A strong finish to 2010 with 11,000 worldwide sales is helping Saab look towards global sales of 80,000 in 2011, said sales chief Matthias Seidl, two months into his role.
“We’ve assumed responsibility from GM for our global distribution and we now have all our cars built at Trollhatten,” he said. “We’re ready to bring this iconic brand back to life.”
While there have been hiccups since GM sold the brand to Victor Muller’s Spyker Cars, the new company is very optimistic going forward.
“We had problems with suppliers and some dealers walked away to sell other brands but we are now embarking on our biggest product offensive this year and by the end of 2012 the 9-5, launched in 2010, will be the oldest car in the line-up,” he said.
The UK is a step ahead of other markets in bringing Saab back to where it was and Seidl believes it can return to pre-crisis levels this year.
Expansion globally will include entering the Chinese market in the second half of 2011. “We’re also looking at Russia and re-entering Mexico,” he said.
The Geneva show concept gives clues to the new 9-3 which is fully-funded as a new product.
To develop future products, the company will have to find the money by generating profits. “We will make a profit in 2012 and we need to stay lean and link with partners as we go forward,” he said.
A small car – “call it 9-1 or 9-2” – is being talked about but no decision has yet been made, he said.
He believes that Saab can build to 120,000-150,000 annual sales and offer an alternative to “volume premium brands” like BMW and Mercedes-Benz. “We’re still niche at that level, but we can get there and make money.”