Saab Cars USA Inc. and the Gary Fisher mountain bike team were all smiles when their first-year partnership culminated in a world championship by Saab racer Michael Rasmussen in September.
The win was a special treat for Saab USA's parent company, Saab Automobile AB, because the victory came in Sweden, Saab's home country.
'It was kind of cool to show them (Saab execs) the caliber of the Saab team in person,' boasts Nate Tobecksen, a spokesman for Fisher.
Saab and Fisher joined forces in January, and Saab has invested more than half a million dollars in the team.
Both sides say they are a perfect fit. 'When we look at our typical buyer, they are not the kind of folks who sit on the couch and watch the football games,' says Saab spokesman Kevin Smith. 'They're more inclined to put the mountain bike on the rack and enjoy the outdoors.'
Fisher, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, has a history that fits well with the Saab image of individuality and innovation. About 20 years ago, Fisher and his friends had to develop their own equipment for their sport and began modifying old bikes so they could take on rough, hilly terrain.
Saab sales rose 39 percent through Oct. 31, and the company credits part of the increase to its strategy of appealing to hobbyists. The quirky Swedish company has linked its 9-5 wagon and 9-5 Aero sedan with the mountain biking team, marketing the new vehicles as luxurious, but fitting in with an active lifestyle.