The 'why?' of Saab staying alive

We’ve all been hanging on the ‘what?’ for so long. We’re all fatigued due to the lack of visible, tangible progress in the potential sale of Saab Automobile.

I’d like to take a moment and think again about the ‘why?’

Why should the sale of Saab be allowed to proceed? Why doesn’t the company, like so many analysts out there, acknowledge that the light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train coming at 200mph? Why do we want to live, rather than pack our collective bags and move on?

Because we have a valid place in this industry, that’s why. Because we care about what we do and the way we do it, and we believe that enough people care about the same philosophy to ensure us a future in the marketplace. Because we believe 200% that we can make this work.

We have a great range of cars that are just one decision away from being produced. Not planned, but produced.

They’re the best cars we’ve ever built. They have better emissions than other full size, full power competitors. They have better design characteristics. They have fantastic build quality and the best thing about our vehicle range is that it’s only getting better.

The Saab 9-3 Griffin is the best 9-3 we’ve ever made – inside, outside and under the hood. It has a new full-power, full size diesel variant that will attract tax benefits in certain key markets due to it’s outstanding emissions figures. All that, with no sacrifice in cargo space or performance. No compromises.

The Saab 9-5 SportCombi is ready to complement the 9-5 Sedan as our flagship vehicle and the combi body is a welcome addition, especially in key European markets.

The Saab 9-4x is just plain outstanding. It’s been getting great reviews and we would love to be able to push this vehicle to its limits.

Read more about our vehicles here: In Saab’s Corner – Our vehicles.

We have incredible people. I arrived into a baptism of fire when I started with Saab in April this year. Day three of my employment coincided with a factory stoppage that essentially continues to this day. All this time, Saab people have continued to plan where they can, to develop product where they can. We’ve learned to do things under pressure, without budgets, without contractor support. We’ve done all of this because it’s been necessary to do it. We’ve done this because we want Saab to succeed.

The Saab dealer tours in Germany, Austria and France have reinforced to me what wonderful people we have at Saab. I’ve been so touched by the emails I’ve received from people, customers expressing their gratitude for these tours, expressing their admiration for the new vehicles and dealers expressing the joy that they had in representing the Saab brand to their customers again.

I’ve had other emails, too, from dealers concerned about their futures. I’m concerned for them, too, and I know that our executive team are concerned about them because they’re the backbone of our distribution network. Many of them have been associated with Saab for decades. They’re family, and we’re all doing it tough together.

One word that you could use to describe Saab people (aside from intelligent, talented and a bunch of others) is resilient. We believe in what we do and that belief gives us some strength to keep on working. Our company took on safety before the marketing mavens made it popular, before the lawmakers made it mandatory. Our company took on turbocharging when fuel was less than a fifth of the price that it is today.

We do some things because we have to. We do many things because it’s the right way, the Saab way.

Read more here: In Saab’s Corner – Factory and People

Saab is still a wonderful brand with a fantastic history and a global presence. We have been kicked around, but never broken. We still have a lot of people in our corner. We enjoy great support from both the enthusiast community and the motoring fraternity. People want to see us succeed.

Saab still has a brilliant engineering crew, innovative design staff and flexible manufacturing capacity.

Saab has fantastic plans in place for future vehicles and progressive technical partners on our side to make those plans a reality.

Right now our executive team are negotiating with our stakeholders and potential new owners to try and get an outcome that will satisfy everyone.

I sincerely hope that everything that can be done, is being done by all concerned. Saab will be a long-term commitment for whoever takes us on in the future, but we’ve got the tools and the plans in place to hold and build our place in this industry.

It’s easy to say we’re small, therefore we can’t make it. We believe that we can. With the right backing and the right partnerships in place, we can finish remodelling our business, build great Saab cars that find their market and build on that market for the future. We’ve already done a lot of work on those partnerships, all we need is the backing and the cooperation of those concerned to get things moving again.

There’s so much riding on this. The careers of so many good, talented people. The cars that are ready to go to market right now, and the cars that will come in the future.

As I’ve written many times before, I cannot imagine that a company with so much going for it could be left to die. It just doesn’t make any sense. We want to get this moving, and I sincerely hope that we can.

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For those who haven’t seen them, I’d encourage you to read the full series of In Saab’s Corner articles, prepared back in September.

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28 Comments

  1. Thanks Steven.
    Saab’s employees, dealers and fans are all amazing people.  They’re strong and loyal.  No one wants to think “what do we do if there’s no Saab” because we all see it as there’s no choice but for Saab to continue.  While that’s not the reality of where we are right now, it’s still the mindset of so many. 
    Saab deserves a new lease on life after what we’ve gone through for so long.  What’s so hard to wrap my head around is just how great our products are right now.  A company with great products, great people and a loyal owner base has to be the recipe for a successful company, right?  The rest can be developed and nurtured but we have the core elements in our hands and we’re ready to attack.  Just give us the green light and we’ll all show the industry what a comeback story is.
    AJ Murphy
    Just Saab

    1. AJ I’ve knowen  Dave from Just SAAB for years and I’m in you corner on this . I’m in Columbus and have a shop here . Your group have always done so well , starting as a very small company to where you are now . It has to be hard to keep your chin up , I know it is for me after 35 years of working on SAAB cars . but I’m with you and this group of people who belive in the brand . I thank you for the great representation you’ve always provided the SAAB brand .    Dave Warren , Columbus Ohio

    1. Dear Kurt:

      I have been a SAAB owner since 1994.  My family and I are blessed in that we have the economic means to purchase just about any car that we want; yet, we continue to purchase SAABs.  In fact, right now, in my driveway, we have 2 Viggens and 2 9-5 Wagons, one of which is an Aero.  Despite the fact that I also own a Porsche, I continue to find myself, even on hot summer days, behind the wheel of my Viggen. 

      The cars are, well, just amazing.  I love to drive them.  I feel safe in them.  Indeed, my wife and daugher were hit head on by a Yukon SUV a few years ago, the car was crushed, but both, thank God, walked out without so much as a scratch.  The car saved their lives.  

      I enjoy caring my Saabs because they give so much back to me.  It sounds silly; it’s just a machine.  But, behind that machine is much human energy and passion.

      Most of all, I like the fact that it is a “no read car”.  What do I mean by that?  The car is not pretentious, it does not yell at you, and say hey, I am tough, I am the best.  (Perhaps that is why I like my Viggen more than my Porsche).  It has, well, a quiet confidence to it.  A quiet confidence that is deeply appreciated by those who know the Brand, and fatally misunderstood and underappreciated by those who don’t know the Brand.  It is ironic:  the very qualities that make the car and the Brand so incredible, also have served to diminish its market share and contribute to the desparate financial condition in which the company now is languishing.

      These last months have been pure torture for me.  My wagon has over 180,000 miles, and although the car still runs great, its time to pass it on to my son (who is driving our other wagon with over 220,000 miles, and donate the oldest wagon to my mechanic who will use it to breathe life into yet someone else’s SAAB).  The uncertainty of the company seems to leave me paralyzed.  Hopefully, there will be favorable closure soon, so that I can purchase a new 9-5 wagon, which, according to the pictures looks fabulous. 

      I wish and hope for the best for this innovative company. 

      All the best,

      Gary Mitchel Gash, Esq.  (Armonk, New York).

      1. Too true, I’ve owned BMWs and Peugeots and Hondas, and all have their charms, but only the SAAB delivers delivers something more than the sum of the parts. I never understood the nigglers who point out all the other cats faster in a sprint, or who carp about the torque steer (half the fun!), or who pronounce with a snigger the impending doom of the SAAB. They’re like those smug pseudo-iconoclasts  who look at a Monet and see only dots of colour, contrarians without eye or intellect, or sense. They deserve their fate: eternity in a Camry.

  2. Great read.  I’ve had a Saab in the garage since I got my license.  Before that both my parents had Saabs.  My brother still has a Saab.  When it’s time to look for a new car I sure hope Saab will be there.  In fact, I can’t imagine it any other way.  My 1986 and 1990 900 Turbo’s were fantastic cars.  My 9-5 Aero is refined, but an absolute blast to drive.  It’s still a car lovers car.  Turbo, 5 speed, great seats, and the ability to still get 30mpg.  Keep on Saabin’!  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

  3. Thank you for that.  I needed it today.  Corporations aren’t faceless—-they are nothing more than people.  The people of Saab really are different, like the cars are.   I’ve never been to Sweden—-never been to the factory—-so how would I know?  Because the spirit of Saab extends to the customers and the dealerships.  Places like “Kunkle Motors” which is a tiny dealership near Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania—itself a tiny, rural town well outside Wilkes-Barre.  Places like “International Motors” near the U.S. Capital, Washington, DC.  A big city dealership with a couple old dogs who hang out in the showroom—-nice people, from the sales staff to the service writers, technicians, etc.  The customers?  Read many of the comments on this board and you see how dedicated they are to the brand.  We might not work for Saab, but we feel invested in Saab’s future success.  A “generic” company with “generic” people would never, ever breed loyalty like this a world away.  Saab isn’t generic.  Maybe Saab will never move as many cars as Honda or Toyota—-but there are more than enough drivers to support Saab with enough purchases to make Saab financially viable.  It’s not SIMPLE, but it’s SIMPLY a matter of righting the ship, getting an infusion of cash—-a rejunvinated approach from new owners—if Saab can survive this sale, I have no doubt they will be here for the long term.  I am thankful that Victor Muller was able to pull the resources together to save Saab when they were about to go the route of Oldsmobile, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn.  It’s been a very tough year, but you know what?  It’s been a year—at least we’re talking about the POSSIBILITY of Saab continuing.  It has to happen.

  4. Sadly, it appears that things are starting to implode here in the UK with dealerships switching away to other brands as I found when I took my 95 in for its annual serice today. Even those who had other franchises are dropping the pretence.  If things aren’t resolved soon there won’t be any outlets left anywhere near where I live and I can’t think things are very much different elsewhere. It will indeed be a long road back.

  5. Always good.  You know my thoughts on this, I believe.  This is not a question of Saab’s value as a brand or as a company.  That’s unquestioned. 

    The sale is a question of the true cost to other stakeholders.  The current sale as structured has virtually no shot at going through.  We need to urge Saab to find another avenue for survival.

  6. Great Post, it took us a while to come over to SAAB however I have found that they are wonderful cars with much thought put into them. My 2010 9-5 Aero has to be the best car I have ever owned. We liked it so much we bought a 2011 9-5 for the wife. We also have two 9-3’s now with the inlaws and son. We are truly a SAAB family. Keep up the good work

  7. YES!  I’m holding on to my 2003 9-5 wagon in the hope of becoming an owner of the Sport Combi.  My daughter will be 16 next year, and I always thought I would buy her a Saab.  Please keep moving ahead, I never want to drive a car other than a Saab!

  8. Have had Saabs since 2003!!! trying to win my 5th in the USA contest.

    Please vote for me if you can!!  http;//contest.saabohio.com/contestants/154

    Thank you to all Saab lovers

  9. I have owned SAABs since about 1990.
    If anybody needs to ask WHY?… then they clearly have never owned a SAAB.
    They are not cheap to run. But, just for example, if you only spend a small amount on bedclothes, you are going to have a cold night, unless you are much closer to the equator and it is summertime!

  10. I too have been worried about Saab’s future. I have driven a lot of Saab’s products. I have never been less the impressed. I currently drive a 1995 9000 CSE, and I would not trade it for anything else. Saab has timeless designs A well kept Saab still looks like something fairly recent.

    The engines offered are always refined. I love the sound of the engine with the great sound of the turbo (please don’t mute the sound of the turbo on any of your cars). The gas mileage is always good from the many Saabs I have driven.

    Saab owners are loyal for many reasons. An awesome well priced product! If I could swing the price of a brand new Saab I most definitely would.

    I hope Saab gets everything worked out for the future of the company.

  11. I bought my first Saab in 1973, an army green 99. I fell in love with the brand then and I still own Saabs today. My 2001 9.5 3.0 SE wagon is just as great an automobile as that first 99. Every time I get in the car I love the smell, the starter noise, the enveloping seats and the way it drives. For the same reason I have always owned Apple products, I will always own Saabs. They are intuitively designed and simply work. I will always own a Saab. That’s why they’re a valid automobile company today.

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