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.