Monday, December 8, 2008

Saab Should Compete With VW

GM seems ready to sell off Saab.

That's too bad, because GM has an opportunity in Saab.

Volkswagen sells quite a few cars in the US. Why? Well, for one thing they are pretty good cars. But more significantly they are the only reasonably priced European car in the US market. After VW you start to get into BMW, Audi, Mercedes territory.

Saab has never been able to compete with those brands. The 9-5 is too bland and the 9-3 is too quirky for near-luxury end of the European car market. (I mean, let's be real, a 9-3 looks like a poached egg compared to a 3 Series and especially the new A4 - and in that end of the market looks do count for something.)

Why should Saab go after VW? The answer is simple... No one else is. VWs are appealing to a younger crowd who are not yet making enough money to buy a BMW, Audi or Mercedes. They also appeal to an older crowd who loves European engineering and style but have no need for the bells and whistles that come with the luxury brands. Those people have no choice other than VW in the US market.

A 2008 Jetta starts at around $17,000.00, a Passat around $24,000.00

The cheapest BMW, the 1 Series, starts at over $28,000.00. An Audi A3 is just under $26,000.00 and a Mercedes C Class will set you back a minimum of $31,000.00.

Currently, a Saab 9-3 starts around $28,000.00, a 9-5 can be had for $37,000.00.

My opinion? Drop the the price of each car by $7,000.00. De-content them a bit. Emphasize engineering and safety (two of Saabs traditional high points). Take a run at VW. Keep the quirky looks of the 9-3 and the stoic look of the 9-5. Emphasize turbo technology (another traditional Saab virtue) and make them just a bit quicker than the Golf, Jetta and Passat. Create a marketing and ad campaign that tragets the young and the "car geek" (like me).

If Saab, under any ownership, keeps going after the European luxury "Big 3", they will fail. It's that simple. Give America another choice in reasonably priced European sedans and they have a chance to succeed. A very good chance, in my mind.

Just thought I'd share.

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