Blog: Saab and Cadillac
Dave Leggett | 15 April 2008
I heard an upbeat tale from Jonathan Nash, responsible for Saab and Cadillac in UK, earlier. Well, you would expect him to be upbeat I guess. One thing I will say - the guy is very keen to communicate with the media and that's not something I always find when I interview senior execs. He also spoke pretty candidly about a couple of things - like, say, future product or past mistakes - where I've seen others in similar situations prefer to back off. There's a good product story with Saab on its way - new 9-5, 9-4 crossover (replacing the somewhat cynical rebadging for the US in the 9-7x 'TrollBlazer', the 9-4 will be based on the rather fetching 9-4x concept, with proper Saab design cues, will be made in Mexico and will sell in Europe) and a 9-1 around 2012. GM appears to be finally getting the Saab product act together now and new segments will mean higher sales. Russelsheim for Saabs? He had a good answer on that.
And the product development at Cadillac is now becoming much more attuned to global tastes, unlike previous European disasters.
Only trouble is, the interview running for much longer than I was expecting, I've got one heck of a lot of interview transcript to wade through.
One thing about both Saab and Caddy. In Europe, they are left-field choices for people who don't want, say, a BMW or Merc. A quirky choice. But as Mr Nash said, much lower volume than the big Germans can be turned to your advantage in terms of things like the dealer experience.
Overall, maybe Saab isn't the busted flush it seemed not so long ago. In any case, who'd buy it off GM - it's not exactly a sellers market for unwanted brands right now.
GM really has no option but to put some money in and maintain the brand, sweat the asset a bit. And when you are coming off a very low base (loyal Saab customers are out there and never went away) growing volume in the future on the back of some new product maybe doesn't sound so daunting. Same with Caddy, though I remain a little more sceptical about Cadillac's chances in Europe.
At the end I did a quick video clip in his office.
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