Saab's U.S. Boss Talks About the Future and How the Brand will Tackle the Perception that the Brand is Dead

Automotive News recently had a chance to sit down with the COO of Saab North America, Mike Colleran, and discuss the future of Saab. perception

One of the first questions posed was the extent of damage to Saab's brand image during the past year and a half and how the Swedish automaker plans to improve its image in the near future.

"It is difficult to understand the complete depth of that damage. Certainly the brand did suffer" said Colleran. "I think there are a number of consumers who have the perception that Saab is gone."

Saab's North American boss believes that the company's image will be significantly improved with the launch of new products such as the all-new 9-5 in July as well as through the use of social media marketing (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) and traditional advertising venues like TV, news print and radio.

Colleran also went into a few of the details regarding the future of the Spyker-owned brand, including its remaining connection to GM and plans for modernizing the lineup.

Regarding the connection to its previous owner, Colleran said Saab will "rent back" certain services like IT/database management and dealer-support networking, because "you just can't reinvent those overnight."

Also, Saab's upcoming 9-4X will be built by GM in Mexico. autoofcars2011.blogspot of this results in any control by GM, though.

After the 9-4X bows next April, a new 9-3 should arrive in 2012. Colleran in no uncertain terms says that by then, the new 9-5 will be the old news in Saab's lineup.

In the interview, the 9-5 also had its official target set: Audi's A6. Other competitors will be the 5-Series and S80.

Considering the old 9-5 and 9-3 had an bit of an overlap, Saab was quick to address this. The new 9-3 and 9-5 will be more distinct in price and size, allowing for a wider consumer base. With the 9-5 being set against the Germans and Volvo's S80, the 9-3 is going to be locked onto the 3-Series and S60.

Future success wasn't to be jinxed, though; no official sales goals were released, although Colleran did mention that Saab can build up to 15,000 units this year.

Attractive product, aggressive marketing, and a competitive drive. Fans will be happy to have a Saab brand worth following.

By Phil Alex

Via: Autonews [Sub. Req.]