By on June 21, 2016

16 - 1968 Saab 96 Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

You can forget about ever buying a new car with the Saab name attached. That’s right, Swedeophiles, the name that conjures up happy memories of a quirky-but-attainable brand that hated column-mounted ignitions is officially dead.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), the Swedish holding company that bought up Saab Automobile’s assets in a 2012 bankruptcy sale, just announced it won’t sell any vehicles under the Saab name.

There won’t be a Swedish Spring after all. Not even in China.

NEVS produced a handful of electric Saab 9-3s using the vehicle’s old platform for a brief period in 2013-2014, but production stopped as the company filed for bankruptcy protection and went on the hunt for wealthy investors. It also lost the licensing agreement from the defunct brand’s parent company that allowed it to use the Saab name.

In a message published today on its website, the company states, “NEVS will be the trademark of the company’s products including the first electric vehicle based on the 9-3 platform with start in 2017. That means that NEVS will no longer use the Saab trademark.”

Last year, NEVS did what every struggling would-be automaker lists as their Plan A or B — it headed to China to search for cash. The company formed a strategic partnership with Chinese vehicle leasing company Panda New Energy and Chinese State Grid, the world’s biggest electric utility to build 150,000 electric cars and 100,000 electric commercial vehicles for that country’s vast market.

It wants to market vehicles worldwide, but for now, China is the company’s main focus.

No doubt, Scandinavian car aficionados will cry into their Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri Landsort Lager after reading this news, but NEVS isn’t too concerned.

With sincere respect to our history and heritage, we want to be recognized as ourselves – A sustainable mobility solutions provider who are committed to the environment with a focused growth plan with its own brand as a corner stone, stated Mattias Bergman, president of the company (and owner of a proud Swedish name), on the company’s website.

[Image: © 2015 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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79 Comments on “The Saab Car Brand is Dead. Mourn (Once Again) for Saab...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “This breaking news just in, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Mourn for Saab? No.

    Someone once told me since GM took over years ago, they were all Cavaliers underneath! Of course I never checked that out because I didn’t care then. I certainly don’t care now.

    I’m just waiting for the next car name to drop off the ends of the earth.

    Actually, the only car name I mourn is Plymouth…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “Someone once told me since GM took over years ago, they were all Cavaliers underneath!”

      Not true! They were all Vauxhalls underneath. Or a Subaru or TrailBlazer here and there.

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      An an owner of a Pre-GM saab AND a “GM” Saab, I can say that it shares nothing with a Cavalier. The statistic was that 85% of the parts are unique to the Saab and there isn’t a single piece of interior trim that is shared with any GM car, nor is anything under the Hood with Saab’s own B235R. the only GM parts i’ve seen is the rubber plug above the fuel filter and on the coolant bottle.

      Mine was in a front end collision, and I had the entire front apart. Headlights are french(also glass), the radiator German, the fans from Finland, the Door cards from Czechoslovakia. These “rebadged cavalier” comments are as ignorant as Jemermy Clarckson calling the modern Porsche 911 a Beetle.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Saab’s been dead for a long time, I guess with an extended mourning period. But…the new company is looking for engineers, lacking more than 500 qualified folks after Volvo souped up its capable competitors. So NEVS is training Norwegian oil engineers (free education ftw!) and the truly devoted might ask for work from even further away.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Saab, used to be Saab-Scania. Saab the car company was hived off but Saab, the Aircraft/ Defence manufacture is doing pretty well and Scania the Truck manufacturer extremely well

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “With sincere respect to our history and heritage, we want to be recognized as ourselves…”

    In other words, we couldn’t make it work, so now we’ve sold out some more, and we’ll try to make it work again.

    It won’t.

  • avatar

    I stand by my belief that the 9-7X was the most dependable vehicle SAAB ever sold.

  • avatar
    TriumphDriver

    A company that describes itself as a “sustainable mobility solutions provider” deserves to choke on its own management BS.

  • avatar

    Ah, the tale of two Swedish car companies that ended so differently. One could have rival the German premium bunch, what Cadillac never could have accomplished. The other was always properly taken care of, was then bought for peanuts by an Asian company that continued to nourish it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      GM may not have imbued Saab with its latest tech until it was much too late, but Saab lasted quite a bit longer than it should have or would have had GM not purchased it in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This. Kyree correctly points out that while GM is always bashed as “killing Saab” and removing its character – the profitability and sustainability of all that “character” was in doubt by the mid-late ’80s. They’d have been gone by the ’90s if not for GM.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Hard to say. GM wasn’t the only suitor. Ford was also interested, and look at where Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo are now.

          Lots of people claim that the result of GM’s ownership was unavoidable, but the same people thought Audi was a dead brand in 1990.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        +1. SAAB, as an independent smallish builder of near luxury cars, was occupying an untenable place in the market.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        yep. SNAABs don’t want to admit that SAAB was always doomed. GM just delayed the inevitable by about a decade.

        • 0 avatar
          Sjalabais

          But why? As others have said, a different owner, a stronger, more poignant leadership, or just a money flush could have lead all sorts of ways.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Because they had two products. A mid-size car, and a full size car. That was it. And up until recently those were the most saturated and competitive market segments. SAAB had no “why buys,” and the handful of people who care where the ignition switch is aren’t enough in number to sustain the brand.

            Then, when GM tried to expand the product lineup, they got sneered at by SNAABs.

            SAAB died because they relied on being “quirky.”

            “Quirky.”

            Doesn’t.

            Sell.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    As a child growing up in the eighties, I used to see a fair number of Saab 900’s… man those cars were ugly as sin. it wasn’t until the late 90’s when GM took vested interest in SAAB, that i actually cared about the brand. The cars looked so much better. I still think the 9-3 convertible was one hot number as well as the 9-3 wagon.

  • avatar

    Ah, the tale of two Swedish car companies that ended so differently. One could have rivaled the German premium bunch, what Cadillac never could have accomplished. The other was always properly taken care of, was then bought for peanuts by an Asian company that continued to nourish it.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Saab died in the 90’s, IMO.

    GM merely kept the patient on life support. Reality of it is, when mainstream buyers think “Euro Status Symbol” Saab fell somewhere below “VW” and above “Hyundai”.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think the design was great – just the execution pretty poor. If Saab had gone to Honda, think of the possibilities then! A well-built 9000 Aero!

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        A Saab 9000 Aero with insane Japan price bubble era tech sounds amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        PolestarBlueCobalt

        The 9000 aeros were very well built. It’s hard to find one under 200k…

        Mine has 159k on it.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree, it IS hard to find them with under 200k. Most made it to about 125k before they developed a major fault and were junked.

          The 200k+ ones have been rebuilt two or three times. They’ve got as many original parts left as Janet Jackson.

          • 0 avatar
            PolestarBlueCobalt

            That’s where you’re completely wrong. The b234R in those cars is bulletproof even if you throw a stupid amount of boost on it. They’re reliable, dependable, but small annoying things is what will go wrong after a car is 20 years old.

            Mine is all original and was trashed by the previous owner. I can think of a dozen that I saw last week that are original and have high miles. Take care of any car and it will take care of you.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I haven’t seen a 9000 in a month – where do you live where there are a dozen a week?

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    I am still happy to putter about in my 9-3 wagon. it has been surprisingly reliable, especially the body and under body which still looks near new.

    For the waht, $10K it is worth I couldn’t find anything better and it is very handy for Home Depot or garden store runs. Only issue has been the sunroof needs a full lube every year or gets all weird.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I still have my 2004 9-5 Arc SportCombi with JZW stage lll ecu tune. The interior has held up well for 180,000+ miles and with fresh synthetic Maxlife automatic trans fluid will spins the tires in the wet on kick down.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    NEVS could still sell cars under a Swedish name by reversing their own acronym… SVEN.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    It seems to me that not too long ago I read somewhere that whomever still owns the SAAB name revoked NEVS’s rigths to the name for nonpayment. I suspect that’s the real reason for the announcement.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      It wasn’t nonpayment. They just had a right to revoke the branding upon change of ownership. That’s a standard clause by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      SAAB owns the name. SAAB the defence contractor that makes, among other things, the AT4 and the Carl Gustaf Recoilless Rifle (both in service in the US Army) and the Gripen fighter and sterling powered submarines.

  • avatar
    1audiofile

    I owned Saabs from the 70s, 80s and 90s. I loved the cars, the design and the quirkiness. You either liked the way it looked or you didn’t. I did. They were fun to drive and easy to work on. I changed the clutch in a 70s 99 model in 45 minutes. A feat impossible in any other car. The reason for the key being located between the seats is Saab noted that many people driving other cars died because their head hit the key sticking out of the dash. Never happens with a Saab. A popular British car show tested the body strength of a 80s Saab compared to an 80s BMW. They suspended both cars 10 feet off the ground upside down. They then dropped both cars. The BMWs top was crushed flat and would have let the people inside die from a crushed spine. When the saab was dropped, the top remained intact. In fact the windshield did not even break. The show’s staff noted Saab invested a lot of money to make the car safe. Thats why they had trouble making a profit.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Another Saab story.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    To me, SAAB died when GM purchased it anyway. The products that followed were all based on a Malibu or worse.
    Good riddance!

  • avatar
    seth1065

    As a past owner of three Saabs and I still have my 05 9-3 5 speed vert that I drove this AM, “Thank God”, love the cars but enough with this walking dead brand , let it die, if they want to make cars w the old platform go for it, i Thought they were doing this in Turkey? Saab would have died a lot sooner ig GM did not invest in them but GM really did very little for them, I will toast the “saab ” name tonight with some fine European beer.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Is that my Saab 96? No, mine was sand colored and had less chrome. Great car!

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I’ve always thought that GM should have kept Saab going as the Swedish Opel. They could have dropped the pretense of Saabs being different from Opel and just stuck the Saab name on Opels.

    The same way they stick the Vauxhall name on Opels in England. And the same way they stick the Buick name on Opels in the U.S.

  • avatar
    Hogie roll

    While saab the brand died. Their spirit lives on in every oddly shaped 4cyl turbo powered pod on the road today.

  • avatar
    montecarl

    Always had a soft spot for SAAB..The 9000 wasn’t a bad looking car back in the day..When the price drop a bit on the MY10/11 9/5 or a 9/7x with the 6.0 engine I plan on scooping one up..

  • avatar

    My first experience first-hand with a SAAB was with an ’04 9-5 Aero loaner I received when my Aurora was being warranty-serviced at Scott Buick-SAAB (yeah, I know) in Pinellas Park.

    “Hmm. Actually a pretty nice car…”

    *finds window sticker in glovebox*

    “…nevermind.”

  • avatar
    NutellaBC

    I own two 9-3s (one is a Viggen) and I would say that used Saabs are the best used cars money can buy. Well put together, awesome seats, upscale styling and great handling when pushed. Efficient and smooth engine too. Parts are plentiful and they are easy to maintain. Very few reliability issues globally and plenty of active forums to help you prevent the few problems that can crop up.
    I test drove cars for a living for several years ( well know premium german manufacturer) and I was always happy to return to my Saabs after testing.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Used 9-5’s were a steal after 2009 GM BK. I picked a few for my 30,000 miles of annual driving. They rode on the freeway well, cheap nickle-and-dime stuff was easily to maintain, and 40+ mpg at 60 mph was heard unless you were in a Prius.

      • 0 avatar
        NutellaBC

        I’d love to get my hands on one of those. I’m not crazy about the front end of the 06s and later but the 9-5 is IMO one of the best cars of the late 90s early 2000.
        Their combination of comfort, safety, efficiency, easy maintenance and understated/classy styling can’t be beaten.

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      The SID in my Viggen is currently showing 24.7 MPG or should I say 24,7 as it reads. 100% city driving over the past 6 months.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Saab died because its cars toward the end were terrible. Their torque steer was horrendous. Driving a late 80’s fwd turbo boosted on a rough road was dangerous even in a straight line drag race.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    So long SAAB, I will miss you. You were my favorite. Thanks for giving me something to aspire to. No one else has done so since.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I always thought Subaru i.e.. Fuji Heavy industries should have bought out the remains of Saab. They could have been marketed as upper market Subarus to roughly the same demographic who wanted something a bit more upscale.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Which was with the 9-2x, IIRC. WRX wagon with a console-mounted key.

      A true Saabaru!

    • 0 avatar
      Wolfsbane

      I agree. I always thought a combination of Fuji, AKA Subaru, SAAB and the pre-FIAT ALFA Romeo would have made sense as a combination. Their cars all had a similar quirkiness. Unfortunately there wasn’t a strong company in that mix. They all were in a similar position. But they could have made some great cars together.


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