The GM decision in favor of Russelsheim, Germany, over Trollhattan, Sweden, resulted in the resignation of Saab CEO Peter Augustsson.
Saab's factory in Trollhattan will bid for new products just like any other General Motors plant.
The Swedish factory lost the bid to produce the next-generation Saab 9-3 and Opel Vectra. The Opel factory in Russelsheim, Germany, won. Production of those cars is likely to begin in mid-2008.
Trollhattan's loss is one more step in Saab's absorption by GM. Saab products are based on platforms of GM or affiliate Subaru. In 2003, Saab's engineering staff was merged with Opel's staff. GM now operates Saab essentially as another brand, such as Cadillac or Chevrolet.
Trollhattan will assemble vehicles until at least 2010, says Saab spokesman Steve Janisse. It produces the Saab 9-3 and 9-5. Production of the new Cadillac BLS starts at Trollhattan early next year.
In 2004, Trollhattan produced 102,148 cars.
Janisse says the move to Germany won't take the Scandinavian character out of Saab.
"We still have a large, Swedish-based engineering community" in Trollhattan, he says. "We have some components of our design there. Saab is still Scandinavian and still Swedish."
The GM decision in favor of Russelsheim resulted in the resignation of Saab CEO Peter Augustsson.
Analysts' views of the Saab situation differ. David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., says GM is doing what it must.
"I don't think it's the end of Swedishness but beginning of a much more integrated structure for GM on a worldwide basis," he says. "You can argue Saab has to remain individual, but Saab has to be profitable."
Saab can be profitable only by sharing more components with other GM products and being made in flexible factories that make other GM products, Cole says.
Phillippe Houchois, analyst for J.P. Morgan in London, says Trollhattan faces a difficult future.
He says that centralized GM product planning will be bad news for Saab. GM runs the risk of losing loyal Swedish customers by taking cars out of the Swedish plant.
You may e-mail Bradford Wernle at [email protected]