DETROIT -- Saab Cars North America kicked off its first sales event as a new company today -- a leasing program for the 2010 Saab 9-3.
Saab can move on the marketing front now that it has begun slowly building up its U.S. pipeline. The 9-3 has been trickling into the United States since late March. Before that, dealers had not had a shipment of Saab vehicles since last June.
Dutch luxury-carmaker Spyker Cars NV bought Saab in February from General Motors Co. and created Saab Cars North America to handle U.S and Canadian operations.
“We had to start from scratch,” said Michael Colleran, COO of Saab Cars North America. “We've got a great team in place; we've got leasing; we've got the pipeline in place, and inventory is rising.”
Saab is offering a 2010 9-3 Sport Sedan 2.0 with automatic transmission for $399 a month with a $3,374 down payment; the term is 48 months. Advertising to promote the lease program will be primarily newspapers, direct mail, digital and social media. Some co-op advertising is planned. The program expires June 1.
Colleran, along with Spyker CEO Victor Muller and Saab Automobile AB CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, hosted a breakfast meeting for a handful of Detroit journalists to talk about the company's future.
Jonsson expects Saab to produce between 50,000 and 55,000 vehicles worldwide this year. Of that number, 15,000 units are aimed for the United States.
The first U.S. shipment of 2010 9-3s, about 50, arrived in March. Altogether, about 550 9-3 sedans, Combis and convertibles have been imported since then.
Colleran expects 2,500 cars to be on the ground by mid-June. A total of 4,000 to 5,000 9-3s are expected to be imported for the 2010 model year.
“We took an extra 1,000 units on top of the units that we were already allocated,” Colleran said. “We have the demand from our dealer partners.”
He said there are “only a handful of 2009s in stock.”
Two new models
Two new Saab models are on the horizon. The redesigned 2011 9-5 sedan will arrive in July, and the 2012 9-4X crossover will land here next April. The 9-4X shares a platform and components with the Cadillac SRX. The redesigned 9-3 will be developed by Saab and is due in 2012.
The U.S. organization has 45 people and plans to expand to 50 by the end of the year. Ten people are expected to be added in 2011. U.S. operations are based in Royal Oak, Mich., a Detroit suburb. The majority of the new U.S. employees will be in sales, marketing and advertising.
Engineering will continue to be based in Trollhattan, Sweden.