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Discussion Starter #1
SAAB builds a great car. Even thought they were lumped into the GM fold for awhile, they still built very great cars. But they've never been a smash in the US or really hit like Subaru, or even their competitor Volvo. Have they been too niche for their on good? Do you think they never really were advertised correctly? Many people I've had this chat with really don't have a opinion since they don't know much about them..at all. With all the current incentives, you buy a new 9-3 for less than a decently equipped Jetta! :eek: I often wonder how the hell the dealers even stay in business....

Discuss.


 

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The other "niche" automakers have been able to give themselves very concrete identities that U.S. buyers can identify with

Volvo - Safe cars
Mazda - Sporty cars
Subaru - AWD/durable cars
Saab - ????

Even from Saab fanatics, I've never heard any of them be able to explain what makes Saab "special" other than that they're "quirky," which doesn't exactly attract buyers. I'm all ears if someone can actually come up with a simple marketable distinction for Saab over other niche manufacturers.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I agree with the both of you 100%!

I can buy a 04-06 9-3 cheaper than I can a Corolla at the auction....total sleeper cars in the market. 5 star crash test ratings, and super reliable.

Has SAAB just never marketed these cars worth a damn?
I never see the print, online, or TV ads. :screwy:
The dealer network is something laughable....makes the VW network look like Lexus. :banghead:
 

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They had a surge in popularity along with Volvo, BMW (which maintained the momentum) and a few other niche/European cars. Saab just never did anything with it. They never seemed to hit home run after home run. Cars were weird. They seemed to have reliability issues sometimes (tho long term durability seemed fine), most people don't like hatchbacks.

I think they were too weird, yet not different/better then anyone at something enough to merit a look.

Saab = best seats on market, best long distance highway cars
Not enough to sell a car... Volvo has as good seats, Mercedes is up there too - nowadays there are plenty of cars with great, supportive seats. Most people wouldn't even know a good car seat (the general population thinks an old 'comfy' Cadillac had a good seat).
 

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I could bore you with tales of the piss-poor (pre-GM) dealer network and lack of support from the US headquarters on owning up to warranty issues...

but really, I'd be telling the same old Saab story.
 

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They did have their niche pre-2000. Northeast. College professors. Well educated or quirky people. Most appreciated the safety, hatchback utility, gas mileage/performance with the turbo motors. It sounds like stereotyping, but anyone who has ever been to Massachusetts knows there's a lot of Saabs around, especially in college towns.

A lot of that was thrown away with the 2003 9-3 redesign and the dropping of the hatchback. They eventually brought back a wagon, but it was too late after they abandoned their niche and target demographic trying to go mainstream.
 

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1.Poor marketing.
2.Poor network.
3.Poor management.
4.People consider them to be overpriced for what you get, even when they aren't. The reason? See 1 and 2 and 3.

I'll also add that GM treated SAAB more as an engineering resource and debt shelter than they did an actual brand. That did the SAAB brand no favors, since GM never made a true effort to flesh out their product lineup. If VW owned them instead the result would have been MUCH better, given how they've managed and turned around their marques that needed it.
 

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1.Poor marketing.
2.Poor network.
3.Poor management.
4.People consider them to be overpriced for what you get, even when they aren't. The reason? See 1 and 2 and 3.

I'll also add that GM treated SAAB more as an engineering resource and debt shelter than they did an actual brand. That did the SAAB brand no favors, since GM never made a true effort to flesh out their product lineup. If VW owned them instead the result would have been MUCH better, given how they've managed and turned around their marques that needed it.
Just what we need, another automaker owned by VW. No thank you
 

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I gotta tell you I didn't even know saab was a brand till I was 16. Even then there's nothing super appealing about them. They don't seem super aero dynamic, and compared to other cars out they just appear boring. I'm sure this isn't the case, but I mean come on imo it's like they never change with new gens and as the years go by.
 

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I'll also add that GM treated SAAB more as an engineering resource and debt shelter than they did an actual brand. That did the SAAB brand no favors, since GM never made a true effort to flesh out their product lineup. .
This is how it looks from the outside, but that's now how big organizations work. GM, like any big corporation or organization, is intensely political, and brand managers compete with each other for resources, plants, funding, R&D, and everything else. If Saab didn't get adequate investment of money, technology, and resources, the overwhelming likelihood is that the blame lies mostly with Saab - for failing to justify itself in comparison to other brands. GM doesn't just dole out platforms and cool tech to its brands like hungry baby birds. Saab was used as an engineering resource and debt shelter because it failed to sell itself, justify itself, as anything better. It needed better plans, better management, and better sales to be worth taking money away from Chevy.

I'm not suggesting it. Just pointing out one company that knows how to handle multiple brands (and succeed wildly), and one the doesn't.
I think it's very debatable that VW can handle multiple brands well. There's a ton of overlap and cannibalization between VW, Skoda and Seat, and Seat is a money-loser. They do better at the top end than at the bottom.
 

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Anyway, I think Saab just punches way outside their weight and fails at it miserably. Their high production costs made it necessary for them to play in the Audi/BMW pricing arena, when their brand image and cachet didn't support that. Saab should have been a prettier Subaru, not a Swedish BMW.
 

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This is how it looks from the outside, but that's now how big organizations work. GM, like any big corporation or organization, is intensely political, and brand managers compete with each other for resources, plants, funding, R&D, and everything else. If Saab didn't get adequate investment of money, technology, and resources, the overwhelming likelihood is that the blame lies mostly with Saab - for failing to justify itself in comparison to other brands. GM doesn't just dole out platforms and cool tech to its brands like hungry baby birds. Saab was used as an engineering resource and debt shelter because it failed to sell itself, justify itself, as anything better. It needed better plans, better management, and better sales to be worth taking money away from Chevy.
This is a stupid way to conduct a business. It's the business leadership's responsibility to determine a brand's personality and to then follow suit with product. It is also their responsibility to build the marketing for that brand. GM was the decision maker for SAAB, not SAAB. As such success or failure is wholly owned by GM.

Do you think all of VW's brands justify why they exist, or do you think VW dictates that they exist and how they exist? One method is leadership, the other is passive failure.

I think it's very debatable that VW can handle multiple brands well. There's a ton of overlap and cannibalization between VW, Skoda and Seat, and Seat is a money-loser. They do better at the top end than at the bottom.
Perhaps, but I don't see VW shedding brands...
 

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They did have their niche pre-2000. Northeast. College professors. Well educated or quirky people. Most appreciated the safety, hatchback utility, gas mileage/performance with the turbo motors. It sounds like stereotyping, but anyone who has ever been to Massachusetts knows there's a lot of Saabs around, especially in college towns.

A lot of that was thrown away with the 2003 9-3 redesign and the dropping of the hatchback. They eventually brought back a wagon, but it was too late after they abandoned their niche and target demographic trying to go mainstream.
I think Saab still has a strong niche market in New England.
 

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I think Saab still has a strong niche market in New England.
Saabs aren't uncommon here. There are a couple of dealers in Westport and Milford that have managed to stay open. They must be selling something (though the Milford dealer always looks quite packed with inventory).
 

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I know why.

Because its different. American society is mostly sheep and follows what everybody does or buy. People are afraid to go against the popular opinion/vote.

When I bought my aero, my ex gf asked me why i didn't get a toyota or a honda. My answer was simple. Because every body has it and i immediately feel in love with my car.
 

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Why do Saab fans come across as the goths of car enthusiasts? :p
Think Swedish - death metal!

Saab was huge in the northeast back in the '80s, back when Volvos were still RWD. Even going to college in the late '90s I think i saw more hand-me-down '80s Saabs than '80s Audis. Growing up I always thought 900s were cool and it seems like I knew a lot of people who owned them.
 
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