New Saab head of fleet Paul Adler is implementing a four-prong strategy which he believes will revive the manufacturer’s fortunes in the corporate market.
Sales have been in decline since it hit the heights of 17,000 fleet units in 2005/06, fuelled by then parent General Motors’ eagerness to pump volume into the market. Back then, dealers complained of forcing the market with the inevitable impact on residual values.
Last year, fleet sales fell 77%, from 10,755 to 2,495. So far this year, they have fallen a further 90% to 185 as companies continued to remove Saab from their choice lists.
Adler has set the short-term objective of around 8,000 by 2012 for a 1% share of the fleet market. His core target is corporate fleets, companies with more than 25 vehicles. Saab will return to rental and Motability, but at “modest” levels.
This year, Adler is looking for a realistic recovery to around 4,000 units, largely on the back of the new 9-5 due in July. Its CO2 emissions start at a tax-pleasing 139g/km.
His first priority is to re-establish confidence in the brand after to uncertainty over ownership – uncertainty that led several leasing companies to stop writing Saab business. Now, under Spyker, Saab can finally talk with conviction about its future.
“Leasing companies want to know about the support and investment that is available – I have to restore their confidence,” Adler said.
He’s certain that will be achieved: one top 20 leasing company has already agreed to start writing business again after a phone conversation.
Next he has to regain the confidence of the pricing guides and end users. “Then we have to rebuild momentum with the product range, starting with the new 9-5.”
The 9-3 will undergo some enhancements, including engines, before a new model is launched. Within a couple of years, the company will also launch an all-new model, widely touted to be the 9-4X mid-size crossover seen at a number of motor shows.
“There has also been much conjecture about the 9-1 – Saab would love it to happen,” Adler said. “The designs are there; the opportunity could be there.”
Adler’s fourth area of focus is his new department’s skills. He is recruiting for staff now.
“My objective is to re-establish Saab as a mainstream prestige player in the fleet market,” he said. “People broadly remain positive towards the brand – doors are ajar.”
To watch a video on what Paul Adler has to say about Saab’s fleet strategy, go to fleetnews.co.uk/videos/saab