Saab dealers at the NADA convention make meeting, complaining about the high costs of maintaining large inventories, asked for factory support on vehicles in stock for more than 60 days. The floorplan assistance now kicks in at 90 days.
Dealers also want Saab to let larger dealers carry less than the target 90-day supply, said Kurt Schirm, a member of the Saab Business Team, the make's equivalent of a dealer council.
Smaller dealers may need a 90-day supply, but larger dealers don't need anywhere near that number, he said.
The group proposed that large dealers who sell more than 25 cars a month be required to keep only a 60-day supply, Schirm said.
Although dealers didn't get a positive response from Saab management, they were assured the plan would be studied, Schirm said.
Until the end of March, Saab will continue its $300 floorplan assistance, a program launched in November, on all cars in stock for more than 90 days to get dealers through the slower winter months, said Daniel Chasins, president of Saab Cars USA Inc.
Chasins said the lower inventory proposal is 'controversial,' but 'it is fair to say that larger dealers may be able to have a smaller day supply.'
Chasins said inventory has fallen about 15 percent since last year to about 75 days of cars. 'Dealers are concerned, given the uncertainty of market conditions today. Frankly, I see reasonable robustness in our luxury segment. We were up 16 percent in January sales.'
'If we are consistent in the marketplace with the right programs and improved advertising, we can easily reach our fairly modest goal of 8 percent growth this year,' Chasins said.
Dealers also expressed dissatisfaction with Saab advertising.
'We haven't maintained anything with continuity. We start a program, we change it. We start another one and change that, too,' Schirm said. 'A lot of the advertising has been dictated by Sweden, which does not understand how an American consumer receives information.'
On Feb. 1, Saab moved its creative account from the Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., to Lowe Brindfors in Stockholm. Martin will continue to handle Saab's direct marketing.
Dealers also were told to expect the new 9-3 model in fall 2002.