Saabs ready to roll
Swedish optimism is growing about Australia, writes Paul Gover
THE Saab supply line from Sweden is about to re-open with a new factorybacked operation in Australia. Saab Australia will be up and running in 2011 and the company is promising big things as it rebuilds following its sale by General Motors to the Spyker sports car company in Holland.
The 9-5 will be the first new model into action, but Saab says it has existing orders and will have a range of new vehicles, including the 9-5 SportCombi and 9-4X SUV.
‘‘The past 18 months has been a challenge for all of us. The future will also be demanding, but we are now in a positive phase as we build Saab under new independent ownership,’’ Saab’s regional director for Asia-Pacific, Stephen Nicholls says.
‘‘We believe that Saab has a bright future around the world, including Australia and New Zealand, with at least five significant product launches here by the end of 2012.’’
Only seven Saabs have been sold in Australia this year, compared with 647 at the same time in 2009, though it’s significant that five of those were sold in September after early news on the Australian comeback.
Saab is not revealing its distribution plan but is unlikely to include many of the Holden dealers who had the brand under the failed GM Premium Brands line.
Holden shut the operation when Cadillac became too costly, Hummer was closed and Saab’s future became uncertain.
But Nicholls refuses to be downbeat. ‘‘Firstly, we should point out that Saab never left Australia and New Zealand. We have had continu- ous representation in the market for almost 40 years, most recently through Holden,’’ he says. ‘‘Saab has taken the decision to reform Saab Australia and is now working on the activities and plans necessary to implement this decision. Australia and New Zealand have historically been important markets for Saab and we believe in a strong future potential for the brand in these countries.
‘‘We have evaluated a number of different business models for Australia and New Zealand and decided that the potential justifies a wholly owned subsidiary operation. We recognise the need to provide continuity of service to our loyal owners.’’
New models: Saab is pinning hopes on the Saab 9-5 (above) and the Saab 9-4X (below).