Saab Officials Confident that 2011 will be a Turning Point in the Company’s History

Saab sold just 31,696 cars globally in 2010, after having cut its sales target from 45,000 to 30,000-35,000 vehicles, due to the restructuring of the brand’s supplier base. However, with fourth quarter (2010) sales up 129% compared to 2009, Chairman Victor Mullen believes that Saab “is firmly establishing itself as an independent car manufacturer”.

Last year was especially difficult for the Swedish automaker, as the low inventory decimated sales figures.

“One of the largest challenges in 2010 was to restock our dealers around the world to normal levels again, especially in a market like the United States, where you need dealer stock in order to be able to sell cars”, Muller said in a statement on Wednesday. “For instance, when we acquired the company, there were a mere 500 cars left on the ground in the United States. Normal inventory levels in this market should be at 6,000-7,000 units”.

Optimum inventory levels are still a long way from reality, but, during the past 12 months, Saab did pick up some momentum, which, coupled with the launch of new models, should help the maker achieve the projected sales volume of 80,000 units for 2011.

Saab will invest US $1 billion into its recovery plan, with the focus being on new models. The 9-4X crossover, set to debut in May, is of them. Next up is the ageing 9-3 due for replacement in 2012. Furthermore, Saab wants to revive the 92 model of the ‘50s, in the form of a modern compact car, which, if priced correctly, should add much needed volume to sales.

The Trollhättan-based manufacturer will continue to expand its dealer network as well, targeting markets like China and Russia and it expects to be profitable in 2012, with sales projected to reach 120,000 units.

By Csaba Daradics

Source: Autonews [sub. req]