By on September 3, 2012

Owners of Saab cars who replace their vehicles are choosing Hondas over other OEMs, according to a study of “defections” by automotive consultancy Polk.

Honda has captured 7.2 percent of total defections over the 2010-2011 period. Also popular with former Saab owners are Volkswagen and Audi products. VW is just slightly behind Honda, at 7 percent. Though is all GM brands were added and counted merely as “General Motors”, that figure would total 15.2 percent.

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46 Comments on “Saab Owners Choosing Honda...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    That’s really interesting. I would have thought Mazda and Subaru would have been higher on the list. Maybe the Accord and Civic HFPs are viable alternates for winter driving dynamics. I’m quite surprised though. The top three I get, but Toyota? Chevrolet? W-body love?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The going theorey on the internet was that all the Saab owners would go to Priuses or Subarus, so Toyota makes sense.

      Toward its death I think a lot of Saab sales were coming from people with GM employee/supplier discounts or car allowances, so that could explain Chevy and Cadillac.

      Honda keeps getting more and more boring and mediocre, but in the 2010-2011 period the Civic (including the Civic hybrid) was a better car than it is now, there was still the quirky Element, and I can see Saab buyers liking the Fit.

      A defection chart showing the models instead of the brands would be more interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I thought subaru too but on rethink it’s not so clear cut: Both engineering driven but in different directions; the boxer with 4wd is an acquired taste. Plus the subaru sourced cuv probably still breeds resentment.

      Honda makes sense in that the engineering is so good – and in that highly stressed saab vernacular. Looks wise they’re polarizing as well.

  • avatar
    felix

    Doesn’t Honda outsell VW by two-to-one or something like that? So if Honda and Saab are neck-and-neck among ex-Saab owners at around 7%, that means ex-Saab owners are far more likely than the average population to pick a VW over a Honda. Not that anyone cares really.

    Statistics… Bah!

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting.

      Anyway, Honda picking up 7.2% of former Saab owners does not exactly merit the headline. I think it’s more significant that 19% of former Saab owners are choosing German cars that have sporty cache. But I thikn this analysis would have been far more interesting done the way Felix is suggesting. This just suggests that former Saab owners have no clear substitute.

      How much brand loyalty was there among Saab owners, anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      VW is the largest car company in the world – or at least a close second.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Great point!. The data should be normalized by overall market share of these brands. So at a glance I would say Audi is the big favorite here.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    GM FTW!

    As SAAB goes, so does Honda? At Saab has turbo-4′s like everyone else where Honda and one other Japanese auto maker.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Volvo at only 4.2%? What happened to Swedish solidarity?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The big loser here is GM, which went from 100% to 15.2%. That 15.2% probably results from them retaining their employees as customers. The big winner is VW, with 13.3% between its two volume brands. Honda’s next with 11%, but barely ahead of Toyota with 10.1%.

    Volvo’s future seems far from certain. They’re up one month, down the next. Their products get praise from one review, panned in the next. Who knows how Geely dependability will establish itself. Perhaps Saab buyers have had enough adventures in ownership and are ready for a brand that will still be around when they want to sell their cars. I’m not sure why Subaru didn’t have a better showing. They’re a small player in the US, but I’ve been to certain regions where they look like a big player. Usually its the sort of place where a Saab dealer survived to the bitter end.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Geely, not Tata.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        No problem – not trying to be pedantic, but I would wager that the Saab defectors would have been more open to Indian ownership than Chinese ownership, for political reasons, so it probably matters at the margins.

        More important is probably the fact that VW and Audi have more desirable products than Volvo. The C30 was hot, especially with P1800ES nodding all glass hatch, but could not compete on price and fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      “The big loser here is GM, which went from 100% to 15.2%. That 15.2% probably results from them retaining their employees as customers”

      How so? “I lost money on every car sold, but I made it up in volume”.

      Also, so much for the crap about Saab owners being a cut above the rest. Griffin up, my butt. I wonder if this chart will be mentioned at the church of Saab web site.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        GM employees could buy Saabs with their employee discount whether they had anything to do with Saab or not. Now that Saab is gone, many former Saab buyers are still GM employees, so they still feel compelled to buy GM cars. Maybe they still do even if they don’t work for GM any longer. I have a friend who was downsized from being one of the top Ford Credit executives in her state. She still gets the Ford employee pricing. When she left Ford, she replaced her company Lincoln MKZ and company Ford Explorer with a new Ford Fusion. I was surprised, but she said she will receive employee pricing for life. Apparently, some people prefer a discount to choice.

      • 0 avatar
        saab_lurker

        dejal, the faithful are still driving Saabs. Our cars did not self-destruct after the bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      Since the volume is minimal, I don’t think there is a big winner or loser. I wouldn’t call GM a loser in this because getting rid of Saab is probably saving them money. For everyone else, divvying up a few thousand sales is nice, but really makes a blip. Either that, or I am underestimating the Saab volume, that if I remember correct, is less than the volume of the Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Fair point. It is probably more like a few hundred sales per automaker, and GM losing 15,000 sales in exchange for saving a few hundred million a year is probably fine with them too.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I am glad you admitted your basic point about GM being the big loser was basically wrong as BrianL pointed out.
        Any evidence that “many former Saab buyers are still GM employees”? You could easily have thought the opposite that Saab buyers are angry at GM’s treatment of Saab and they boycott GM. Isn`t that what the nuts at Saab United wanted?
        I thought you would be unhappy with so many Saab buyers buying Honda’s since you criticized Saab buyers intelligence and now they are buying your precious Honda’s!

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Not surprised to see VW so high – surprised they aren’t #1 on the list. Turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, front wheel drive, and wide availability of manual transmissions seem like natural attributes former purchasers of new Saabs would go for.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    As 92.8% of Saab buyers aren’t choosing Honda, the headline may be somewhat inaccurate. The data suggests that Saab buyers aren’t defecting to anyone in particular. Honda’s US market share for this year is 9.7%, so Saab owners are moving to Honda at a rate that is less than the average population.

    If anything, the numbers help to illustrate what was wrong with Saab. Saab failed because it was a low volume producer that couldn’t command high prices. Saab was allegedly a luxury brand, yet when left without Saabs to choose from, most of the buyers opt to buy non-luxury cars.

    It makes you wonder what those buyers were cross shopping when Saab was in business. It probably wasn’t BMW or Mercedes, even though it should have been.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Does that 9.7% include Acura sales? Honda is picking up 11% of Saab’s former customers when you factor in Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Does that 9.7% include Acura sales? Honda is picking up 11% of Saab’s former customers when you factor in Acura.”

        You are correct. Still, this would suggest that Saab owners don’t have a level of interest in the Honda brand that’s different than the norm.

        The headline is misleading; nobody seems to own these former Saab owners. The numbers would suggest that a disproportionate contingent of Saab owners do end up in European branded vehicles (in the chart, they comprise 45.0% of the 79.4% represented above, which is well above the market average), but they aren’t all diehard Euroloyalists, either.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Correction to the above: the European brands in the chart above represent 28.2% of the total, not 45%.

        Also, according to NADA, the Honda brand had 8.7% market share YTD as of July, while HMC had 9.7% market share during the same period (which would imply that Acura has 1% share for this period). Compared to the chart, that would suggest that Saab owners have less interest in the Honda brand than the norm, but more interest in Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        It would make sense that Saab owners have more interest than the general population in Acura. They are both semi-premium brands that didn`t (or haven`t) made it to the big league.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        If you are going to go with the 11% number…

        VW and Audi have a 13% number.
        GM has a 15.2% number.
        Toyota not far behind with a 10.1% number.

        The way I look at this, former Saab owners aren’t really loyal to anyone. I think the title is poor because is seems that Saab owners are choosing Honda, but also VW, Audi, Toyota, Chevy, Caddy, Ford and others with the few amount of Saab owners that there are.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Utltimately, Saabs basic problem was that it never was a luxury brand, no matter how much wishful thinking there was at GM. Saab buyers LONG valued utility mixed with a dash of performance, but performance was by no means top of the list. Saab going upmarket alienated the old school Saab buyers, but did not bring in enough new buyers from other makes. Then GM leaving the 9-5 to rot for a decade, and the initial half-hearted 9-3 sealed the deal. The revised 9-3 and new 9-5 were just waaaaay too late to save them. Too little volume at too low a transaction price.

      This does not mean that GM-era Saabs were bad cars, just bad value at thier wildly optemistic MSRPs (that nobody ever paid). They are actually very nice machines, much as I love my 328i, the 9-3 it replaced had many fine qualities too. So count me as one of those who went from a Saab to the Germans. The utility Saab buyers did go to Subaru, but that was 15+ years ago when Saab went to the “all turbo” lineup.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Saabs were never luxurious, but they’ve almost always been expensive. Expensive to build, expensive to buy, and expensive to own, ever since the 99 was introduced. In 1970, a 99 cost about 10% more than a 2002 in the US. In 1980, the Saab 99 Turbo was more expensive than all but one of its competitors in the UK, including being considerably more expensive than the awesome 323i.

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/triggerscarstuff/5161727207/in/set-72157625349639616/

        I actually watched an episode of Top Gear last night where they had a dead Saab retrospective. They fit the facts to their premise in many cases, but one recurring theme was how expensive the Saab engineers insisted on making everything to suit their own standards of crash integrity and ergonomic simplicity. According to the Top Gear clowns, they re-engineered GM’s work far more than GM wanted them to in order to achieve internal ideas about safety. This was also sighted as the reason for Saab’s failed partnership with Fiat-Lancia-Alfa. Is it true? Maybe. I’d be more inclined to take it as gospel if they hadn’t glossed over everything that doesn’t support their claims, like the 600, the 9-2x, the 9-7, and the 9-4x.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        To be fair to the Top Gear presenters the 9-7X and 9-2 were not sold in the UK so it is reasonable for a UK company not to dwell on them. I saw the same program a few months ago and it was a well done segment. There is evidence that they engineered things to their own standards and this undoubtedly raised prices and removed the logic of parts sharing.

        Thanks for the flicker link – very interesting to look back 3 decades and see how far we have come.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    I don’t think you could draw any meaningful difference between the first four, but maybe you can between groups of manufacturers.

    It’s not enough to draw conclusions on, but I think I can safely say that it once again shows that Saab buyers aren’t the same as as Mercedes or BMW buyers. But look who’s in the mix… Audi. Even though it was a reputation for being the new d**chbag choice on the block, it’s sitting a group with Honda/Toyota with Saab buyers, with the traditional German luxury brands further behind.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    This survey is about American Saab owners only. Swedish and European Saab owners might choose differently. I would expect more Volkswagen and less Honda. And forget about Buicks and Cadillacs.

  • avatar
    twblalock

    When I was replacing my Saab I drove a Subaru and it felt like a step back in almost every way. Saab owners aren’t defecting to Subarus because Subarus are not as well made or as comfortable as Saabs. When I shut the door on an Impreza I get an impression of insubstantial low quality — a Subaru is a cheap car with a nice drivetrain. The Legacy is better than the Impreza in this regard, but I found a Honda Accord to be better made and more fun to drive. The much better gas mileage, even with the V6, doesn’t hurt either.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Well, when I sold my Saab I went to Honda and considered both Toyota and VW, so I’ll add myself as anecdotal evidence.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Makes sense…Honda Accord buyers were always a different breed.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I doubt this is of any relevance as most of Saab’s core customers saw the writing on the wall with GM’s ownership of rebadging cars (9-7x and 9-2x and the new Saabs all underpinned by Open or GM chassis). This is long before GM finally sold them off and Saabs on/off/on/off/on bankruptcy. Most of Saab’s loyalists went to Volvo or German automakers. The data given here is based on post-Saab (aka GM/Saab) buyers who care less about the brand and more about the rebates and discounts they get.

  • avatar

    You might think they would choose Buick since they are essentially same cars and also by choosing Buick you distance yourself from crowd. BMW, Honda and Audi – all are crowd’s default choice. You do not need to have a courage or independent mind to select German brand or Honda at least here in CA. But anyway all talks about SAAB owners being different or special species are BS and data clearly shows it.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      The closest Saab is a Buick Regal ( 9-3 Saab) but most Saab fans and I am one, would not buy it based on the fact it is a GM car and they feel GM screwed Saab, so it would be sleeping with the ememy to buy the Buick, now I do not agree with that and I bought a VW TDI wagon when my saab was totaled, but that is some of the Saab faithful thinking. Most Saab owners did nothing and are driving used Saabs, most are like me and would never buy them new but they make great used cars.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      The closest Saab is a Buick Regal ( 9-3 Saab) but most Saab fans and I am one, would not buy it based on the fact it is a GM car and they feel GM screwed Saab, so it would be sleeping with the ememy to buy the Buick, now I do not agree with that and I bought a VW TDI wagon when my saab was totaled, but that is some of the Saab faithful thinking. Most Saab owners did nothing and are driving used Saabs, most are like me and would never buy them new but they make great used cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Most Saab owners did nothing and are driving used Saabs, most are like me and would never buy them new”

        It’s hilarious that you would make a statement like that, only to whine that GM didn’t bother to save Saab.

        Saab wasn’t the Salvation Army or some other charity that deserved ongoing life support just to provide used cars to a few fanboys. If no one could turn a profit with it, then there wasn’t much point in keeping it around. With friends like you, what company needs enemies?

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    Maybe they’re all buying Crosstours…

  • avatar
    bill h.

    As others have mentioned, some of us haven’t gone to other brands as yet…e.g. our current three (2002 9-3 hatch, 2004 9-5 wagon, 2010 9-3 wagon) are doing fine, and as long as parts aren’t an issue we don’t plan on trading to another car line soon.

    If you put a gun to this head, as far as other possible substitute makes, I used to drive VWs and that’s always a possibility, colored by still-fond memories of my GTI.

    Our preference would probably be to stay with FWD (nothing against BMWs though, the 535i Gran Turismo hatchback would not get kicked out of our driveway), with a wagon or hatch option being a must, and availabiity of three pedals, if we don’t go hybrid. But generally, we’d prefer simple honest performance to a bunch of expensive features, and decent levels of safety that work in the real world (not point solutions to pre-canned crash tests).

  • avatar
    seth1065

    PCH101,
    I do not blame GM for killing Saab without GM Saab would have died 20 years ago, , hell they killed plenty of other divisions that sold alot more cars, but many Saab fans feel GM screwed Saab by bleding it dry and not selling to the chinise when they wanted to buy it, sorry I love Saabs but they were over priced new and a great deal used, true bad for the company but good for buyers like me, your right I need people to buy or lease new Saabs so I can buy them used, why in the world would I buy a new Saab when their designed cars did not change in over ten years ( 9-5)

  • avatar
    AJ

    I can see Volkswagen and Audi for former Saab owners, as it seems to me that they have all been popular with liberals with their dreams of a European socialist utopia for America. Weird to think that the commie down my street may instead have a Honda in her driveway someday? That poor Honda will too be covered with America hating bumper stickers…

    ;)


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