2008 Saab Owners Convention – Saturday

Posted on 26. Aug, 2008 by in 2000-2009, 9-X BioHybrid, Events

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7.jpgOn Saturday, August 23rd, I arrived promptly by 9am to thankfully continue selling Saab literature in the shade this time around, but also to sign up for the people’s choice lawn event. The people’s choice event involved just that, showing your car to the people, and the people can cast their vote all any Saab based on any factor, whether that be appearance, interesting approach or any other subjective reason.

While the judging continued, I met up with Liam of Okemo Mountain Resort, who hosted Saab History this past March during the Aero-X Ski test drive in Ludlow, Vermont. 8.jpgLiam brought with him, his Saab 9-5 Aero which made had its first encounter with a dynometer, an instrument used to test the torque, horsepower and a number of other performance features of automobiles. Evidently, the statistics report produced after the experience, were right in line with the manufacturers specs, so that was comforting!

At noon, the New England Saab Association made their renewed and strong presence felt as they decided to do another bar-b-que in parallel to the boxed lunch activity.9.jpg This allowed for those day trippers, whom far outweighted full convention registrations, a chance to eat at the vendor & field area, a good 1/2 mile from the hotel. Even Felix Bosshard, former owner of Gaston-Andrey of Boston, mentioned in the book “In Quest Of A Company Soul”, who made a surprise appearance at the Saab Owners Convention, went directly to the bar-b-que! Way to go NESA!

The majority of Saturday involved lawn events from the Concours and aforementioned People’s Choice to a rescheduled group photo at about 2pm.
10.jpg The group photo, in my opinion, should be one of the most critical activities because it visually communicates attendance figures, and while this year’s group shot looked nice, with the green grass and blue sky backdrop, the number of vehicles continues to be dramatically down. With that said, there were probably twice as many remaining Saabs not in the group shot in the adjacent parking lot as well as back on the hill near the hotel. The group shot is said to be open to anyone, day passers, registrants or even guests of visitors, so why can’t we get more vehicles in the photo? Do we need more time to prepare, more advertising and communication to encourage more participation?

As schedules changed over the course of the day from the original schedule on the program guide, I ended up missing a bunch of seminars including the curator of the Saab Museum, Peter Backström’s presentation on the Saab facilities in Trollhättan, Sweden.

11.jpgFollowing the group photo and attemps to attend the rescheduled seminars, the banquet was next. This time, I made my way just in time not to miss this activity (hope it too was not rescheduled), I began to head towards the hall where the dinner was held and I noticed that the GM Heritage Collection was getting prepared for departure. One of the vehicles that I made my way over to, with a much anticipated photo opportunity, was the none other than the Saab 9-X BioHybrid Concept car alongside my 1992 Saab 900 Turbo! The most hiliarious part of this visit & photo op included seeing the biohybrid run out of gas, yes gas. Since this 9-X BioHybrid Concept has a rooftop solar panel setup designed to power the battery hybrid system, I suggested that they just switch the car to the other energy system and power it that way. I was told, not surprisingly, that none of that works on the car and that it is just a gas driven traditional engine underneath. As unfortunate as that was, at least I tried to help get the car back on the trailer and safely home with my suggestion. I know these concept cars are theoretical design exercises, but you can’t blame me for my optimism, right?

13.jpgThe final chapter of the evening was Saab Automobile USA President, Steve Shannon’s “State of Saab 2008” presentation at 8pm. Momemts before the presentation was to begin, I was happily surprised to see Saab Automobile USA’s PR chief, Jan-Willem Vester, a die-hard Saab fan for years, owns a 1984 900 since new as well as others, showed me a tie he was proud to wear that evening. The tie had some historical significance, it was given to him when back when he was a journalist in 1988 while he attended the Saab 9000 CD launch in Nice, France. At this event, you will see that it is also the same event where Bob Sinclair met with Jan-Willem early in his career, and little did Sinclair know that Jan-Willem would end up becoming head of PR for Saab Automobile USA years later.

12.jpgThe 2008 State of Saab began with a follow-up to GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s comments a week earlier. He said that this statement was interpreted as positive, indicating that Saab Automobile AB in Sweden is a strong European brand in order to communicate that they are actually in the black opposed to what some media outlets have been speculating lately. As for the United States, Steve Shannon said we still have some work to do. Following this response he focused on communicating on new products, from the Saab 9-4x, new 9-5 (sedan to be introduced prior to the combi) as well as mentions of even the 2nd generations of the Saab 9-4x, new 9-5 and new 9-3! There were no mentions of the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi however, but I suppose that’s due to that product being a natural extension of the existing 9-3 cross-wheel drive equipped lineup we have today. The other areas that were discussed included advertising, which consisted of their first ad from McCann-Erickson featuring the Saab 9-3 Convertible “Recycle” Ad that has been out for a good month and a half now, as well as another ad that is a “work in progress” that Saab USA may be seeking comments on at this time which is to be their first ever, XWD ad in the United States. Unfortunately, due to technical issues, we were unable to see those ads that evening and had to wait until the following morning at 8:55am. The spirit of the presentation was upbeat, but realistic and certainly sent some messages to the participants that Saab USA is doing all they can including working even more efficiently with their european counterparts at GM Europe.

Prevous Day, Friday
Final Day, Sunday

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