Sales have been dropping for Saab in recent months. The automaker, now part of the Spyker boutique brand, sold only 813 vehicles in the U.S. in the first quarter this year, but the company's president, Victor Muller, who is CEO of Netherlands-based Spyker Cars NV, predicts the company will double sales this year and turn a profit by 2012.
In an Associated Press report, he said, essentially, that the company doesn't need to conquest so much as get its defected customers back into the fold to succeed. Saab, which was owned by General Motors for about 10 years before Spyker took control early this year, suffered from a loss of its identity as GM used the Saab logo for suspiciously GMC-like SUVs, and Saab-badged Opels. Muller said U.S. sales this year will be around 16,000.
That will be a challenge. The automaker -- which in March grabbed Adrian Hallmark from Volkswagen to be executive director of sales at Saab's Trollhattan, Sweden, headquarters -- sold only 216 cars in the U.S. last month, versus 779 in the month last year.
Muller is indeed appealing to owners and fans this week at the 28th Saab Owners Convention (the first since Spyker bought Saab early this year.) The convention happening this week in Aurora, Ohio runs through Sunday and includes speeches by Muller, who also serves as chairman of Saab Automobile AB, and Jan Ake Jonsson, CEO of Saab Automobile AB. <> In the midst of a media tour to promote the forthcoming 9-5, Saab will also be in New York next week to give auto scribes a taste of the car, and a chance to hobnob with Saab executives like Mike Colleran, who runs Saab's North American operations over -- what else? -- a Swedish dinner up in Monticello, N.Y.
The Royal Oak, Mich.-based automaker will let convention attendees test drive the 9-5 Aero this week. The event includes technical and historical seminars, banquets, and a charity auction, self-directed scenic drives through northeast Ohio, and the availability of Saab parts and accessories for purchase.
A new ad campaign -- the first TV effort since 2008 -- precedes the road show. The effort, via Birmingham, Mich.-based McCann Erickson, touts Saab's heritage, design and performance with a "Move Your Mind" tagline.