Saab will form joint ventures with some dealers to put showcase dealerships in major cities. 'It's very important for us to be where our customers are,' said Peter Augustsson, president and CEO of Saab Automobile.
Saab calls these ventures City Centers. The first opened in January in Berlin on one of the world's most famous shopping streets, the Kurfurstendamm. Next is London in early June and Paris by September, said Goran Frederiksson, project manager for brand building and product launches.
Saab wants to open about 100 City Center dealerships worldwide in three years, Frederiksson said. Saab is also considering US City Centers in New York and Boston.
It's unclear how the partnerships would be structured. Saab is working on a formula to have the company act as a landlord but not share in store profits, said Dan Chasins, president of Saab Cars USA.
Augustsson said Saab is funding the program partly by cutting traditional advertising.
'Saab only needs to talk to 10 million potential customers worldwide. We don't need to talk to everybody,' Augustsson said. 'For us, mass advertising is like standing in the middle of a desert and screaming, 1/8Saab!' People may hear the noise, but for most, 1/8Saab' doesn't mean anything.'
Separately, Saab is planning factory owned showroom-only facilities in prime locations. These include the Champs Elysees in Paris, Heathrow Airport near London, and Madison Avenue in New York. Saab calls these wholly owned showrooms Brand Centers.
Brand Centers will not make retail sales, Chasins said. Instead, Brand Centers will refer customers to area dealers for test drives and sales, he said. Large cities could have a Brand Center and a City Center outlet.