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NewsTalk

Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

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Falcone mourning Saab

December 18, 2009

Bob Falcone, who was the only Saab dealer in the Indianapolis area until he closed in April, says he could foresee today’s announcement that General Motors would kill the brand.

Falcone swung a deal with Fifth Third Bank to unload his $5 million in Saab inventory and close the dealership in exchange for the bank’s financing his takeover of the former Duke Gold Volkswagen Subaru on the outskirts of downtown.

But Falcone is still mourning the passage of a brand he sold for 20 years and continues to service at Falcone Volkswagen Subaru & Saab Service.

“I’m crushed and heartbroken beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I’m going to survive this,” he says. “I’m just very glad to be a survivor.”

General Motors announced it would stop trying to find a buyer for Saab after it decided earlier this year to unload the brand as part of its turnaround strategy. Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars has rebuffed GM after a Swedish sports car manufacturer, Koenigsegg, turned down an offer to buy Saab in November.

Falcone thinks Saab would still be a going concern if GM hadn’t insisted on such hooks as forcing buyers to continue using GM platforms.

Nevertheless, it’s over. Falcone sold 600 cars a year, making him the 7th-largest Saab dealer in the nation. He also often was recognized by the company for heavily outselling rivals Volvo and Audi in the Indianapolis market.

Saab buyers were a tough crowd, Falcone recalls. They ranked among the highest—if not the highest—users of the Internet. So, they made decisions slowly and deliberately. Not the kind of people who respond well to high pressure.

But Falcone is heartened that a number of former customers are moving with him to Volkswagen and Subaru even though few, if any, of the models of either brand are considered entry-level luxury buys. The Saab customers are splitting their choices roughly evenly between Volkswagen CC sedans and Subaru Legacy and Outbacks.

“I will be 100 percent fine,” he says.

What are your thoughts about the end of Saab? Of Falcone’s migration to Volkswagen and Subaru?

 

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