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Saab is about to die, with GM killing talks and announcing plans to shutter the brand. The brand's vehicles will live on, at least temporarily in Chinese models based on the 9-3 and 9-5 platforms sold to a Beijing automaker.  (Source: AutoBlog)
There's no storybook ending to this Saab story

The Saab story was a dramatic piece from start to finish.  Saab Automotive launched officially in 1949, bringing its engineers' experience in aircraft aerodynamics to the auto industry.  That high-tech legacy set the company off to a solid start, but couldn't spare it from a downturn in the late 1980s.  Convinced that the company would turn around, GM bought half of the company in 1989.

In 1995, the automaker posted its first profit in seven years.  However, it quickly slid back into losses as its lineup weakened and failed to appeal in the luxury market against the likes of Lincoln, Lexus, Buick, Acura, Infiniti, and Cadillac.  Nonetheless, GM loaded Saab onboard in 2000, buying the remaining half of the shares on the market, in line with its 1989 vision.

The future looked promising.  New models like the 9-3 and 9-5 pleased many luxury buyers and sales started to show signs of life as it entered the turn of the century.  However, the economic downturn that hit starting in 2007 and continued in earnest through 2008 into 2009 would eventually spell doom for the Swedish veteran.

In June of 2009 the seemingly inevitable happened -- GM filed for bankruptcy.  With that filing came talks of selling -- or closing Saab.  A deal was brokered with Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg, but the optimism driven by that deal rapidly evaporated when the final negotiations collapsed last month for unspecified reasons.  That failure, in part, cost GM CEO Fritz Henderson his job.

And it was the beginning of the end of this Saab story.  GM tried to sell Saab to Dutch supercar-maker Spyker, but in the eleventh hour the promising bid fell flat, leaving Saab Automotive with a final ride into the twilight.  GM announced Friday that it would not be selling Saab's remaining assets or continue the brand, but would instead "wind down" its operations.

A blow to the Swedish economy, the decision is a hard pill to swallow, but it was expected.  And for Saab enthusiasts, there's still an extra wrinkle to consider.  GM has reached a deal with Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp to sell the Chinese automaker technology and assets behind its popular 9-3 and 9-5 lineup.  That means that while the Saab nameplate may die, its image will live on for some time in Chinese-branded clones.  For some who miss Saab, that's a comforting thought, for others, a final affront in the ill-fated Saab story.



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RE: A death we all saw coming
By Omega215D on 12/18/2009 11:39:56 PM , Rating: 4
I feel that their quality has gone down after being with GM. Before that time their cars were good and pretty innovative. GM is cancer to the auto industry.


RE: A death we all saw coming
By Solandri on 12/20/2009 6:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
I'm no fan of GM. But wouldn't Saab's downturn in1989 indicate that they were not building cars that were good and innovative prior to their acquisition by GM? I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the market in 1989 seemed to be saying that Saab was on the way down on its own. Their acquisition by GM was a consequence of Saab floundering in the market, not the other way around. At worst, GM is only guilty of failing to revive the brand.


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