is the car most of us know about, we say that it has some performance and some quality but we don’t really know anyone who buys them personally. Now recently, Spkyer, the new owners of the brand had announced their plans for Saab. Basically in a nutshell it reads like this:
- The new 9-5 will be officially launched summer 2010.
A good looking car with some different yet successful styling cues. Hopefully this car can be a competitor in the middle to premium executive saloon market. A successful 9-5 means that Spkyer can partly realise its dream to position Saab as a valid competitor against BMW and Audi. The niche they’re targeting is the independent, performance oriented niche car market. It looks like we have another BMW type niche marketing strategy in the making.
- A crossover 9-4x.
This is basically another Urban On Roader. The only benefit to cars like these is the fact that they can climb road curbs safely without damaging their floor pan as they have a raised ride height. This feature is good if you intend to illegally park your car anywhere in the city. Another notable point for a vehicle like this is that school run mums love the height. It makes them feel safe and it is easy for them to see their surroundings from way up high. Naturally if the 9-4x looks good, feels good and no other car company decides to come up with the Mona Lisa of crossover vehicles at the time of the launch it will have a fighting chance to be an important part of the turnaround strategy.
- An all new 9-3 in 2012.
It has basically announced to everyone that if you buy a 9-3 now, your new Saab will be outdated in 2 years time. Bearing in mind that it is pretty difficult for Saab to sell cars nowadays, an announcement like this is sure to stunt sales of the current 9-3 even more. It’s a catch 22 situation for Saab/Spyker. Damned if they don’t announce, damned if they do. As shareholders and automotive pundits would want to know what Spkyer intends to do but some people with the intention of, gasp, buying a Saab may postpone their decision for the newer model.
- And lastly, a small Saab that may be badged as the 9-1.
This could be another premium small car like the Audi A1 or the BMW Mini. Again, niche marketing is the key. And like the 9-4x, if the stars, moon and sun are aligned and no rouge extremely cute and cuddly niche small premium cars are launched at the time. Things would be good for Saab.
Spyper makes it clear that collaboration with General Motors (GM) as a supplier will continue, but it will be reduced over time. Spyker also intends to change the name to Saab Spyker Automobiles; the company will operate as two separate entities focused on distinctly different markets. This wouldn’t matter much to consumers; the cars will still be sold as Saab.
Saab's Trollhattan car plant will be used to build all models except the 9-4X which may be outsourced, with Spyker aiming to reach production volumes of around 100,000 to 125,000 cars a year. This figure is quite reachable, as Saab managed around 93,000 cars in 2009. There must be lots of cost reducing measures taken for it to be profitable selling 30,000 more cars per year than it did. Saab sold 93,000 cars and lost US$400 million in operating costs. There must be some magic involved and we all know GM’s style of doing business is totally inefficient. When GM went begging to the US congress for money, they still flew down in their private jets. That is an amazingly dumb thing to do when you’re almost going bankrupt and you need to beg the government for money. So I suppose any company taking over Saab can save a few hundred million dollars easily. Almost everyone is smarter than a GM executive.
Additionally, Spyker will benefit by using Saab dealerships to sell its own high-end sports cars, and eventually share in the company's engineering know how. Expect to see the brands sharing components and technology in the future. Can we also expect Spyker being sold through their Saab dealers around South East Asia?
Now while it all sounds all lined up and simple, the main question is whether the people in target market for Saab, which is basically Europe and to some extent America, will start paying attention to the brand and buy Saabs. Talking about a business plan and then getting people to believe the hype are two different things altogether.