It looks like the end for Saab
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
Saab will be remembered for being iconic. It will be remembered for being quirky. But perhaps Saab will be remembered best for its ties to General Motors.
Last week Saab owner Swedish Automobile said key license holder and former owner GM had blocked a last-ditch rescue plan by Chinese investor Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile.
GM objected to supplying parts and technology to Saab if China's Youngman succeeded with the acquisition of the Swedish automaker.
The deal for Saab had to be approved by GM since the U.S. automaker still had preference shares in Saab and supplied Saab with components.
It seems like GM didn't want another competitor from China. Barring a miracle, Saab will go the way of Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn, Oakland and LaSalle.
That's a shame. Saab will be missed. For decades it has been an icon not only in Scandinavia but also in the northeastern United States.
I remember when the late Bob Sinclair was running Saab. In the early days, he used to visit dealers with a spare engine block in his trunk just in case someone needed parts.
Sinclair loved his Swedish brands, and he loved the quirkiness of Saab cars. Customers, too, have loved the peculiarities of Saab.
Saab chief Victor Muller is a lot like Sinclair. Muller has a passion for the brand, and he gave the rescue a valiant effort. But in the end there wasn't enough money to keep the brand going, and Muller wasn't able to find the proper investors.
Saab dealers here are going to be hard-pressed to sell the cars on their lots.
It is not that hard to get an independent insurance company to warrant a vehicle, but future parts availability could be a challenge. Maybe they need a Nate Altman, who kept the Studebaker Avanti running for decades with a parts supply in Ohio. But it is going to take some creativity for Saab dealers to clear their lots of new product.
Many of us will miss Saab. It has been an icon and should be fondly remembered for its unique qualities. In 1989, Bob Eaton, who was president of GM Europe, was unsuccessful at trying to buy Jaguar. That led Eaton and GM to buy Saab. But, in the end, GM simply never supported the company or the brand. It sort of reminds me of the problems associated with Saturn and why it died.
Saab was a brand with lots of character. Its safety innovations were also notable.
May Saab rest in peace.
You can reach Keith Crain at email@example.com.