C’mon, Guys, Is This Tank the Coming Upmarket Saab?
The recent leak of an alleged business plan for Saab coming from owner-to-be Koenigsegg has caused a flurry of interest. We provide some of the details below. But remember, the deal with GM is not yet done, though it got a shot in the arm last week when, as we reported, the European Investment bank put forward a €400 million loan, with the hope of more cash to come from the Swedes.
The ambitious Koenigsegg plan looks to create
an all electric 9-3 on market by 2012, and before that there will also have been established hybrid versions of 9-3 and 9-5, a 9-5 Koenigsegg Edition between 2012 and 2015, and a new 900 (900??) by 2016.
The idea is to drive the brand upmarket, and a new 9-5 estate (wagon) is scheduled for launch. Timelines and break-even points look pretty questionable to me and to others: The plan projects 115,000 cars sold in 2010-2011 for break-even; 80,000 in 2012-2015; and 65,000 sold in the “premium phase,” 2016 and beyond. In other words, as the brand goes upscale, profits per unit increase and, therefore, fewer cars need to be sold.
The upmarket strategy makes a lot of sense. Saab has been straddling this branding fence for a while now, and with the engineering experience of the firm and Koenigsegg’s infusion of performance tech, they should be able to produce a very exciting set of cars. The cars will need to be exciting and different in order to make any inroads against the kind of competition Audi/BMW will be sure to offer.
Saabs have always been different, but rarely (to me) exciting. I’ve never been a Saab fan, though some in my family are. Saabers tend to get passionate about the brand, and will defend to the death such things as the ignition key location, rubbery shifter, ugly interiors, and other quirky things that make Saabs what they are. Someone has said Saab owners are like Macintosh owners, and there is some truth in that.
Opel and GM haven’t done Saab any favors in years past. Let’s hope the new (to-be) owners can inject some pizazz into the languishing brand.
Are you one of those die-hard Saab fans? Do you think the proposed Koenigsegg plan has merit?