Put this one in the “no good deed goes unpunished” file. Today, Spyker (the former owner of Saab, before Saab went belly-up last year) announced that it is suing GM for $3 billion for its role in Saab’s bankruptcy. Spyker had a sale lined up to China’s Youngman, but the sale required GM’s approval, which GM declined to give. You see, GM didn’t want to empower its competitors in the critically important Chinese market with its intellectual property just for the sake of nostalgia for Saab. As much as I liked Saabs, GM made the right big-picture decision for its own reasons. When Saab’s/Spyker’s interests are aligned with GM’s (as they were when GM sold Saab to Spyker initially), then all is rosy. But when those are in conflict, guess which one GM is going to pick? Guess which one any company, or any person, is going to pick?
By Kevin Miller
I don’t know why it had to be Saab that caught my eye in the late 1980s and made me a fan – and driver- for life. I wrote about it once upon a time for Autosavant, that post is linked here. Whatever the reason, I’ve been caught up in my favorite brand’s gut-wrenching decline for two years. Even in December 2009, I had practically written my favorite brand’s eulogy. Although the Swedish brand’s fate was delayed for two years, it now, unfortunately, seems to be for real. Continue Reading →
By Chris Haak
As a fan of diversity and healthy competition in the global automobile industry, it’s not easy to write this. I think there would be nothing better than a healthy, self-sustaining Saab, pumping out the new 9-5 sedan (and soon, a 9-5 SportCombi), GM-built 9-4x crossover, and new Saab-developed models such as the next-generation 9-3 and a potential smaller 9-2. However, the reality is that Saab is an extremely sick company, one that hasn’t buit a car in five months (and therefore has no incoming cashflow) and whose short-term existence is dependent upon the good graces of the Chinese government in approving investments of Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. in the struggling Swedish automaker.
By James Wong
Boys love toys. Some like them on wheels, two of four or more, some like them on water, and some like them in the air. There is no denying that there is some allure in something that is engineered as a result of precision and imagination.
Saab is a brand known for its aviation roots. I won’t kid anybody by saying if I knew much about their history, but for an impressionable young man (relatively) like me I am very attracted to the aviation & automobile tie-up. I have always dreamt about the unfathomable intelligence of Man that he could design a machine that weighs impossibly heavy to fly so gracefully in the air. Likewise, I also marvel at how Man could fashion out of metal and four wheels cars that are desirable, sought after, loved.
By Chris Haak
Just over a year into its new life as an independent company (forgetting the fact that it’s actually held by Spyker, a boutique automaker of sports cars), Saab is again facing financial difficulties.
Spyker’s annual report released today – which is not an April Fool’s joke – said that the company’s continuity is uncertain unless it receives additional funds to finance operations and fund its business plan. In fact, the situation is so serious that production had to halt for several days earlier this week because some key suppliers stopped delivering parts to Trollhattan due to non-payment.
By Chris Haak
The day that many thought would never occur has happened. The Fisker Karma – a plug-in hybrid luxury-sports car – has begun at Valmet Automotive’s plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland. This means that the first customer deliveries of the Karma should occur in the US and Europe by the end of April.
Fisker’s Karma is an ambitious project. Similar in concept to the Chevrolet Volt, but more expensive, faster, and more stylish, the car boasts a shapely silhouette designed by Henrik Fisker and a 2.0 liter turbocharged direct injection GM-sourced four cylinder, plus an electric motor and sizable battery pack.
By Kevin Miller
Now that the 2011 Geneva Auto Show has ended, Saab decided that instead of putting their cars from the show onto a truck and shipping them straight back to Sweden, they could instead host a series of events around Switzerland to show off their full line. Advertised by flyers handed out at the show (as well as marketing materials sent to current Saab owners), the event kicked off Tuesday night in the Swiss town of Rothrist. Staying just ten minutes from Rothrist on a visit to Switzerland, and being totally Saab crazy, I had to be there.
The event was hosted not at a Saab dealership, but instead at an events venue called Stilhaus. The parking lot was packed a lot of Saab vehicles, several of them wearing Hirsch Performance badges. Upon approaching the Stilhaus in Rothrist, there were visible inflatable pylons decorated with the I ♥ Saab logo. Near the entrance, a selection of beautifully kept classic Saabs, owned by SAABclub Switzerland member, was on display. Beyond those, a red carpet was literally rolled out to welcome guests.
There are turnarounds of an average degree of difficulty, and then there are turnarounds that might take a couple of years off of your life.
Bringing Saab, the Swedish automaker, back from near-death, is probably in the latter category.
Just a quick recap, for those unfamiliar with the Saab story:
Saab originally made airplanes (and a subsidiary spun off long ago still does), developed a prototype car in 1949, started selling cars in earnest in the Fifties, entered the U.S. market, and developed what could probably be accurately called a small but fanatical following in America. Saabs were quirky, front-wheel drive when almost nothing else was, extremely safe, very economical, and, last, but hardly least, had design that was truly innovative and different-looking.
By Kevin Miller
This year’s North American International Auto Show started early on Monday morning, with Porsche holding the first press conference of the day at 6:30 AM, with press events or ceremonies being held every 25 minutes all day long, concluding with a Chevrolet press conference ending at 6:40 PM. Needless to say, it was a long day in Detroit. Notably absent from the show floor (and the press schedule) was Saab, whose tenuous grip on existence at this time last year resulted in the Swedish brand not securing a stand at NAIAS.
Ever resourceful, Saab held a media reception across the street from Detroit’s COBO Center on Monday evening. In a venue they called the SNÖ HUS, Saab offered a chance to unwind from the rigors of the day over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, with a handful of Saab vehicles to look at.
By Chris Haak
According to the annual customer retention study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, the Ford and Honda brands each managed to retain 62 percent of their buyers during 2010, putting them in the top spots among brands sold in the US. The former top brand in customer retention, Mercedes-Benz, saw its loyalty rate slip from 66 percent in 2009 to 59 percent in 2010. Ford coincidentally showed an improvement similar to the size of Mercedes’ slippage.
On the bottom end of the scale, Saab showed a pathetic 4 percent retention rate, but for quite a while, there were nearly no new Saabs available to purchase while the small Swedish automaker actually began wind-down proceedings before Spyker swept in and rescued the company. Jaguar, however, has no such excuse for its 16 percent retention rate. Another interesting brand is Toyota, which – at 60 percent customer retention – is right on the heels of the leaders, despite what we might expect to see in the form of fallout from its recall crisis earlier this year. Hyundai and Lexus share the 60 percent mark with Toyota, and Kia made a dramatic 21-point leap, from 37 percent to 58 percent, in just a single year.
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