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Saab goes solo

Date: 11 March 2010

Jonathan Nash

Saab GB is to set up its own fleet operation as soon as the complications regarding its sale by General Motors are ironed out.

The Swedish brand was bought by Dutch supercar manufacturer Spyker late last month, but there is still work to be done before the UK subsidiary, presently still owned by GM, is also acquired, with a deal expected to be completed in early May. In the interim, Saab corporate sales will still be handled by Vauxhall's fleet operation.

Saab GB boss Jonathan Nash, who will be staying on to run the new UK operation, confirmed to BusinessCar that he will be looking to appoint a new head of fleet and two or three regional territory managers as soon as possible, and said that the process of finding the right people has already started.

Saab will move out of its current residence at Vauxhall's Luton HQ, although Nash said the new office will be in the vicinity of the M1, as he wants to keep the 26 staff that are set to move with the new company. "We need to retain these people, they're the essence of the business," he said.

Nash said the break-even point in the UK is around 10,000 units, and he expects fleet volumes to return to around 3500-4000 once the new operation is up and running and the new product begins to filter through. Last year, Saab registered less than 2500 vehicles to fleet and 7846 overall, spectacularly down from 10,782 fleet and 16,074 overall in 2008.

The first new product will be the executive-level 9-5 model, which Nash hopes will be on sale in the UK in June, but that's yet to be confirmed. An estate 9-5 should follow around next April, with a small SUV 9-4X due at the end of next year, ahead of a facelifted upper medium 9-3 model in the middle of 2012.