Saab enters freefall

Posted by Paul Horrell at 11:33 am on Friday February 20, 2009

saabSaab is getting ready to jump out of the GM aeroplane. Or rather, be pushed. The only issue is, does it have its parachute?

Today, a legal structure has been put in place that means that Saab can be protected from its creditors while it breaks away from GM to operate as an independent company. But it will need money, and as far as we know investors aren’t in place.

You’ll have read of the deep cuts GM is having to make. They’re needed to stave off bankruptcy and qualify for the $22.5 billion dollars (gulp) of US Government loans it is asking for. Among those cuts is to rid itself of Hummer, Saturn and Saab.

Saab has been losing money for most of the two decades GM has owned it. In a document filed with the Swedish court that is reorganising the company, Saab said “The estimated, still unaudited loss for 2008 amounts to SKR3bn [about £250 million]. The current outlook for 2009 suggests a similar level of losses and associated funding requirements.”

Ironically, Saab now has a decent set of new cars in the pipeline, based on some fine GM engineering, including the Insignia. The idea is that the independent Saab will make those cars using GM tech, and indeed many parts such as engines and gearboxes sold to it by GM for many years to come. (For more, scroll towards the end of this post.)

GM isn’t seeking a price to sell Saab. It’ll give it away. But Saab does need a lot of investment, as working capital and to tool up the presses and assembly shops to launch those cars.

As far as we know, some investors are sniffing about, but this really doesn’t look like a propitious time to be investing in the auto industry does it? The Swedish Government has said it’ll support Saab with tax breaks and the like, but not take a stake.

And if the money doesn’t appear, it looks like Saab will have to shut its doors.

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  1. catersam said...
    Friday February 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I feel really sorry for Saab – they have been stifled for so long by iffy GM ownership. Really the only way Saab can survive is if they are taken over by VW or Porsche Group, or someone similar.

    That gives me a thought. If Porsche bought Saab, Saab could become it’s premium saloon brand, and then Porsche could be a sports car only maker. A bit like Jaguar-Land Rover – Jag wont make 4x4s and Land Rover vice versa.

  2. Mike B from Normandy said...
    Thursday February 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to comment Report comment

    SAAB have been held back as the last comment said. The big mistake was to wait a long time for the 5 door version of the new 9-3. Saab owners always liked the coupe / hatch back option. Finally they brought out the 9-3 Sports hatch a few years ago. It is a good seller for Saab and a good looking car into the bargain. And sales are good on this model. I hope they get a buyer, Saab owners stay with the brand generally. Saab need new models to attract new customers that is sure. As a Saab Sports hatch owner ( my 3rd Saab) I hope they find a buyer, they are good cars for the individual not the sheep.Good luck Saab.

  3. Thepetrolhead said...
    Thursday February 26, 2009 at 2:02 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I wrealy hope there is a buyer, if not it will end up like MG-Rover did.

  4. Matt said...
    Thursday February 26, 2009 at 6:36 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Shame that SAAB have folded, but it isn’t that surprising as GM just didn’t have the cash to invest in them and like MG Rover they weren’t putting enough investment into new products soon enough. Although the 9-5 never had the badge kudos or handling of German rivals, I was driven in one and it was quite quiet, comfy and rattle free. Great seats too.
    If only they had made more of their rally and turbo heritage sooner and brought out some exciting models to attract younger buyers away from the Golf, 3 series and A4.

  5. dr.pepper said...
    Thursday February 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm Link to comment Report comment

    –dear Paul H. can we please have a new topic ? interesting one perhaps (ie.not gm wants to sell saab.. ..and saab is now for sale) ? 4 comments in 10 days should speak for itself.

  6. TGSTIG said...
    Friday February 27, 2009 at 6:49 am Link to comment Report comment

    WOW. That is VERY depressing

  7. yeeehawww said...
    Friday February 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to comment Report comment

    this thread shows you how many people are out there whould consider buying that ugly excuse of a car

    four people

  8. stonbitch said...
    Friday February 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm Link to comment Report comment


  9. stonbitch said...
    Friday February 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm Link to comment Report comment


  10. svrallo svrallone said...
    Friday February 27, 2009 at 11:04 pm Link to comment Report comment

    well, not having the possibility to add a comment for several days has lowered the interest for sure.

  11. dr.pepper said...
    Saturday February 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm Link to comment Report comment now we´re up on 10.. of which 7 are really interesting….

  12. FOX said...
    Sunday March 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm Link to comment Report comment

    What about an saab – opel (vauxhall) merger? Saab would then be the premium brand (as in lexus to toyota). They could have separate badges. Saab could then keep on selling their nice 9.3 and excellent 9.3 convertible (with turbo-technology) and maybe an less ugly 9.5 or suv.

    Joint fabricators, technology and dealers would reduce cost and both brands could continue to operate.

  13. Mikeado said...
    Sunday March 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I agree with No. 10.

    I really don’t like GM for screwing Saab over. Did you know Saab made coupes and rally cars before GM bought them 20 years ago?

  14. Mikeado said...
    Sunday March 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Also “yeehawwww”, have you noticed that the previous Saab post has 54 Comments?

  15. vegard said...
    Saturday March 7, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i live nekst to sweden where there are a lot of saabs and wath i find interestin is the older cars are better looking because they dont look like a troll they have better handling they have better and more powerfull engines and theyr not as heavy and theyr cheaper and theyr not packed with all that noncens you dont need

  16. Alfie Noakes said...
    Tuesday March 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm Link to comment Report comment

    You pays your money as the saying goes, a BMW it is not but its half the price with no negative image! having owned a 1999 93 which had covered 125,000 miles when I bought it which gave faultless service for 2 yrs I took the plunge and bought a 2007 (pre Facelift) 93 with just 6 months old 4000 miles on the clock,leather,17″ alloys, cruise control etc etc for less money than a Ford Mondeo, Great Cars Great Value, Long Live SAAB……..Lets hope they get the backing they need.

  17. Eoin Flaherty said...
    Friday March 13, 2009 at 10:24 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I always wondered why saab never seemed too adventurous about bringing out new types of cars. Their brand style is unique. I really really hope that they dont die off. This article, although boring for people who dont like the brand is very important so as people know whats happening at this constantly loss-making brand. Thanks Paul.

  18. O´bama said...
    Wednesday March 18, 2009 at 10:50 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Contrary to popular belief, they aren´t cheap or of high quality or, in some circles, without negative image.. Some say, you only buy one if you´re an individual and that the “B” at the end stands for BORING.. all we know is that they´re in trouble, and no one really seems to care… Need I say more ?

  19. I'm a believer said...
    Tuesday March 24, 2009 at 8:16 am Link to comment Report comment

    Saab drivers the world over, want to save this excellent brand and put innovation and performance back on the map.
    See for more information

  20. Prince Molepo said...
    Tuesday April 7, 2009 at 9:19 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Pity! I was thinking of buying the 9-3 Aero bt now am having second thoughts as i don’t wanna get stuck with a car that does nt have after market support.
    Like their aeromatic heritage though, it represents exclusive individuality!

  21. Muttley said...
    Sunday May 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I have owned a 1995 900 S convertible for 7 years and I can honestly say it is without doubt the very best car I have ever owned. Even the dealership, where I get all servicing done, always comment about what a spotless car it is. I get comments all the time and in the main, people can’t believe it is a 14 year old car. Sadly, I think the build quality on the newer 9-3’s are not a patch on the standard of the 900 years but Saab is nonetheless still a good brand. Who cares about the GM slurs….my car is still running and not one leak anywhere. For a 14 yr old car I think that speaks for itself. Keep rolling Saab!! Hope the brand will remain.

  22. Nick said...
    Thursday May 28, 2009 at 5:02 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I own a 2004 9-3 2,0T and I agree and disagree with the previous comments. The biggest misstake was to be buyed in the first place by GM. Because they have never tried to make it a profit making company. They have just except the losses and not tried to develop the company in a winning way. Because of this SAAB have to few models out to please a bigger range of potentiel buyers and therefore been unable to make a profit. And I agree the interior quality is not as in Audi and BMW.

    But the 2,0T engine (with 175 hp) is lovely and worth its price. The comfort is very good and also the safety. If you dont expect to get Audi and BMW interior quality this is a very good car for a reasonable price.

    If you go back into the history SAAB was for example the inventor of Turbo and have a great history in Rally. They also have a common history with SAAB aerospace that have for example developed the swedish fighterplane JAS 39 Gripen. Its sad they dont use this components in their car development and marketing today.

    I absolutely think SAABs engineers got the knowledge to development superb cars in Sweden if they just get a reasonable and quality thinking owner willing to invest ordely.

    The carworld needs small uniqe thinking brands like SAAB!

  23. kenfinney46@hotmail. said...
    Saturday May 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    If SAAB go under it will be a crying shame. I’ve owned six SAAB’s, all from the 93 school, two Sportwagons, one saloon, two soft-tops and I’m onto my third cabrio. These cars are as individual as the people who drive and own them, they stand out in a crown without the horrendeous price tag of some other marques that also offer that special touch in the present grey motoring world we live in.

    I agree completely that the merger with GM has not allowed SAAB to continuie in its own unique pathway, but when you drive these cars, you feel the quality all around you each and every mile. Although the firm is linked to GM, the way they put cars together has allowed them to retain that individual SAAB quality that owners keep comming back for, time and time again. I appreciate that you can see the little influences from Vauxhall and Alfa Romeo creeping into the 93 each model change, but I just get the impression that the boys and girls at SAAB are fighting, scrreaming and kicking such interference all the way, and it shows in the cars they build.
    OK, so they depreciate faster than an MP running to clean up his expence sheet, but what car doesn’t. I’m 47 and have owned Fords, Vauxhall’s, BMW’s, VW’s and they all shock me each time I go to trade them in at the forecort, so that phenomenon isn’t just a SAAB critique.

    I will be gutted if this firm goes down, and think that the motoring world will be a little bit poorer if such a thing comes to pass.

  24. Detective phone cell said...
    Wednesday June 3, 2009 at 3:28 am Link to comment Report comment

    I have the same opinion as yours on this. What you said is true.

  25. QWMichael said...
    Monday April 19, 2010 at 2:08 am Link to comment Report comment

    No. But now i will. Thanks for that.

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