The fate of GM's Saab brand is anything but certain. So far General Motors has stood behind its Swedish marque because of Saab's market niche in Europe.
But as GM execs wrestle with fixing North American operations, there are those who see the brand as a millstone around the automaker's neck.
In other words: Dead weight.
Unfortunately for the Swedes, who already are building fewer Saabs than just five years ago, Jerry York, who represents major GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, is one of those who would like to see GM stop wasting resources on Saab.
To remain viable, Saab needs to boost sales outside its three main markets: the United States, England and Sweden. One of its goals is to turbocharge fleet sales on the Continent, according to Automotive News Europe.
Saab reported record European sales of 82,100 units last year, thanks in large part to the doubling of fleet sales in England.
In America, fleet sales usually mean low-profit deals with daily rental fleets. To make matters worse, fleet sales on this side of the Atlantic undermine a brand by lowering the residual value of the models involved.
But in Europe, fleet sales often mean company cars that are purchased by employers for their executives. Since execs frequently get to pick the model they want to drive, it's considered a perk.
And it is better to be a perk than a millstone.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]