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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The End of Swedish Saabs?

Autoblog is reporting that the Saab 9-5 will move to Germany when it changes over to a new generation, leaving Trollhattan with no volume Saab product. The unnamed source reports that the Swedish plant will be used to build "niche products".

From an older TrollhattanSaab post:

Fast-forward to today, and there's the real possibility that GM may turn Saab
into either a resounding success that echoes Saab's past, or, that they may turn
Saab into a great crass-market producer of vehicles that are pretty much like
all the others.

GM have tossed out a couple of bones this week. The
retention of the Trollhattan plant is a good thing and the fact that Saabs will
continue to be made there for a few years at least is, likewise, a good
thing. These were the sweeteners for the bitter pill to come in today's
announcement: that Saabs will not always be Swedish.

Is this the beginning of the end of Saab? Does it matter to customers if Saabs are a mix of re-badged GM, Subaru, and Opel products, none of which are built or engineered in Sweden?

I have never been much of a Saab fan, though I do think their recent Swedish products are sharp. The Saabaru and re-badged Envoy don't do much for me. As a Volvo owner, I can say that it wasn't the Swedishness that appeals to me, so much as the Volvo-ness, a certain design style, with certain priorities. GM needs to be careful, to keep the Saab-ishness of Saab, or they will kill the brand.


Dublin Saab said...

I am a fan of all things Saabish and personally I don’t care where the car is made. Does it feel like a Saab is the question. The 9-2x Aero is one mean machine but there’s neither enough Saabness or differentiation from the WRX, and so its sales suffer. They say the next generation Impreza based has involved the Saab engineers since day one. We shall see. In the mean time there are more than enough C900’s to keep me rolling.

Anonymous said...

The thing that gets me is the 'purist' view that took over when this sort of thing was announced. I was part of it too. Saabs have involved parts from all over the place for a very long time now. The 'Saabishness' comes from the wa they're used, and this will be they key that GM will have to maintain to keep the brand identity.


and thanks for thinking of me.