Besides offering the sight of an enormous collection of SAABs, the seminars, museum visits and networking, the Saabfestival has always been known for special deals on parts for our beloved cars. And this year wasn’t any different! Orio (in the festival program still referred to as “SAAB Parts”) and ANA (the spare parts department now operating as “Bildelslagret Trollhättan“) were present prominently and for the real die-hards there even was the “car farm” I wrote about earlier. While many things had stayed the same, both companies are in a transformation process to adapt to the opportunities of today’s SAAB market…
Orio gaining momentum
Since my interview with Orio’s CEO Jonas Tegström in January quite a few things have happened. A new website was launched, several additional car brands were added to their portfolio (adding up to about 30 today) and momentum in Sweden building rapidly. Orio launched their “Saab Original Club” on the Swedish market a few months ago and now has more than 3,000 members. For many other countries this is more or less old news as the SAAB Service Club has existed for quite some time, with for example an estimated membership in the US of around 20,000 and in the UK another 40,000. Although Orio had a quite challenging start and is facing increasing competition, it feels they are starting to get their act together. Targeted campaigns have been launched to highlight the benefits of original parts and most recently several upgrade packages (e.g. TX front upgrade kit for the 9-3) were launched on the Nordic market, with more to come.
I was very pleased to hear in my recent discussions with Orio HQ staff that not only SAAB continues to be the key focus, but also that they continue to further improve the availability of spare parts. Besides the original SAAB parts, a new line of high-quality OEM parts is now being developed under the “SAAB Select” brand. These will complement the portfolio both in terms of adding new -otherwise unavailable- parts as well as offering a more attractive priced alternative to the original.
What else? Let your voice be heard!
Orio has started to actively listen to the needs and requests of the SAAB community. Based on community feedback, the earlier mentioned upgrade kits were developed and Orio’s marketing department is also looking into other products like aftermarket Entertainment/Navigation solutions and more. If you have any specific suggestions or requests, please add these in the comments to this article… the Orio crew is reading them!
I can’t really write an update on Orio without mentioning the “Ida Edition” project. This all started with a remarkable advert on one of Sweden’s largest e-commerce sites called “Blocket”, where a certain Magnus Eriksson offered his MY00 9-5 up for sale with the headline “You are going to regret this”. As the ad was written in such an entertaining way, it generated a lot attention in the media. It eventually also reached Orio’s marketing department and rather than getting on the defense, they went into the offense and contacted the owner. Not necessarily to buy the car from him but to get it fixed to prove that with the right care and obviously the right original SAAB parts, this car could be turned into a real gem again. And so they did. The video below gives a great overview and I was even more pleased to be able to see “Ida Edition” with the actual Ida herself and her dog outside of the Orio stand at the festival.
ANA / Bildelslagret Trollhättan
ANA Trollhättan has been the destination for SAAB fans for many years for buying new or used SAABs, to get them serviced or to get spare parts. The company announced a few months ago that they would be reorganising to adapt to the new market conditions. In practice this meant that the nearly sole focus they had on SAAB (ANA originally even was a SAAB daughter company) changed quite significantly as the vast majority of ANA’s showroom and service facilities is now dedicated to other car brands and some facilities were even closed. On the day before the festival, ANA announced another move with the sale of their spare parts division. The facilities at Grafitvägen 4 in Trollhättan are now operating under the “Bildelslagret Trollhättan” name (“Car spare parts warehouse Trollhättan”), but that didn’t make it any less attractive for the festival visitors to swing by and try and find some bargains! I guess the fact that the factory hasn’t been operating at anything close to full capacity over the past two years was also noticeable in the available assortment of (nearly) new parts, yet my feeling was that the inventory of scrap cars had slightly increased so great opportunity for many do-it-yourself fans…
While ANA remains committed to SAAB (see also my earlier interview with their CEO Joachim Lind) through the new service facility on Överbyvägen, it was sad to see the chapter for ANA’s Special Car division now being closed as well. Not only was “ANA Specialbilar” instrumental in building many custom SAAB’s throughout the years (e.g. police and fire brigade cars), they were also the ones completing the last unfinished cars from the SAAB Automobile era. Probably the best known examples of recent custom cars are the two 9-5NG’s that were built for the Swedish police. Although the police test reports were overwhelming positive (“best car we’ve ever driven”), the bankruptcy in 2011 unfortunately prevented more of these cars to appear on the road. These two in fact will be hitting the road soon again though -although with altered external details- as the 9-5NG’s have now been sold to two Swedish fire brigades.