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  • Some individual Saab owners worried about parts. All is not gloom and doom.

    Even though Saab has arranged for hundreds of millions of Euros (more than half a billion U.S. dollars) from several sources for short to long term funding, questions about customer support if Saab closes still are being asked (see this forum). With all the negative publicity about temporary production stoppages at Saab, it is easy for the consumer to lose confidence in the future of Saab cars.

    Consumer confidence does affect Saab sales. Singapore, a country which was only briefly affected by the global economic downturn is a case in point. Saab sales were at a steady pace of 200 to 300 cars per year for over ten years. In 2010, concern about General Motors' announced shutdown of Saab led to a unprecedented drop in Saab sales to only 13 cars for the full year. Singaporeans are naturally cautious and, due to the tax situation on cars, many people have a great concern over a car's resale value. The drop in sales was almost certainly due to lack of consumer confidence in Saab's continued survival because car sales of other brands picked up as the global economic downturn affected Singapore only briefly.

    Saab sales in Singapore picked up in 2011 with a positive outlook and much positive media coverage at the Geneva auto show. However, by April, problems with suppliers led to a suspension of production which, except for brief restarts, is only expected to resume on August 9 after the annual summer holiday, which was shortened after union negotiations. Coinciding with negative publicity, Saab sales in Singapore were the highest in January. They are naturally low in February because of the Chinese New Year season but slumped by April and May.

    What if?

    Despite the sizable amount of new capital injection into Saab, it is understandable that one may ask "what if a series of events occurs leading to the end of Saab car production?" I sought to answer this question myself in the most objective way possible.

    Unfortunately, I believe resale values would drop. Saturn resale values are not too good but I don't have enough data to see how what percentage of the cost of a five year old Saturn was in 2007 versus now. However, if one does not sell their car until it is more than ten years old, the effects of lower resale value is not as important as most ten to fifteen year old cars have low resale values.

    In the U.S., the car warranties tend to be long which creates expectations. Lamborghini has a relatively short warranty of two years in the U.S. Some Canadians import cars purchased in the U.S. Volkswagens imported this way lose their warranty coverage in Canada but that does not deter everyone.

    Saab's U.S. warranty is four years and offered by the importer, Saab Cars North America. When General Motors threatened closure of Saab, Trans Eurokars, the Saab importer to Singapore pledged to honor warranties. In the U.S., warranties of Saturn, a discontinued General Motors brand, was assumed mainly by Chevrolet and some Cadillac and other GM dealers. However in 1983, some Delorean dealers, such as the one in the Seattle suburb of Bothell honored warranties for a short time before ending the practice. The saga with Delorean left a bitter taste at Brooks Biddle Chevrolet, a former Delorean dealer, who declines to comment about Delorean now.

    Parts availability

    More importantly, I am concerned about the availability of parts. The experiences of Delorean owners helps answer this question. The Delorean DMC-12 prototype was introduced in 1976 and the car began production in Northern Ireland in 1981, It received much attention in the public, including in popular film productions. Unfortunately, the company went into financial difficulty and production ceased in late 1982.

    In the Seattle area, there are an estimated 175 Delorean cars. There is a Delorean owner's club in the Seattle area which accounts for approximately 100 Deloreans. This group is apparently sufficient to sustain an independent Delorean repair shop in a Seattle surburb. Deloreans sell for about $20,000 so the situation is not a case of a boutique shop surviving because it supports an extremely expensive brand.


    Delorean repair shop in Bellevue, Washington (USA)

    When Delorean ceased as a corporate entity, the remaining spare parts were purchased by a private company and the inventory eventually sold to the Delorean Motor Company (Texas), a company unaffiliated with the original Delorean manufacturer. This company continues to supply parts and has even fabricated some parts itself. The company even offers newly built Deloreans for $57,000 using spare parts from storage as well as newly manufactured parts. It has a capacity to build two cars per month.

    Delorean owners report that a few selected parts takes an effort to find though thousands of Delorean remain in running condition and many participate in various club meetings. Arnie Brandon, the founder of the Pacific Northwest Delorean Club and owner of two Deloreans cites that the left front fender is hard, but not impossible, to find as a replacement part.

    Owners of the current 9-5 and 9-3, as well as the Saab 9-2X and 9-7X, might take comfort that some Vauxhall, Opel, and Chevrolet parts can be used (Subaru parts in the case of the 9-2X). With hundreds of thousands of Saabs 9-3 on the roads worldwide, the resupply of parts is a potentially profitable venture.

    Even though the Saab 96 has not been made for more than 30 years and U.S. importation stopped more than 45 years ago, used Saab 96 still have a market filled with enthusiastic owners. Earlier this year on Saabworld, Charles Gould described the finding a 1962 Saab 96 undriven since 1978 and stored in a garage. He subsequently got the car in running shape.


    Charles Gould's barn find Saab 96
    photo by Gabriele Isenbrand courtesy of Charles Gould

    In the Seattle area, Darren Metz is a fairly new Saab 96 owner in the Seattle area. A few years ago, he saw an ad for an old Saab 96, which piqued his curiosity as he was unfamiliar with the model. He drove about 3 hours to the state of Oregon to see the car and bought it a week later. That was the start of a refurbishing project. He was able to find some needed brake parts at the NAPA auto supply store (an auto supply chain in the U.S.) as well as several other sources.

    Other tales of finding parts are regularly discussed in various forums online. For example, some look for replacement fans for the car opting for either the original supplier or for aftermarket versions.

    The future seems bright

    If you currently have a Saab or are going to buy one soon, the future for you is bright! Enjoy your car and have no fears or worries. Even with the worse case scenario for Saab, your car will be running up to its performance and safety potential. With the planned re-start of Saab 9-3 and 9-5 production, as well as Saab 9-4X being made right now, the future is looking better.
    This article was originally published in blog: Some individual Saab owners worried about parts. All is not gloom and doom. started by Dave T
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. jlrSAAB's Avatar
      jlrSAAB -
      not worried about parts and accessories from Saab, the purchase department is the same of GM. it is possible to find most of the parts at GM dealers. i.e. opel vectra V6 OPC is the same engine than Saab 93 V6 Aero.
    1. nordwulf's Avatar
      nordwulf -
      As far as parts availability goes, I am sure there will be no problem for the 9-3 as it is a 10-year old model. Same thing with first gen 9-5. But what about the current 9-5 and 9-4X? If Saab goes under today, no aftermarket manufacturer or distributor will want to have anything to do with parts for these models because these models have been sold in very limited quantities. And they are not GM’s responsibility. And even if there will be parts, demand will be very limited so I assume prices will be pretty high. I would love to buy a 9-4X but it’s just seems to risky right now (for me).
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