Vince Bodiford at The Weekend Drive posted this informed, insightful (and nearly insider) comment to my May 25 story about GM’s plans for Saab. I’m placing the full text here as a new post. Original Post: The Assimilation of SAAB Continues
Being about as close to the Saab organization as one can get without being on the payroll, it’s safe to say that the Saab brand is under some serious contemplation at both GM in the US, and Saab on both sides of the pond.
GM chief Bob Lutz recently was quoted in Automotive News, saying “… there’s no rule that Saab’s have to be made in Sweden…” suggesting that GM wants to increase capacity utilization at Saab’s Swedish factory, operating now at just over 65% capacity.
Highly placed GM sources tell me that GM is considering using that extra capacity to build more Saabs, or even build a European-market Cadillac. Lutz’s comment even suggests that core Saab products may be built elsewhere, and even worse, shows Lutzs’ apparent attitude that a Saab does not have to be made in Sweden to be “Swedish.”
But, in my opinion, its country of origin is at the core of the Saab brand. I believe that Saab MUST continue to build SOMETHING in Sweden in order to maintain that brand image. Saab is currently building the new Saab 9-2X all-wheel drive car in Japan, on the Subaru WRX architechture, but all the Saab core brands (the 9-3 and 9-5) are Swedish-built. Another new Saab, the 9-7 SUV, is based on the GM platform of Chevy Trailblazer and GMC Envoy — both of course, are US-built. (Read the Review)
So the question is this, do Saab’s have to be made in Sweden to be “Swedish,” and how does this impact the brand?
The longest period of uninterrupted time I’ve spent in a Saab is with Dave — during our particaption in the 2000 Cannonball One Lap of America. Having lived in that car with Dave, and having driven every significant Saab product ever made (from the original two-stroke 9-2 up to the all-new 9-2X), I would submit that the Saab brand is one of the most unique, hard-core product oriented brands in the automotive universe.
The Weekend Drive