Rescue or No Rescue, Saab Owners Are Already Gone

Last Updated Dec 21, 2009 4:04 PM EST

Saab going out of business is a shame and all that, but Saab should be allowed to rest in peace.

Even if some white knight miraculously puts together the money to rescue Saab, car buyers have already voted with their feet and left the Saab brand.

Saab was dead last in the J.D. Power and Associates Customer Retention Study earlier this month, and not by a little. According to the study, only a pitiful 9 percent of Saab buyers in the U.S. market stayed with the brand.

The next-nearest brand was Suzuki, at 24 percent, almost triple Saab's loyalty. The auto industry average was 48 percent loyalty. That's bad enough, but it's a lot better than 9 percent.

The Bottom 10 List in the CRS study is pretty grim reading. The least-loyal brands also include Pontiac and Saturn, which General Motors is dropping, plus Buick, which it isn't.

That's another indication that GM is keeping the Buick brand for its strength in China, and not for how it's doing in the United States.

The Chrysler brand also makes the least-loyal list. Jeep and Dodge also had below-average loyalty, which means Chrysler and Fiat (FIATY.PK) have a long way to go, to rebuild Chrysler.

The least-loyal list is also bad news for Infiniti, plus Jaguar and Land Rover, which are losing roughly three-quarters of their customers. That potentially represents a lot of bad word-of-mouth.

Rehabilitating Saab would take deep pockets and a lot of time - something GM was unable to accomplish, even when it had deep pockets, and seemingly all the time in the world to tinker with Saab.

Chart: J.D. Power
  • Jim Henry

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