The Assimilation of SAAB Continues

michspdFrom The New York Times comes a story about the further assimilation of Saab into the GM giant. An interesting quote from the article that relates to what happens to a “bought” brand when the buyer is the biggest kid on the block.

The former Saab executive added that a “powerful industry watcher” told him at the time: “ ‘You know what a Ghia badge looks like on the side of a Ford? That’s what’s going to happen to Saab.’ I’ve carried that thought for almost the last 15 years and I’m sorry to have to say, at the end of the day, he was right.”

I’ve never owned a Saab, but I’ve been a fan ever since I had the opportunity to compete in the 2000 One Lap of America as a co-driver with Vince Bodiford. We basically lived in a Saab for 7 days and got to know the car pretty well. The chronicle of our experience is here, and one of the best stories of the 2000 race is here in case you’re interested in hard luck and perseverence in the face of all odds.

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9 thoughts on “The Assimilation of SAAB Continues

  1. Mark Ramsey

    For what it’s worth, I am the owner of a 2003 Saab 9-3. It’s the third Saab I’ve owned.

    And it will be the last.

    Shoddy treatment at the dealer during the sale means they got a sale, but they’ll never get a re-sale.

    Maybe this isn’t the time for Saab to be sacrificing the lifetime value of their customer base by turning out cars that look like everybody else’s cars and turning off long-time customers at the point of sale.

    Reply
  2. Vince Bodiford

    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. (http://www.theweekenddrive.com/reviews/2005/reviews/saab2x.html)
    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.
    Vince Bodiford
    The Weekend Drive

    Reply
  3. pimpkay

    Im lucky owner of saab 9-3 and to be honest… imnot happ about this “assimilation”. Saab is well known for its safe and REEEEEEALY SAFE hmmm… behavior when it comes to accidents. Its sad story, buy my colleague killed thre ppl in accident driving saab and nothing, really nothing happened to him!!! I would really like to post here link to pictures of m saab (http://www.luckyautos.com/saab/ saab 9-3 which i bought just few months ago) which has nothing to do with GM and let it be that way 🙂 I just read the comment here… well… saab 9-3 is a good car. maybe not the preetiest one, but reliable and safe one for sure! heelllll… wh cant i post this comment? I aint spammer!!!! What is comment spam?

    A spam comment is an unwanted message placed on your site as a comment on a post. (“Spam” is a common internet term for junk messages, much like junk email is called spam mail.)

    The comment that is posted can be an innocent message like “nice site!” or it can be an advertising message, and it usually includes a link to another site. The linked site could be a business site, an offensive or pornographic site, or it could also be a normal looking weblog.

    Spammers post these messages to boost their rankings in search engines. By leaving the link on your site they have more incoming links to their site and this will make their site show higher in search results. To do this, they write scripts that submit comments to hundreds or even thousands of sites in an automated manner. This tactic works even if neither you nor your site’s readers click on the links on the comments.

    Reply
  4. Swade

    Hi David,

    First time reader. I’m a member of the Saab Car Club of Aust and some of us (behind closed doors, sort of) joke about there being a vintage ‘real’ Saab and then the others, generally made from 1994 onwards.

    GM is slowly killing this brand and the de-sweding of it is going to be the final blow.

    Vince’s quote of Lutz “there’s no rule says a Saab has to be built in Sweden” shows one of two things. a) how much he doesn’t know about Saab owners, or b) how little I know about the car industry.

    I suspect it’s a little of both.

    Reply
  5. Vince Bodiford

    The Saab saga continues, with Lutz fuming over Saab engineer’s meddling in the Epsilon platform so much that it is delaying the launch of the Pontiac G6 Convertible. This was to be built off the Saab 9-3 Convertible.

    See the link at Auto Extremist for the latest:
    http://www.autoextremist.com/page2.shtml

    As Saab continues to struggle for its future, I suspect we’ll see more homogination of the brand. A sad deal really.

    Vince

    Reply
  6. Andrew Fields

    General Motors totally kiled Saab. The 9-2x and the 9-7x are total jokes and the new 9-3 is just a rebadged Malibu. I sat in one; what a piece of junk! The last real Saabs were the 9000 and the old 900. I would NEVER buy a new Saab, ever. Now that GM’s stocks are absolutley worthless, the whole thing is just pathetic. GM still claims that Saab is unique but why do half their models look like rental cars? Thanks GM for killing off one of the world’s best and most unique brands.

    Reply
  7. Stoney

    Saabs owned

    1981 900s
    2003 9 5 Aero

    It is interesting that I consider the 1981 Saab the best car I ever owned. Well designed with clever engineering touches. My current Saab is a great car. But the 81 lasted over 10 years and remained tight and tossable.

    I am one who believes Saabs must be designed and screwed together in Sweden. Their uncommon good sense and pride in the cars shows through.

    GM, while wanting to maximize sales, I believe misses the point about this brand. Four wheel drive is nice, but only if it serves the purpose of better directional stability and safety.

    Saabs are some of the most rugged cars to be found on the road.

    It is sad to see the 97x and 92x being produced elsewhere.

    Reply
  8. peter

    Yes, the saab brand has been diluted since GM got involved…
    …but how much was that brand really worth when
    the best handling saab ever is the 92X, (a saabaru).

    Reply
  9. peter

    Yes, the saab brand has been diluted since GM got involved…
    …but how much was that brand really worth when
    the best handling saab ever is the 92X, (a saabaru).

    Reply

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