The verdicts of the journalists will be a crucial test of Saab’s efforts to convince the world that it has a future. Since the 9-5 was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, the company has been fighting for its survival.
During its darkest days in early January, it looked as if the fully developed car would never reach the market. It was only after the last minute success of Spyker Cars’ bid to buy the company from General Motors that the future of the model – and the brand as a whole – were secured.
The first cars are expected to reach dealers the week before Midsummer in mid-June. On Monday, Saab started the big launch, inviting 250 journalists from different countries to visit Trollhättan to test drive the car.
For Saab’s future, it is crucial that the car does not flop. The smaller Saab 9-3 model continues to sell the most units for the brand.
The price of the new 9-5 is deliberately set higher than its 13-year-old predecessor. Prices start at 311,000 kronor ($40,000) and rise up to about 600,000 kronor depending on engine and equipment.
“The price means that the sales volume is expected to be slightly lower,” said Peter Hallberg, CEO of Saab’s dealer network.
Saab’s turbulent times are not yet over. There are still companies that do not allow their employees to buy Saabs as company cars simply because of the lingering uncertainty surrounding the company.
Finance and leasing companies have set very low residual values, or how much the cars are estimated to be worth in three years, on Saab vehicles. However, Saab dealers have agreed to provide a guaranteed residual value for the vehicles.
“We guarantee a value on par with our competitors,” said Hallberg. “This means around 50 percent for volume models. We hope that will eliminate the worries of fleet car buyers.”