Saab dealers hope General Motors' purchase of the rest of Saab Automobile AB two weeks ago will quickly bring a bigger lineup.
'We will have more models and we'll be entering more markets we're not in right now,' said Kurt Schirm, vice president of Hunt Valley Saab in Hunt Valley, Md., after the make meeting at the NADA convention.
'I think they have a good niche now and this association with General Motors will be very positive,' added Raymond Ciccolo, owner of Charles River Saab in Watertown, Mass.
GM has owned half of Saab for 10 years.
Saab has made it no secret that it wants to double its lineup and overall sales in the next few years. John Orth, vice president of sales and marketing for Saab Cars USA Inc., said being wholly owned by GM will speed development of new Saab products.
Dan Chasins, president of Saab Cars USA, went a step further by saying GM's ownership gives Saab more options to put all-wheel drive in certain vehicles within the next several years.
'We're no longer asking if we should (offer AWD) but how we can do it,' Chasins said.
Saab dealers also will benefit from closer ties to GM's financial arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., Orth said. GMAC, through a subsidiary, already backs Saab's year-old financing unit, Saab Financial Services Corp.
Orth said changes to Saab's 'vs.' advertising campaign also were discussed during the make meeting. In 1999, the 'vs.' TV ads, which are being used in 42 countries, did not connect with customers in the United States.
Saab Cars USA has worked with Saab's global team to tweak those ads for 2000. Orth assured Saab dealers that the new TV ads coming in March will hit their targets.