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Saab suffers US and Swedish sales slump

TT/David Landes · 4 Nov 2009, 14:04

Published: 04 Nov 2009 14:04 GMT+01:00

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According to figures presented on Tuesday by US-based owners General Motors (GM), only 513 customers drove Saabs off the lots of dealerships in the United States in October, a 74 percent drop compared with the 1,975 Saabs sold in October of last year.

The sales slump for Saab comes amid an overall sales improvement for GM, which sold 177,603 cars last month compared to 170,585 last year – an increase of 4 percent.

Meanwhile Ford, which owns Volvo Cars, reported on Tuesday that US sales for the 4,437 vehicles sold by the Swedish automaker in October amounted to an increase of 19.4 percent compared with figures from the same month in 2008.

Ford reported overall US sales for October of 136,920 vehicles, a 3.1 percent improvement compared to October of last year and a 21 percent increase from the previous month.

Saab sales in Sweden also suffered in October, according to BIL Sweden, an association representing the auto industry in Sweden.

Only 588 new Saabs were registered in Sweden last month, a drop of 70.3 percent compared with October 2008.

Story continues below…

Swedish sales of Volvos were also down slightly, from 4,482 vehicles in October 2008 to 4,355 vehicles last month, a drop of 2.8 percent.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:16 November 4, 2009 by oneputt
Saab sales in the US is down because the deal is not finished and people do not want to buy a car not knowing who is in charge. There is a great love of Saab in the states, but they want a Swedish company to run this quirky car company. I am a Saab dealer and I could be selling 200 to 300 cars a year if Koenigsegg Saab every gets together.
18:51 November 4, 2009 by Nemesis
@ oneputt,

The owners of Konigsegg have made it clear they are there as a long term investment.

In the USA a long term investment is about five mintues. In Sweden a long term investment is 10 to 30 years.

Koenigsegg was in Eslöv this week meeting some small suppliers and letting them know they are valued and business as usual.

In the USA you have a strange way of getting news from forums like Fox News. If you want to know what Koenigsegg is doing, contact them and ask them yourself.

That way you will be able to tell the customers exactly what is happening.
20:53 November 4, 2009 by nauticv70

I'm not a fan of GM or what they've done to Saab, but you need to get your facts straight. If a long term, Swedish style investment is 10 to 30 years, what's wrong with GM's 20 year relationship with Saab? If I'm correct (and I'm pretty sure I am), that's much longer than 5 minutes.

Not everyone watches Fox News in America, and not everyone who watches it believes everything it says. Just like I wouldn't say that everyone in Sweden gets their news from Aftonbladet, you shouldn't make sweeping generalisations based on stereotypes.

And I think the problem isn't what Koenigsegg wants to do, it's whether they'll be allowed to do it or not. That's why people in the U.S. (and it would appear in Sweden too) are hesitant to buy a new Saab.
22:31 November 4, 2009 by oneputt
Thank you nauticv. The last place this person would go for "news" is to Fox. I just read in the Swedish Wire that the EU is having a problem with the guarantees and maybe won't get this approved until January, which compounds the situation. All we want is Koenigsegg to start owning Saab and bring back the car and give us a good selling plan. We can do the rest
22:37 November 4, 2009 by Nemesis
@ nauticv70

GM's first act upon taking over SAAB was to patent strip it. That literally started the first day.

The second act was to start outsourcing for parts outside Sweden and Europe.

They have not invested in the company as they promised they would. It has been piecemeal at best.

What is holding back Konigsegg, is Jantalagning and GM playing games in the background, just as they are in Germany, although it has not got as bad yet in Sweden with them.

The Swedish government is playing at being idiots as usual. They funded GM for years to run SAAB, yet refuse to give less of a guarentee to a Swedish led consortium to run the company, than some fo the hand outs they gave to GM.

I want to see Volvo and SAAB back in prefereably Swedish or European hands. Then the company can grow long term and start to embed itself in the local community again as a good employer, not as a disaster.

Koenigsegg is actually more similar to SAAB as it was 30 years ago than most realise. Koenigsegg is patent rich at present and pushing forward R&D in various areas. They actually are a good match, I just wish people would stop closing doors in there face and give them a chance.
23:37 November 4, 2009 by nauticv70

I completely agree that GM ownership did little good for Saab, my only dispute was that your U.S. bashing was uncalled for considering the standards you provided. And while we're talking about patent stripping and outsourcing, that's exactly what will happen to Volvo if the Swedish government doesn't step in to stop Chinese ownership.

The good news about the possible sale of Volvo though is that now we know the new S60 will be a great car, just like the XF was the best Jaguar made in the past 30 years and it came out about a month after Ford sold the company.
02:34 November 5, 2009 by volvoman9
After reading these comments one fact is glaringly apparent. American ownership of Swedish brands has gone a long way toward diluting the genius that made them great in the first place. Saab is a great example. They were an albeit quirky yet innovative car that was loved by those who can appreciate such things. They seemed to appeal to the better educated and more enlightened set. Over the years GM applied it's money making but short sighted philosophy of producing one platform and running gear with a lot of body styles. In my mind this creates a rather pedestrian offering. No soul.

The same can be said of Volvo but I have always contended that Volvos are loved most by a more practical following. They are the practical persons Mercedes Benz. HOWEVER, both brands offered very innovative and cutting edge design and technology as well as industry leading safety features. These features are contrary to the American industry philosophy of planned obsolescence yet a threat by way of the customer expectations. To kill a threat one simply buys it and then destroys it.
07:16 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ nauticv70

The Chinese will get no intellectual property from Volvo, beacuse the Americans have stripped them out.

@ volvoman9

08:42 November 5, 2009 by spy

I agree on your view of Keonigsegg Group and Saab - I think they could be a great fit we will see how innovative they can be as a partnership when the EU Commission gives to go ahead.

However if you think Geely are interested in Volvo as a brand without any technology then you are mistaken. Geely has many things: The money, good coverage in the Chinese market and the desire but they do not have the know-how - and that is what they are looking to aquire through Volvo.
12:36 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Spy,

I chatted to a Geely engineer in Lund in the Old Bull bar, a while back.

They have serious know how to a shocking level.

A suggestion.

Goto Shanghai.

Goto the Centre of town to the biggest skyscraper you can find. Talk them into letting you take pictures as a panoramic from the top of the building. Compare it with New York.

Check out the Maglev in China while there.

China is no longer a third world country. We in the west will probably be the third world in the next century compared to them.

China has changed a lot. They have know how. They have good innovative engineers. They have good scientists. They are trining scientists in the tens of thousands.

We are training, bankers, lawyers and psychiatrists. We have our priorities wrong.

We are complacent.

We are standing still.

We need to wake up and realise we are being left behind, not the other way around.
14:37 November 5, 2009 by volvoman9
@ nemesis

I agree completely with this statement. The self absorbed, spoiled, consumer culture is unsustainable. One can only be primarily a consumer if one has the wealth with which to sustain this lifestyle. In the future we in the western world may become the labor pool that the developing nations outsource their work to. What a strange twist this would be.
18:10 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ volvoman9,

I agree.

I have been to South Korea, Singapore, China and Japan. If in my lifetime we become a cheap source of labour for the Far East, I will not be suprised. Also it will be purely our own fault if it happens.

When I was in China, I realised that they were training not hundreds of thousands of scientists, but tens of thousands of scientists at the best universities in every single country.

I think ten years from now we will see commentators asking why we are suddenly so far behind them that all we can see is dust from them flying past us.

That country is changing so fast, it is impossible to keep up with it.
19:54 November 7, 2009 by texasgubbar
It rather humorous that in the solidly red state of Texas, the largest wind power project in the states history was recently signed by a Chinese power investment company which will use Chinese made wind turbines...

But I take comfort that no other country will top the USA in junk food and lousy TV programs.
13:45 November 9, 2009 by steve_38
Stop whining about what the Yanks did or did not do to SAAB. It was losing for 20 years before GM bought it fact.

The real issue for SAAB and for VOLVO is the emergence of BMW/MB/AUDI into the niche they occupied and the fact that they are years ahead in terms of engine design and almost everything else.

I drive a new V70 in the UK and get hamered in TAX due to the tractor engine under the bonnet compared to the German high efficency/performance and low CO2 engines.

In the UK people buy more BMW 5 series than V70/S60/80 together due to this.

BMW more green than VOLVO or SAAB.

SAAB is finished and needs putting out of its misery sooner rather than later, it cannot compete with the competition and its too late to start now.

Be a realist in this.

Save VOLVO if you can.
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