By on November 27, 2009

(courtesy: trollpowersaab/Flickr)

Courtesy of saabsunited.com comes this letter from Saab’s Swedish employees to General Motors.

[the following section was originally written in English]

To our owners, General Motors

We at Saab have lived with our brand and our cars for more than 60 years. It is a brand that accommodates great passion. Ever since the beginning in 1947, when engineers from the aircraft industry were lying on the floor outlining the body lines of the first prototype, we have been bearing the stamp of new thinking, desire for continuous improvement, willpower and commitment.

We call that “the Saab Spirit”, and during the last year it has been more evident than ever. We have not given up. In times of extreme uncertainty we have delivered and created new prerequisites for our company, and we have built a new vision where to bring our brand and our products. We believe in our future. We know we have the ability.

Trust us. Don’t count Saab out. Allow us to bring our roots into the future. It is not only important to us, but also to our 1.5 million customers around the world and all of those people passionate about our cars and our brand.

[the following section has been electronically translated from Swedish prior to being sent to Saabsunited]

There are more than a trace

Now it has gone a few days ago Koenigsegg Group announced that they withdraw from Saab purchase. The first disappointment and shock has subsided and now work hard to find new solutions. Time is limited, but it is true that a number of interested parties have made contact.

“I want all employees to feel that we are doing our utmost to row ashore with this. We are very aware that time is limited. Over the weekend, we will continue to work intensively to create the best conditions. We expect clearance from GM next week, “says Saab’s CEO Jan Ake Jonsson.

This was also something he brokered the Future Forum, in Trollhattan last night, when he spoke to about 300 people from industry in Trollhättan and the surrounding area.
During the week, a number of Saab Managers pooled their organizations, to provide a progress report and comment on the situation.

EIB Eva Srejber clarifies the site realtid.se the EIB loan is targeted to Saab and not to the Koenigsegg Group. Therefore, freezing is not included because of the defection. The article on realtid.se says Eva Srejber: “The ownership change is not unusual for us, when we make such an analysis of the new owners”, and believes that the bank will do a new analysis of the future owners when the picture becomes clearer.

Saab Enthusiasts around the world are now showing their support for Saab. Site www.rescue-saab.com has 17,066 supporters signed up and now calls on all those who figured to send a picture of themselves to make a giant photo mosaic to show GM how many people are behind Saab.

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30 Comments on “Saab Employees: Save Our Company!...”


  • avatar
    ott

    Memo to GM:

    Kill it. Kill it now and bring back Pontiac.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Imagine how unprofitable Saab would be without the passion of its workers.  SAAB must die, and Pontiac must remain dead.  They are both losers with ardent followers.  Sorry.

    Incidentally, I find it ironically humorous to see an Amtrak ad here at TTAC.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    Memo to GM:
    Saab could be awesome. Please allow someone to save it.
    My image of Pontiac: The flaming turkey dragged down into the abyss by a boat-load of plastic cladded nonsense; the supposed appearance of performance for those too easily pleased. It is excellent that the bird-beaked tomfoolery is dead.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    I think the reason SAAB is for sale and Pontiac was completely discharged is because there are physical manufacturing (read: factories in Europe, R&D in Sweden that sort of thing) assets that will go along with the brand.   Pontiac had been just another product line domestically built next to Buicks & Chevrolets for so long that ceasing production was really more or less like canceling a trim level.
    Outside of the US auto market Pontiac had been pretty much invisible and only a known commodity domestically.  A market which, more and more, doesn’t matter all that much the way it once did.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    While quirky (2 stroke 3s or V-4s anyone?) Saabs always seemed to be a cottage industry car writ large.

    Never quite weird enough to draw the hardcore, never quite palatable to a mainstreamer.

    Even if you love the old dog, hell, because you love the old dog. Take it for a final walk in the woods and put it out of it’s misery. Please.

  • avatar
    ott

    Memo to GM:
    Saab could be awesome. Please allow someone to save it.
    My image of Pontiac: The flaming turkey dragged down into the abyss by a boat-load of plastic cladded nonsense; the supposed appearance of performance for those too easily pleased. It is excellent that the bird-beaked tomfoolery is dead.

    I dunno, I think the G8 and Solstice are pretty interesting and “un-clad pieces”, most car critics would agree with me. And Pontiac would definitely be more profitable than Saab (or Saturn for that matter), and I don’t think any beancounter can disagree with that. I’m not saying Pontiac wouldn’t need to re-invigorate the brand, but there’s certainly more potential profit in keeping Pontiac over Saab.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    If a “People of [Brand]” campaign was going to save a GM division, it would have been Saturn.

    Other than the Swedish government stepping in, purchasing and combining Saab and Volvo, and making a heavy investment in the new venture — which is unlikely in the extreme — Saab is a goner.

  • avatar
    Bigsby

    +1 vent-L-8
    Entirely right. Pontiac died about twenty five years ago. They’ve just been changing the suit on the cadaver and telling everyone that he’s having a bad day.
    Saab, at least was until very recently, something else. A shame to see it go but I can’t see any but the slimmest rationale for it’s future. Cars may be, as Carlos Ghosn recently noted on Charlie Rose, emotional products but the business plan for making them must be reasonable. Very successful giant multinationals can afford Saab-like niche brands but GM lost that identity a few years ago.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM is out there.  It can’t be bargained with.  It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear.  And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

  • avatar
    davey49

    How about kill Saab, let Pontiac stay dead, and bring back Saturn
    Related to the Chrysler post, what has happened to the old Saab (pre GM) engineers and designers who had made all of Saab’s cool weird cars like the 96,99 and 900?

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Saab Automobile was dead when GM bought it.  GM’s “sin” was in not resurrecting the dead.  Same with Ford and Volvo.  Saab AB and Volvo AB knew what they were doing when they sold off their deadbeat auto groups to the desperate and cash-rich Americans.  In Saab’s case GM made the classic fatal mistake (made in many industries) of trying to go upmarket when they should have been going downmarket.  A compact-sized lineup consisting of a 5-door, a 4-door, a convertible, a wagon and a 2-door hatchback based on a single platform starting at $18,000 would have had a better chance at delivering the volumes Saab needed.  MINI’s territory but with far greater practicality.  They could have also expanded their OEM and engineering business for additional revenue a la Lotus and Porsche to burgeoning Far East manufacturers.  But the hour is late.  Saab and Volvo are not, were never, and will never be Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    17,500 people, even if they all bought 2 Saabs each, would not be enough to keep Saab open, even for another year. Saab is not competitive in this market, and with GM as the owner, may never be. GM’s already going to have a hard time on their budget getting competitive cars to the brands that they’ve already committed to keeping. Trying to keep Saab going with new products would be nearly impossible for a company that’s struggling to survive on just the basics. Let Saab die, and move on. It’s the best thing to do at this point.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I don’t know enough about Saab’s finances to disagree with getacar that the automaker was dead when GM first bought into it.  I do think the brand was viable if it had been managed better.  For example, Saab’s nordic heritage would have made it a natural pioneer of sporty AWD sedans and CUVs.  Instead, GM played follow the leader by dishing out thinly disguised Opels with a floor-mounted ignition and kidney grille.
    Even now I think Saab could be viable if it targeted unique niches.  The trick is to give buyers something substantively different, as with the original VW beetle.  That’s not rocket science in an industry noted more for its conformity than creativity.  Look at how Subaru has carved out a decent niche by being different.  By all rights that niche could have been Saab’s.
    No matter; there’s plenty of other unfilled niches.  Why not lead the way on the dealer experience, e.g., pick up Saturn’s no-dicker sticker and combine that with a 10-year warranty that dealer service departments cheerfully uphold?  Why not become the “green” cult car, and not just with the choice of powerplant but also by pioneering the likes of low-toxin interiors (which would be a godsend for folks with chemical sensitivities)?  Such a car might elicit yawns — or even derision — from traditional gearheads, but they already have a multitude of automotive choices.
     
     

  • avatar
    Power6

    Signing a petition on a website is not going to bring Saab back to life. Are any of those people going to put up some cash to help purchase Saab? Hopes and dreams from Saab groupies who were probably boasting about buying their car in 1986 a week ago aint gonna do it, no matter how loud they whine.

    A bunch of crying from a bunch weenies with no skin of their own to put in the game.

  • avatar
    AccAzda

    Man… poor bastards.

    Saab is a shell of itself.

    Now its only future is staring at a 9-3 and a 9-5, both of which are entrenched in GM platforms… to the point that it would be to hard to actually design a SAAB.

    It was a embarrassment to take the Subbie Impreza and reskin it as a Saab, thats pathetic. It was also horrible to take a Trailblazer and dip it in the Saab juice. Seriously.. who thought this up.

    Now with both cars gone and dead.. they want to give it some CUV and hope if it breathes life into the new shit that everyone is smoking.. that it might catch on.

    Thats messed up.

    And 1.7 million cars., and they think they can make money off of that and they try and sell the cars for 40g, seriously?

    Honestly, I completely feel bad for them.  The company doesnt have a future… the way  its going.

    And Pontiac.. thats a dead horse.
    There are a hundred reasons why Im glad its gone and dead.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It was a embarrassment to take the Subbie Impreza and reskin it as a Saab, thats pathetic. It was also horrible to take a Trailblazer and dip it in the Saab juice. Seriously.. who thought this up.

      Yeah, agreed on the 9-7, but if the 9-2 hadn’t been a total badge engineered job, it might have had a shot. At least it offered geniune performance for the money, and as quirky cars go, Subaru and Saab are kinsmen.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Someone in my neighborhood bought a targa Solstice recently. I can always tell when it drives by, it sounds like a tractor with a blender motor.

    As for Saab, I drive a Volvo…for another 8 months. It makes me sad, it’s been a good car.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    [the following section has been electronically translated from Swedish prior to being sent to Saabsunited]

    Damn, I thought for sure this would be about how moose bites are really quite painful…a moose once bit my sister…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    We can argue all day long about how bad GM jacked up Saab, but let’s be real – the only reason they lasted this long is GM’s (formerly) deep pockets. These guys have always made expensive FWD-biased, overboosted, turbo-lagged cars, and in the ’80s, that was cool, primarily because no one else’s “performance” cars offered much performance. Even BMWs were relatively slow back then. But the market changed, and Saab didn’t. I doubt they’d still be around today as an independent company had they stayed their product course.

    These guys were never equipped to really compete in their market. I’m not sure what GM ever saw in the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      GM saw a way of selling Swedish-flavored Opels under a more fashionable brand (since they had already sullied Opel in the US) and got valuable 4-cylinder engine and electronics technology. As you pointed out, SAAB was serious performance at the time. The 1991 9000 Turbo was the fastest 0-60 EPA large car in the world. But SAAB innovation was never going to win over GM accountants and marketers.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    As an erstwhile 9-3 owner I, too, have some feelings.  But feelings are meant to get hurt, and in the midst of a world economic meltdown, the last thing we need right now is a SAAB bailout from anyone.  Why make matters worse than they already are?  My only regret is that GM itself isn’t belly up and rotting in hell.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A friend of mine who maintained his 9-5 “by the book” and got himself a sludge filled piece of scrap metal after the warranty ran out but long before any decent car would have died. Saab USA’s only offer to him was a $1000 discount if he bought a new Saab!
    Saab redesigned the PCV system of it’s turbo-charged fours multiple times in the 1999-2003 time frame, but made little effort to actually update the cars in the field. Typical of a GM division, Saab did everything in its power to minimize warranty costs.
    Guess what, every time a company pulls that stunt they end up sending former customers right into the Never Again club. When will companies learn that if they release a problematic product to their customers then they had better go above and beyond the call of duty to try and make it right. GM has a long history of doing just the opposite, and so do a lot of other companies.
    So Saab employees, how many of you raised a stink about this mistreatment of customers back when you still had some? How many of you putting your badges on the line to push back against the absurd 9-7 product decision? Finally, how many of you thought naming a car after the dread nine-to-five workday was a great marketing move?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      “Finally, how many of you thought naming a car after the dread nine-to-five workday was a great marketing move?”
      Doh! And your argument was going so well until this association (which had never occurred to me and frankly wouldn’t have made a lick of difference: my problem was with the ^-part of 9^3 and 9^5….)

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      The 9-5 workday idea must be something you came up with on your own. Wouldn’t have thought about it until now.
      The lucky people have 9-5 workdays anyway, beats 7-3, 11-7, 6-6 etc

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Maybe they could merge Amtrak, Pontiac, and Saab? It’s a thought.
    Instead of “Weekend at Bernie’s,” we’ve got “Weekend at Pontiac’s.”  New tagline: “Pontiac would be the best sporty American car ever, except for one thing.  It’s dead.”

  • avatar
    davey49

    I’ve thought the 9-3 looked cool but I could never afford it. Suppose I would have test drove it if I was in the market for that type of car.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    “…we are doing out utmost to row ashore with this.”  Nice piece of surreal electronic translation. Maybe automotive advertising and marketing copy should be be written in Swedish and translated electronically. Couldn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Realistically, I doubt a good case will be made by next week to the GM Board to keep things running in Trollhatten.  Of course, I’m not certain the decisions haven’t already been made, and this is just a ceremonial exercise.

    However, despite the catcalls from the armchair automotive analyst crowd, there are quite a few folks outside of the TTAC bubble who are hoping for something better.  They’ve indeed put their money into the brand, not only buying recent models but keeping other ones from the 80s back into the 60s running.   And despite the cars always having flaws that come from being cars, they still like them. 

    “So Saab employees, how many of you raised a stink about this mistreatment of customers back when you still had some? How many of you putting your badges on the line to push back against the absurd 9-7 product decision? Finally, how many of you thought naming a car after the dread nine-to-five workday was a great marketing move?”

    I suppose (given all that’s been written on TTAC) something similar could be asked of GM employees in lots of places?  Detroit? 

    But given past GM decisions earlier in the decade such as to cancel at least one new 9-5 (which would have made the upcoming 2010 model the third new version instead of the 2nd)  for cost cutting reasons, it doesn’t take much to realize these questions had only answers in Detroit, not Sweden. 

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