By on May 17, 2012

Fritz Henderson could not save Saab.

Victor Muller could not save Saab.

Vladimir Antonov could not save Saab

Pang Qinghua could not save Saab.

Rachel Pang could not save Saab.

Now, Barack Obama is supposed to save Saab.

At least that’s how the Swedish metalworker union IF Metall sees it.
The union sent written a letter to president Barack Obama, urging him to use his good offices “to force former Saab owner General Motors to release the technology licenses for any potential buyer for Saab.” At least this is how The Local sees it.

The letter says:

“Our hope is that you will feel that Saab Automobile is worth being saved. We, more than 4,500 car workers in Sweden, look forward to your answer.”

Saab is in bankruptcy proceedings, and the receivers are evaluating bids. Saab is worth very little without the technology licenses held by GM, and, for that matter, without the brand held by defense contractor SAAB AB.

GM has been on record many times that it does not intend to license its technologies to any buyer of Saab in any shape or form.


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40 Comments on “Guess Who’s Supposed To Save Saab Now?...”

  • avatar

    If Saab was worth saving, it would have had enough customers to keep it afloat in the first place.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Nah… I know who will

    If not him, this bloke for sure will have the answer

    Disclaimer: it’s the first time I use that site so it may not work. Links are perfectly work safe.

    I would also like to see them back in the game, but sadly that seems to belong to the notgonnahappen file.

  • avatar

    If metalworker union IF Metall are not registered Democrats then the President can’t buy their votes. Obummer!

    • 0 avatar

      The Obama campaign has once again switched off the checks on where credit card donations come from. I’m sure the 4500 workers have some spare credit on their cards…… If they used Jon Corzine as a bundler perhaps they could attract enough attention to get some consideration.

  • avatar

    The only one who can save Saab is the one that destroyed Saab: General Motors.

    …and it ain’t gonna happen.

    Yet Opel lives. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      Opel sells, unlike Saab since the mid-1980s. The painful truth that Saab fans remain in denial about is the fact that Saab was basically dead from self-inflicted wounds even before GM entered the picture.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, you are right – GM would have never entered the picture if Saab had been healthy, but they certainly didn’t save Saab, either (not that it was their responsibility). I do have a warmer spot in my heart for Saab than Opel, probably because Opel doesn’t sell cars under its nameplate in the USA. Opel is still a drag on GM’s bottom line right now.

      • 0 avatar

        Remember, GM had to start from scratch to remake Saab since Saab had no new cars being developed or planned at the time of the takeover. GM did make a real effort to save Saab for the first several years, but the buyers stayed away and GM began to sink into its own financial troubles. That’s when it all turned sour.

      • 0 avatar

        The NG 900 was hardly “start from scratch”. GM simply never wanted Saab to succeed here or worldwide cuz it makes Crapillac look bad. The 97 and 92 were not “self-inflicted”. Saab sold well in England and some euro countries cuz of diesels. GM gets on the program here by finally selling a Cruze diesel soon.

      • 0 avatar

        “GM simply never wanted Saab to succeed here or worldwide cuz it makes Crapillac look bad.” Uh, yeah right. GM spent 600 million on Saab just so they could watch it fail. Suuure they did. Nice little conspiracy theory there.

        The new 900 was a clean sheet in that Saab had left nothing at all for GM to use. Was using Opel parts as a basis any different than Saab using a Fiat/Lancia platform to create the 9000? At least the 900 didn’t share any body panels with Opel unlike the 9000 with its Fiat Croma doors. As for sales, the US was Saab’s biggest market by far and sales collapsed after 1985. In the 1980s, Saab tried for BMW/Audi territory while giving up on its core buyers. The 9000 was a sales flop and the 900 was an ancient relic by 1985. Saab didn’t have the quality or cachet to justify charging premium prices and would-be buyers spent their money elsewhere. Sorry, but Saab killed itself.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford didnt kill Volvo or Jaguar. Honda didnt Fover Acura, or Nissan, Infiniti, or Toyota, Lexus or VW, Audi. No, its pretty much GM shooting itself in the foot with Opel,Vauxhall,Holden and Saab.

        GMs brilliance, which I had the “pleasure” to work on today thrice, was their Fing V6s crammed wherever the F they could.

        The Saab 16 Valve engine became the basis for the Ecotecs, which have turned out to be pretty decent engines, the APC system, the bullet-proof manual trannies…Ill stick with FUGM and rot, Lutz.

      • 0 avatar

        …and who is No. 1 in sales?

      • 0 avatar

        “Ford didnt kill Volvo or Jaguar. Honda didnt Fover Acura, or Nissan, Infiniti, or Toyota, Lexus or VW, Audi. No, its pretty much GM shooting itself in the foot with Opel,Vauxhall,Holden and Saab.”

        Er, what? Can’t make sense of this.

        “The Saab 16 Valve engine became the basis for the Ecotecs..”

        Where are you getting this? Saab had a very small role in the Ecotec development.

        Yep, Saab was nothing but a hotbed of brilliance and engineering expertise. So perfect, in fact, that no-one wanted to buy their cars anymore. The latter-day fanbois like you sure didn’t save them.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2003 Saab 9-3 had the highest sales annually of any Saab. And that was a GM developed chasis.

      Some of the 2000 9-5’s didn’t have floor lighting where every GM passenger did of that era in near luxury segment. Sounds like a Saab decision, not GM.

      • 0 avatar

        @fred diesel

        “GM simply never wanted Saab to succeed here or worldwide cuz it makes Crapillac look bad.”

        Where do you get that? GM tried just about everything in their arsenal to make Saab work for them, even though it lost money every single year of the 16 years they were in bed together. Long after GM should have just accepted the fact that Saab was a bad investment, cut their losses, and moved on, they continued to spend millions on development and marketing, money that could have been better spent growing in China or shoring up their flagging American operations. It was GM’s hubris that prevented them from admitting defeat, and they probably would have kept on flushing money down the Trollhattan toilet for years longer had the global financial crises not made their bankruptcy a more immediate event.

        Saab was “supposed” to form a key part of GM’s brand strategy – it was intended to lure in buyers that would never look at a Buick or a Cadillac because of their bias against American nameplates. Essentially, it was supposed to do for GM at the luxury end of the spectrum what Saturn was created to do at the lower end. Big surprise, neither of them worked. GM also tried to do a the same thing with Oldsmobile at about the same time, Saab was sort of hedging their bets in case the American image proved insurmountable with Olds.

        In Saab’s case, it was because GM was trying to force fit them into a segment that they had never really occupied in the first place. Saab was never a true luxury brand, they were never going to have the same cachet as BMW or Mercedes. They had never been a high volume brand, throughout their history, their sales figures had always been in the mid-volume, “boutique” range, and scaling them up was a daunting challenge.

        Eventually, the success of the CTS proved to GM that Cadillac could be remade into a BMW challenger after all, and with faster and better results than Saab, so the brand was wholly and completely irrelevant at least by that point, if not sooner.

      • 0 avatar


        Good analysis, except for one minor point – Saab itself was trying to move into luxury territory long before GM was involved and that’s why they ran into trouble in the late 1980s. I think GM’s mistake was to attempt to keep Saab as a luxury make. Perhaps what GM should have done was scuttle the luxury cars and throw everything at the 900 range, returning Saab to their traditional role of a purveyor of quirky medium-priced “Euro-flavor” cars with a sporty edge.

  • avatar

    So…can Leno buy Saab? Talk about a cool addition to your garage!

  • avatar

    I understand a company wanting to control proprietary technology, but the way GM has been handling Saab they look more like a jealous ex. “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”

    • 0 avatar

      It’s entirely possible that GM can’t give away or otherwise sublicense the Saab car designs even if they wanted to, either because they don’t fully own all of the IP themselves or because they’ve already exclusively licensed it to some other company (e.g. SAIC). This stuff becomes a tangled web very quickly.

      Although, even if they could, why would they want to? An independent Saab would be a competitor to GM. What possible reason would they have to just give away patent licenses to an upcoming competitor? What’s in it for them?

    • 0 avatar

      If GM includes the proprietary elements of their technology in the sale, the Chinese will buy Saab in a heartbeat (they’ve already expressed interest). They will basically be buying GM’s engineering and development investments for cents on the dollar.

      You are basically right, though; the jealous ex (GM) will not be signing the divorce papers, only because they know Saab will find themselves a younger, prettier Asian company.

  • avatar

    They’re jsut mad abut the bailout.


  • avatar

    The Swedes seem to think Obama is CEO and owner of GM, able to force them to do whatever he wants. Not exactly true although it’s an intriguing suggestion. Unfortunately the 4500 workers are not in a key battleground state like Ohio and GM does not want any more competition for it’s cars than it has now, or can profit from directly. That’s the real reason for the IP lock down.
    But hey if we can help Fisker build cars and hire people over there why not bail out SAAB with a few billion dollars, it’s other peoples money after all.

    • 0 avatar

      Europe as a whole feels that way. For some reason they can’t get it through their fat heads that there are 3 EQUAL branches of government and the President doesn’t get to run the show as a dictator.

      GM should have closed Saab down and bulldozed the plant when they had the chance. The problems Saab now have has nothing to do with GM. GM was 2 owners ago.

    • 0 avatar

      “The Swedes seem to think Obama is CEO and owner of GM, able to force them to do whatever he wants.”

      I seriously doubt that. They wrote a letter and put a bit of PR buzz behind it; from their perspective, how could that possibly hurt? They have absolutely nothing to lose by asking.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    What is this, a rejected “Saturday Night Live” skit? Some Swedish autoworkers want the president of the United States to bail out a Swedish company by forcing an American company to license its IP to that Swedish company . . . so that the Swedes can have their jobs back.

    You can’t make up stuff like this; it has to be real to be believed!

  • avatar

    GM hadn’t introduced any new Saabs in probably 8 or 9 years, before Saab closed for good. I can’t imagine there is any valuable IP left in those stale Saab cars.

    GM really should let Saab have their IP. This is ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2010 Saab 9-5 used the 2008-vintage GM Epsilon II platform which is also being used on the Opel Insignia, Buick Regal/LaCrosse, and new Chevy Malibu. That’s some pretty fresh IP there, and I can’t blame GM for not wanting to give it away.

  • avatar

    I dunno – how many Electoral votes does Sweden have?

  • avatar

    “GM has been on record many times that it does not intend to license its technologies to any buyer of Saab in any shape or form.”

    Technically isn’t that what GM did the first time? License its tech to Victor Muller et al?

    The problem was finding the right circumstances to make GM happy.

    • 0 avatar

      For the proposed Chinese sale, GM would be giving its technology to a company that would be in direct competition with its own efforts in China. That and the casual Chinese attitude towards IP made GM change its mind about the sale.

  • avatar

    I just purchased a 2001 SAAB 9-5 wagon with 80xxx miles on it. It has a minor problem or two, but overall it is a fantastic car to drive, especially on long highway runs. It has a lot of great luxury items in it, and right now by my math I’m averaging about 30 mpg (not 30 mpg from the SID in the car).

    If this is the quality of car they were making after 2001, then there was a massive problem somewhere other than engineering. All you have to do is take care of the engine and tranny so it doesn’t grenade on you and it can be a great, great car for years. It seems like the suits at GM messed this division up too.

    As long as a person get parts for these cars, people will enjoy them for years to come.

  • avatar

    Nobody can save Saab, and that ship has sailed anyway.

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