By on March 25, 2009

In an odd interview in automotorsport, Lars Hägerborg of Saab Sweden claims they now have concrete facts about a new owner. As we all expected this really doesn’t mean the end of Opels re-badged as Saabs (not to mention Chevy SUVs) as Lars says GM’s mind-NSFW game, er, cooperation will last at least another five years. Supposedly GM Powertrain Sweden will continue to share parts and tech with the other GM divisions but will keep “the best bits to themselves.” Judging by the turbo I4s that Saab has been cranking out lately, I’d say they can keep whatever they have and nobody will mind. Next in the process is lining up some government bailout funds to (as Lars says) “[be] a loan that allows us to move forward.” Lars also whined that the automotive press is too harsh on Saab for their abject failures and that we should instead focus on the future and their new [vaporware] models which are yet again later than expected. The new models of course being the Opel in a Saab suit 9-5 and the “Chevy in a Saab suit” 9-4. Good luck Saab, you’re gonna need it.

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27 Comments on “Saab’s Lars Hägerborg: Brand has a Buyer. Allegedly....”

  • avatar

    I absolutely LOVE all the old Saab photos you;ve been digging up for these posts.

    If Saab survives, I think a very smart strategy for re-building the brand would be to re-make a few of their early, small, cars with modern mechanicals. It would be a great way to erase the nasty memories of the GM years and create a “cult” brand again.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Just as long as Saab keeps those terrible two stroke engines in the past.

    As odd as Saab’s styling was, I would truly welcome a departure from their me-too styling of today.

  • avatar

    What hating on the Saab turbo I4? I took a late model 9-3 for a long drive recently and thought it was a great engine. More low end torque than any V6 I have driven, quiet and always eager to do its job.

  • avatar

    I thought Hüsker Dü was danish ;))

    Well, Zen Arcade or New Day Rising ?

  • avatar
    Paul W

    Actually, Automotorsport is referring to an interview with Lars Hägerborg in Dagens Industri.

    In the interview Hägerborg says that Saab and GM will continue exchanging technology for at least another 5-10 years, giving Saab time to find a new partner. It means that Saab can go on using GM platforms.

    He admits that Saab has had trouble making money in the past, that the 9-5 is too old, and that the 9-3X has been delayed for too long.

    Saab will attract new customers with the new 9-5 (spring 2010) and the 9-4X (fall/winter 2010). About 1 billion US$ have been spent on developing these new models.

  • avatar

    Well mr. Dykes, this article shows very clearly that you don’t know anything about Saab.
    Although the current 9-3 and the last Vectra share a great number of components, it cannot be stated that the 9-3 is in any way a rebadged Vectra. There are too many differences. To name one point: if the 9-3 would be a rebadged vectra then why was it impossible to bring the Vectra to the US market? 9-3: 5* in the EU NCAP, Vectra: 4*

    And the chances that the Insignia is a rebadged Saab 9-5 are greater than that the new 9-5 will be a rebadged Insignia if I may believe some insiders. Saab engineers did most of the safety development for both.

  • avatar

    I don’t think their new 4 cylinders are so bad, but a Honda is certainly much more smooth. The old 2.3 that’s still in the 9-5 is a total heap.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Forgetting Saab for a minute, how many of GM’s other proposed future (i.e., vaporware) NA cars have been mentioned as “rebadged Opels”? So it’s a mystery to me why GMNA’s grip on the brand is becoming so tenuous. You’d rather think they’d want to hold on for dear life….

  • avatar

    It sounds logical. Considering what Saabs has in the pipeline, Ssab wouldn’t be sellable with only its current line-up. A new buyer wouldn’t be able of developing a new range of cars in under five years without relying on GM technology in the meantime. So, it’s a kind of BOGO, with the IP thrown in for free. After five years, a new owner will have to pay up, or be on their own…

  • avatar

    I don’t really know what pre-GM SAAB quality was like, but my 2004 SAAB 9-3 Aero sedan’s quality is at Yugo levels. Interior door panels falling off several weeks after purchase. The driver’s window falling into the window frame in the middle of a thunderstorm. It took them six months to get my key fob working properly (failed to unlock or lock the doors). Hand brake that wouldn’t un-set without minutes of agonizing trial and error. Transmission failure at 27K miles. Had to wait three weeks to get that fixed – the dealer said, “Sorry, but you’re fourth of seven!”. That’s really encouraging. Ignition switch that wouldn’t turn off. And on and on and on.

    On the plus side, the car was very, very safe. I’ve been slammed into twice by uninsured drunks in Cali (once in the front, once in the back), and the car’s structure took the impacts like a tank.

    SAAB would probably be better to become a design and consulting firm, specializing in ergonomics and safety, rather than trying to build their own cars. They could become a kind of Swedish Bertone. But they should absolutely not be allowed to build cars ever again without adult supervision.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    gaycorvette :
    March 25th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    they should absolutely not be allowed to build cars ever again without adult supervision.

    But, but, they have GM to learn from.

  • avatar


    SAAB got hosed by the GM purchase. SAABs were no “quirkier” (had to use it) than any number of other Euro cars back in the mid 80s. Imagine if SAAB had been a subsidiary of Honda instead of the home of the Vega, Fiero, and Cimarron?

  • avatar

    Any guesses on who’s buying Saab? My money’s on a Chinese automaker.

  • avatar

    Ditto Albert, actually not many have any clue about Saabs, but then not all of them blog ’bout cars either.

    It’s also very entertaining to see flat-out biased comments such as Mr. Dykes’ – wonder what he would have wrote back when BMW, Audi, Lamborghini and many other European brands were in Saab’s current predicament.

    Ferrarimanf355, my bets would be on Magna International, Fiat or an independent Arab investor (the Al Maktoum familiy of Dubai was rumoured to have an interest). Volvo is more likely to get picked up by the Chinese, IMO, although that is also a much bigger pill to swallow.

  • avatar

    Kroum – without being disrespectful, Fiat??? This is a serious question – why on earth would Fiat want to go anywhere near Saab? They’ve got N tie-ups (Suzuki and Ford), they’re stealing, sorry, making an “investment with Intellectual Property” in Chrysler, don’t you think the boys from Turin have enough on their plate just now?

  • avatar

    Dave, you never know if the Fiat-Chrysler deal will go belly-up…

  • avatar

    Duh – sorry everyone, musta had a Homer moment.

    Good point ferrarimanf355, I guess all the auto companies are hedging their bets now – well, maybe there’s one exception….

  • avatar

    Dave –

    SAAB and Fiat have more history than perhaps you realize. They collaborated in the 80s (along with Lancia) on the platform that became the original SAAB 9000, and corresponding Fiat and Lancia models.

    So there may be more institutional connections there than is obvious from the surface.

    Also, SAAB would give Fiat a consumer presence in the US auto market, which is something they’ve wanted for a while. On the other hand, SAAB may be too much like FIAT just before its own exit from North America to serve any useful role in resusciating the Fiat group in this part of the world.

  • avatar

    To add to what Ferrarimanf355 and Gaycorvette already said, Saab also engineered and developed the platform that the current Alfa Romeo Brera and Alfa Romeo 159 ride on.

    An all-new Saab 9-5 and a Saab 9-X, both of which were under development before GM axed them back in 2002/3 were also to ride this “GM/Fiat Premium Platform”. After GM killed most of Saab’s projects, the Alfa became the platform’s launch vehicle – it was supposed to be the all-new 9-5, half a decade ago.

    This is just part of the story of how GM ruined Saab. Most people don’t care about doing their homework before writing/blogging/commenting though. While VW nurtured Audi and invested billions to improve quality and expand its product line, GM axed projects that were already being developed (and had thus incurred costs) and led to a bizarre predicament where Saab’s “flagship” is 12 years old. Instead of an all-new 9-5 in 2004 they give the old one glasses. Instead of a Saab 9-X, they rebadge a Subaru.

    Back in 2003 GM also killed the 9-3X and a 9-3 coupe/hatch model, which were planned as part of the 9-3 line and had already been developed back in 2003.

    I wonder where Audi would be today if VW had kept the Audi 100 (C4, or the first one to wear the A6 badge) on the market until 2007…

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    I thought there was also a stillborn Saab CUV developed alongside the 1st gen Cadillac SRX, not to mention the Subaru Tribeca-based and also stillborn 9-6x.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    gaycorvette: The Alfa 164 was also a platform-mate of the 9000.

    Kroum: thanks for injecting some substance into the discussion as refutation.

  • avatar

    Saab will still continue her cooperation with Gm even after the bankruptcy. The deal goes like this- Gm will give access to her platforms, while Gm will get saab`s safety, chassis,and engine architecture engineering.My question goes like this? What platforms will Saab get from GM? Does Gm have any of her own platforms? Gm will simply shove Opel Vectra`, and later even Daewoo` platforms under the Saab`s coffin.Probably they will give a clone of an SUV , the only Gm product, which coincidentally, has leaf springs, and live rear axle.Imagine how would it improve Saabs`s entry-luxury status when acquiring a clone stacked on a GMT900. wow!

  • avatar

    Forget the Saab! – Check out the Loch Ness monster at the top of that photo.

  • avatar

    I have a Saab and an Acura both from the same model year. Both have 4 cylinder engines. The 4 banger on the Saab is smoother, has more linear acceleration, quieter, a better a powerband and is more fuel efficient than the Acura with the Honda engine. Reliability wise they’ve both equal.
    Dealer service wise, the Acura dealer tried to bully me into a bunch of unecessary service. Saab service has been good.

  • avatar

    Finally…”gaycorvette” Ive owned/fixed dozens of these 03 and newer Saab 93s…and yes, Ive seen a couple of window regs fail…usually had something to do with ICE. The trans problem wasnt really a trans problem…more to do with coolant and trans oil mixing in the unsealed threads in the radiator…Saab and many others use basically this same Japanese Aisin-Warner trans and theyve been very reliable. The parking brake corrected that year…guess your crappy Saab dealer couldnt care. But overall Saab “gotchas” pale in comparison to all the ones I see in the rest of the over-rated German and Japanese car world.

  • avatar
    70 Chevelle SS454

    “Saab’s Lars Hägerborg: Brand has a Buyer. Allegedly.”

    The buyer tried to get Daimler first, but just didn’t have enough cash.

  • avatar

    I’m really liking the Saab/Fiat tie-up. That would give Saab a platform to launch a fleet of cool, aero retro-mobiles. The 92, 93 and Sonett 1 would be awesome!
    Seriously, those things would fit the New Beetle, MIMI, New Fiat 500 market perfectly.

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