Question of the Weekend – Do you really think Saab can survive?

Many of you realize that Saab is in a world of hurt. The Swedish car maker last week agreed to partner with China’s Hawtai Motor Group, and the deal has failed to secure the proper government approvals. This had the effect of devaluing the automakers shares, making them almost as worthless as wall-paper. Both Saab and Hawtai essentially called off the marriage of convenience which will also cast doubt as to the viability of Saab’s owner, Netherlands-based Spyker Cars NV. The agreement would have let Hawtai produce Saabs locally for the Chinese market, starting in 2013 with an upgraded 9-3 model. However, the deal also required the approval of the European Investment Bank and the Swedish National Debt Office, which is guaranteeing a loan to Saab from the EIB.

Saab has since stated that it will continue to work on securing short and medium term funding, including talking with other Chinese partners. You have to wonder how many more “partners” this company can get, even when and if the Swedish Government allows Russian banker Vladimir Antonov as an investor. So the question of the weekend is this: Do you expect Saab to survive as a viable car company? Bonus question: Do you think Spyker’s own viability is in question as well?
Saab Hearse Image Credit: World Car Fans

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    Saab was dead in 1990, and GM as it turned out couldn't keep the corpse alive, though at first they did give it a real try. This was discussed at length in…. Give the name a decent burial.

  2. Manic_King Avatar

    I suppose final result could be similar to MG's fate. Some co. from China will buy the equipment (robots etc.) through bankruptcy proceedings and move them to China and start production there.
    Or maybe other optimists, similar to Spyker or Koenigsegg owners try once more. Spyker sportscar brand was sold already in February to Antonov and if this guy pulls the plug then that's it. Another dead car maker. Like TVR. Russian oligarchs seem to have difficulties when running companies in the West (and vice versa). Mindset is so different and margins are too low:)
    TTAC had quite interesting story about SAAB situation, seems that Muller has played his hand very poorly and is desperate:

  3. Jim-Bob Avatar

    SAAB has never been a strong player and their products have always filled a rather innovative niche in the market. Sadly though, that niche was extinguished by GM's ownership with subsequent models being little more than cosmetic manipulations of GM products. How they will survive now in a very value-conscious environment with an evaporating middle class is uncertain but my bet is that they don't. It may have been possible before the crash but I just don't see it happening now. Most people are too spooked to buy a car from a company with an uncertain future.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Saab extinguished itself in the 1980s by trying to go upmarket into BMW and Audi territory. When GM took over Saab, there were no new products in the pipeline, so GM had to start from scratch with the new 1993 900. That car tried to retain the Saab characteristics despite having some Opel in it, but it didn't catch on.

  4. fhrblig Avatar

    I've never owned a Saab, but I appreciated them before GM slathered them with blandness. I was hoping for the best after GM sold them and I saw the new 9-5, but my gut tells me they're not gonna pull through this. It's a shame.

  5. humblejanitor Avatar

    They're dead in the water and it's all thanks to Spyker and their short-sightedness.

  6. Alff Avatar

    It matters not. Saab stopped being Saab a long time ago. The 9000 was the beginning of the end.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Yep. Everybody blames GM for killing Saab but the rot set in long before. Saab would have done better to come up with a true replacement for the aging 99/900 which dated back to 1967 rather than reaching for luxury-car profits.

  7. mdharrell Avatar

    Almost universally among SAAB/Saab enthusiasts I've noticed an uncomfortable juxtaposition of "we're all in this together" and "…but MY model is the last real one." Usually it's implicit but often enough it rises to the surface for all to see. It's not as if the company has made all that many car models over the decades, either, but it still comes down to bullnose vs longnose two-stroke vs V4 vs 99 vs 900 vs 9000 vs….
    As the former owner of a few V4 cars and the current owner of two '67 'stroker sedans, my goal is clear: I want to get my hands on a 1949-56 model 92 so I can become the bitter old guy who rants interminably about just how SAAB went to hell as soon as they added a third cylinder to their engines. Preferably an early one so I can throw in a few choice comments about the evils of trunk lids.
    Oh, and their current predicament? I'm inclined to say NULLA EST VIA but I've been wrong in pronouncing them dead before.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      <img src="; width="400">
      Plan B is to get a Saab-Lancia 600 just to mess with people, but that'd be mostly a rehash of what I'm already doing in the Citroën club and the Mini club.

  8. muthalovin Avatar

    I could wax poetically about how neat Saab was, but, that's just it, Saab was awesome back in the day. Not anymore. As noted above, Saab started by spiraling itself to doom, then GM prolonged the agony, and, now, Saab is where it is now. Saab is not worth saving, what with its GM derived SUV's, sedans and convertibles. Sure, it is kind of sad, but it's been in the works for a long, long time.

  9. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I found a copy of this tome in a charity-run second-hand bookstore near home. It was issued by Saab on the event of their 50th Anniversary, and only charts the history up until '87, when it was published.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Its a superb and revealing read (albeit a little Saab-biased, obviously). It seems that, though far from phenomenally successful on the world stage, the company could basically do no wrong for that first five decades. The Type-four project, though the resulting 9000 was great (I loved mine) and put $$$ into Saabs coffers, didn't do a great deal for their image. Nor did the whole of the GM era.
    To be honest, I feel that the Spyker administration, up to now, have done the best job they could. And every time I see the awesome looking new 9-5 on the road, I feel I ought to salute it.
    They are mad, though, to concentrate on this sector, where they're playing the Germans at their own game. They should have used their percieved upmarket persona to launch into the small hatch market, Volvo C30 style, and gone chasing disenfranchised MINI customers.

    1. 2stroke4life Avatar

      My local public library has this book, I can't count how many times I have checked it out from there. An excellent book.
      Saab ceased to exist when they stopped making the original 900 and put GM engines in 9000s.
      If someone wants a true Saab experience, get a 92, a 93, a 95/96, a Sonett or a Leyland-engine 99, and experience the difficulties in getting parts, the smell, smoke, noises and oil/gas mixture of the two-stroke engine, generally poor reliability (although my old 95 and the running strokers I own now are reliable, they get the maintenance expected of a VSCCA or VARA Quantum Formula Junior) and odd duck styling.
      -Darnell's Auto Wrecking, Jalopnik

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I think I'm pretty much with you on all counts.

  10. facelvega Avatar

    Is there room for a small, fast-moving European semi-luxury marque with an aim to make oddball cars that undermine and question the incredible bland sameness of the entire automotive industry's design and engineering practices? Uh, yeah. Is Spyker/Saab likely to be the company to nail this goal? Doubtful. But at least they're trying.
    On another note, for some reason in the last year I've grown fond of the very last Opel Saabs, especially the wagons– you know, the ones with the weird metallic treatment around the lights and grille and across the hatch. Somehow they don't seem as cheesy anymore. Hard to imagine buying one though.
    <img src="; width="500">

  11. Elvis on velvet Avatar
    Elvis on velvet

    As some one with over 250,000 Saab miles under his clutch not counting dad's old 99, up to the end of the pre GM 900s Saab had that "think different" idiosyncratic market niche. Front wheel drive when few had it, inline 4 popper engine(turbo if you like) inverted with zero torque steer, engine tilted for a lower hood, folding rear seats cavernous cargo room that could put some SUVs and wagons to shame. That 1978 900 was 10 years ahead of its time. The problem was after 15 years they were still building the same car and did not have a replacement in the works. GM re-badge and gussied up some Opels it was an ok try and they were nice cars but they just didn't get what made the loyal Saab owners love there cars. This was made most abundantly clear when they dropped the hatch and started selling gussied up Imprezas and TrailBlazers.
    Muller is a car guy and from the interviews he seems to get what makes Saab Saab If he or someone can get 2 or 3 competitive cars to market it still could work.
    But that new almost Taurus size 9-5 whoa nice car but not what the iconoclastic Saab fan is after , I'd like to see new Saabs going after the GTI/GTD, Mini and Mini Countryman, JUKE, first gen BB/xB ect.
    If they can build it and sell it we are still out there and will buy.

  12. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    I wouldn't be surprised to see SAAB on "Shark Tank" next season at this point.

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