Ah crap!! Soedertaelje to close

UPDATE: this story now has a second chapter.

From Forbes, via Autoblog, comes the news that GM are stripping away some more of Saab, closing the engine plant at Soedertaelje. The report states that the 60,000 engines produced there every year will now be made in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

I know, it shouldn’t matter where they’re made, as long as they’re Saab-designed. But for some reason it’s like the Saab ‘being’ has just lost another part of it’s body to GM’s Borg.

Resistance is futile.

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16 Comments

  1. I read this and was sort of bummed but then if you think like a GM bean counter, the only truly SAAB engine left in the fold is the 2.3T in the 2006 9-5 and that vehicle’s to be redesigned before too long and I’m sure will get a GM global engine (hopefully fully tweaked). The 9-3 has the GM 2.0L Ecotec, or the GM V6, the 9-2x is history but was a Subaru under the skin, and the 9-7x is a rebadge so didn’t require any specific engine development. It does seem to be another step in assimilation though. Bummer.

  2. Wow…news to me…I thought they were outta Sodertalje(gone to Kaisersluaten) years ago…were they building them at the Scania factory?
    That place should never close. Ive been there, its gotta be the most rockin heavy truck plant ever…

  3. To me, this is just another layer of the Saab cake being eaten by beancounters. Saabs are meant to be built in Sweden or Finland or somewhere in Scandinavia, not put together in said countries from parts made in Germany or Japan or China, or even not in Sweden at all. I can understand them having to share platforms, bodies, etc, but something about not being built in Sweden just bugs the heck out of me.

  4. Well better to have engines from Germany than somewhere that I cant even find from maps.

    In fact, making engines, or even cars in central Europe is getting more and more rare. Money talks, factories move.

  5. Part of the mystique of Saab was that it was built in the land of Vikings of yore, and by Trolls in Trollhattan, in the land employing more engineers as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. The cars almost had a Scandinavian feel to them like they had a soul of their own.
    I agree with Lewis, this just bugs the heck out of me.

  6. I too agree with Lewis. Sharing platforms etc makes sense in these times. I own a 9000 after all, and Saab has historically sourced major components like motors from others. But everything was put together in Sweden or Finland (like you knew that BMW’s were made in Germany) to produce something unique. Some quirky but handy features bespoke Scandinavia. I’m sure German engines will be of great quality, but that is not everything. Bugs the heck out of me too but I don’t think that owners of old saab Saabs are the targets for new sales. The BFJ campaign is a sad joke if manufacture ends up anywhere else but Trollhattan.

  7. Well, that just makes it more likely that my present Saab will be my last Saab. Part of the draw for me to buy the 2005 Saab 9-5 was (ok the disounts helped) that it was coming from Trollhatten. It was a Sweedish car built in Sweeden. I would not buy a VW built in Mexico and I would not buy a Volvo built in the Netherlands. I know that the economies of scale demand that automobiles be produced in other than the sponsoring countries (Honda, Toyota, VW etc etc) but Saab is a smaller niche brand and as such must maintain its personality as a Sweedish car. One thing for sure is that Toyota, Honda, VW and others still produce their cars in the originating countries – How long will that last for SAAB?

    Canada

  8. Excellent comments, all. Bram, you stole my comment, I couldn’t agree more!

    Swedes will have to give up their government-supported lifestyle to retain any semblance of an export business. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

    Swade: I see that paranoia creeping in again — “Borg”? Come now, GM’s more like a Britsh Commonwealth of old that’s having a hard time maintaining all of the colonies. Thus, the colonies are weaned from protection and support one by one.

    The real issue to me is this: how will Saab continue to differentiate the GM components that are available? Where the car is manufactured is important, but not life-or-death.

    After all, my 1988 900 Turbo Convertible was made in Nystad, Finland by a company that contracted with Saab, Porsche, Volvo and a couple of truck and tractor brands that I couldn’t name even if I tried. Shouldn’t a ‘brother’ plant within the same corporate structure have more skin in the game than a contract manufacturer? I would think so.

  9. Oh, and also a great comment by TuuSar re: German manufacturing. Better in Germany than, say, Romania or Brazil!

  10. I think it all boils down to this…

    As long as they (GM) don’t understand the Saab vs. Volvo-thing, don’t understand exactly why Saab all these years had 10% of the Swedish market, don’t understand the value of “think different” (as in the Apple ad campaing) – then it’s just gonna be another global premium brand like Audi or Lexus. A brand without a clear history, something that is just created to fulfill the corporate managements wet dream… It’s sad. In 5 years time, I will probably buy a Volvo designed och built in Gothenburg, instead of a souped-up Opel designed in Germany and bulit in Poland with a Saab-logo. But I hope something on the way will prove me wrong…

  11. Eggs, I think you’re getting a bit paranoid about my paranoia đŸ˜‰

    I don’t think the Borg analogy is so far from wrong though. Before the British lost control of the colonies, i.e. when they were building up the empire, they were pretty Borg-like in their own way too (albeit within the technological constraints of the times – they certainly tried to Britify a lot of places and whilst it’s given us Aussie more countries to whup at cricket, it wasn’t overly successful in the end).

  12. In today’s TTELA, it’s reported that the factory is NOT closing, just outsourcing other engine types than the BioPower-range. I just think this seems pretty logical, since the BioPower will perhaps in a few years completely take over.

  13. Swade,
    I disagree. British colonialism was a smashing success.

    I’ve sat on barstools in former British colonies from Canada to Antigua to Sri Lanka and many places in between. Each time I have thanked our British forefathers for sailing the world to teach the natives how to make fine lagers and ales.

    Thank you John Bull! Or should I say John Courage?

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