Writing of Saab's potential

Greetings from England, where I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Saab Owners Club of Great Britain annual meet. I’ll have a bunch of photos from the event in the next few days. Today, I’d like to point you towards an article that appeared in the Swedish press over the weekend.

I’d like to point out something I wrote last week in an editorial here at Inside Saab:

I still love this place and I still believe in this company. It’s exactly the same as when GM were considering shutting us down: there’s simply too much good stuff – brand, product, plant and people – for this [company] to be left to wither.

Brand, product, plant, people. To me, that’s what it all comes down to.

There are very few automotive analysts or writers willing to assess those elements of Saab’s operations in any detail. They have a tendency to skim over a few of them with a summary, essentially saying “brand=damaged and product=not enough” without looking at the whole company in any depth. The focus is purely on financials, which do have to be sorted out, no doubt. But a look beyond that would be welcome.

Discovered via SaabsUnited, I’d like to point you towards an article in Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper. In this debate article, the writer does manage to take this deeper look at Saab and expand on those four essential elements in some detail, finally saying in a Swedish newspaper some of the things that many of us who believe in Saab have been trying to promote for some time – Saab has some superb potential.

Click through and translate the full article online. If you’re familiar with the workings of this company, then I think you’ll find yourself nodding your head quite a lot.

A summary of the virtues discussed in the article:

  • Reach – Saab’s new deal with Pang Da has the potential – if each Pang Dab dealer sold just one car per week – to provide around half Saab’s required volume.
  • Technology and talent – Saab’s engineers have recently developed extraordinary tech that gives the 9-3 TTiD Griffin a full 180hp whilst keeping under the 120g/km emissions threshold. I’d like to add to that some of the technology under development and due to be seen soon: things like e-XWD and iQon. Saab also has a world-class design team led by Jason Castriota.
  • Partnerships – our engine partnership with BMW and vehicle development partnership with Youngman and Pang Da.
  • Range – Our range is bigger than it’s ever been and it’s only getting better. The cars themselves are constantly improving and the 9-5 and especially the 9-4x are getting fantastic reviews in key markets.
  • Brand – Our brand has taken some damage in the last few months/year, but remains very identifiable and strong. The author cites the Saab support convoys (world-wide gatherings 18 months ago when GM threatened to close Saab) as evidence of this.

There’s a lot more to the article, too. A glance is cast towards other niche carmakers that seem to survive pretty well, and a look towards other markets that have supported their car industries with assistive policies or actions (see below about a ‘bailout’).

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Both as an employee and as an enthusiast, it’s very encouraging to see an editorial such as this in the Swedish press. There is a strong fear in this market that Saab will turn out to be another instance like the shipyard corporate bailouts of the 1970s. Many people seem to be very negative towards Saab because of this fear but it’s encouraging to see someone looking at the potential within this company.

And having mentioned the shipping industry bailouts, I’m obliged to also mention that unlike the shipyards of the 70’s, Saab is not asking, nor have we ever asked, for a government bailout.

Brand, product, plant, people.

Given conditions that would allow the right investors to come on board and help this company stabilise and grow, we could make the most of all these elements of our company.

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7 Comments

  1. I hope China’s NDRC looks in depth at the virtues described in the article. This can be a big win-win, for both China and Saab. Still hoping for a good outcome.

  2. Saab has all of the elements to become a great company.  Hopefully the right investors will step in and bring the money that Saab needs to get production going again.  But, this needs to happen quickly.  I’m still worried about the unpaid employees.  What will happen to them if the money doesn’t come soon? 

  3. I cannot wait to see next gen “Castriota” 9-3 with all the goodies – 1.6T (BMW) eXWD and iQon. There´s just so much potential that it´s a sin not to make it happen.

    1. I absolutely agree. I cannot wait to see what Jason has done to the 9-3! IMHO hes a raving genius. After seeing the PheoniX, it’s undeniable that Saab has incredible potential. Too much to waste!

  4. Talking about potential. The niche of luxury wagons in the US is handed over to Saab by the competition. No (more) V70, 5 Touring, A6 Avant or E Estate in the US. Which makes this an extremely interesting niche for the Saab 9-5 SC. The niche might be too small for the competition, but has very very good potential for Saab. The 9-4X and the 9-5 SC will spark Saab’s recovery…

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