By Christopher Wiseman
For Saab Automobile Parts North America (SPNA)
Last fall, after Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, Peter Vincent, parts manager for Charles River Saab in Boston had to fix some damage to the hood of his wife’s Saab 9-5. He decided to see if he could save a few dollars and called a local salvage yard. To his surprise, the salvage yard wanted a premium for a used hood, and the price was significantly more than that of a new one. When he told the gentleman he could buy new OE cheaper, the salvage yard insisted he couldn’t and held to the high price. Vincent passed, knowing that OE Saab parts are readily available here in North America.
Vincent’s experience is not unique. Many questions and misperceptions remain about the availability of Saab parts, due to the unfortunate bankruptcy of Saab Automobile AB in Sweden in December 2011 and Saab Cars North America soon after. North America is the largest market for Saab with more than 500,000 units in operation. However, there is no need to be concerned about Saab parts availability. Last year a new company, Saab Automobile Parts North America (SPNA), was formed to ensure that Saab OE parts are readily available here.
In June 2012, SPNA purchased the remaining parts inventory from the Saab Cars North America bankruptcy estate and began operations in North America. The first order of business was to restart the flow of parts to the market. Availability was admittedly tough in the first month of operations, but has been at normal levels for several months now.
“Saab Cars North America was in bankruptcy so they couldn’t replenish their inventory for six months,” said Tim Colbeck, CEO of SPNA. “Once we began operations, we immediately began bringing in parts and by end of summer 2012 we had returned availability to normal levels, including a huge order of sheet metal and collision parts.” Now, SPNA reports availability is up to 93 percent and improving. Unfortunately, those lean months last year made an impression. “We have an awareness issue right now,” said Colbeck. “There are still a lot of people who think Saab OE parts are no longer available.”
SPNA has a 153,000-square-foot parts distribution center in Allentown, Pa., and corporate offices in Troy, Mich. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saab Automobile Parts AB, a global spare parts and logistics company, headquartered in Sweden. The company is 100 percent owned by the Swedish government, Sweden’s largest corporate owner with 55 wholly owned or partly owned companies.
Early in its startup period, SPNA established a network of 179 parts and service centers throughout North America, many of whom are former Saab dealers. The network distributes Saab OE parts to independent repair facilities and also to collision centers. There’s an official parts and service center locator on saabparts.com and a parts help line available to answer questions about availability, application and where to buy at 1-800-458-7287.
In the meantime, SPNA is building awareness through various channels, including trade publications, email marketing, their website and even Facebook and Twitter accounts. “We want to make sure everyone knows there is a Saab OE option for all repairs. There’s no reason to unnecessarily total a Saab or to pay a premium for salvage parts,” said Colbeck.