By on December 21, 2009

Ho ho ho (

Despite the flood of clumsy eulogies and “don’t worry about the Saab dealer, he owns a Porsche shop” stories making their way into the local media (usually a good sign of a sure thing), Saab may still have some kind of chance at survival (in some form). According to Spyker spokesfolks [via AFP],

Spyker has been in contact with GM today and continues to develop its proposal for the purchase of Saab. Spyker has extended the validity of its proposal therefore until further notice

Merbanco claims to have a new offer as well, as reports that they are working with a Swedish consortium that “does not wish to be identified unless they are successful in the bidding.” GM has not issued a statement about Saab today, perhaps because the release writers were too busy with the announcements of a new CFO and the Chevy Equinox’s victory in an “Urban Truck Of The Year” competition.

In any case, the Swedish government is preparing for the worst, announcing a $74m local job-creation fund for Trollhåtten. Which seems like a good indication that the Swedish government will not underwrite a far more costly renewal. Not that the glaringly obvious is letting Saab’s spokesfolks from doing their best Baghdad Bob impression. “We can still hope as to what the conclusion will be,” they tell AFP. Maybe it’s time to stop hoping.

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15 Comments on “Francisco Franco Is Still Dead, Saab Still Breathing...”

  • avatar

    Wasn’t there some deadline till today 5:00 p.m. for GM to accept an offer? something that was announced yesterday or the day before? I can’t remember if that was Spyker… but how many more people would bid on Saab at this point?
    judging by their sales, I can’t imagine too many people cry when they finally die… it will be more a relief.

  • avatar

    I know that this will earn me a lot of flack from Saab fans, but I think it is time that we just let Saab die with dignity, instead of dragging out its deathmarch like we have been doing. It is obvious that Saab will be a tough sale, and we should just come to the conclusion that Saab has had a good run, but it is time to move on. We know the biggest reason as to why all of the auto companies are hurting is because of the market being so over saturated, so we just put our emotions aside and just let the weaklings die; it is the only way we will ever be able to get things back to normal again.

    • 0 avatar

      Amen.  I have come to the belief that one of the only ways we will be able to attempt to cut excess global capacity is to allow brands to die.  Of course this has also lead me to believe the bailouts where ultimately wrongheaded.  These bankruptcies should have been real bankruptcies, auctions of factories and equipment, ect.
      I believe it is possible to express regret that things had to end this way but also feel that it is all ultimately for the best.  The upside would be that if you collect Saabs, they’re much more collectible now!  If I finally get my hands on a few Oldsmobiles that I love so much, I’ll see it the same way.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed with the collectability thing; when I first heard that Saab had tanked, the first thing I thought was, “Saab 900s are probably going to start appreciating in value.”

  • avatar

    “Maybe it’s time to stop hoping.”

    Not yet… I want a new Saab.

  • avatar

    Here’s the thing…no the world doesn’t need another extra 90,000 cars, but what it really doesn’t need are another 90,000 Toyotas, Renaults, Fords, Fiats, etc etc., to bore you to death.
    I think most of the people bashing Saab haven’t actually driven one lately.  (have you?)   The Trollhattan boys do have a touch.  Unfortunately GM screwed them into the ground.  For instance, rebadging a Tahoe as a Saab???  Gimme a break.  That alone proved GM never ever had a clue as to what they had.
    GM’s management of Saab  was the equivalent of someone hiring Magic Johnson, and then handing him a four hundred page manual called “How to Play Basketball”.   The idea of GM telling Saab how to design a car to be fun, exciting, etc is laughable.  Of course it DID make sense for Saab to use GM’s purchasing power, and to standardize on (Opel) components, and get whatever economies of scale were available for sure.  But as for design and marketing, GM just never got it.   I’d say the fact that they’d be toast without Uncle Sam underscores that.  
    But moving on, yes it does seem unlikely for Saab to survive.  On the other hand there is a niche in between the ice cold perfection of BMW and the desolate boredom of Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, etc.   That’s a sweet spot where Saab once lived, and perhaps with the right owner could make it again.    Stranger things have happened.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I hear you, but the evidence runs contrary to that line of thought. Saab has never made a consistent profit and has never been able to generate the cash required to stay competitive in the automotive field. GM totally mishandled its ownership of Saab, but GM never should have bought the brand in the first place.

      The last three times I purchased new cars I did in fact test drive Saabs, and they never made the grade.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, as history has shown (see: Depression of the 1930’s) when markets contract, it’s the small, interesting marques that go under.  The mass-marketed four-wheeled appliances always survive.
      Look at the 1930’s.  We lost Auburn, Cord, Dusenberg, Stutz, Marmon, etc.  The most interesting brands that survived were Hudson, Nash and Studebaker.  The brands that stayed strong were GM, Ford (relatively), Chrysler and Packard.

  • avatar

    John, I do get what you are saying.  The competition is very tough and I know that in some areas of performance, technology,  and features it is very tough for Saab to compete.   I have some hope for the all wheel drive models.   Perhaps the miracle niche for Saab is not to compete with Audi, BMW, etc., but to stress durability, engineering, comfort, bad weather performance…a car to take skiing, load the family and dog into, etc.  But I can just hear someone saying, “Oh, you mean Subaru!”   ;-)  Woops.

    • 0 avatar

      Dead on with the Subaru comment.  Saab’s niche used to be reasonably reliable, decent performing FWD vehicles that could carry 5 people and a their  gear in comfort.  Now that’s everybody’s bread and butter, and few people are willing to pay a premium for a little Saab quirkiness.
      I’d like to see them pull a Mini Cooper and release a new car with styling inspired by the car in the advertisement.  At least it would stand out from the crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this just further parallels my comment up on the page. Subaru has pretty much taken over Saab’s niche; we simply just don’t need Saab anymore. I know its fans seem to be grasping at straws looking for reasons to keep the brand alive. They should just accept the fact that Saab is dead and move on; remember, there are plenty of used Saabs to go around.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I will  mourn a company that  had the chutzpah to market a  car that was  so different, even  in an era when difference  was acceptable.  A 2 stroke, 3  cylinder, borrowed  from another  failed  marque.  Lashed  into  a  FWD which  was really strange.  A car to  beat in rallys  and  ice racing.   Historically, Saab’s only competition was prolly,  Volvo.  Niche  cars   built  for  Swedish road conditions and sensibilities.  Saab  failed because  GM attempted  to  turn  it into  something  it wasn’t by taking it  “up mkt” .

  • avatar

    I really don’t understand people cheering and saluting the death of any brand. No, there is space for the little guy and there always will be. When conditions are “normal” almost all companies turn a profit. I think this doesn’t benefit consumers at all. I guess some people buy into Jeremy Clarkson’s line that everybody should just get a Golf (if everyone were reasonable and bought just using their head and not their heart and soul). Or for American conditions everyone should just get a Civic or a Camry. I mean for most conditions and driving they fit perfectly well.

    I know I’ll never buy into that. Why get a Golf when there are Focuses, Bravos, Méganes available? Why get a Civic when there are Focuses, Sonatas, available? The choice for most is never the choice for all. Keep as much option as possible.

    Not to mention that the little guys keep the big ones honest. I mean if it weren’t for Hyundai or the Focus how much would you be looking to pay for a new Civic? Not to mention the warranty. How long would that be?

  • avatar

    I also don’t understand that giddiness other commenters have for the closure of SAAB.

    It seems like everyone is ignoring the fact that there are several bidders with money who want to buy SAAB, and GM is stonewalling. Currently, we have Spyker, Merbanco, and an “anonymous” group of Swedish investors.

    It probably seems incomprehensible to TTAC commenters that these bidders are not consulting TTAC for opinions on the validity of their business enterprise.

    Why deny these parties their chance to run SAAB? It’s the investors’ money that is at stake, not TTAC’s or any government’s. It also seems unlikely that any future steward of the company could do a worse job than GM has.

    Also remember that there is a substantial cost to wind down SAAB, which is estimated at around $2B, which most definitely is the US taxpayers’ money now that we own 60% of GM. A sale at any price is cheaper than a loss of $2B.

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