Starting with the 2009 model year, Saab will no longer allow GM employees to purchase the 9-3 at a discount, citing current exchange rates that make the 7% price cut economically unsound. Saab sold about 23,000 9-3s last year, and the company claims approximately 1,500 of those were employee sales — though we think the total may be significantly higher based on the popularity of the 9-3 in Metro Detroit. If the numbers are accurate, the change would likely mean at least a 6% drop in future 9-3 sales. The bigger question is whether GM will stop at the 9-3 or begin slashing employee purchase discounts on all imported models. Vehicles that could be affected after the jump.
The Chevy Aveo could see its employee discount reduced or removed, particularly since the Korean-built vehicle is actually posting impressive sales numbers thanks to high gas prices. The Pontiac G8, built in Australia, and the Saturn Astra, built in Belgium, were also mentioned in the report as potential candidates for disqualification.
Though the removal of employee discounts may not be big news to most of the country, Detroit-area dealers count on employee sales for a disproportionate share of their income. One Saab dealer claimed up to 40% of his business stemmed from employee purchases, the removal of which would add yet another pressure point on an already-tanking Michigan economy. [Automotive News (Sub. Req.); Photo Credit: trollhattansaab.net]