U.S. sales best since 1989, record sales increases in European markets
NORCROSS, Ga. - Saab Cars USA, Inc., the U.S. importer and distributor of Saab 9-3 and 9-5 automobiles, announced sales of 30,757 cars in 1998, the Swedish automaker's highest U.S. sales volume since 1989. Saab enjoyed its fifth consecutive year of sales growth in the U.S. with an 8.1% increase over 1997. Sales during the second half of 1998, when the company's new Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models reached retailers, were up 23% over the second half of 1997. December sales of 3,542 units were the importer's best since 1986.
Worldwide, Saab sales increased by 18% to 118,581 cars (versus 100,275 in 1997). A full year of Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 deliveries, strengthened dealer networks in key European markets, and the debut of Saab's first turbo diesel engine, all contributed to double-digit growth. Strong increases were posted in all of Saab's major European markets, including France (+51%), Germany (+41%), Italy (40+), Sweden (+15%), and the UK (+15%). Saab enjoyed the highest percentage growth of any brand in Western Europe.
"We are very pleased with our 1998 results," said Joel Manby, Saab Cars USA, Inc. president and CEO. "Nearly half of our U.S. dealers reported a 20% increase in sales over 1997, and sales per dealer have increased to 140 units per store—up drastically from 85 per store just over two years ago. Our emphasis on building a dedicated and customer-focused U.S. retail network is starting to pay off." Manby also pointed out that the company's new Saab 9-5 played a large role in the year's sales success. Saab sold 7,774 four-cylinder engine equipped Saab 9-5s during the last half of the year, versus 5,402 Saab 9000 models—the 9-5's predecessor—during the entire year in 1997.
Manby expects another strong year of growth for 1999. "With the debut of our award- winning Saab 9-5 Wagon in April, the launch of an all-new high-performance 9-3 variant in May, and some additional great Saab 9-5 news this fall, we fully expect to maintain our momentum."