On the road again

My job occasionally takes me away from the usual environment, and hence this week posting may be a bit lighter due to work travels.

In the meantime, you may (or may not) be surprised to see who’s published a little bit of Trollhattan: The Truth About Cars.

It’s quite condensed due to a strict word limit, but I can live with the form it’s taken.

Hasta la vista, Saaby!

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  1. Great job Swade on setting the record straight! Now all we (meaning you) have to do is take on Consumer Reports! 🙂

  2. I read your article and I have to disagree on a few points. First of all, have you seen the 9-2x? This isn’t just a wrong turn that will quickly be forgotten. Moves like this are what destroy brands.

    But the big problem is GM itself. Take a look at the Chevy Suburban and the GMC Yukon, or the Chevy Cobalt and the Saturn Ion, or the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky. Believe me, I can keep going. Check out this link to see what I’m talking about — these two cars are almost exactly the same:


    The problem with GM running Saab is that, unlike Ford or Volkswagen, GM is on a badge engineering addiction. They’re badge engineering everything, seeing that as the solution to their problems, and they can’t or won’t see the effect that it has on their brands. Just take a look at their lineup. With maybe a couple of rare exceptions (the Corvette and the Hummer H1) you’d be hard pressed to find a single car that doesn’t have a twin.

    They’ve even taken their fiercely independent brands and blended them into the company lineup. They’re closing down Saturn’s iconic Spring Hill plant, ensuring that all future models will be typical GM clones. GM’s Hummer H2 is a Chevy Tahoe with a bit of makeup added on, and the same holds true for the Cadillac Escalade.

    The problem with all of this is that it’s the GM cronies that control Saab. If it were any other company, like Ford or Volkswagen or even Proton (owners of Lotus, look them up), Saab would be as you implied: an independent subsidiary of the parent company. The owner would throw money to them, set standards both financial and product wise, and let them dip their hands in the company parts bin. But Saab would essentially be left alone. But GM is planning to use the Saab brand as a vehicle to bring Opel and Vauxhall brands into the company. And as the upcoming Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra/Hummer H2/Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon/Cadillac Escalade/Chevy Suburban/Chevy Avalanche shows, GM is in love with platform sharing/badge engineering/car cloning and they’re not the type to hold back once they’ve started.

    Honestly, I’m not a big Saab fan, but I hate to see any car maker having its identity dissolved thanks to an overzealous corporate agenda. But I see GM’s handling of Saab, and contrast it with how Ford handles its Swedish brand, and I just can’t see this as anything other than a tragedy. Hopefully GM will go bust before they screw the brand up too much, and Saab will be sold to someone who knows how to treat it right.

  3. Thanks for the article – you’ve echoed many of my gripes with the griping peeps.

    A response to the comment above-

    Agreed, the 9-2x is probably going to go down in history as a mistake. A good car, but a marketing mistake. I also agree that it’s a typically American mistake in spirit. The biggest mistake was whichever moron was in charge of cutting Saab’s product lineup 1-2 years ago, effectively limiting them to 2 cars.

    I’m guessing it’s Lutz that saw what was going on and protested. He knew that GM’s board would only give him so much time before pulling the plug on Saab. So what do you do; wait for four years until a new model arrives, or hedge your bet and come up with some decent “filler” products until much more excellent products are engineered?

    Speaking of engineering, when is the last time Saab completely engineered their own platform? If I’m not mistaken, they’ve been borrowing platforms for years now, long before GM “hijacked” them. Why not co-engineer an excellent flexible platform and make it your own. By many an account, the current 9-3 is one of the best Saabs ever produced.

  4. Alonzo,

    While I share some of your concern about future Saabs sharing too much with fellow platformates, you have seemed to ignore the line between platform sharing and badge engineering.

    The Saturn ION and Chevy Cobalt have completely different exteriors and interiors. The Saturn doesn’t even have steel door panels. The Cobalt coupe seats five instead of the ION’s four.

    The H2 is more than a Tahoe in camo. Many internal changes were made so it could traverse more trecherous trails. The interior design is also unique even if it shares buttons and levers.

    Cars like the Cadillac BLS and Escalade are pure rebadges. Yes, the BLS hides its roots well, in the same way the 9-7x does. But previous-gen Escalade was such a cheap transformation, I’m surprised how well it sold. Fortunately the new one is much more visually distinctive.

    I think the current 9-3 is a nice example of what can be done by simply sharing a platform. It’s a totally different car than say, a Pontiac G6. But I know the next-gen 9-3 will share a lot more with the Malibu/G6/Vectra etc. Let’s hope some of Saab’s engineering makes its way through GM’s number crunchers, because for the majority of buyers, what’s on the surface matters more than what’s underneath.

  5. Right ON. Couldn’t agree more. It’s unfortunate that Saab couldn’t stay independent YEARS ago – but within the reality of accountability and market economics, Saab is innovating – and will prevail. They now don’t have any choice but to, and I for one am going to cheer them every step of the way.

  6. OK…let me get the economics straight…the V6 block is cast in Mexico, dieseled to OZ, finished, dieseled to Trollhattan, mated, dieseled to mostly the US I’d ass/u/me…sounds like global circumnavigation before a dime of cost-offset/bonafide profit to me…and you guys think theres an AeroX in the near future? Isn’t the 2.3T in the larger, heavier 95 viable? The beauty of ethanol is…taken in moderately small quantities…what seemed like a great idea last night, looks completely different in the dawn. GMOTORS/Saab need serious powertrain options in the showrooms…worldwide ASAP…

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