Friday, December 5, 2008

Wither Saab?

It seems more than likely. GM has not been able to make it viable for the US market. I think the likely scenarios are that some european buyer will take it and will pull out of the US, or that it will just be folded into Opel and assets and the brand will die. Either way, as a Saab owner and enthusiast, I will be sad. What will the professoriate drive?

But the question remains, why on earth continue to focus on Buick and GMC. Buick's audience is dying and serious luxury buyers will look to Cadillac, which GM resuccitated nicely, and GMC is just rebadged Chevy trucks, no? Chevy and Cadillac are the the core of the GM empire (with Opel in Europe), who needs anything else?


Jeff said...

"why on earth continue to focus on Buick and GMC"

I agree. But there are a lot of stand-alone Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealerships. The franchise arrangements are written up so that if GM tries to discontinue these brands, GM will be sued.

The only way that GM can eliminate these brands is to starve them of new product, and hope that these dealers close on their own. GM can't force the dealer's hand any other way. So it is stuck with those brands.

And GM has WAY too many dealers -- more suited to a company with 50% market share (like it once had).

Also: Buick is phenomenally successful in China. It's the "it" brand. I can envision a scenario where a Chinese automaker buys Buick from GM. They're not popular here anymore.

As for Saab -- they built their reputation around front-wheel drive turbo-engined cars, but the 9-3 isn't with us anymore.

Meanwhile, lots of good alternatives have turned up: Acura, Infiniti, Acura, Cadillac -- even VW has become something of a "premium" brand.

Patrick Emerson said...

Ahh, Buick is big in China, who knew? Good stuff all, thanks!

JG Hitzert said...

Don't forget Vauxhall, still big in Europe and Holden down under. They should look at rebadging Holdens, Opels and Vauxhalls in the US under the Saab name as a seperate european brand. Vauxhall has some very good sports and performance models. One based on the Lotus Elise and the other the GTO variant that came from Holden.

Patrick Emerson said...

You are right, I had forgotten about Vauxhall and Holden. Pontiac's G8 is a re-badged Holden and a great car apparently. As for Vauxhall, I am under the impression that it is essentially just re-badged Opel in the UK - with even the same model names like the Vauxhall Vectra.

It is an interesting idea: all four could become one and sold as Saab in the US because of the existing Saab dealer network. Or they could just call it Opel everywhere...

BTW, as a side note when I bought my Saab in Denver it was at a combined Saab-Buick showroom. The salesman told me that this was officially prohibited (Saabs were supposed to have their own showrooms all done up in the Saab style), and that when the management types from Saab came for a visit, they just moved all the Buicks out for a day.

Since then I see that this combining is common: in Beaverton, if memory serves, it is Saab-Cadillac, which at least is a little bit better pairing. In Denver, the retirees and the hipsters were competing for attention - a strange mix.