Uncertain future hurts Saab dealers

The Saab logo at a car dealership in Miami

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Thousands of GM and Chrysler dealers might get a second shot at survival. The two companies have agreed to reconsider their decision to close those dealerships. It's actually part of a compromise to stop federal legislation that would force the companies to keep showrooms open.

Meantime Saab dealers may be wondering about their survival, too. GM has been trying to sell its Swedish unit. And when a deal to sell Saab fell apart last week, it got us wondering: Who would buy a Saab? We asked Marketplace's Alisa Roth to find out.


Alisa Roth: There are 10 2009 Saabs on the lot at Kelly Cadillac Saab in Lancaster, Pa.

Geoff Kelly is the general manager there. He says he still has customers.

GEOFF KELLY: We've talked to a couple of people in the past week about buying Saabs and you can't give anybody an honest answer about what the future of Saab's going to be.

He says he can imagine a die-hard Saab driver might consider buying. He started a Web site called "Save Our Saabs" to convince GM not to kill off the brand. Drivers have written in declaring their passion for Saabs and insisting they're the most reliable cars around.

KELLY: But I mean with all the uncertainty about the future, I mean, it's a difficult decision for somebody to make, to spend $25-30-35,000 to buy a vehicle when the manufacturer may not exist in a couple of weeks.

To help convince the wary, he's dropped the price on one of the cars from $33,000 to $25,000. But he's not sure the discount's big enough to make up for not knowing. Because it's not just the car company that would go away. He says some servicers are already refusing to do warranty work because they're afraid of not getting paid.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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