The brands Saab owners have moved to….

Via Polk, via Autoblog:


I’m sure this tells us a myriad of valuable information but having looked it over just once, I’m not sure what that information is. Given the criteria, it must be a pretty small sample size so I’m not sure it tells us that much, to be honest.

The Polk Disposal Loyalty Methodology tracks owners selling vehicles within six months of buying a new one.

Update: More information from Polk’s website:

This methodology measures actual vehicle replacement within household garages. The basic premise is that every time a new vehicle is added to a household garage, Polk looks for the disposal of an existing vehicle in the garage occurring within six months of the new vehicle acquisition.

That’s a bit clearer. I think it’s still going to be a reasonably small sample, but be that as it may…….

Saab tried to position themselves as ‘entry-level premium’ and it seems 34.4% of people agreed, moving either upwards or sideways in terms of brand perception after selling their Saab. The majority of people, however, moved ‘down’ from there, into one of Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet (shame!), Ford, Subaru, Nissan or Buick and I think that’s the bigger story here.

Note: 20.6% of their sample isn’t actually represented here. Presumably they moved to other brands in numbers too small to add to the graph and still have it make visual sense.

Saab didn’t do enough to justify their vehicles as actually belonging in the segment they aimed for. The driving dynamics weren’t up to it and the interiors most definitely weren’t up to it. The errors made, and the stubborn determination of certain people to stick to a certain pricing strategy in the post-GM era are writ large in this graph, even with the small sample size.

Have you moved on to another brand? If so, which one?


For what it’s worth, I now have an Alfa Romeo and a Subaru at home. I didn’t buy a new Saab in that time, however, so apparently my movements or thoughts don’t count.

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  1. I think the wording is not great.

    What I think the Pole means is say someone owns a Saab, they then buy a Honda, and sell the Saab within 6 months of buying the Honda.

    I could be wrong!

    1. I think you’re right, Brendan. Just looked up some more info from Polk’s site and adjusted the text accordingly. I think we’re still looking at a pretty small sample – 2010/2011 sales were tiny, really – but it’s an interesting question regardless.

      Where are people going?

      Are people going in big numbers or are they holding on to their Saabs? Knowing the sample size would be handy for answering that question.

    2. I ended up following links and ended up at the original Polk article. Which describes it as

      I used Polk Disposal Loyalty Methodology. This methodology measures actual vehicle replacement within household garages. The basic premise is that every time a new vehicle is added to a household garage, Polk looks for the disposal of an existing vehicle in the garage occurring within six months of the new vehicle acquisition.

      1. Weird way of measuring things. You buy a car and sell another car within six months. Why should those events have something do to with each other? What if the sale is followed by another buy within a few weeks? Then I would find more likely that those to events were linked.

        I would guess this is also extremely tailored to behavior in the US. The common behavior in Sweden is to trade your old car at the dealership when you buy a new or used one; except if you have a car with really low value and you may instead try to sell it privately within a few weeks.

        1. ctm:

          That is the same behavior here in the US. If you looked at the data, you’d see that the vast majority of the transactions are as you stated — trades at the dealership. The six months is just there to allow for the few who will sell their older car on privately some time after the purchase of new.

          It is the more complete picture and is thus a BETTER way to measure the true transition from brand to brand.

          PS — US dealers have a reputation for giving trade-ins very little value, thus many people opt for private sale to get a better price.

  2. I’ve sold my 2004 aero convertible in exchange for a lease return from gmac, a 2008 aero manual witch I’m starting to regret only because there are so much road work here in Montreal that I’m spending à lot of time changing gears and I’m worried about eventually having to replace the clutch sometime…

    But what a car ! Anyhow I think that I will be moving to a Subaru only after there will not be any

  3. Sorry, part 2 . Any other good looking and working Saab out here. I’d love to have another convertible after this one !

  4. In the club in NSW several people are moving to Audi and Volvo.

    The most recent car purchase I made was a Viggen, but I also have a Suzuki and a Renault. Renault almost had me handing over my hard earned for a new one of their cars, but decided it’s not the right time. I’m sure Suzuki or Renault will see me one day.

  5. I tried to move on but there is nothing out there that I really like, so I will be staying with Saab as much as possible. Gotta love that quirkiness.

  6. It would be interesting to see this mapped against these brands’ overall market share. Is anybody over-represented, or missing from the list?

    Honda makes sense as the top pick. The Accord is arguably the most satisfying drive in the mid-size segment. VW and Audi are also logical as the most Saab-like European competitors (assuming this is US data). They both base their lineups on 2 liter turbocharged fours, so it’s not a huge stretch.

    I don’t plan on being tallied on a future revision of this list. I’ve always wanted to own a classic car, and all I need is a few more years for my 9-3 to become one. It comes with full service records, so that’s a plus. I will probably get a complementary car some day, but it won’t replace the Saab.

  7. I think that Honda makes no sense as a top pick for Saab people — the folks switching from Saab to Honda must be the unwashed.

    VW and Audi compute, as does Volvo. I frankly thought that Subaru would be a more popular choice.

    The domestic US brands are heavily swayed by ‘brand loyalty’ financing programs — GM was offering an additional discount for returning GM owners. Ford doesn’t really make a ton of sense EXCEPT when it comes to the narrow band of Saab owners that switched to trucks. I’d certainly like to see the breakdown of Fords that replaced Saabs. It would be very interesting.

    The others are inevitable no matter the brand.

    Surprising that Hyundai did not make the list. They have very good product and very good prices right now. I figured that they’d make the list for all brand changers.

    1. I thought Subies would be the natural Saab-alternative, too. The philosophy and approach seem quite similar, though the Saab styling is much more appealing. Hyundai still might have that Hyundai-stigma in the minds of some–but I agree they’ve definitely stepped up and have been coming out with some not-bad cars. I like the Genesis Coupe, personally, but I don’t know if I’d actually trust it enough to buy one… though, as you’ve said, the prices look fairly attractive. Funny, I used to live in an area dominated by Hyundai, Subaru and Saab.

      VW and Audi aren’t surprising options. They’re not really for me, but I can see why ex-Saabers would jump. I’m curious which Fords previous Saab-owners moved to as well… I would expect they would be the flex-fuel ones. I would think the jump from Saab to truck is rather small, but… I really don’t know.

      I’m not in the market for a new car and doubt that’ll happen anytime soon, anyway. The only way it could is if my C900 is totaled and I wouldn’t be able to find a used Saab replacement right away. That being said, one of my favorite cars on the market is the Mazda 3 hatchback, particularly the Speed3–which is basically a lesser equipped, not as good looking Viggen (2.3l 4-cylinder turbo hatchback, manual transmission only). Truthfully, I dislike the facelift it’s received in recent years, and prefer the first generation… BUT, other than that it’s sort of reminiscent of the C900 because it seems useful and sporty yet economical.

  8. I am preparing to retire my ’02 9-5 combi (only 232K mi), and find that the Subaru Outback is (IMO) the most direct comparison for utility, size, performance, and amenities. One attribute of the Saab was value for the dollar (at US market pricing, not MSRP!), and I feel I got my money’s worth for 9+ yrs of ownership. I expect to buy a 6 cyl Outback Limited soon, for ~US$32-33K with all the features I want/need, and I expect reliability and depreciation to be far better than the Saab. For the same utility, and fancier appointments, XC70, Venza and Crosstour AWD are high $30’s to start, and Audi is priced well above that for the A6 products (with VW reliability!). VW has no Passat wagon in the US right now.

  9. Have already traded in the wife’s small ’06 Volvo S40 for a ’12 Subaru Outback (we needed a family hauler and you all know what happened with the 9-4). Still running my ’06 Saab 9-3, but as the miles accumulate, obtaining parts is often delayed, and my job requires lots of non-negotiable driving, have moved into the planning stages for its replacement.

    If forced to buy soon, would go with a ’13 Volvo S60 T5. Considering the AWD, but not sure it really warrants the extra $2k. After all, my FWD Saab has never failed me in poor weather.

    Was hoping for something with better mpg, but liked Volvo’s T5 engine in the S40, and this version is tuned for much more power. (OK, hybrid or better with the car after this one —I promise.) The S60 also would solve the cramped quarters complaint of our last Volvo (well, at least for the folk in the front seats —and that works for our family with two very small kids).

    Most importantly, by replacing my Saab with a Volvo, get a pretty decent local dealership and will also be able to keep my same private Swedish car mechanic.

  10. US data also includes 97x owners who are not the same as traditional saab owners, perhaps this explains c0nverts to ford or caddy.

    1. I thought about that, but those numbers are very, very small. Perhaps that would explain the Ford/Chevy. As I said, those buying trucks would be the only logical step toward Ford IMO. Obviously, 9-7x would be the segment most interested in trucks, so there you go.

  11. We just swapped the wife’s ’03 Passat wagon to a ’08 9-5 wagon. She loves it.
    I still daily my ’03 Golf TDI.

  12. I’ve been thinking about what car I’d have to replace my Saab since 2009. I’ve still yet to come to a conclusion. I would have been reasonably happy to jump to a Volkswagen Passat Estate, but Volkswagen don’t offer a manual transmission in Australia (for the Passat). Opel opened it’s doors here on the weekend and I thought that Saab sharing much of its tech with Opel, then that could be a logical choice, but no manual on the Insignia and its the only Opel that I am even remotely interested in. I’m not really interested in Japanese cars, but not many European models offer a manual transmission in Australia.

    I have come to the conclusion that I will either buy 1 of 2 cars. If I am to stick with the small/midsize wagon/estate then I will have no choice but to opt for the Skoda Octavia. This isn’t a bad thing, Skoda is now part of the Volkswagen family so parts and servicing shouldn’t be a hassle. Though I do find it a little boring and uninspiring to look at.

    My second option would have me downsize, again not a problem, I’m young and single, so I don’t really need a family wagon, I just like the practicality of it. So my other option would be the Renault Megane. Like Saab, Renault is one of those quirky brands and in Australia you don’t see many of them on the road. Unlike the Octavia the Megane (RS) is the complete opposite of boring, but then I think it may be a little overstated and a real “look at me” kind of car.

    I guess you really have to weigh up the pros and cons. I guess the big downfall for the Renault is the dealership and servicing. I mean I live in the second largest city in NSW and we don’t have a Renault dealership. We do however, have a Skoda dealership. I guess if you want exclusivity you do have to make a few compromises here and there.

  13. I’m struggling to find something to replace my 9-5 Aero auto…where can you find something that has the pace, economy, soul and safety of a 9-5. Audi ticks some of the boxes but you need a lobotomy to drive one and everyone else is downsizing – the 328i is a turbo’d 4cyl 2-litre, i’d prefer a six-pot if I was going Bavarian. I’d looked at the Insignia but in petrol guise you can only specify 1.4 Turbo or 2.8V6 now, no 2.0, unless you want diseasel.

  14. If there is anything to be taken from the statistics, it is that Saab owners don’t play by that “brand perception” game. As was to be expected by individualistic people.

  15. I move to an Audi A6 Avant in 2010. I would have loved a new 95 Wagon which was just around the corner but couldnt wait (it’d have been some wait too!). To be fair the Audi is full loaded, well finished does everything well but it is dull (and grey!).

  16. Kept both Saabs as they satisfy my needs perfectly, but this deflection graphic starts me to think about it; what if … ?
    And if really necessary to change brand, well Honda ok for a CR-Z or a S2000, those don’t make sense as a saab-replacement execpt maybe an accord station but I’m not convoinced. VW no thanks, though I have a soft spot for a T3 syncro doka (but not as a saab-replacement). Audi, no thanks, except the A5 coupe has some gorgeous styling and maybe an A4 allroad makes sense. Toyota, euhm … if really then the prius or prius van. Mercedes, only an (old) G-klasse, without the luxury, a bit for the same reasons as the mentioned syncro. Or a 60’s saloon, 280 SE 3,5, even better in the Bracq designed coupé. But that would not be a replacement, more a sentimental journey back in time. Chevy, Ford, Caddy, Buick, Acura ? Nissan ? Lexus, well the small CT200h would be sensible choice, but the looks ? Rest of Lexus-gamma doesn’t fit my whishes.
    So why not a Subaru. Well the brandimage may in some aspects resemble that of Saab (rally-heritage, at certain models a rather quirky design, …) but somehow I dislike aspects, i.e. how many times they changed the design of impreza & legacy ? And not allways for the best. That might be a typical Japanese thing to do. And above all their cars do not give the solid northern saabfeeling. The BRZ is cute, but can’t be called a replacement either.
    Then there is BMW. 3-series coupé or the new 3-series touring … Now since they dropped partly the ridiculous flame-styling by Chris Bangle the cars got better looking again. Technically they seem allways ahead of the race. Combining Freude und Sparsamkeit ? Or is that a bit overstretched ?

    So It will be the olvov, presumably the V60, if car and more so cash is available in hybrid-disguise, it seems to go like a rocket. So some of the old sandic 900-turbospirit is still there. And it combines Freude und Sparsamkeit with some good looks. Way better then ovlov did 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

    Of course there are others not on that deflection-list, European and I guess not everywhere available :
    Quirky Citroën C5, C6 or DS5 i.e. . They even presented now a DS3 ‘Cabrio’, in which you can let you chauffeur-drive like François Hollande, waving at the crowds. So there is no need to use the tin-can opener on your precious DS5. Or feel like Charles de Gaulle, if you prefer him above the recent president.
    Opel, (european) Ford and Peugeot ? Rather boring cars.
    Renault ? Well Avantime and Velsatis have been interesting attempts for an up-market move, but unfortunnaly they didn’t succeed. And the Espace is a classic in itself, but that again isn’t a saab-repacement.
    But what about the Alfa 159, the smaller Giulietta, the elegant Brera …
    The last Lancia Delta had some good looks to, but the brandimage diluted once more with their re-badged Chryslers.
    Nevertheless, some tempting French & Italians.

  17. In March this year I traded in my ten year old 9-5 Aero Estate “Performance by Hirsch” for the last brand new 9-3X turbo4 xwd available here in Denmark. SAAB has been my preferred brand for the last 21 years, and with a little luck the next time I purchase a new car it could be a SAAB EV built by NEVS.
    Lars R

  18. well, how funny this all is. Oviously something from across the big pond, the underpinnings to me seem a tad vague.
    Having just acquired another Saab for our stables ( a 9000 2.3T auto) why on earth would I look at another brand. Yup, I did drive you around in betty, Swade, but that Citroën is a means of transportation, soon to leave the garage. back to Saabs all around.

    Those who lease their cars may look at other brands, but from what I gather, in the Netherlands quite a few have actually bought their Saabs from the leasing company and are staying put.

    The other brands? yes, Audi (boooooring) as wel as Mercedes (who actually are doing some pretty clever and affordable leasing costs) are the main winners. VW’s Passat-where-an-elephant-sat-on, that horrible CC thing, was supposed to attrackt some buyers but when kitted out a wee bit, all of a sudden those become rather expensive to say the least.
    So from what I can gather, Saabers in this part of the world seem to stay put and seem not to mind driving a slightly older car 😉

  19. It has certainly been on my mind: what happens to the Saab diaspora? Perhaps you can do a bit of a survey here, and then repeat it down the road. I wonder if those who have lost Saab will ever have the same sort of loyalty to any other make, or if instead they will just go car to car to car.
    For those who bought and drove modern Saabs, I don’t understand why not a shift to Volvo. As I pointed out at Swedish Car Day last week, tell all your Saab friends that you can buy a FWD, turbo, fun-to-drive, safe, comfortable, efficient, technology-rich car full of Swedish aesthetic and built in Sweden…OK, Belgium. S60 makes way more sense to me than some Honda.
    As I have rather been stuck in the past with my C900’s, the one car which provides a driving experience, seating position and enough of a uniqueness factor is Mini. However, I would have to wait until they make a version with a grown-up dashboard.

    1. Saab vs. Volvo is a modern re-interpretation of the difference between Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome…
      Also, Volvo doesn’t offer a manual transmission in North America (other than in the obsolete C30). They don’t want my business.

  20. I drove a Saab 9-3 SC TTiD until February of this year, and now I have switched to a Volvo V60 R-Design D4. Awesome car, and as some others above have mentioned, it feels like quite a natural transfer indeed. The V60 is a great and fun drive in R-Design trim, with the added bonus of a very rich and fine interior (an element where Saab was unfortunately lacking). The only thing I really miss, practically speaking, is the fold-out cup holder. That thing was (and still is) pure brilliance 🙂

  21. Interesting. I have long felt that Saab should have placed themselves, price wise, around the VW mark and that their attempts to compete with MB or BMW were not borne out in the quality of the product they offered. Mostly in terms of reliability and features, rather than drive. The fact that VW and Honda seem to have proved popular bears this out to some extent, although the limitations of the poll and survey method are noted.

    I will replace with a German car when the Saab finally dies (which may not be too long). BMW 330ci convertible would be first choice. I am not taken with Audi and the MB E class cabrio is too expensive. VW here in my neighbourhood provide appalling customer service and would have to come up with something very impressive in order to win my custom.

  22. We ALMOST went to the the Subaru Forester. Our shopping list was small, Subaru Forester or Outback, Chevy Equinox ( based ONLY on function), or the Volvo XC70. In the end, we bought another Saab, prolonging the joy while we can.

  23. So it looks like the missing brands are Hyundai and Mazda. The over-represented brands are VW and Audi.

    Some brands may seem incongruous to European/Australian readers. GM/Ford/Toyota are under-represented compared to their overall market share.

    I’m not surprised that Subaru did not score any higher. Saab and Subaru seem like similar brands, until you sit in them. It’s like having two restaurants with the same decor: one makes their food fresh, and the other reheats/deep fries frozen food. There’s very little overlap in the appeal of both brands.
    On a related note, I think that’s why the 9-2x did not sell. Saab did a lot to spruce-up the Impreza, but they needed to re-engineer it. The fixed-up Impreza ended-up being as expensive as a 9-3, and it wasn’t anywhere near as nice a drive, or as nice a place to spend time. I think a lot of people went to the dealership to look at a 9-2 and drove out in a 9-3 (those were the best sales years for the 9-3).

  24. SAAB is my alfa and omega —- I started with and I will end with SAAB. Fortunately for me I have the resources to keep all of our SAABS on the road.

    I agree with you Swade, SAAB didn’t do enough to justify placement into the “entry level premium” market. However, when it comes to meeting my needs and being practical, no other car does it better than a SAAB!!!

  25. I find the whole brand comparison thing very confusing when it comes to Saabs. I recently changed my 2010 Octavia wagon for a 2005 9-5 2.0t vector wagon. The reason I went for a car that old was quite simply because it was nothing short of superb in every respect – way better than a Beemer or m-b imho, who wants a car that is a liability in the winter? I had previously looked at newer 9-5s aka dame Ednas and they left me thinking I would never ever buy another Saab (had 2 in the eighties) as I was absolutely appalled by the quality of the interior. Then I spotted the 2005 and as soon as I sat in it I was blown away. Just returned from holiday in France and the comfort of the chassis and seats during that trip (up to 4.5hours a day) were outstanding. Got out of the car feeling like I’d just nipped to the shops!

    So in summary
    2005 9-5 way better than a Beemer
    2006 on 9-5 makes a skoda feel like a luxury car

  26. I still have my ’07 SportCombi and have no plans to dispose of it so hopefully there are some good choices when the time comes. The new 2013 Audi Allroad is one sharp wagon, but it is expensive – but it sure does have some great hardware and seats. An Acura TSX wagon is a more affordable option and seems like a comfortable and capable vehicle.

    Hopefully I will have plenty of time left to decide and other choices will become available when the time comes.

    1. The Allroad looks nice but given that I currently in possession of one, I would not buy another. Audi charge a premium for their luxury status but despite a full service history and careful ownership the cabin is wearing much faster than my previous, older Volvo. The automatic transmission has an unnerving delay between pressing the accelerator and the car moving off, which can make junctions a lottery and the front air suspension suffered the widely reported sag of the bags. Luckily I was able to remedy this with a replacement bag from the US at a 1/4 of the price being quoted by independent Audi specialists around here.

      Hence my assertion above that I am not taken with Audi.

  27. I compared this data to the August 2012 US top-10 sellers. The timeframe is different, but it’s instructive nonetheless.

    Brands in the US top 10 that Saab owners did not move to:

    Brands not in the US top 10 that Saab owners moved to:

    Dodge and Jeep aren’t surprises. There’s almost no overlap between their products and Saab’s products (the 9-7x and Grand Cherokee are the two I can think of). Hyundai and Kia make the bulk of their sales at the entry level, even though they offer a few premium models.

    The second list shows us that Saab was competing in the premium segment. All of those brands but one (Subaru) are considered premium. The fact that former Saab owners went to those marques shows that Saab was also in the premium segment.

    Five of the remaining 6 top-10 brands ranked in their expected positions (if you ignore pickup and trucks), but not VW. VW ranks tenth in the general marketplace and second in the “Saab” marketplace.
    That may be because VW are the only European brand in the US top 10, so they have a proportionally greater appeal to Saab owners.