By on July 30, 2011

The dwindling and demoralized ranks of Saab flagwavers had a bad week. No cash in the kitty, bankruptcy looms, their savior Vladimir Antonov is rebuffed by the European Investment Bank, dirty laundry about funds seeping away to hot islands is being aired. Their hopes now cling to a sheet of paper. Today, Christer Gerlach wrote an op-ed piece in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter in which he makes the case that Saab should not be written off just yet. He is asking the Swedish government for help. A translation is printed at Saabsunited.

Christer Gerlach is a famous autowriter. The 66 year old Swede became notorious in 1972 by crossing the Sahara in a Citroen 2CV. In 1988, he entered the Guinness Book of World records in a solo trip around the world – in a Toyota Corolla. If you want the impossible on four wheels, Gerlach is the man to call.  I would not call him to restructure a moribund car company.

His proposal is based on two assumptions: Small car companies can flourish.  Government aid to car companies is normal. So please, Swedish government, help Saab.

Says Gerlach:

“There are several small or medium-sized auto plants that are successful: Mini, Suzuki, Dacia, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Subaru.”

Bad mistake number one. All of these except one belong to a huge company. And the only exception is neither small nor medium-sized.  Mini and Rolls belong to BMW, Dacia to Renault, Bentley and Lamborghini to Volkswagen, Subaru to Fuji Heavy, in partnership with Toyota.

The only independent, Suzuki, is the world’s 9th largest automaker with 2.9 million cars made in 2010. And even Suzuki needed a little help from Volkswagen, to the tune of $2.4  billion.

His list proves just the opposite: There is no room for an independent small or medium-sized automaker in this world.

Gerlach points to the successes of Volvo and JLR:

“When Ford sold Volvo it also sold British Jaguar / Land Rover. Indian mega-firm Tata bought Jaguar / Land Rover, which then together produced about 250,000 cars a year. Far fewer than the Volvo. Jaguar alone produced around 50,000 cars – about half as many as Saab in a “normal” year.”

Again, Gerlach proves the point that Saab is too small to survive. When Ford sold Volvo, Volvo made 336,000 cars per year and lost money hand over fist. When JLR was bought by Tata  it had made 261,000 units in 2008. JLR “produced just 167,000 vehicles and recorded $460 million in losses” in the first 10 months after the takeover, writes the Independent in India.

Both brands brought serious volume, know-how, and brand cachet to their buyers. Volvo was bought by Geely which had made 330,000 units in 2009. JLR was bought by Tata which had 537,000 units to its name in 2008.

For Ford, JLR and Volvo were money sinks. For emerging market producers Geely and Tata, the units, bought on the cheap, had strategic value – when combined with existing operations.

Saab made 20,000 cars in 2009 and 32,000 in 2010.  In 2011, next to none so far. What volume does it contribute? What know-how? Most of Saab’s IP is owned by GM.

Saab isn’t even big enough to create rapid eye movement at a serious Chinese carmaker.  Auto dealer Pang Da and busmaker Youngman are bit players in China.

Lars Holmqvist, head of the European supplier association CLEPA, was one of the few who realize that the emperor has no clothes when he said:

“This is not a matter where a Scrooge McDuck goes in with a lot of money. The basic problem is that Saab does not sell cars. They sold 28,600 cars last year. One cannot survive on that in our industry.”

This industry is all about scale. If you can’t survive on 330,000 Volvos from how much delusion does one need to suffer to think that 30,000 are just divvy? Running a car company is one of the most complex undertakings in this world today. Shooting a rocket into space is child’s play compared to that.  This is no place for amateurs or dreamers – unless they are rich amateurs who want to be poor when they wake up.

Lastly, Gerlach makes the case that the U.S. government owned 60 percent of GM, that the German state of  Lower Saxony owns 13 percent of Volkswagen, and that France owns 15 percent of Renault. Therefore, says Gerlach:

“A temporary state involvement in the Saab would dramatically increase chances for Saab to survive and increase confidence among foreign investors.”

Gerlach forgets that the Swedish government already is more involved in Saab than it wants. The Swedish government guaranteed the $350 million loaned by the EIB  to Saab.  To pass EU scrutiny, the loan had to be structured as an investment into research and development of green technologies and safety. It wasn’t meant to pay salaries and suppliers.  Sweden buying equity in Saab is not in the cards. The commissars of Brussels would be all over it. What’s more, threatening lawsuits against the government and hoping that they invest shows a certain degree of outerworldly thinking.

Lastly, a state investment into Saab does not make political sense. The sad truth is that “saving jobs” is code for “buying votes.”  Sweden does not need any votes at the moment. Trollhättan is no Michigan. The Saab workers are no UAW. 3,500 votes more or less do not change the Swedish political landscape.

The next elections are in 2014. Saab will not be a topic at these elections.

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42 Comments on “Saab Won’t Be Saved. Not Even By This Man...”


  • avatar
    CurtInFalcon

    The “Saab flagwavers” are neither dwindling nor demoralized. I can’t imagine how you got this impression from reading the posts at Saabs United. In fact, the SU crew is optimistic that Saab can be saved and the posts on SU are overwhelmingly positive. There are the few nay sayers and who knows, perhaps they are the most realistic of the bunch. However, moral at SU is still fantastic and will remain so.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Agreed. In the short term it is viable, in the long term, it needs teammate like VAG. If VAG can make Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, and Škoda, they could easily pick up SAAB.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        So here’s a question. With the success of the Audi brand – whose A4 and A6 compete directly against the Saab lineup, why would VWAG want anything to do with Saab? They’ve already got Saab’s market niche covered with Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If VAG can make Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, and Škoda, they could easily pick up SAAB.

        As noted, VAG has Audi. It has absolutely no need for Saab.

        If anything, VAG has too many brands already. That list should tell you that they need to trim down the list, not add to it.

        I can’t see why most of the major players would even be slightly interested. And unless they’re engaged in some super-secret talks, they must not be interested, since there hasn’t been any news to that effect.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Part of the problem for the industry, is that safety and emissions equipment required in various parts of the world raises the basic cost of the product – without raising value in the eyes of the purchaser – that the profit margin for many models is razor-thin. Which means a high breakeven point. And even in models with high individual profit margins, customers look to see if the company behind it is stable; is going to be able to provide warranty work and parts for a long period afterward.

    Saab has had that in the past; it’s had a PRESENCE, as a permanent player. Now, not so much…even the non-auto-oriented cannot help but know what’s going on over in Swede-Land. Saab is, for all intents and purposes, an orphan.

    Now, is a buyer going to risk a large amount of money on a product made by a soon-to-be-defunct company? Or even one at risk…one can argue, persuasively, that Studebaker’s real death-throes began with a network news report asking if the company could survive, done in 1963. Before the South Bend closure; while the Avanti was trying to generate interest. While the Lark was still selling respectably.

    Saab is in the same position. Even if this operator lines up the credit lines, gets a government or parent company with deep pockets behind it, Saab is going to radiate the stink of death. And no one wants the immediate, significant depreciation that “orphan” status will bring, along with the lack of parts, lack of trained mechanics, lack of warranty backing.

    Saab is deaad.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Indeed you’re right! Even if some rich knight swoop in and buy the company and suddenly money is not a problem anymore, can Saab survive all these negative coverage (which went on for months)? Not to mention months of very few car sold, very little car company-related activities. It will be a long time rebuilding the brand. Then there’s new models that need to be designed, etc. Meanwhile the rest of the competition continues moving forward at full speed. Basically, even if money is suddenly not a problem anymore, Saab is still in trouble!

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        True. You can only have so much intellectual poseurs *cough*professors and lesbians*cough* from the tri-state area to support Saab.

      • 0 avatar
        Mackee

        To eldard’s point: With the imminent demise of their beloved Saab, surely these folks will want to forsake their driving pretensions and, you know, come back to earth. But tell us–what do bigots and homophobes in the tri-state area drive these days?

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        1) I’m a gay male, actually.
        2) beats me. They’re all so politically-correct and swimming in prozacs that they can’t see their nation is fast becoming a banana republic.

    • 0 avatar

      Avanti was revived a few times, as well as Duesenberg or Packard (at least according to rumors). And by people reminding Muller – driven mostly by nostalgia than common sense. None succeeded of course. Then there are Telsa and Fisker, but the difference is these are new companies which are not compromised yet and hold future promise and coolness factor. There is nothing cool or exciting about SAAB and everyone knows it is an old and tired zombie, popular among old folks in or approaching retirement age and not some new business based on new exciting tech driven by young, energetic and smart entrepreneurs.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      safety and emissions equipment cost money for all car makers and as such can be seen as a tax, but taxes don’t lower per unit profits

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Saab has never in its entire history reached sufficient critical mass to be a viable stand alone auto company. Regulations have very little to do with Saab’s predicament.

    From day 1, Saab was unable to afford the design of its own power trains, and there is no successful auto making company on the planet which doesn’t make the majority of its own engines. Even the horrific original Saab 2-stroke engines were based on an old DKW (one of Audi’s ancestors) design. Later on, Saab bought engines from Ford of England. By the time Saab was making its own engines, it was loosing so much money that the parent company offloaded the business unit to GM.

    Saab has never been a viable stand alone auto maker. Never. Not once. Never. Am I being clear?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      First, Ford brought the mass production model to the car industry. That allowed volume producers to outbuild and underprice the craft low-volume makers, almost all of which were out of business even before WWII.

      Then, GM invented the model year and platform engineering, which gave a competitive advantage to those makers that could change styles and features frequently. Yet another innovation that favored large companies over the small.

      Then, Toyota invented lean production, which increased quality without adding to cost, and that sped up the model cycles from about 8-10 to about 4-5 years. Yet another advantage to the larger producers.

      A small company can’t possibly keep up with this pace of change. They don’t sell enough cars to fund new model designs twice each decade or to produce cars with sufficient quality and all of the latest features at a cost-effective price to make a profit.

      Regulations have almost nothing to do with this. They do help to keep some makers (namely the French) out of the US market because of the high cost of federalization and the inability of their brands to command the premiums of the Germans, but that’s about it.

      You could legalize everything tomorrow, and that still couldn’t save Saab. Saab needs a boatload of cash, and more importantly, demand for their cars that is many, many times greater than it is today.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      John, your analysis is as astute as ever but I”m going to disagree on this one. True, Saab has always been so small that its continued existence never rose very far above precarious. However, I do think that the company had a small window of opportunity in the 1970s and 80s to become more viable. Alas, they blew it royally.

      For example, Saab could have pioneered 4WD passenger cars that mixed grand touring capabilities with Swedish versatility. But instead of looking for new niches, Saab stopped innovating in anything more than turbos. The strikingly generic 9000 was Saab’s kiss of death as an independent automaker. GM might have kept the brand alive quite a bit longer, but it didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I do think that the company had a small window of opportunity in the 1970s and 80s to become more viable.

        I agree, at least to a point. The brand potential was there, but they needed to move upmarket and to provide their buyers with a ladder to climb, something that they never did. It’s not a coincidence that the Germans provide American buyers with a three-tiered product line (C/E/S, A4/A6/A8, 3/5/7) as their core car offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Saab was viable in the 1970s and the 1980s, when the 99 and 900 compared well against the competition and were selling in excess of 100k units annually worldwide. I don’t know how you define “not viable” but producing competitive cars that consumers wanted to buy doesn’t sound like an accurate definition.

      Their decline really began with the 9000, which had lots of electrical quirks even by Saab standards and wasn’t a very striking design in general, especially when compared with the Mercedes W124 E-Class and BMW E34 5-series.

      The GM-based Saabs sealed the company’s doom, although, possibly as a result of access to Saab engineering resources (scant as they may be) newer GM cars like the Epsilon platform drive really nicely, and not like I’d expect an American car to drive.

  • avatar
    amac

    TTAC: The doomer’s car blog.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Pch101: “A small company can’t possibly keep up with this pace of change. They don’t sell enough cars to fund new model designs twice each decade or to produce cars with sufficient quality and all of the latest features at a cost-effective price to make a profit.”

    That’s true if you adopt the “GM envy” business model. But let’s remember that the VW Beetle was wildly successful against the Big Three during the height of planned obsolescence. Or consider the original Jeep Wagoneer, which was in production for decades.

    A small company can survive in this brave new world IF it carves out niches that are protected from the need for rapid-fire redesigns. Here I’m not just talking about vehicle types and sizes.

    There are still many ways, large and small, that the major automakers continue to get wrong the buyer and ownership experience. An astute small company could cultivate ferocious loyalty if it were clever enough in catering to those unmet needs. Alas, group think has so pervaded the industry that the art of running an independent automaker has been largely forgotten.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      But let’s remember that the VW Beetle was wildly successful against the Big Three during the height of planned obsolescence.

      That was a long time. The Toyota Production System has pretty much landed a torpedo into the hull of that model.

      That can work in developing countries, but not in the developed world. It’s no coincidence that the Germans started to slide when Lexus brought faster cycle times to the US luxury car market — they can’t really keep up, either.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        “they can’t really keep up, either”

        As witnessed by their current record sales and earnings? 9m order backlogs on S-Class Mercedes?

        The US market is not the world market. It isn’t even the biggest market in the world anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Dr Lemming- The original Beetle had a cult following, but I would not call VW’s 1970 peak of 5.6% of the market “wildly successful”. They only broke 4% for 5 years, 1967-1971, and staying with the old design dropped their share below 2% by ’76 and eventually below 1%. VW was typically closer to AMC’s share. I doubt anyone would consider AMC at all successful .

      Huge product development and manufacturing capital investment costs must be amortized across the number of vehicles produced in a model run. Similarly with powertrains. Even with today’s splintered market, volumes are in the 100’s of thousands or millions for the big boys.

      Tiny volume brands such as Saab can not make it unless they have the panache to command very high prices. Saab is not in that group.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr Lemming

        Pch101: What you argue is conventional wisdom. I point to the Beetle as an example of how conventional wisdom is sometimes proven wrong — for reasons that industry insiders simply can’t see until it hits them on the head. Conformity has so enshrouded the global auto industry that the next decade would seem a particularly ripe time for defiantly different approaches. Alas, there are effectively no more independents left to try them.

        doctor: VW may not have been wildly successful compared to the Big Three, but it was by niche market standards. The same can be said of the early-60s Rambler, which enjoyed record-breaking sales for an American independent.

        The irony of Saab is that it took the right step in designing the 9000 on a platform shared with other manufacturers. Unfortunately, Saab bungled the execution of that design.

        Saab need not have become a luxury brand if it had adequately distinguished its products.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I point to the Beetle as an example of how conventional wisdom is sometimes proven wrong

        The Beetle was effectively an update of the Model T concept. It wasn’t at all iconoclastic in that respect. The design of the car may have appealed to hippies, but the concept of the car wasn’t all that much different from the early Fords.

        When the Beetle came about, the dollar was dominant and there was limited competition in the US, with three major players, none of which offered a directly competing product. The boomers were reaching driving age, providing a growing pool of buyers to whom to appeal. There was certainly room for one niche player in that sort of environment.

        The US and the world are very different places now. There are more strong competitors than there were before, and the US market is more mature, making conquest sales critical, not optional. Saab has no particular currency advantage that would help it to be price competitive. It offers no products that are so unique as to give it a competive advantage against similar rivals. Without those, the remaining alternative is for Saab to compete on cachet value, but Saab doesn’t have that, either.

        To stay in the game, Saab needs to either increase volume or raise prices. At this moment, it can’t conceivably do either one of those things. The inability to increase revenues and margins guarantees losses, and losses without a subsidy from a larger firm or white knight means liquidation.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Dr. Lemming- You are certainly right that VW was by far the largest of the import/niche brands.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        AMC’s last nail(s) in their coffin was the shotgun wedding with early 1980’s Renault (remember the Alliance? Yuk), and marketing Snafus sans Jeep (although the AMC Eagle was a distinct, affordable and extremely reliable platform). Sidebar: every automaker to own Jeep INCLUDING Fiat/Chrysler has gone bankrupt.

        In my opinion, if Saab and Volvo could’ve merged at some point, they possibly could’ve survived as one, with Swedish ownership. Now, in this topsy-turvy international economy, Volvo is owned by the CHINESE! and Saab is going down the Nash/Rambler/AMC road. If someone would’ve told me this was a possibility even five years ago, I would’ve questioned their sanity.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr Lemming

        Pch101, you’re reading me wrong to link my general argument in favor of independent automakers to Saab’s current situation. Saab is dead brand walking . . . unless the Chinese scoop it up. There was really no hope for Saab to succeed on its own because GM left it with a product line that didn’t fit the different needs of an independent.

        Yes, times have changed since the Beetle’s rise. But even though some factors have led to a consolidation of the industry, other factors have made it easier in some respects for a clever independent automaker to survive. For example, independents such as AMC were at a significant disadvantage in the 1960s and 70s due to the vertical integration of the Big Three, which lowered their production costs. In more recent decades that integration has often become a cost disadvantage. Today an independent can obtain pretty much whatever it needs via various types of partnerships with other automakers.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        In more recent decades that integration has often become a cost disadvantage. Today an independent can obtain pretty much whatever it needs via various types of partnerships with other automakers.

        There are almost no independents left. I understand the theory, but in practice, there are few opportunities to make it work.

        The high fixed costs and cyclical nature of the auto industry, combined with the importance of branding, count against the independents. They can’t amortize their R&D as easily as can the larger companies (especially now that product cycles are faster than they used to be), they can’t pay for marketing, and they don’t have enough resources to ride out the inevitable economic downturns.

        Even the well-established exotics such as Ferrari and Bentley are owned by larger parent companies. This is an industry that is not well suited to smaller operators. The barriers to entry are formidable.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        “Sidebar: every automaker to own Jeep INCLUDING Fiat/Chrysler has gone bankrupt.”

        Not true. Willys was in financial trouble but was purchased by Kaiser. Kaiser was profitable but facing an uncertain future, with the post-1968 auto standards; and Henry Kaiser, who desperately wanted to own an automobile company, died in 1967. His family got out as fast as they could; and AMC was interested and partly owned at the time by Kaiser Industries.

        AMC was purchased by Régie Nationale des Usines Renault as a functioning company. It was never bankrupted.

        And the components of AMC, its brands, plants and designs, were again sold to Chrysler. No bankruptcy.

        I catch your point; but of all the companies involved with Jeep on some level, only Bantam and Chrysler were in bankruptcy; and Bantam many years after the fact.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      In those days a manufacturer was free to sell whatever he chose. Lawnmower engine on three wheels, with a motorcycle fork for the front? That’s cool…see if you can line up dealers.

      The Beetle was totally unconventional, lacking in many safety qualities required today, was a dirty engine, and was in original form, dangerously slow on American roads. That’s fine…you wanna weird Nazi car, be that way.

      That world is no more. Cars like the Beetle are no more. A new model, ANY new model, must have rigorous crash-test data, emissions certification, standardized equipment. Meeting such standards, in the 1980s (!) pushed the price of a Yugo from $999 F.O.B New Jersey, to $2800. That before one penny of advertising, dealer fees, or Yugo America profit was received.

      In such a framework, a small company cannot compete. Someone mentioned Avanti…but, where are they NOW? Even former niche builders can no longer hack it in a standardized, Nadarized world.

    • 0 avatar
      toplessFC3Sman

      Plus, when you look at the speed at which emissions & safety regulations in the US & EU are being increased, product lifecycles longer than 7 – 10 years will soon be almost impossible; a VW beetle that doesn’t appreciably change in 3 or 4 decades would not happen now

  • avatar
    Acd

    New car buyers aren’t exactly beating down the doors at their local Saab dealers. Through the end of June Saab has sold fewer than 3500 cars in the U.S.; of that only 650 were their newest model, the 9-5. For the month of June they sold 323 cars. It’s hard to make a business case going forward for a company with sales numbers like these.

  • avatar

    Folks, please don’t judge a car company on how it does or did in the U.S. A car company must be viable in its market, whatever that may be. In its home market Germany and Europe, Volkswagen was not a cult car, it was a mass market car. Even that did not prevent VW from skidding close to disaster several times in its history. I know, I was there.

    You can’t base a car business on a cult.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Just throwing out U.S. sales numbers for discussion to show just how bleak things are for Saab in what is supposed to be one of their larger export markets. Not having access to European sales data I can’t imagine that things look any better in any other market based on the stream of bad news that keeps flowing. Now that the 9-4X has started hitting dealerships maybe we’ll see a sales increase in the coming months.

      Bottom line is that if the customers aren’t buying what’s already in stock there’s not much reason for the factory to build more which doesn’t bode well for the long term suceess of the business.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Just throwing out U.S. sales numbers for discussion to show just how bleak things are for Saab in what is supposed to be one of their larger export markets.

        I believe that Mr. Schmitt was trying to suggest that one should not prognosticate about Saab’s possible options based specifically upon VW’s unique experience with the Beetle in the US a half century ago. I would agree with him on that.

        And yes, Saab’s dismal US numbers are worth noting, as they offer a good proxy for the overall problem. Saab simply can’t compete against the Japanese and German luxury brands in this market, nor can they compete against them anywhere else. If nobody bothers to buy them or can be persuaded to buy them, then that’s an obvious problem. Companies can’t survive if no one is buying their products.

  • avatar
    eldard

    VW is just about the only major Western automaker that makes good shopping decisions. And that my friends, is the reason why they would never bother with Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “VW is just about the only major Western automaker that makes good shopping decisions.”

      Disagree – they picked up Skoda and SEAT which effectively compete with each other and VW, just like the General Motors brands of the 1980s when Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile all went after the same markets with nearly identical cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Hildy Johnson

        It is true that Seat and Skoda are somewhat redundant. However, one should note that Seat was bought BEFORE the iron curtain came down. At the time, no one could foresee that event, and therefore the potential acquisition of Skoda.

        Once the iron curtain did come down, VW was fast enough on its feet to snap up Skoda, which given the radically changed situation was the right thing to do, despite the problems that created for Seat – Seat could not possible have competed at the cost of production of a Skoda run by another major player.

        So the acquisition of both Seat and Skoda does not disprove eldard’s point.

        The purchasing decisions are only part of the picture, however. What seems to me more important is the actual management and development of the brands. When VW acquired Audi, they didn’t amount to much at all, and no one would have considered them superior to Saab or Volvo in any way.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        It is true that Seat and Skoda are somewhat redundant. However, one should note that Seat was bought BEFORE the iron curtain came down. At the time, no one could foresee that event, and therefore the potential acquisition of Skoda.

        Plus, there is still a fair bit of automotive nationalism in Europe, which leaves some room for branding flexibility. At the time that VW acquired it in the mid-80s, the Spanish market looked like a hot prospect to just about everyone and SEAT was up for grabs, so it would have been acquired by some company just for the home market alone.

  • avatar

    Skoda has carved out a “smart shoppers” niche in the west and is big in Eastern Europe. Even Seat is alive. Skoda sold 762,600 units in 2010. Numbers Saab can only dream of.

  • avatar
    clipper965

    I was at the Cadillac/Saab dealer today and they had two 2010 SAAB 9-5 Aeros on the showroom floor unsold. Looking at the window sticker revealed why. $54000. The 9-5 Aero is a fine product but the overpriced by at least $10,000. I have always liked SAABs, I hope the brand does not go under but in today’s highly competitive car market it takes a very fine product to make it. The SAAB is but they need to lower the price.

  • avatar
    saabista63

    Neither Seat nor Skoda are in any way comparable to SAAB.

    First, they are part of Europes No. 1 car manufacturer with an annual production of millions of cars. They are using platforms, engines and thousands of other parts from VW’s vaults. In fact, SEAT is producing and selling the last generation Audi A4 as a SEAT – the EXEO – now – with a few cosmetical changes to interior and exterior design. Synergy rules in the VW empire!

    Second, neither SEAT nor SKODA are even close to premium manufacturers – even if Skoda has been successfully aiming at the E(xecutive)-segment with its fabulous second generation Superb – which is basically a very well designed, simplified VW Passat produced in Tchechia at much lower costs than in Wolfsburg.

    Interestingly enough, nobody seems to have a problem with VW’s synergy strategies. Whereas SAABs have too often been called “GM-clones” and “OPELs made in Sweden”, VW can do exactly what was never true for SAAB – without even the slightest damage to the image of its products.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      Because VW has halo cars such as the fastest in the world? And Lambos, Porsches, Audis, Bentleys? What’s Gee M got? The rednecky Corvette and the ghettoish Escalade.

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