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.
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.