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The Epic And Endless Saga of Saab

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One thing's for sure: Scandinavians love a good epic. As proof, look no further than the Sad Story of Saab, which is lengthening by the day. Here's our Reader's Digest recap:

When GM bought Saab in 1990, the high-styling Swedish brand was a prestigious feather in GM's cap. Almost two decades later, however, Saab remains profit-less, and the economic collapse has forced Bob Lutz to say things like "Saab is a luxury we can no longer afford".

In January, the Swedish government responded to Lutz's ominous soundbite with a very loud, "What you talkin' about, Bob?", and for a moment, it looked as if Saab might regain independence and get some much-needed support from the motherland, including a $100 million support package for the brand. (Note: this support was apparently an initiative of the Swedish government and unrelated to GM's subsequent appeal to Stockholm for aid.)

Alas, as with all epic dramas, problems have arisen: in an about-face worthy of the corniest soap opera amnesia scene, this week the Swedish government said that Saab is GM's problem, and they ought to fix it. In fact, Industry Ministry spokesman Hakan Lind stated that "support [for Saab] in the form of money is not on the agenda." So essentially, Sweden's position is now: "$100 million? We never said anything about $100 million!"

As a result of all this mishegas, today Saab entered bankruptcy protection, which allows the company certain legal safeguards while it reorganizes. The goal is ultimately for Saab to find a buyer to gain independence. Said Saab's managing director, Jan Ake Jonsson, "We explored and will continue to explore all available options for funding and/or selling Saab and it was determined a formal restructuring would be the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment."

Maybe it's just us, but the whole Saab gavotte is starting to make The Saga of Eric the Red look like an expurgated version of Goodnight, Moon. Like all good sagas, though, it makes for some entertaining reading on these chilly winter nights.

[sources: Freep, AP]

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Comments (2)
  1. "The first of many?"

    The Big Three all say bankruptcy is not an option - no one will buy the cars and they will just end up liquidating. Now we get to see what happens on a smaller scale.
     
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  2. "GM drops it as it gets it right... again"

    There goes GM again. The Fiero, a disaster until they go it right, and slashed it. Same with the Cadillac Allante. The Olds Aurora was a brilliant design (yes, with its own share of problems), the GTO, could have been better but a unique care. Saturn, finally the right mix. The Pontiac G8 Sport Truck, attention getter. The new 9-1 concepts, the 9-4X... There they go again. GM will never be a Honda. By eliminating brands, volumes will go down and cost of producing all these cars that used to share parts, up...
    Suggestion: replace Saturn in the US with Opel, bringing the true European flare, even at lower volumes, and keep Pontiac's niche products. Saab, I will miss it, but not the 9-3 or 9-5, the old 900 and other neat, but older quirky cars...
     
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