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SAAB - Going extinct, does it really matter to any of us?

By Rigval on 29 Dec 2009

Attached Image: blogentry_60590_1261892554.jpg
Ever heard of the brand SAAB? I suppose you have. Ever seen the actual car recently? I suppose you havenít. Neither have I. But what we do know of Saab is that GM owns the brand and due to the recent global economic crisis, GM needs to unload its under-performing brands from its stable and like its other Swedish counterpart Volvo, which is currently owned by Ford, Saab needs to be sold off to someone who is actually crazy enough to take control of it. Now why do I say crazy in this context?

Ever seen a Saab recently? Yes, I asked that question above and youíd note that you have not unless thereís one sitting in your garage and youíre the owner of that Saab. And that would be the only Saab in a 20km radius. This is the reason why Iím saying that the person who wishes to take over this company and brand is foolish or plain crazy. No one actually buys Saabs. Of course, weíre on a planet of about 6billion people or so (give or take a few billion) so somehow, Saab may have found a white knight in the form of Spyker, another Scandinavian car manufacturer which builds really outrageous cars for the obscenely rich and not so famous (as I still donít know anyone or read about anyone who bought them). Talks on the sale and purchase have been going on and the conclusion is that itís down to the price. Itís obvious if you want to take over an ailing company, youíd want it dirt cheap and without debts. Even the crazy entrepreneurs from Spyker would want to bargain until the cows come home. But for all you know, itís a lost cause already and Saab is on the verge of extinction.

But enough on whether the deal is successful or not; the bottom-line is that Saab is a struggling brand thatíll go under if the deal with Spyker does not go through and it will be picked apart like that British manufacturer Rover and its engineering, blueprints, chassis designs will be sold to some Chinese company and rebranded as such. Imagine this; Rover is dead, from the ashes rose ROEWE. Close, but still no cigar. So imagine Saab as SAABE or BAAB.Or even SAAC (hey, isnít that already a Chinese manufacturer?).

So you may now ask why Saab on the verge of going under? It has heritage, it built decent cars once but why isnít anyone buying them, especially here in South East Asia? Simple; It has no brand awareness whatsoever. No one wants to buy an unknown car. Look at the uphill battle cars like Skoda, Seat, or Chery face. Some of these brands may be built like a tank, or even have the build quality of a croissant. But the reason why these cars are not selling is that they have no brand awareness. I can bet you that most of you donít have a friend or a relative who owns a Saab or any of the cars mentioned above. In my 37 years of living, Iíve only met one person whose dad drove a Saab 900, and that was 15 years ago.

For their marketing plan and brand awareness, Saab wants us to equate its aviation and fighter plane heritage to their cars. But in all honesty, even if we bothered looking at fighter planes weíd all want F14 Tomcats and F22 Raptors instead of Saab Viggens. See? The same problem happens when it comes to their fighter planes. We all want something else rather than a Saab. Iíve never met anyone that was looking for an executive level car tell me that he recently went to a Saab showroom in Kuala Lumpur to look at the cars there. All Iíve met say that theyíre looking for a Mercedes, BMW, Audi or even Lexus. Iíve never known anyone that even suggested looking at Saabs.

Saabs are quirky. They used to have their ignition keys beside the handbrakes. So that when you hop in the car, you place your hand near the handbrake, insert the key into a slot beside the handbrake, start the car and reach a few centimeters to drop the handbrake then reach for the gear stick right in front of the brake. Extremely logical, but do we honestly care for small details like that when weíre so used to finding a keyhole close to the steering wheel? If you look closely at the underneath of a Saab youíd see that it has another mud flap somewhere in the middle of the car in between the front and rear tires. Somehow this little thing works by keeping mud off the sides of the car. This company has thought of nearly everything. Except dashboard design. They think that their dashboard relates to the cockpit controls of a Saab Viggen. For Gods sake theyíre wrong. A fighter planeís cockpit is not the final word on ergonomics. Itís messy. Like having Swedish meatballs thrown together with jam and brown sauce. All these little things supposedly give Saab its character. Itís nice, but we all know that if we wanted Swedish, weíd go for a Volvo. At least it has an IKEA style sense of design. If we wanted quirky and character, weíd go Italian, go for an Alfa Romeo, as stylish as an Italian Suit yet with slightly sartorial or slightly silly touches that weíd love, and temperamental to boot.

Would I miss Saab if it went the way of the dodo? I donít think so as Iíve never actually wanted one in the first place. It was the same as when MG Rover kicked the bucket Ė I couldnít care less that it happened. However if Ferrari went bust and stopped making cars, Iíd cry and wear black for a month or so.

And what does Saab give us that we canít get from any other car? I still donít know. If you do know, you must be a Saab owner and therefore youíre biased. If youíre a Saab owner and youíre feeling angry at this article, you shouldnít. You should treat this as an early warning and sell your car as quickly as possible and buy something that isnít a Saab before it is worth lower than the value of scrap. And donít get any ideas that your Saab will be a collectorís item one day. If it isnít a Ferrari or a Bugatti, it may be better if you actually sell it and save yourself the pain and suffering in the long run.

Saab, Saab take-over and 1 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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Da_editor Dec 29 2009 04:38 PM
Wow... you make Saab sound like a really lousy car. I have never driven one before, but a 9-3 looks good, and I have heard good things about the light turbo employed in these Saab cars.
Neoxenon Dec 29 2009 09:37 PM
It's obvious you've never driven a Saab. The mid-range torque of Saab is incredible, making them incredulously easy to overtake in city traffic. They're far from perfect cars (confusing cockpit and console design, perhaps a little unreliable in tropics), but they stand out from the crowd because they're unique. You'd buy an Alfa or a Saab if you don't want a Mercedes/BMW/Audi. What would the world be if these little marques that dared to be different all disappeared? A world of yuppies where you had no choice but to drive the big brands like everyone else.

In terms of design, you obviously have an eye for Volvo. But there are many others who'd prefer the handsome cutting of a Saab. A simple tweak of the ECU gives you a crazy grin across the face, making nearly 100 horses available with a simple Stage 2 or Stage 3 upgrade and a new exhaust. You don't get that with many cars.

Just before GM announced the demise of Saab, I wrote an entry in my blog (http://www.nelsontan...-with-that.html) about how nice Saabs were. I've no issues about you not liking Saabs, but please do more homework about why people like Saabs before condemning the car. Like you said, it's all about marketing and GM sucked at that. It's more an issue of lousy marketing from GMs part than lousy cars from Scandinavia. Now go drive a Saab and see what the magic is all about, before they disappear from the motoring scene forever.
Ricencocoa Dec 30 2009 11:21 AM
Only IDIOTIC AND BRAINLESS people buy SAAB. Like my neighbour who likes at Blk 822 Sims Avenue,#02-820. He thinks he is very "cool". Too bad.....SUCKER!
Tanyachua88 Dec 30 2009 11:28 AM
What's your problem Ricencocoa?

No matter how lousy the Saab is, the fact is that its a premium marque with a big price tag.

Attacking your neighbour here to the extent of listing his address only makes you a keyboard hero with sour grape syndrome.
Ricencocoa Dec 31 2009 10:37 AM
tanyachua88.....saab is a LOUSY CAR PERIOD!.....what PREMIUM MARQUE you talking about.....eh, hello! fyi i am in very good terms with my neighbour, so what about posting his address, we like to poke each other....cannot meh?
Porkerlover Jan 06 2010 11:39 AM
Well...as an avid fan of fighter jets (first) and cars (second), I'd like to correct you on the jets part of your argument. No, not everyone would want (or afford) a high maintenance fighter like an F-14D Tomcat or an Łber expensive F-22 Raptor (they cost S$200 million a piece). God knows I love the Tomcat to death but it's an extremely aircraft to maintain due to its large size and the huge engines that it carries.

I don't know why you kept referencing a fighter Saab built back in the late 60s. The company has come a long way since the Viggen. Their latest Saab Gripen was chosen to replace the South African Air Force's Atlas Cheetah. That gave the people at Saab a huge boost in bragging rights considering that the aircraft that the Gripen replaces is an extremely capable multi-role aircraft. For a long time the domestically produced Cheetah brought 21st Century fighting capability (on par if not better than the Block 52 F-16s used by everyone else) to the SAAF. For the Gripen to be chosen to replace it, it speaks volumes of the Swede aircraft's capability.

Saab might be losing their car division but as far as their aviation arm is concerned, they have their client books full with Thailand, Czechoslovakia and Hungary jumping on the Gripen bandwagon.
Blogger2 Jan 09 2010 06:38 PM
sorry my bad, grippen it is. BUT the main point of us consumers is that we always dream of our poster heros or the top trump heros, a Saab aircraft while I admit is good is never on any fighter pilots wet dream. Blackbirds, Eagles, Fighting Falcons and Tomcats tend to feature more in their minds. Whether a pilot cares to admit is or not. Cost is secondary in this matter.

Saab the automotive arm has never been a subsidiary of its aviation arm in a long long while. But its marketeers seem to think it makes a stronger marketing point.

Benarsenal Jan 17 2010 01:35 AM
While you're entitled to your opinion, I should point out a couple of things.

Firstly, the facts. Spyker is not Scandinavian. They're Dutch. I think you're confusing them with Koenigsegg, which is Swedish and another company linked with the purchase of Saab.

Secondly, Saabs have character. If you know anything about cars, you know that they are not exactly a car for the common man, and are more suited to people who like to go off the beaten path, instead of the typical Merc/Beemer.

The reason they are where they are now is due to the hopeless mismanagement of parent company GM, who left the brand to rot with just the two models with no replacement as GM imploded spectacularly with their excesses. The so-called lack of brand awareness you talk about is entirely GM's fault.

Not that long ago, Saab was a brand with enough street cred to rival the likes of Volvo. Going by their latest 9-5, the absolutely deserve to live, at the hands of someone else who actually knows how to love and respect an automotive brand with more heritage than some Japanese brand invented in the late 1980s.
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