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Saab's Sales Hole: How Deep? Volt, Leaf Outsell New 9-5 Sedan

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Saab 9-5

Saab 9-5

How tough a spot is Saab in?

Its production has been shut down since April 5 because its suppliers say they're not being paid for parts, and its 2010 sales were just 31,696 cars--globally.

To put Saab's sales in perspective, consider that Toyota sells an average of 25,000 Camry sedans every month in the U.S. alone.

In April, on the other hand, Saab sold 696 cars in the U.S., bringing its four-month total to a dismal 2,765.

Even more humiliating, Saab's newest, shiniest, most prestigious model--the 9-5 luxury sedan--is being outsold in the U.S. by both the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and the 2011 Nissan Leaf, the low-volume electric cars just entering the market.

2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

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The Volt is a four-seat compact with the breathtaking price of $41,000 (before various Federal, state, local, and corporate incentives). The 2011 Leaf comes in at $32,780 before the same incentives.

At the moment, Chevrolet is selling only a few hundred each month, and it expects retail sales of just 10,000 this year despite what appears to be burgeoning demand.

Through April, Chevrolet sold 1,703 Volts (plus 326 more last December, when the first car was delivered to a New Jersey buyer). That's about twice the rate so far of the 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car, which has sold 1.025 this year (plus another 19 in December).

Saab, on the other hand, sold a mere 123 9-5 sedans in April, and a total of just 450 during the first four months of the year.

Now it's scrambling for the latest of several rescue plans, this one involving short-term loans and a potential Chinese partner.

Company officials admitted to Automotive News that they had failed to prepare their customer base for the new 2011 Saab 9-5, which is larger, more luxurious, and more expensive than the aged model it replaced.

With the imminent launch of the 2011 Saab 9-4X luxury crossover, let's hope that the numbers improve quickly.

Because, to survive, Saab needs to log sales that are 10 to 50 times as high as what it's racking up at the moment.

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Comments (7)
  1. Here in Australia Saab sold just 17 cars in April.

  2. Saab: Time to call it a day...

  3. To those who've purchased the new 9-5 are truly getting a gem. They've become such a rare sighting that it's like seeing an exotic driving down the road. Visually, the new 9-5 is simply's really quite a sight.

  4. "which is larger, more luxurious, and more expensive"
    how can you prepare customer base for that when everybody else is downsizing ??? Remember Saabaru 9-2x? It could have been the way out.

  5. The problem with a lack of sales is that Saab has no budget for advertising. I've not seen a single television, newspaper or magazine ad for Saab. Most of the American public assumes that Saab went out of business when GM nearly shut it down. Saab need aggressive marketing to gain brand recognition.

  6. Las night I test drove a used 2010 Saab 9-5. Iwas ready to buy. However, not knowing much about the car I knew it was prudent to 1st get reviews and opinions. 2 garags told me they like the cars but to stay away. In a couple of years I might have serious issues with parts and servicing. With dwindling dealers, I might have to wait for parts to come in from overseas. I was extremely disappointed as I really did want the car. Unfortunately Saab has done itself an extremem disservice by not promoting at all. Most pople don't even know that it still exists. TOO BAD!!! The car drove and felt great and I now know hy it wa such a great deal. I hope things improve with Saab

  7. Saab needs to do what Fiat is currently doing. They must offer extremely attractive leasing rates and low financing purchase rates. I think this marketing plan is far more important for Saab's survival than for Fiat. No one wants to chance buying a vehicle from a company that might not be in business in a few years not without some great incentives from the company.

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