Saab revels in record car sales

Saab Automobile achieved its best ever sales result in 2006. The year was tougher for Volvo, which sold fewer cars than in 2005.

Jan Åke Jonsson, CEO of Saab Automobile, had hoped to sell as many as 140,000 cars over the course of the year but eventually had to settle for 133,137.

“We had a 5.4 percent increase, selling 6,700 more cars than in 2005. So it is still the best result in Saab’s history,” Jonsson told news agency TT.

He is playing down expectations for 2007 and, due to uncertainty about developments on the Swedish, UK and US markets, is predicting a similar result to last year’s.

“We have two thirds of our volume there,” said Jonssson.

Having sold almost 11,000 9-5 Biopower cars in Sweden last year, Jonsson is expecting demand for environmentally friendly vehicles to remain high in 2007.

“We are currently working on a new engine for the 9-2, and of course we are also working on an engine for the 9-3,” he said.

Saab needs to continue increasing its range of models if it is to achieve greater volumes.

“We are working on the renewal and expansion of our programme. There will be plenty of surprises during the year,” said Jonsson.

Volvo meanwhile has already unveiled a number of new models, and is set to produce more new products over the coming months. But in 2006 the company sold 16,000 fewer cars than the previous year, bringing the annual total down to 427,747.

This meant a 3.6 percent drop compared to 2005. But figures for the final quarter of 2006 were more encouraging, up 5.3 percent on the previous year’s final quarter.

The US market accounted for a large proportion of Volvo’s slump.

“Competition is incredibly strong there and price-cutting wars are set to continue,” said spokesman Christer Gustafsson.

In Russia and Asia, however, sales were on the increase.

Volvo saw its Russian sales increase by over 90 percent to 10,803 cars, pushing the country onto the company’s top-ten list for 2006.