By on January 25, 2012

The story on Saab pulling the plug on the diagnostic computer, and hence on repairs that need that access, ruffled a lot of feathers.  The Church of St. Victor is so angry at the apostate article that it broke its self-imposed code of silence and mentions TTAC by name. Delusional as they are, they believe that their links send us traffic. Selfless as we are, we probably have done more to Saabsunited’s fame than any other site. Ingrates as they are, they call our story

“the most stupid article I have ever seen! This website has no clue how things work and this is why we never refer to them… I’m making a one time side-step from that policy!”

In their rage, they overlooked a small detail …

The source of this story is no other than Martin Jaenicke. Herr Jaenicke happens to be the chief of Saab’s dealer council in Germany, he speaks for all remaining 80 Saab dealers in Germany. Yesterday, Jaenicke  gave an interview to Germany’s Kfz-Betrieb. If you have an auto workshop in Germany, you have a subscription to Kfz-Betrieb. Mr Jaenicke told the magazine’s news chief Jens Rehberg, that

“many customers sell their Saab now, because they worry about the parts supply. Saab workshops are faced with many imponderabilities that need to be clarified as soon as possible.Currently, workshops can only perform very limited repairs, because online access necessary for work on on-board computers has been switched off. At the successor company in Sweden, which is taking care of these processes, the necessary systems need yet to be installed.”

We may not have a clue how things work at Saab, but we sure hope that the head of the dealer council does. In talking to some contacts, we pick up ruminations that the switched-off computer may have something to do with pressuring dealers into signing a new contract. Investigating …

If you believe certain accounts, heroic Saab employees selflessly bought their own toilet paper in a last ditch operation to defend crumbling Saab.

Jaenicke has a more sober perspective:

“The remaining contacts at Saab, when confronted by me with these and other matters, appear to be unable to cope at the moment.”

Even more damning, Jaenicke likes the receivers – Swedish lawyers, not selfless Saab employees – better than the old hands at Saab:

“With the receivers and Saab Parts AB, we finally found contacts who at least think they are competent.”

As for the bankruptcy, the dealer chief thinks it should have been declared much earlier:

“A year ago it was already evident that there is not enough money, even if the lines could be started again.”

Meanwhile over at the faithful, all is peachy. Says the latest missive to the flock:

“There are also some other really big spare-parts news that I would LOVE to reveal to you right now, but I’m not allowed to so keep your shirt on, keep driving those great Saab’s and don’t worry, your life with a Saab will not be a problem! =).”


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61 Comments on “Pulled Plug Story Infuriates Saab Faithfuls...”

  • avatar

    I had a 1988 saab 9000 turbo and never had a problem getting parts. lots of after market stuff. i gave the old beast to my nephew and he absolutely loves it.

    as for saabsunited, they are a proud but very sensitive group. tread lightly when talking about saab during these uncertain times. ah, who cares, saab would have been gone long ago if it wasn’t for GM pumping cash into the company.

  • avatar

    Dear Saab Loyalists,

    Your cars were never that good. Your company is dead. I don’t care if your diagnostic systems are operational or not because I will never own a Saab. 99.9% of the folks in the world share my view.

    We’re not laughing with you…

  • avatar

    “keep driving those great Saab’s…”

    Yes, and you can keep driving your 9-3’s and 9-7x’s, too!

  • avatar

    I sometimes wonder if words get lost in translation.

    I give the posters over there with their multi-lingual abilities a lot of credit. But sometimes their english looks like it came out of a online translator.

    “Heroic Saab employees selflessly”. Reads like bad Chinese Opera in the Mao years.

    What is heroic about going to work? Even if you aren’t getting paid, at least for a bit, you stick it out because of optimism. You don’t want to quit, because there’s always the chance that the moment you quit, the money will come in and you will be on the outside looking in.

    Heros are people who risk life and limb to help others. Heros are people who donate kidneys, adopt kids. Heros are people who go into nuclear power plants that are melting down in order to stop the melt down.

    Heros are not people installing window glass and windshield wipers. That doesn’t make those people bad people, but it doesn’t make them heros.

    To state otherwise is stupid and devalues real heros.

    • 0 avatar

      “ ‘Heroic Saab employees selflessly’. Reads like bad Chinese Opera in the Mao years.”

      Come on, dejal. The young comrade-ette in “Heroic Little Sisters of the Grasslands” lost her leg saving the baby lamb, and almost froze to death before being rescued by the PLA. Pretty heroic if you ask me. Have a heart!

  • avatar

    If Saabinistas really wanted to keep SAAB afloat, they should have ALL gone out and bought a new SAAB. Nothing like expecting the whole world to keep SAAB afloat so they can enjoy their 1980’s vintage ride.

    • 0 avatar

      It is never about buying cars:

      It is about getting the US government to do something because GM is squandering the sure thing profits with Saab by not selling Saab parts needed to make cars. The profits are a slam dunk. They also are going to tell their US Senator + Congressman about it, because their reps. are too stupid to realize it.

      Or, China is going to dump on GM because GM is evil. And if GM doesn’t do what China wants, China is going to appropriate GMs property and kick them out of the country. Which isn’t evil.

      Or BMW is going to buy Saab and save it. BMW was going to sell engines to Saab anyways, so it is only a tiny step in purcashing a whole company. Because everyone knows Saab is just as iconic as Mini.

      Or, the Swedish government is going down because of this!!!!!!!

      Or, I’m paraphrasing , “there are so many billionaires in the world why don’t they do something good with their money”. Because it is always good to spend other peoples money instead of, you know, buying a car yourself.

      Selling cars and making a profit? Only if you are a greedy capitalist.

  • avatar

    My ’78 Saab 99 is one of my favorite cars out of the twenty-or-so I’ve owned over forty-five years.

    One of my favorites–despite almost having to rent a room at the dealers for endless service and repairs.

    SAAB was innovative–in the sixties and seventies. Period. Then, it became another quirky import with two selling points: it really was good in the snow–and it was a quirky import.

    I had to drive twenty miles for service–often–and my complaint about engine hesitation was solved by my mechanic pulling a plastic assembly from between two hoses and throwing it in the garbage. So quaint and charming.

    My friend bought a 900 sometime in the eighties. He kept it until it simply could not safely remain a registered auto. (Keep in mind that it spent its life in one of the saltiest winter environments on the planet–a place where fuel lines, and brake lines can suddenly disappear.)

    He loved it. But with the money he spent to maintain it, he could have had an oceanfront beach house and a Honda instead.

    He was a pretty frugal guy. I guess the SAAB was his one indulgence for which he could throw money away and not feel like a dirty capitalist.

    • 0 avatar

      A 99EMS was the first New car I ever bought I had owned a 65 230SL from 1969 but at about 170,000 miles it ate a piston while I was crossing Nevada with the gas pedal to the floor (after about an hour of full throttle operation (yes I did Dumb things when I was young)
      the 99EMS was one of the most trouble free cars I owned in the 20th century… but then I only had it for a bit over 3 years and almost 100,000 miles and I did change the oil every 3000 miles and dot every I in the owners manual service guide.

      It died parked in front of my home on a 20mph limit street (near the top of a hill) when a drunk in a 64 Jeep Waggoneer rammed in to the back of the car parked behind me smashing it, my car, the car in from of my car, the car in front of it into a telephone pole which it knocked over. the drunk backed the remains of his jeep out of the mess and drove off leaving a trail of oil and water the cops traced to a house 2 blocks away where the driver was found collapsed just inside his front door with a broken back and other injuries, he had crawled about 20 feet bleeding badly and if not found would have died… strangely he was never charged as no witness could put him behind the wheel… So I drove it only 1 month after I made the last payment…. it was the last new car I bought until I retired and bought A MINI Cooper S in2004 which I expect to drive for the next 6 years at a minimum.

      for its time the ((EMS was a wonderful car Fun to drive and As I was into Skiing a very good car in the snow as well… I lived at the time it was smashed on an Island that was a 3 hour ferry ride to America and then a further hour drive to a dealer so I did all of my own Maintenance on it and was straightforward to work on as well…

      It was sad to see this fine old firm spiral down starting in the 80s… I some times wonder what the next slow death march car maker will be.
      Cheers Windy

  • avatar

    At least buyers who own a 9-2 “Saabaru” or a 9-7 should be able to get most parts and service at Subaru or GM dealers respectively.

  • avatar

    “The Church of St. Victor is so angry at the apostate article that it broke its self-imposed code of silence and mentions TTAC by name”

    Can’t comment on the accuracy of your article and don’t care to
    but your choice of attached graphics is reprehensible and inappropriate.

  • avatar
    Bobby Peru

    My name is Jens Rehberg, I am the author of the article TTAC was referring to and Saabsunited is complaining about. I’d like to add some points… sorry in advance for my moderate English…

    It’s a fact that the online-service (run by SAAB) which the workshops need for programming ECUs was offline in Germany for several days.
    There is no reason to assume that this wasn’t the case worldwide.

    What I didn’t know yesterday: most of the workshops have regained access to that system.

    Meanwhile German dealers signed some kind of “delivery contract”, which the bankruptcy administrators sent out to their “partners” as a substitute for the regular dealer contract. Because those dealer contracts had been invalidated on Dec 19 anyway.
    Everything ok so far? Not at all.

    The not-more-valid-dealer-contract regulated all sorts of trials and tribulations, among those technicalities of manufacturer’s support as well as terms of parts delivery. What was supposed to be a reliable base of cooperation turned into a new “delivery contract” simply saying “We’ll send you parts for cash”. Details on technical support were left out completely.

    SAAB customers showed up and rightly wanted to be informed about reliability of parts delivery and future maintainance of their cars.

    An honest dealer would have to shrug his shoulders.

    Maybe most of the workshops worldwide are able to program ECUs today. But maybe some bankruptcy administrator sells the server park tomorrow. Or forgets to pay the energy provider. No one knows how long it will take to shift the whole tech-support-process over to SAAB PARTS AB, who will be in charge for the issue in the future. SAAB-dealers have seen that before, when GM and SAAB had to separate their IT-infrastructure and corresponding processes in the back, like the car-order-system – it took months before they could work with them properly again.
    Saab team’s unability to answer crucial questions on future cooperation issues makes German dealers seriously question the reliabilty of future tech support.

    • 0 avatar

      If it indeed is the case that dealers were pressured into signing a delivery contract by withholding technical data, then the receivers (or whoever is doing the withholding) are walking on very thin ice. Blame in on them being new to the auto business.

      The EU is taking a very dim view of carmakers who do not provide sufficient access to repair information. While the flow of information may be smoother with a dealer who has a contract, and more molasses-like with a repair shop that is not, no carmaker who has its act together will be foolish enough getting caught saying “sign here, or no repair data.”

      • 0 avatar

        But at this moment in time is Saab a carmaker?

        The EU can take as much of a dim view as they want, but what difference does it make? The EU is going to fine Saab? The US is going to fine Saab NA?

        Maybe the EU and other countries like the US ought to mandate escrow accounts for these kinds of situations. You go belly up, the account kicks in to fund these kinds of things.

    • 0 avatar

      Bobby Peru:

      Thanks for your mature and objective response.

      I genuinely feel sorry for Saab owners at this point, and not because Saabs are in any way, shape or form ‘bad’ vehicles (many models are great, and I actually had considered buying a new Saab 9-5 recently, until the financial gremlins popped up), but because of the uncertainty in terms of future service and warranty work (and replacement parts, etc.).

      I wish all Saab owners the best wishes in terms of obtaining a decent outcome in resolving many of the current uncertainties you are now unfortunately facing.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Has anyone actually gone into GM’s system to check if the cars are still supported until a given year?

    I guess an Opel or even a Saab dealer could perform a diagnostic with the tools they still have.

    Updating, reprogramming, new keys… is another matter.

    • 0 avatar

      I just don’t understand the whole key thing. That was a poor GM decision and no one elses. Saab is/was stuck with it. If Saab does make it back, I would hope they rethink this.

      I do understand keys tied to cars with chips and all that, but damn, I would have bought something off the shelf that someone else was also using.

      This whole transponder, push button start stuff , while cool, is silly.

      People shouldn’t gloss over reprogramming. There are recalls on cars now, where the car gets fixed by a reprogram. I hope owners in emission states don’t have issues where a reprogram could take care of an emissions test failure.

  • avatar

    Seeing that photo above, I thought for sure this was a Jack Baruth story. Disappointing…I think.

    The inner-Bertel has surfaced!

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    This post does not address the main point raised in the one it criticizes. BS shows once more that he grew up to be not a journalist but a spin doctor.

  • avatar

    I always ignore any and all SAAB articles. It’s done, finished. Was like for 20 years. I remember how I thought that getting a SAAB 9000 would be cool in 1992. 20 years! Nobody but the enthusiasts care about it anymore.

  • avatar

    Kudos for covering some of the practical aspects of SAAB ownership in the post-failure era. That’s more useful than rejoicing at the death of a once-innovative company, as some readers here can’t resist doing.

    But overall, BS’s coverage of SAAB’s demise reminds me of an old saying about journalists– They’re the ones who hide in the hills until the battle is over. Then they come down onto the battlefield and shoot the wounded…

  • avatar

    I think the real worry here is that SAAB was making cars which can only be repaired using their online service. Nevermind ‘what if they go out of business’, it’s troubling even if SAAB were guaranteed to survive forever. Does the aftermarket have hacking tools to circumvent this? How common is this in other brands? Isn’t this a ‘right to repair’ issue?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Until 2008 it’s been quite some time since an independent car company (rather than just a subsidiary like Oldsmobile) shut its doors. Off hand, the only one I can think of in the U.S. at least is Checker Motors, which, IIRC, packed it in sometime in the 1980s. Even then, Checkers were using GM powerplants and drivetrains. With today’s cars being heavily electronic, and with the software being protected IP, the consequences for an owner of an orphan car are far more severe than they were in the past, when simpler cars could always be fixed with a workaround of some point. (The recent post on 50s American cars still running in Cuba as daily drivers illustrates the point beautifully.)

    Future buyers are — and should be — really frightened of buying any car from a manufacturer that is in danger of going belly-up. No doubt Saab suffered from this problem itself, once it tried to stay alive after having been cast off by GM.

    So, much as it pains me to admit it, perhaps the government folks who bailed out Chrysler Corp. and GM were right: putting those companies into a conventional bankruptcy process of uncertain outcome could have been fatal to what little brand equity they had as buyers shunned their products for fear of buying orphans.

    Just a thought . . .

  • avatar

    I spoke to both my local dealer (Shaw Saab) and my local Saab indy about this article (out of a genuine concern about their ability to service my ’04 9-5) and their response was a collective shrug of the shoulders. Whatever plug has been pulled, it has not affected the ability of service shops (here in MA at least) to diagnose and service Saabs using Tech II, WIS, etc.

    Not sure if someone ran over Bertel’s cockapoo with a Viggen, but there’s clearly a negative, kick-a-dead-horse spin to these Saab articles. Between this pointless post, Ronnie Schreiber’s self-important drivel, and Derek’s unreadable smarminess, it feels like TTAC is in a death spiral of its own. Ed can’t come back fast enough.

    Or maybe Jack and Murilee can ditch this popsicle stand and start their own site…

    • 0 avatar

      Double dittos, Parts, you’ve said a lot here. You just didn’t mention Karesh, my favorite because he dares to write objectively, fairly and factually.

      And Bruce, you’ve raised a great point that’s been unreported. What’s the precedent for this event? When did the last independent car company with significant market presence hit the brick wall of outright failure? Olds and Saturn were wound down in a planned manner by a surviving parent company. Every other modern carmaker’s failure was a takepver, or too small to be noticed, IIRC..

    • 0 avatar

      You forgot to mention my shameless shilling. Speaking of which, the two writers you like, Jack and Murilee, helped me get Cars In Depth off the ground. The editor you like, Ed, encouraged me to write more for this site. The founder of this site, Rob’t Farago, started my career as a writer-for-pay. It’s interesting that you like their writing but don’t like their taste in other writers.

      The other day Bertel ran my post about the Edsel Ford Speedster. Some folks had nice things to say about it. Tellingly, none of my most severe critics had anything to say, positive or negative, about that post. Maybe their grandmas taught them that if they can’t say something critical, not to say anything at all.

      As for any supposed death spiral, TTAC has more readers now than ever before.

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie, you come off as defensive and needy. Not a good look at all.

        As I stated in another post, I generally do not read your articles. Whereas I find Jack’s and Murilee’s writing entertaining and informative, I simply find your style to be boring. That’s all.

        My grandma taught me to speak my mind. Too bad – I wasn’t aware that criticism is not welcome here at TTAC, Comrade Schreiber.

        As for the death spiral, I was refering to a decline in the quality of writing and general discourse. TTAC may have more readers than ever, that’s great. McDonald’s sells more hamburgers than anyone else.

      • 0 avatar

        @ PartsUnknown: There’s a difference between offering constructive criticism and whining about the style/opinions of half this site’s contributors.

        If you don’t like it, do us all a favor and leave.

      • 0 avatar

        Constructive criticism is always welcome. When I see you offer some, I’ll thank you for it.

  • avatar

    Thanks TTAC.

    I’m surely going to hell now because I laughed at that caption.

    Since my immortal soul is now worthless, I guess it’s okay to just speed and run all the red lights on my way home from work tonight. Oh Hell, I suppose I might as well just not use my seat belt, and maybe text and talk on the phone while I drive…

    At least I laughed one last time!

  • avatar

    Just things a little bit back on track, the adminstrators of Saab Great Britain have now revealed the state of the company that was responsible for the marketing, distribution and organisation of Saab Cars in the UK.

    Assets: about £350,000 (already used up by the administrators.)
    Liabilites: £46,000,000.

    Is it me or is that no way to run a company?

  • avatar

    The wife’s (smack!!) car is a 2006 9-3 Convertible. Broke a front spring between Christmas and New Years. Ask me how much fun it is to 1] get a replacement; and 2] get Saab / GM to cover its replacement because it’s covered by a 10-year / 120K-mile warranty (2003-2006 common issue). Of course, the 9-3 is a GM car; let’s just see what else uses that chassis…….Opel Vectra!!

  • avatar

    If you want the real story of what is currently going on, check out and see in real time how they are abandoning their dealers and customers. No closure, no information, no BK, just saying “thats is we’re done, game over, SAAB USA is closing.”

    Without the propaganda like you will find on the site which only posts positive news and doesn’t tell the complete story.

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