About three months ago I think I remember passing a new Saab on the highway. I guess it was new. I couldn’t ID it and really didn’t care to. This is the attitude most Americans have towards the Swedish derived, once plane developer, automotive company. Saab has barely produced any vehicles in the last half year, so who even cares?
Yet, there is another Asia success story for Saab.
Consumer Guide, published by Wheels Asia in Singapore, has named the Saab 9-5 Sedan 2.8v6 Turbo Car of the Year. Yes, you are reading correct. The same car company that recently filed for bankruptcy and has long since fallen off the automotive radar is a top pick in Singapore. How did this happen? No one can put their figure on any one factor, but coupled with fresh styling and a general love of “Executive Sedans” in Asia, the Saab 9-5 has every bit of contention as its German Rivals. Hopefully Saab takes note of this and applies whatever marketing strategy, or pure luck, to the rest of its markets. But is this success story a viable forecast for Saab’s marketing Team? Saab is for sale and they have their eyes on a Chinese investor, Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.
Thursday, a Swedish news paper Dagens Nyheter reported that Geely, who already owns Volvo, has shown interest in Saab. Although Geely denies interest in the purchase, the Singapore Car of the year could spark further interest. Last year “The Ease of Doing Business Index”, a report by The World Bank, named Singapore as the best country to do business for 2011. This ranking was ahead of Hong Kong and New Zealand. With China’s automotive market’s size and demand, the number one car in the number one place to do business should be a nice purchasing point, Geely.
Don’t give up on Saab. It is hard for Westerners more so Americans to understand the Asian automotive market. In Malaysia and most Asian countries your insurance is determined by the size of your engine, cubic centimeters. I had a good friend in college who was from Malaysia and his dream car was a 1994 Lincoln Town Car, because back at his home it was more expensive to own a Town Car than a Porsche 911 Turbo. My friend’s holy embracement of large vehicles gives insight to how a large Executive Sedan Class car can rank number one amongst consumers. Every other car company is concentrating on EVs and small gas savers. Pikes Research, an American market research and consulting firm, says China will be the world’s largest EV market by 2015. Maybe Saab should start developing an EV while it is ahead to catch the green vehicle wave.
For right now, Saab is just gracious for the award, beating out the Audi A6 and BMW 535i. You never know what could be a success one day and a failure the next; like Saab doing well.