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The “Save Saab” Gathering In Paris. France

Posted on 23. Jan, 2010 by .

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Photo Credit: David Morgan / RBM Performance

Saab owners and enthusiasts in France gathered in Paris for their “SAVE SAAB” event. As I hoped, the Saab enthusiasts gathered with the Eiffel tower in the background.

I am am really impressed with the attendance as some of the people spearheading the event thought there would only be a small turnout. Excellent job in putting together a gathering like this is relatively short notice!

Here are photos from David Morgan, RBM Performance, site sponsor of Saab History. Absolutely impressive job everyone!

Here’s David’s summary of the event.

Well I counted 114 Saabs and about 250 people. Paris was grey and rain,the atmoshere was cheerful but in that there was No organisation except for a time and point of rendezvous! At first the main Paris dealer planned it and then SAAB France took over but did nothing except get a bunch of Police there so as to block the south-east corner of La Place de Concorde for us. After an hour or so it just fizzled out. Everyone took of in their own directions, I felt bad for those who had dreiven a couple of hundred kilometers.

Well there was some press there and plenty of photographers but this was not Holland !!

Here’s some raw video footage from RBM Performance


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How Will Saab Compete In An Era Of Emerging Hatches?

Posted on 14. Oct, 2009 by .

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It is rather ironic, but today it seems like everyone except for Saab, is launching premium hatchback models. I say, good for them for doing it because Saab was historically known for hatches, however that 28-year history of hatchbacks came to an end in 2002.

Joe from Gaywheels states that “The trend seems to be melding the sedan with wagon to get a hybrid hatch. Not as functional as a wagon but arguably more sexy.”

The majority of the competition is now beginning to offer a number of premium hybrid hatchback models for buyers today from 3-doors to 5-doors and the demand is growing.

When it comes to the all new Saab 9-5 sedan, many were hoping including myself for that to also be a premium sport back model with a hatch, but it was not.

To clarify, while Saab has wagons or combi models and even an all new 9-5 Wagon coming. However, these models are not hatchbacks are not a replacement for a sport back premium hatch as they are wagons and therefore a completely different segment.

The question now is going to become, can Saab Automobile, once a legend in premium sport back hatches, compete in a premium hatchback segment where they no longer offer this in their product portfolio? I wonder if ending the hatchback a whole seven years ago and now seeing the market demand what they once had with competitors responding, is going to finally send the message to Saab Automobile. Regardless, Saab best take swift action and include a hatch in the all new 9-5 sedan as a variant and certainly in the new 9-3 to debut in 2011.

Here’s a list of manufacturers with their respected models on board with a 5-door hatchback model today that are part of the premium luxury sport hatch segment including some with the versatile twin-back system.

BMW 2010 3-Series & 5-Series Hatchbacks W/Twin Back

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Audi 2010 A5 Sportback

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Skoda 2010 Superb W/Twin Back

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Honda 2010 CrossTour

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Opel Insignia 2010 5-door hatch (same platform as all new Saab 9-5)

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Jaguar To Launch 2014 Hatchback To Model Lineup

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Porsche – 2010 Panamera

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Aston Martin – 2010 Rapide 5-Door Hatch

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Bugatti 2013 Bugatti C16 Galibier 3-Door & 5-Door Hatch

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Swedish Government’s Enterprise Minister, Jöran Hagglund Says Saab Has 3 To 5 Serious Bidders

Posted on 02. Apr, 2009 by .

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Dow Jones Swedish Correspondent, Ola Kinnander, indicates in a dialogue with Jöran Hagglund, (the Swedish Government’s State Secretary who is fighting for Saab Automobile’s success) that Saab Automobile has 3-5 serious bidders.

What is interesting about this is that back in December we heard that there were 3 bidders from Jan-Ake Jonsson, then later we heard about 5, then recently 6-8 and then from the union IF Metall, 10!

I am beginning to be less interested in the number of bidders and more interested in who they are already.

Here is the piece below from tMr Kinnander of Wall Street Journal:

Sweden Government Official: 3 To 5 Serious Bidders for GM’s Saab / Dow Jones

By Ola Kinnander ? April 1, 2009

STOCKHOLM – Saab Automobile AB, which owner General Motors Corp. is trying to sell, appears to have attracted between three and five serious bidders,
but its chances of survival remain uncertain, a senior Swedish government official told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

He also said the Swedish and German governments have discussed the possibility of merging Saab and Opel, another troubled GM unit, but
decided such a deal wasn’t feasible.

Saab in recent weeks has said that about eight parties have expressed interest in potentially taking over the Swedish car maker.
Joran Hagglund, a state secretary in the Swedish Enterprise Ministry who is the government’s main liaison with the auto industry, said in an
interview that he suspects some rival car makers may signal interest in Saab simply to gain access to its books and research and development plans.

The picture may clear up in a couple of weeks, and then it may show that “between three and five” parties are seriously considering investing in Saab, he said. However, Hagglund doubted whether this interest would be enough to save Saab once GM cuts its ties. “It would be very nice” if Saab could survive, he said. “But the signs point the other way. The auto industry is in free fall. There may be no strong buyers.”

Potential buyers likely can soon choose between several car companies in crisis. “The question then is, does Saab’s concept fit into an interested party’s ideas? I can’t answer that, other than to say that it looks grim,” he said.

Saab in February filed for bankruptcy protection, similar to the Chapter 11 process in the U.S. Saab on Monday will meet with the reconstruction team and representatives of GM and Sweden in a Swedish court to decide whether the reconstruction period, which is set to expire next month, will be extended.

Hagglund said that since GM had paid almost all of the debt owed to Saab’s suppliers, he expected the court to approve Saab’s request for an extension for up to three months more.

He also said he thought it was unlikely that Saab and Opel, GM’s struggling German unit, would team up. The Swedish and German governments have discussed that possibility but “have pretty much concluded that … it’d be pretty difficult to find an owner who wants to go in and own both of these loss-making companies.”

Hagglund reiterated the Swedish government’s stance that it wasn’t interested in owning any auto companies.

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Trollhättan, Sweden Celebrates “Saab Days” July 17-19

Posted on 18. Mar, 2009 by .

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Trollhättan, Sweden will be celebrating what is known as “Saab Days” on June 17th-19th, 2009. This event will not be an official Saab Festival like 2007, but more of a club organized event.

However, Saab Automobile and the Saab Car Museum will help support it says Peter Backstrom, curator of the Saab Car Museum in his e-mail to Saab History below:

Hello Ryan!

The Saab days is an initiative from the Swedish Saab Club, Saab Turbo Club of Sweden and Club Sonett Sweden. It will take place July 17-19 in Trollhättan. I will be coordinated with the Fallens dagar Festival and the Midnight Sun rally.

For more information about the event itself, see the clubs websites. They would like to point out that it will not be an event with the same level like the Saabfestival, But I am convinced that it will be worthwhile for international visitors to book tickets!

I have good reasons to believe that you already have made the conclusion that it will be no official Saabfestival 2009. Although we are not organizing “Saabens dagar” we will of course support it as much as we can from Saab Automobile / Saab Car Museums side.

The Midnight Sun Rally will have a overnight rest at the Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan between Friday & Saturday and a total of 180 cars will participate. Among them around 40 Saabs from 2-stroker to V4:s and 99 turbos. Driven flat out! with 2 special stages around Trollhättan. See www.midnattsolrallyt.com for more info.

That all I have right now!

Best Regards
Peter Bäckström
Manager Saab Car Museum
Brand & Product Communications
Saab Automobile AB
/blockquote>

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Saab Automobile & Opel Are In Fast-Track Talks To Join?

Posted on 27. Feb, 2009 by .

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I have recently read in Business Week, that there continues to be an ongoing dialog between Saab Automobile AB and Opel, with some possibility of there being some fast-track partnership talks during this period of reconstruction for Saab Autmoobile.

I hear that there are two equally divided camps with regards to partnering between Opel & Saab, and no matter how much people feel one way or another, we do know that they won’t be ending these talks within the next three months due to next generation Saab 9-5 that will hit production this summer.

I still wonder if there will be a new spin-off group involving Saab, Opel & Vauxhall.

In the meantime, here is their quote, coming from Sweden’s Expression newspaper.

One possible restructuring plan would be for Saab to team up with Opel. The Stockholm-based paper Expressen reported on Friday that the company was also in fast-track talks with Opel, GM’s crisis-striken German subsidiary, to possibly join forces without their American parent.

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1995 Saab NG 900 Pikes Peak Car Sold At Auction For $8,470

Posted on 14. Jan, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Barret Jackson

At 4:00pm yesterday in Scottsdale, Arizona, the 1995 Saab NG 900 Pikes Peak Car sold for $8470.00 at the Barret Jackson Auction house.

I mentioned this vehicle back on December 19th, and I hope it’s the last Saab USA Heritage Collection car to be sold.

I hope that this car makes its way to its rightful owners, either the Saab Automobile museum in Sweden or the Rocky Mountain Saab Club who are hosting the 2009 Saab Owners Convention nearby Pikes Peak Colorado.

At this time, I have no idea who purchase the car, but I hope to find out soon.

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Saab History Interviews Former Saab USA President Joel Manby

Posted on 31. Dec, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Manby (L-to-R Ralph Millet, Joel Manby, Bob Sinclair)

I have recently had the privilege of interviewing Joel Manby, the former Saab USA President from June of 1996 until April of 2000.

Below is his updated and candid account of our interview, it is a great read, so take the time and enjoy!

Thank you Joel for your time and contribution, we all appreciate it!

Saab History: How Did you end up joining Saab Cars USA in June of 1996?

Manby: I worked at Saturn as a Regional Vice President and was picked to lead Saab Cars USA in order to improve the dealership distribution network by making it more focused and more profitable.

I used to co own some retail dealerships so I knew how important the car buying experience was in the customer’s final decision on what brand to buy, especially since it was the 2nd most expensive purchase a family would make after a home. I also knew that our competitors like BMW, Audi and Volvo had a much more profitable and focused dealer network. I was determined to reinvigorate the dealership network to turn around the car buying experience to one that was enthusiastic for not only the customer, but the dealership’s sales team as well. We were asking dealers to invest in exclusive dealerships and sales people so in many cases we actually removed some dealers who were not committed or dueled with poor brands in order to get other dealers to invest heavily. Our basic goal was to go from selling 25,000 Saabs through 360 poorly focused stores (average = 70/year per store) to 40,000 sold Saabs through 240 stores (a more focused and profitable average of 170/year per store). Dealers need to know they can be profitable before they will invest.

Saab History: How did this strategy work?

Manby: The units sold per dealership increased to over 150/store as did the national sales figures which topped 40,000 during my time. We had more exclusive stores than any time in recent history and had the 2nd highest sales year in Saab history to that point….so I would say it worked well. We also gained huge share in Southern California where we were almost non existent.

Saab History: Consistent advertising was never something that Saab had, what did you do to turn this around?
[…]

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