Identity (Part 3)

In Part 1 of “Identity” I gave you all a run down on how Saab see their customers.

Part 2 was a brief look at how one particular Saab enthusuast saw Saab people.

Now we look at how Saab see themselves. These are Saab’s own words about their brand culture….


– Unique heritage rooted in Scandinavian origins

– Clean aesthetics, pragmatic thinking

– Aerodynamic aircraft design

– Sporty rally heritage

– Out-of-the-box thinking on turbocharging

– A challenging approach to developing new car concepts

Our Scandinavian heritage sets us apart
Clean. Functional. Different. Our Scnadinavian heritage continues to inspire and differntiate out approach to building cars. Vehicles designed near the Aectic Circle must be unusually rugged and versatile, with a highly functional edge.

This is the same demanding climate that gave birth to such practical innovations as the safety match, the gas lighthouse, dynamite, the clothes zip, the paperclip and the modern mobile phone.

Influenced by light, nature technology and the efficient use of materials, our design style is biased towards an honest, efficient and pure aesthetic. Decorative flourishes are generally avoided. There is also a warm, human approach that shines through in the attention to ergonomic details – with evrything built around the driver.

We’re inspired by our origins as an aircraft manufacturer
It makes us different. Saab’s unique heritage of building high-performance aircraft dates back to 1937 when the first plane rolled out of a hangar in Trollhattan, Sweden. Ten years later, in 1947, the company started building cars as well. Because of this, Saab naturally applied many of the skills and principles learned in aircraft production to buiding cars.

This ability to think laterally, explore new possibilities and apply ideas from one business to another is a classic part of Saab’s engineering tradition. Today we are inspired by this heritage. Echoes of it can be found in our vehicles – in the efficient use of materials, aerodynamic forms and state-of-the-art technology. Our philosophy of building the car around the driver, like a cockpit, also comes out of our aircraft heritage.

Saab has a history of independant thinking
Saab people are passionate about what they do. Whether developing new car concepts, entering rallies or coming up with unusual functional features, they develop creative solutions that go beyond the conventional. The result? Customers are rewarded with an ingenious, special type of car that reflects their own individuality.

Innovative Car Concepts
For more than 50 years Saab has offered sporty, yet functional cars for drivers who are looking for an alternative to the mainstream, mass-marketed brands. Progressively designed and packed with clever features, Saab cars have long been associated with an intelligent, innovative approach.

Thinking Differently
When others have claimed that something is impossible, Saab has dared to differ. And, as it turns out, the creative spark – combined with a resourceful, inventive way of thinking – has proven the impossible to be possible. Over the years, this “what if” approach has led to a number of industry firsts in terms of safety, control, handling, design and turbocharged performance.

Click here to see a list of Saab’s innovations.


I’d be very interested to see the rewriting of this piece as an assignment for a Swedish employee of the company.

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  1. Decorative flourishes are generally avoided.
    A good example of which is best seen on the Dame Edna 95.
    Enjoy the town of Queens Swade m8

  2. I’m not talking about heritage from old Saab models. I’m talking about what Swade wrote: “Scandinavian heritage”

    And as a “Scandinavian” I know that our design heritage is not one with (as saabologist said) decorative flourishes.


  3. If you do a search on images on for “Scandinavian heritage” one of the first images that pops up is this
    and this

    Or do a search for something as swedish as sverigedräkten or jämtlandsskåp.

    Is that not decorative flourishes? My view of old swedish tradition is something that often has lot of colour and decorations. Lock at the swedish glass industri, it did not get well known by making regular glass but instead it got known by mixing many colours in the glass.

  4. It’s a big difference between folklore traditions that are hundred of years old, and Scandinavian design of today. Since I live here, and are very interested in design – Swedish, Danish and Finnish – of glass, furnitures and so on, I can say that we are not known for lots of ornament for example. The other well-known car company (Volvo) describe it like this: “Less is more”. Or from a site about Scandinavian design: “Scandinavian design has been associated with simple, uncomplicated designs, functionality and a democratic approach”

    It’s about natural material, functionality, simple forms, no unnecessary things, easy light colours, a feeling of warmth. Not about putting chrome on a dashboard just because the German car companies do it this year.

  5. The sharpness of the exterior sheetmetal on the new 9-3 convertible exempted, it really is difficult to claim heritage and individuality when one’s brand is tied tightly to GM Europe’s Opel.

    Saab is doing an admirable job under these forbidding conditions.

  6. Hey guys, enough of bagging the 9-5 about this “decorative flourish” rubbish. In the context of the book from which Swade quotes, things make alot more sense.

    Importance of the Grille

    The said book devotes a twin page spread to the importance of the grille and identity with a little test of the reader to identify several prestige brands by their grille shape. The SAAB grille is readily identified by its four openings.

    Point 1

    With some recent show themes SAAB has explored enlarging the theme to spread across the whole front of the car and embolden this key identifying feature. This has been carried over to the 9-5.

    Point 2

    The chrome is definitely decorative but also entirely consistent with most SAABs of the last 20 years.

    Point 3

    The horizontal bands evident beside the headlight bezels are continuations of the grille slats consistent with running the grille theme across the full width.

    Point 4

    It is clear the look the designers were aiming for was one of hidden headlights. In reality the headlights are still quite evident. We still tend to identify headlights with human eyes and putting chrome around the headlights unfortunately gives a vehicle a bespectacled look. Add to this the Dame Edna comment and it sticks.

    Point 5

    Besides this chrome treatment which is consistent with the SAAB brand as written and as demonstrated in show cars, the 9-5 is remarkably free from decoration and adornment and borders on bland.

    Point 6

    The SAAB brand specifies a jewel-like quality in the design that results in aspects becoming more appreciated with repeated scrutiny. This depends on the individual and success depends on enough people feeling this way about a particular SAAB design.

  7. I have to agree with Psycho Dave, the 07 9-3 dash does seem to have a few common features with the 900 of old. I must admit I really disliked the 07 dash when I first saw it – no I LOATHED it – but I actually think it is quite nice now. The only thing I dont like is the cover over the ‘hole’ where SID used to be but its a minor detail.

    As far a Scandianavian design goes, I really think Saab design is not really so Scandinavian these days. Take the badges off of the Aero-X and in screams JAPAN to me. When I think Scaninavian design I thing Bang and Olufsen and, dare I say this, IKEA. Simple, elegant and functional.

  8. turbin: I was talking about the sudden appearance of chrome on the dashboard in the 9-3. A dashboard which has been very nice to my eye for over decade without any chrome. Until someone explain to me 1) how this is Scandinavian design, 2) how this is more ergonmic and safe for the driver, and 3) how this is “Born from Jets”, I just think of it as a fashion thing that has GM stamped all over it and is no way “Saab” at all. Has nothing to do whith chrome or not; it’s about how you use it.

    It’s the same thing with the instrument light in the 9-5. It’s kind of whiteish-blueish now, right? Used to be green before the facelift. May I then quote Saab’s own book about the Aero-X:
    “We chose green instrument illumination because this is used in aircraft and Saab cars. It gives the best, easiest-to-read image.” Ok.. (?)

    Wanna see Scandinavian design? Look inside the new Volvo S80.

  9. zippy <<< The cover on top of the dash is not to cover over the hole where the SID was. Sure the cover is in the same place to where the SID used to be but the whole top och the dash is redesigned so a SID would not fit under the cover. I dont know why Saab has done the design like that but my guess is that they have done it like that just so it shall be easy to mount the sun sensor, this is much like it is on the 9-5. I put together a comparison between a 2006 and a 2007 dash.

  10. Huh? My message between zippy and the link got deleted, strange. Anyway, here is what i wrote.

    The cover on the dash is not there to cover over the hole where the SID was. The whole top of the dash is redesigned and a SID would not fit under the cover on a 2007 dash. See the picture for a comparison between 2006 and 2007 dash-top. My guess is that Saab has done that desig so it shall be easy to install the sun sensor much like it is on the 9-5 dash.

  11. Enough of the Rally heritage…..where’s the rally team? I want a rally present & future, not just a rally past.

    Some very faded old laurels there.

  12. “Influenced by light, nature technology and the efficient use of materials, our design style is biased towards an honest, efficient and pure aesthetic. Decorative flourishes are generally avoided”

    This is why I personally don’t favor carbon fiber-look accents or textures in a SAAB. They’re more form than function.

    I really want to get that Taschen book on Scandinavian Design that SaabKen told me about. Then I want to send it to SAAB’s Engineering Department! There’s even a Swedish language version available! 😛

  13. ctm: “It’s about natural material, functionality, simple forms, no unnecessary things, easy light colours, a feeling of warmth. Not about putting chrome on a dashboard just because the German car companies do it this year.”

    LOL! So eloquently explained and true! And it’s yet another reason why I’m not excited about the prospect of “un-natural” carbon fiber in SAABs. Maybe in Tour de France bicycle frames or kids’ Mitsubishi Lancer hoods… 😉

    Zippy: I hope I don’t seem culturally-insensitive when I point this out, but the Aero-X (and therefore the “design language” of all near-future SAABs) was designed primarily by Anthony Lo, who is Chinese. The GM Europe design team was led at the time by Bryan Nesbitt, an American. It’s said Lo attempted to emulate Scandinavian design in the process of designing the Aero-X, but is his attempt at emulation of Scandinavian design successful? It’s a rhetorical question as I still haven’t really decided for myself yet! 🙂

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