ROYAL OAK, MI − After months of on-again/off-again operating, Saab Cars North America this week began delivering Saab 9-4X crossover SUVs to the 199 U.S. dealers, restoring hopes that the Swedish automaker had ended its long flirtation with potential investors, suppliers and owners.
Saab Cars North America’s new president, Tim Colbeck, announced restoration of vehicle shipments to dealers from a General Motors plant in Mexico.
To spread word of the back-in-business development, Colbeck said Saab will turn to Internet advertising in both the U.S. and China, where sales of Saab 9-4X, 9-5 and 9-3 models will also resume as the main Saab plant reopens August 9.
A longtime former senior executive of Subaru, Colbeck said a digital campaign will get underway soon with a new website linking prospects to third-party car shopping sites such as AutoTrader and kbb.com.
Saab sales jumped more than 61 percent in the first half of 2011, despite a bevy of headlines on bids from corporate buyers, failure to pay suppliers and the plant shutdown at Trollhattan, Sweden, for several months.
In a positive move, the Swedish government in May approved a $50 million sale and leaseback of the Swedish factory to entrepreneur Victor Muller, who bought the Saab brands from GM in 2010.
“I’m convinced more than ever that Saab will survive,” Colbeck told a media briefing at the Royal Oak headquarters north of Detroit.
“We have a very low break-even and should be able to generate about 30,000 sales a year in the very near future,” Colbeck said.
Saab sales in the U.S. totaled a mere 608 units last year, owing to the plant shutdown, down from 8,680 in 2009. First-half 2011 sales numbered zero