SWEDEN/US: Saab dealers 'running out of cars'
Saab, retooling its factory in Sweden to build the new 9-5 early next year - its first new model in seven years - has cut output so much that dealers in the US are running out of new cars to sell.
"We have about 10 Saabs left, and they won't last long," Ivan Goodwin, sales manager at Jim Ellis Saab in Atlanta told Bloomberg News. "It's going to be a big problem, but there is nothing we can do about it."
Saab is in the process of being sold by General Motors to an investor group led by Swedish sports-car maker Koenigsegg Automotive AB.
Last week it announced plans to close 81 of its 218 US dealerships. The US accounts for about a quarter of Saab's global sales. In 2008, the company sold 21,368 cars there, around 23% of global sales.
The company has also identified the US as one of its four most important global markets, despite sales falling by an annual 62% in the first ten months of this year to just 7,441 units.
But the company says that as soon as the Koenigsegg deal is done and a EUR400m (US$600m) loan from the European Investment Bank comes through, it will start to ramp up production; it also says that it will start taking orders for the new 9-5 soon with US deliveries scheduled to start in the spring after the car has gone on sale in Sweden where dealers are also complaining about a lack of stock.
Lars Kopp, who runs a dealership in southwest Sweden, said Saab has extended delivery times, with the longest wait being eight weeks, as Saab's "stretched liquidity" means the carmaker cannot produce enough cars. He has 20 vehicles in stock and orders for 50 more.
"We're not worried about our own liquidity, as we're an old and stable company," said Kopp, who has sold Saabs for more than two decades. "What is annoying and deplorable is that you don't generate any money by just sitting here with orders."