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Saab president: Our kind of sale will never happen again

Posted by Bill Griffith  September 15, 2010 10:01 AM

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Mike Colleran, president and COO of Saab cars North America, was in Boston this week, a place he considers the company's "home market" in the United States.

Saab US President Mike Colleran

(Bill Griffith for Boston.com)

Speaking to members of the New England Motor Press Association at The Boston Globe, Colleran was effusive in thanking the legions of loyal Saab owners whose support and demonstrations helped save the company. He said their support convinced Victor Muller of Spyker to buy Saab from General Motors in a deal that was finalized in February.

"Imagine being able to buy a viable car company for $74 million," said Colleran. "I don't think you'll see that happen again. It came during the perfect storm of an economic downturn, but Spyker got a full-service company, from design to production to dealership network for the same price GM paid for its latest wind tunnel."

Now, 150-plus days into its ownership, Saab has a new product, the 9-5 luxury sedan, in showrooms with the 9-4X crossover coming in spring. In addition, Saab soon will have a 2.0-liter turbo version of the 9-5 that is projected to get 32 miles per gallon or better (highway). Next year, the SportCombi (wagon) version will be available.

"Our company and dealers survived 18 months with no new cars during the worst economy in decades," said Colleran. "Now we've got a string of new cars coming, an ownership that won't be denied, and a long-range plan to bring the company back to profitability while retaining our quirky heritage."

Colleran says the new 9-5 is a large car Saab needs. "It clearly is above the 9-3 [in size], boosts our premium segment ambitions, and represents a massive technological leap ahead. We want our niche back as the quirky offering in the luxury marketplace. Audi had taken it but now they're part of 'The Group.' " That's Colleran's term for the German troika of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

As for Boston being the home market: Charles River Saab sold the first 9-5 available to the public, at 6:01 a.m. the morning the model went on sale.

We will finally get our hands on a new 9-5 for a full road test late this month. Stay tuned. —Ed.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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