I’ve just read over at Saabs United that “an automaker from Munich” might be sniffing around Saab with a view to buying the company. Munich, of course, means BMW.
Let me assert straight away that this is the first I’ve heard of this. I no longer have regular correspondence with the goings-on at Saab and I can’t speak to the veracity of this claim.
But if BMW were really interested?????
Let me put it this way – if BMW are truly interested in buying Saab Automobile then it would be, hands down, the absolute best outcome that the administrators could get. Even if BMW paid half of what the others were offering. As long as BMW’s business plan included making Saabs in Sweden, which isn’t out of the question for them when you consider manufacturing costs and labour laws in Germany, then that would be the best outcome for all concerned, by far.
Creditors/Suppliers – this group gets a reasonable shot at maximising returns and a very credible business partner for their future Swedish operations.
Employees – many employees at Saab, even if they haven’t already got a new job, will have some hesitation about returning under some of the proposed new owners. As I’ve written on these pages before, these people have been living on the edge for three years now and many of them are just tired of it. Many might indeed return if someone else bought the company, but BMW buying the company would be a tremendous incentive for those who would otherwise be teetering on the edge of such a decision.
Customers – I’ve already seen one person say “if I wanted a BMW then I’d buy a BMW.” What a silly way of looking at the situation. If BMW could do with Saab what they’ve done with Mini and Rolls Royce (and with BMW itself) then Saab owners would have absolutely no reason to worry at all. I don’t like BMW cars, but if there’s one thing BMW know how to do well, it’s brand management. Fortunately, there are many things BMW know how to do well. The price of a Saab would not fall. It may even rise. But I’m quite sure the quality of the car would rise as well.
The Swedish people – You’d get to live your lives without any negative Saab headlines because finally, Saab wouldn’t have an owner that the Swedish press could whine about.
Why might BMW want Saab?
- It gives them a credible front-wheel drive brand (for vehicles bigger than Minis) that means they don’t have to dilute the Ultimate Driving Machine aura surrounding their own branded vehicles.
- Saab still have access to a clientele that BMW would like to reach – educated, upper-middle income earners with enough automotive awareness to realise that rear-wheel-drive isn’t always the best solution for the situation.
- Victor Muller’s quip about getting Saab for the price of a wind tunnel was true and whilst BMW might have to front up a little more in cash terms, they’d still be getting a full car company – from design to delivery – for an absolute steal.
- Saab has technology that BMW would probably like to have access to. Phoenix, for starters, and the work being done by e-AAM would be nice to get without the premium licence fee they’d have to pay as a complete outsider, too.
As I said at the top, I don’t know how deep this goes, but IF it’s true, then the administrators should be beating down BMW’s door right now. At face value, and assuming some good intentions, it would appear to be the absolute best option for Saab and its stakeholders.
Let me be clear – I think that out of the currently mentioned suitors, there could be several viable owners for Saab.
But BMW would, by far, gain the most acceptance from the industry, the potential customer base and Saab’s existing stakeholders.