900 dealers were left to find solutions for survival after the bankruptcy of Saab Automobile. Over the last 2 years, 200 of them have thrown in the towel, while the others are still trying to find other partners to survive.
Tom Backes, general manager at Guilford Saab in Connecticut, is considering giving up his Saab wagons and sedans for the racier world of Maserati, owned by Fiat SpA, and Mitsubishi, which are expanding their U.S. dealer network.
Saab’s bleak future gave Volkswagen AG’s Seat and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. the opportunity to ‘steal’ experienced dealers with a loyal clientele. Ake Lundberg, head of Seat in Sweden, declared that they are absolutely interested in talking to Saab dealers, since the company plans to expand to 50 sales outlets in Sweden from today’s 28.
In the U.S. each of the 188 Saab dealers have thought about taking on another brand, being also the situation of Kurt Schirm, head of the Saab National Dealer Council, who has considered other brands for a couple of years.
Some dealers are trying to sell the cars left in stock offering discounts of 30%, but not even this attracts customers.
“You’d think that customers would come flooding in and buying them because of the great prices, but they’re still not convinced it’s a good value at this point,” said Roland Gartner, owner of two Saab stores in Illinois.