By on December 18, 2009

flatline

It’s over. The deal with Spyker (surprise) fell through, and GM has announced that Saab will be wound down and 218 US dealer closed. Automotive News reports: “We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars,” GM Europe President Nick Reilly said in a statement. “We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner.”

GM is calling Saab’s wind down neither a bankruptcy nor a forced liquidation process:

“Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments,” Reilly said, “and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers.”

GM’s peak for Saab was 47,914 in 2003. The company’s U.S. high was 48,181 in 1986. In 2009 YTD, Saab sold 7,812 cars in the US.

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75 Comments on “GM: Saab Truly Most Sincerely Dead...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    If 1 year ago, you had to make a prediction that out of the 4 GM dead brands walking (Saturn, Pontiac, Saab, Hummer). Would anyone have predicted that Hummer would be the last man standing?!

    Shame about Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      AccAzda

      Actually…
      I was predicting a lot more.

      I was hoping Caddy or Buick to get closed, maybe even GMC.

      It doesnt / didnt make sense for Saturn to be open.. not when it competes with Chevy.
      It STILL doesnt make sense for GMC to be open.. not when the same stuff is over at Chevy.
      Pontiac doesnt make sense.. when ya an buy SS versions of a slew of vehicles.. and NTM it competes with the V-series from Caddy. How many sport brands.. do you need?!
      Hummer… thats just a given. It produces vehicle that are virtual clones (H2 / Tahoe, H3  / Canyon). GM

      I only wish more was done / cut.

      GM is dead brand walking.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      AccAzda- if you think the HUMMER vehicles are clones of the GM trucks then you’ve never driven or been inside a HUMMER.  You’re guessing because you read stuff on the net and believe everything supposed “enthusiasts” say. GM will be “dead brand walking” because people make comments while having little knowledge of the company’s products. Too much “Somebody told me they were junk, so I’d never buy one, and you shouldn’t too” or “My 1992 Grand Am once broke down and a manufacturing outfit can’t possibly improve quality and reliability so the next GM car I buy is going to break down as well.”

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      The (long since discontinued) H1 was fairly unique.  AccAzda was right in saying that H2 was a Chevy Tahoe with a different body, and the H3 was a SUV version of the Chevy Colordao.  The H3 is even built in the same factory as the Colorado/Canyon.

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      HUMMERs and Chevy/GMCs start out the same, feel/look  totally different

  • avatar
    jkross22

    It’s struck me as odd that GM never learned the secret of the Ford/Mazda tie up.  Seems like while not perfect, that combination has worked well for both.
     
    GM just couldn’t leave well enough alone.  I’m surprised most in the auto biz don’t see the genius of the Cisco Systems acquisition model – you’re buying a company because you can integrate it’s technology or you think it’s a great company and leave well enough alone.
     
    GM’s delusions of grandeur helped with the complete implosion of what was once a fun, quirky brand that had an intensely loyal following.
     
    Farewell Saab – we knew you, then we didn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Mazda, which has significant small-car expertise, was always going to be a very different kind of partner.  (See Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover for failed relationships on the Ford side.)  And even that one has been unwound now.

    • 0 avatar
      MrDot

      Ford partnered with Mazda to get expertise and engineering they couldn’t do in-house.  GM didn’t give a rats ass about what Saab was doing before the merger, the only thing they wanted was a European nameplate.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Well, Saab was a niche brand, which only works when you have cars with high profit margins.
    I hope a dog poops on Roger Smith’s grave today.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Everybody and their grandmothers is blaming the Swedish government, for “not doing enough”, unclear of what “enough” means, besides of wholesale government takeover or cash injections in the billions, no strings attatched.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      Like GM and Chrysler received?

    • 0 avatar
      midelectric

      I guess those socialist Swedes just don’t know how capitalism and the free market work…or something, I’m kind of confused.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      Wasn’t Saab a part of GM?

      At the end of the day, Saab just wasn’t a viable company or a going concern. If GM would’ve wanted help for Saab, there was a million things they could’ve done, but didn’t. Like asking for a loan, when it actually looked like they could pay the money back. Should the Swedish government “just hand out the money” when the market obviously wouldn’t do likwise, and when it was clear Saab was never to be able of paying back?

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      Which makes me wonder….Do you think GM is posturing, trying to force the Swedish government to take the company off of its hands thereby avoiding, for the short term anyway, the inevitable lay-offs that will occur at home?

    • 0 avatar
      midelectric

      Ingvar, I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, people are happy to give you money when you don’t need it and wary of backing you when you do.  GM could have put together a more attractive package to sell Saab in but I don’t think they care that much, it’s one less competitor they have to worry about.  Maybe Saab employees can get together and buy the company assets when they’re liquidated and make a go of it, who knows.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      @rpol35:
      They have tried everything already, inckluding outright blackmail and extortion. The Swedish government won’t buckle. I guess GM finally relented and had to accept they were stuck with it. And no, I don’t think that GM has any hopes left on anything with Saab, they just want to be done with it.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    So Spyker isn’t as dumb as they look, and the various nations involved don’t want to pour money into these charity cases.  GM is striking out on selling its losers.  Is the Hummer deal soon to implode?
     
    This is further proof of just how bad these divisions are/were.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the charity of the Bush/Obama Administrations, all of GM would be gone.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      It seems that Spyker could not close the deal in time. In other words, they couldn’t come up with the money, even when they were playing with other peoples money. A couple of days ago, they said the deal was dependent on if they could get their hands on the Saab designated EIB loan, and that should say all about their confidence in the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      crush157

      Spyker did have a financial partner. It was a Russian financial firm, but may have had some ties to other ventures that people didn’t think were on the up and up.

    • 0 avatar
      Bruce from DC

      A propos of Ingvar’s reply, above:  “getting the money” is no small thing.   In case there was every any doubt about this, the events of the past two years show that a car company lender’s real security — regardless of the details of the legal arrangements — is the ability of the company to service the debt.  The obvious question about either of the would-be suitors of Saab is: what do these guys know about running a car company that isn’t in the business of essentially selling one-offs?  The reasonable answer has to be: nothing.    And, given its recent track record, it sure doesn’t seem likely that such talent resides with Saab in Sweden.  Whatever indigenous talent might have existed probably, quit, retired or was terminated when GM assumed operating control.
      That’s too bad.  My 2002 9-5 wagon, it appears, will be my first — and last — Saab.  When I bought it did so after a lot of shopping and because it offered what I wanted at a respectable price, not because I was sentimental about the Saab brand.
      Now I have to figure out whether to sell it and “cut my losses,” or hold on to it, knowing that the entire dealership network will be collapsed and that the already expensive parts will probably get moreso, since no more are being produced.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      @Bruce from DC:
      Yeah, but have you ever heard of someone trying to close a deal without securing the money first? Perhaps I’m stupid, but I haven’t. If the money problem isn’t solved, there’s no idea moving forward. Which the Koenigsegg affair so clearly shows. That there was no money secured, and the deal was dependent on the buyer having the buyee secure a half a billion dollar loan, which then the byuer would benefit from. The whole idea is preposterous and absurd…
       
       

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    This is truly a sad day for automotive enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    http://www.armystudyguide.com/downloads/Taps.mp3
     

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Well it was inevitable.  Too bad; the SAABs I have owned (and my current 9000) were/are great cars.  And I thought the new 9-5 looked pretty interesting, though it was 5 years too late.  Ah well, I just hope I can continue to find parts for the 9K.

    Where’s no_slushbox to kick a dead brand when it’s down?

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      I remain skeptical that GM really wanted any sort of deal to go through.  It cherry picked who it wanted to negotiate with, even though there might have been other parties (e.g. Merbanco) who had more substantial financial backing, and industrial experience, not to mention real enthusiasts for the brand who wanted to see if a deal could be made.   I’d be curious to see if the wind-down will allow GM to keep its books hidden as well. 

    • 0 avatar
      crush157

      I agree bill h. IMO GM had put too much of an Opel base into Saab and any deal would require them to give Opel technology to keep the brand going. Saab was a parts mutt after GM took them over and re-fashioned them.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    The Swedes wanted out of Saab Auto in 1989 because they knew that business was dead at the kind of volumes Saab had traditionally sold.  GM’s only “sin” here is that management wasn’t smart enough to resurrect the dead.

  • avatar
    EricTheOracle

    Saab ends as all sob stories end: badly.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Now, how long is it until the Chinese built 9-5 wagons start offloading at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland? What are they going to use for engines and transmissions? Is GM going to supply them?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      Wasn’t engines included?

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Yes, the old engine tooling was included.  Now the question becomes if those engines meet current emissions standards and if the Chinese are willing to invest the money to make them measure up emissions wise if they don’t match up.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Carpenter

      I think I read that the 2004 year model 9-5 technology was sold to BAIC, so essentially, that is pretty much “clean” enough to sell legally even in the USA, if I’m not mistaken. 

      Yes, we can expect some “Beijing” (ex-Saab) 9-5 cars to be imported into other nations before long, perhaps as little as two years. 

      If they really rush the installation of the machinery and retesting for emissions, crashworthyness, etc., and get new certificates it might even be as soon as 18 months.

      Whether they’ll bother selling them in the USA is pretty much the open question for those of us living here – I honestly can’t guess. 

      They may reskin the cars slightly to give cars “their own look” but that may backfire.

      Kind of like trying to put a size 12 woman into a size 6 evening gown in hopes that she’ll look elegant – it won’t work in reality any more than it will in reality!!!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The engines in the GM2800-based Saabs was a Saab design.  It was also putting out 200+hp years before GM’s own Ecotecs came near that figure and got good mileage to boot.
       
      If Ford did one thing from Volvo,  it was learning from it.  There’s several modern Fords with great platforms and exceptional safety due to Volvo’s chassis engineers.  GM learned nothing, took nothing and eventually got nothing from Saab.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I don’t get this, off-loading Saab to such a minor owner. Both Spyker and Koenigsegg were a hundred times smaller than Saab. Both didn’t have the money needed on their own, both were dependent on Russian or Chinese money. Both were dependent on Saab getting that EIB loan to even close the deal.

    For Saab to be a stand alone car maker on its own, there would have been a need for money in the ten billion dollar league, for proper r&d. No one in their right mind would have used their own money for that. So, what was the plan? Cash in the loan and liquidate?
     
     

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Getacargetacheck has it right.
    Will TTAC be publishing an honest report on Saab’s history and long sad story as a business?

  • avatar
    krazykarguy

    GM wanted Saab to die, plain and simple. There was no serious effort on their end to sell the brand. If they HAD sold it, the real story on mis-management, hidden costs, and the loss of money on every car since 1998 will be shown.
    By not allowing a sale to happen GM saves face. Selling the tooling to the Chinese for the 9-3 and the 9-5 was just a way to re-coup some money.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I kind of doubt whether Whitacre cares about whether Roger Smith or Rick Wagoner looks bad.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not like Saab was a a profitable, wonderfully-run, super desirable brand automaker churning out hit after hit before GM decided to buy it up.  Saab was virtually a dead company.   One that GM never should have purchased in the first place for their own good.

      Years and years, billions and billions later Saab is finally where it belongs.  In the past.  It’s too bad GM didn’t divest themselves of it years ago when the global market was better.  I’m sure Ford is thinking the same thing with Volvo,  it’s the same set of problems over at Dearborn with their Swedish mistake which they will soon sell to the Chinese for pennies. 

  • avatar
    h82w8

    The M&A market has spoken, and nobody wanted to buy Saab for GM’s minimum price. There are simply too many auto brands in the world, and  the ROI numbers for Saab’s weak market position just weren’t there.

    There are simply too many vehicle brands extant in the world today, and the weak inevitably must die off. But really, other than the few diehard enthusiasts, who the hell’s gonna miss Saab? Life goes on….

    • 0 avatar
      midelectric

      I don’t think it’s the number of brands per se, but the minimum profitable volume has increased greatly.  There were far more car makers 30-40 years ago when total automotive sales were much smaller than today.

  • avatar
    John R

    Meh. Maybe now one can get an equitable deal on a 9-3.

  • avatar
    AnthonyG

    The problem started when they replaced the original 900 with a model based on the 1988 Opel Vectra/Vauxhall Cavalier (not the original J car, the European replacement).

    There was nothing really wrong with that car except the Vectra/Cavalier had a fairly mundane image in Europe, certainly no better than, say, the ford Taurus had in the US at the time.

    So a ‘premium’ car based on a very ordinary car was a hard sell.

    The larger model, first the 9000 and then the 9-5, both of these  went on for more than 10 years and the whole company was generally starved of investment. 

    When Ford bought Volvo they expanded the model range – GM never really bothered to do this with Saab – all the weird Chevrolet/Subaru based things never made it to Europe.

    This decade the only model that had any real image was the 9-3 convertible.

    Basically GM thought it could do more badge engineering and failed, as with all the US stuff over the last 30 years.   

    • 0 avatar
      e36m3

      Yep, GM killed SAAB.  They wanted a ‘premium brand’, but then assumed everyone was as dumb as they are, and that no one would notice that a car with a very loyal following among certain demographics would continue to sell if it were simply a re-badged version of the very cars this fan base was deciedly not interested in.  It turns out that we really are all as dumb as they thought, because here we are bailing GM out anyway.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    As a Saab owner, this makes me sad.  They made some really cool cars over the years, and I’m sorry to see another weird car maker go away.
    The new 9-5 looked like a good car, too.  It wouldn’t have been enough to save the farm, but I would have probably bought one.  Oh well…

  • avatar

    @bill h. + @krazykarguy: Agreed. The whole BS of them putting strings onto Koenigs (the best candidate) about mandatory hiring of laid-off Pontiac and other workers smacks of either tacit poison-pilling or insane douchebag hubris.
    Both of which are unfortunately possible with The General.
     
    A sad sad case of “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.” Farewell quirky fun car company. Guess I’ll shop for Scoobies from now on.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Bit by bit, this sort of news ought to drag even TTAC writers around to the view that Washington/GM did not "decide" to cancel deals to divest Opel.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      I still think a combined and independent of GM Saab/Opel/Saturn would have been a viable option. Good for the brands, the sales, the countries, the workers, the unions. Bad for GM, with a strong competitor in their former brands. For GM, perhaps it’s better to just take it out and shoot it?

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      @Ingvar:  Nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      GM cancelled the Opel deal because they were about to be investigated for political arm-twisting in Germany.  So they pulled the plug and said they were just kidding, after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      @tparkit,  I’m not getting your point. Care to elaborate?
      @Ingvar, Great, combine three money pits in to one bottomless hole.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      @Paul:
      I don’t think Opel would have been a money pit, standing on its own? With Saab as an Opel-based premium brand, and Saturn as sales-channel in the US. I do think it’s a win-win, perhaps more than GM can bear.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Look kids! It’s the “Heartbeat of America!”

    Ok, ok. It’s too easy and I’ve been using it since they rolled that stupid slogan. But, it works dammit…

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Sad. The last remaining GM brand worth buying from has met its end (Second one being Pontiac G-8). Sure, the quality and reliability were questionable but at least they were more interesting than the typical run of the mill GM rental cars (which supported Pontiac for years).

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    The new 9-5 isn’t even out yet!  There’s a waste of untold hundreds of millions of dollars of engineering and tooling work-an all new vehicle that ends up being barely released (or not at all!) due to the brand shutting down.

  • avatar
    PierreChease

    I think one of the reasons for Saab’s poor sales this year is the uncertain of a future. I personally like the 9-3 but did give it second thought since I knew soon the brand would cease. Sad news for Saab. I think someone need to insure GM is now allowed to buy any other brands. Especially foreign ones

  • avatar
    savuporo

    SAAB, the brand, is not dead, until Gripen’s stop flying :)

    http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2009/saab_one_name_two_different_companies.htm

    Saab is not affected by the reconstructing of Saab Automobile AB and will continue to develop and deliver effective systems, solutions and products within defence, aviation and civil security which are at the leading edge of technology.

  • avatar
    buzz phillips

    Its going to come down to Chevy and Cadillac sooner or later!

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      I believe this is a common acknowlegment amongst GM fans and non fans. Instead of dragging out the process by kicking and screaming all the way till its inevitable end, GM should just consolidate its brands to 2 just like your typical japanese portfolio. Buick sales have been tanking for years being floated along by rental fleets and AARP discounts and GMC, model for model is all about redundancy and nothing else. Wasted effort.

      KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

    • 0 avatar
      davey49

      I believe Buick and GMC will disappear as well but it can’t go too fast because the cost of shutting down the BG dealers would easily bankrupt the company to liquidation.
      Plus, even with redundant product  GMC seems to make money
      I like the Acadia and Terrain over the Traverse and Equinox plus the local GMC dealer seems to have nicer, less hassling salespeople

  • avatar
    V6

    i’m so sad by this, i love saab and it’s GM’s own fault for this happening. they should have just given Saab away like BMW did with Rover (not that that ended well anyway…)

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Saab is an irrelevant money losing niche brand and most likely was prior to GM purchasing them. Even if you are a Saab lover (and I’m not) you can’t ignore the fact that it is an unprofitable company. Unprofitable companies go out of business. There was nothing about a Saab that appealed to enough buyers to keep the brand viable. Most likely had not GM or someone else purchased them they would have been out of business many years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @mtymsi: Quite right on all points.  GM’s life support of Saab has now cost the US taxpayer billions of dollars, since that money could have been used to prop up GM’s other losing brand names, like Pontiac, Saturn, or Hummer.

    • 0 avatar
      RedMenace

      @gslippy:  Are you effing serious?  SAAB cost the the US taxpayer billions of dollars?
       
      How about the gross mismanagement of 8 brands sold in the U.S.?  How many copies of one car do you need to have in a marketplace?  How about upper management lining their pockets with millions upon millions of dollars while the economy crumbled around them?
      “Oops, we can’t justify our own salaries and pensions anymore, so let’s ask the government for money so we don’t have to be held accountable for the past twenty years or so…”
       
      How about putting the blame where it belongs:  On GM.  SAAB is an unfortunate casualty of almost two decades of pure, blind idiocy — as are Pontiac and Saturn.  GM may have “saved” SAAB from going under, but all they did was put them on life support, stick a couple of feeding tubes in them, and hope nobody would notice when they pulled the plug.  They didn’t allow SAAB to significantly update their lineup at all.  The current 9-5 is TEN years old — it was ahead of the game when it debuted, but a decade of no updates will almost certainly send you to the back of the pack.  While the 9-3 has received some updates (XWD and the turbo 2.8L V6 being the most significant), the car was never really competitive with its competition.  The 9-7x?  Really?  The 9-2x, while based off of a great car, was a failed band-aid mandated by GM.  The 9-4 was another platform bastardization (albeit a good platform) and the 9-5 was slated to be, by all accounts, a GREAT vehicle… however, thanks to the infinite wisdom of the jackholes at GM, we’ll never get to experience those vehicles.
       
      You want some SAAB engineering?  How about the Aero-X and 9-X Air?  If those two vehicles didn’t make you sit up and take notice, you might want to be examined by a doctor.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    born from jets.
    killed by douchebags.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Better trademark that or it’s going to be the title of the first “complete history of Saab” coffee table book that comes out after the brand dies for good.

  • avatar
    Adub

    And now that Tiger can’t hawk Buicks, that brand is dead too!

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      I don’t think Tiger did a damn thing to help Government Motors sell Buicks. He is 40 years too young for one thing. Secondly, I’ve attended MANY tournament events and the attendees are not driving Buicks, that’s for sure. The money they have, they are driving more exclusive wheels like Bentley, Rolls, Mercs, Bimmers and Lexus. Show up in a Buick and they’ll tell you that you took a wrong turn and the Casino and bingo hall are a few towns over :) Even my 2 year old Cadillac was a Ford Escort compared to what filled the parking lots at those events.

  • avatar

    I had two.  The first, a classic 900 turbo, was unique at the time as you were getting a fast car, set up for euro highway use, with unique styling.  The back seat was big enough, something missing in today’s 3 sized cars.  The hatchback made this a mini pickup truck.  You still had a quick turbo, good mileage, and a safety cage.  In the mid 80s this was radical.
    A  later 1/2 GM 9-3 had some of those attributes, but the big rear seat was missing. (yah, I know, that 6 inches of floorpan metal makes it cost 10k more, if a euro car).  Still quick, but built cheaply.  The old school 900 was finicky but well built.
    And then, they never upgraded them again….and they died of failure to evolve.
     
     

  • avatar
    walksatnight

    Ms. Harry says it all right here:

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