UK sales record smashed!!

Congratulations to all those Brits snapping up Saabs this year. It seems like all those favourable diesel mileage concessions are doing wonders for the bottom line, in terms of sales volume at least.

The longevity of Saabs as noted in this press release provides a nice counterpoint to the recall notice (see below).

Saab Smashes All-time UK Sales Record

Saab Great Britain Limited has today – Wednesday 28 September – surpassed all previous sales records for the Swedish premium car brand in the UK, by selling over 20,500 cars so far this year, an all-time record high. Saab’s previous sales record, for full year 2004, at 20,294 cars, was exceeded this morning, with over three months of new car registration counting for 2005 still to go.

Since official sales first began in the UK in late 1960, over 415,000 new Saab models have attracted British buyers, with the majority of these cars still on the road; the life expectancy of a Saab being far higher than the average car.

Saab’s full year sales for 2005 are on target to exceed a record 27,000 units, ensuring the Swedish brand remains the UK’s fast-growing premium car marque for more than eighteen consecutive months.

Saab Great Britain’s Managing Director, Jonathan Nash said today “I am delighted to have smashed Saab’s previous sales record so soon in the year. Although we won’t have the final September sales figures for another week, I am confident that we will exceed our all-time monthly sales record as well!”

Nash continued “the final quarter of 2005 looks particularly exciting for Saab with the arrival of the all-new 9-3 SportWagon, plus the new 2.8-litre V6 9-3 Aero performance models, and of course the extensively revised 2006 9-5 range, which arrives here in November.”

Recall notice

I just spotted this on The Local – Sweden’s news in English, though it’s probably filtering through elsewhere as well. Nothing on the GM Media site as I sit here at the keyboard. The recall effects both 9-3 and 9-5 models from 2000-2002.

Saab to recall 300,000 cars

Swedish car manufacturer Saab is to recall 300,000 vehicles because of reported overheating in the ignition system.

The company refused to comment on the likely cost of the recall, but according to the paper Göteborgs-Posten it is likely to be at least 600 million kronor.

The decision follows a report from the American traffic safety agency NHTSA, which said that the cars were breaking down and overheating, and could even catch fire.

As a result, Saab’s US owner General Motors was instructed to recall the cars for inspection and to fix the ignition problem.

“The ignition module could, especially as the car as started, become electrically overcharged,” said Örjan Åslund, Saab’s press officer.

“There is a component inside it which melts and the car doesn’t start.”

The models being recalled are the old version of the Saab 9-3 and the 9-5, from 200, 2001 and 2002. The cars affected are petrol-fuelled.

Åslund told news agency TT that all customers will be contacted in the autumn and asked to bring their cars to a dealer.

“It probably won’t happen before the beginning of the spring. We will do an inspection, change [the component] – luckily it’s positioned just above the motor and held with a couple of screws so it will be quick to fix,” said Åslund.

According to Saab, there have been no fires caused by the problem.

“There could be a little smoke due to the plastic overheating. But no real flames. Nor have there been any accidents or people injured,” said Åslund.

A total of 287,987 cars are to be recalled around the world, of which around 68,000 are in Sweden.

Bad news, bears. But I guess people get their bits fixed, though the real problem is that there was a fault in the first place.

Housekeeping

Just a quick word about comments being made on the “Tell GM about it” campaign. I’ll draw your attention to the following in the guidelines to the campaign:

The purpose of this endeavour is to provide the powers that be within GM and Saab with some valuable, constructive feedback about the current and future products bearing the Saab name. It’s not an opportunity for you to bash GM or Saab. Constructive feedback is the name of the game, people.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to remove one response, which was basically a rant. Whilst I agree with most of the rant in basic terms (i.e let Saab be Saab), having a crack at GM is not the aim of the game. Unfortunately the commenter didn’t leave a genuine email address, so I couldn’t write to him about it.

So…..Nick, if you’re reading this, please feel free to post again, at least loosely following the suggested format.

Like I said, the aim is to provide GM with some good, constructive feedback from people that love Saab cars.

Anyway, to all of that have commented so far, thanks a bunch. We’re at 26 and counting with over 3 weeks to go. I’d really like to get this in to triple figures, so if you haven’t commented yet (Ken, Buffalo, Eggs, Ryan, Drew, Alex and others) then click here to Tell GM about it and don’t forget to pass the word around.

Cheers.

9-3 Aero at Motor Trend

OK, I’m on the road and don’t have time to post, but some things you can’t pass over….

Motor Trend have a quick write up of the 2.8l V6 Aero Sport Sedan. It covers the evolution pretty well, including the various tweeks that have been performed to make it all fit in to place.

The last time Saab begged parent GM for an engine with enough cylinders to compete in the U.S., it was thrown an odd 3.0-liter, 54-degree iron-block V-6 and a tiny budget with which to Saabify it. A turbo on the front bank pressurized the whole engine to just 3.9 psi (the internal structure couldn’t tolerate any more), so output was constrained to a ho-hum 200 horsepower, and sales ended in 2003. This new 60-degree turbo V-6 is custom-tailored for Saab……

……It won’t pass for a BMW (we’ve never driven a front-drive car that could), but we expect the new 9-3 Aero to stand tall against other high-performing front-drivers.

Swadenote: I’ve never driven a Beamer that could pass for a Saab, either!

The article is here at Motor Trend.

The eye candy is below….

Aero.jpg

2006 9-7x pricing announced

The GM press release follows, but I thought this was interesting…..you overpriced Volvo poseurs – take that!

…the Saab 9-7X SUV represents outstanding value for the money, especially when compared with the Volvo XC90. Not only has the 9-7X more headroom, legroom, towing capability and engine torque, it is also priced at over $8,000.00 less than a comparably equipped XC90 V8.

Saab Announces Prices for 2006 9-7X SUV

DETROIT, Mich. — The 2006 Saab 9-7X comes to market this fall with new levels of luxury and refinement and manufacturer’s suggested retail prices that continue to represent superior value in its segment.

The six-cylinder 9-7X 4.2i and the 9-7X 5.3i V8 are priced at $39,240 and $41,240, respectively. Both prices include a $720 destination charge. Linear and Arc model designations have been eliminated on the 9-7X for 2006.
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Thoughts a-plenty

Hi all,

On the road at the moment and PC access is limited, so posting is lite.

I was amazed this morning when I checked the comments to find about 15 or so new ones, most of them to the Tell GM about it campaign. As I said yesterday, there’s a wealth of good thinking out there and I really feel that this’ll provide some great feedback to GM. And the important thing is that it’s direct from you. If you’re looking for some Saab reading today then I’ll direct you to the comments page, where there’s plenty of good thoughts.

Thanks for your support and please continue to pass the word around.

I had the pleasure of catching up with a Saab Car Club of Australia mate of mine last night. His quotable thought of the day was a reminiscence about when you could recognise a Saab immediately at a glance. I still can, about 80% of the time, but the design movement toward the sport sedan body style has made that task a little more work. Of course, the instant recognition is most prevalent with that classic 900 shape. The other interesting design point Drew mentioned was the rearward-falling windows in old Saabs. When you wind them down they start their fall from the rear, pivoting from the front. It looks cool, means that you don’t get a breeze right in your face and is very, very distinct.

Bring it back!

Another thought that I read recently was at Saab Central. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to find the link, but I’ll make amends later. Someone there commented on the fact that parts sharing, whilst a necessary reality in the automotive world, should be restricted to out-of-sight items and should not be seen in your premium models. If your’re buying the flagship model of a premium brand, you shouldn’t see centre console in a lesser brand. I know I’ve danced around this point in earlier posts, but that seemed to sum it up pretty well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that whilst Saab will never be a big-unit-shifting brand, it can broaden its appeal, win its greater portion of market share and inspire a new generation of owners without blending in totally with the marketplace. It’s dinstinction is in the fact that it’s not only a leader in performance-value, practicality, safety and comfort – but also in design. Thankfully there have been comments in recent times from Saab in Europe that this will once again become a priority.

Let’s hope so.

Unclear thinking required

You might remember a short time ago there was a passing remark somewhere that with quality controls in place etc etc, a Saab 9-5 could be made in Korea as well as anywhere else. Saabists everywhere were having pink fits about the notion, but maybe we should be looking to the Koreans more for some automotive leadership….

This sensational piece of automotive commentary from Eric Bryant at Autoblog.

The CEO of Kia Motors America is pretty darn proud of the upcoming second-generation Sedona minivan. That, naturally, is his job, but the vehicle does seem to boast some impressive features and specifications such as surround sound and a 240 HP V6. The price has yet to be announced, and that will probably be the single most important factor in determining whether the vehicle will be able to increase its 6% share of the market. What’s most impressive, though, isn’t the vehicle itself – it’s the rationale for not selling a Hyundai-based version of the same vehicle. There was internal concern about the two brands selling two nearly identical vehicles, and so the Hyundai version was scrapped. I’m not sure what the Koreans are smoking while thinking up such radical ideas, but this sort of clear thinking has absolutely no place in the auto industry.

Is anyone in Detroit listening?

A big hat-tip to Ted for giving the heads-up on this one.