• Feb 2, 2009
Let's go ahead and get it out there: General Motors doesn't have a plan for Saab, Saturn, or HUMMER – it has a bunch of hopes, ideas and proposals. The best that GM can do with Saab is try to extricate the brand from its entangled web, which might make it more attractive to a buyer. That includes moving 9-3 and 9-5 production to Sweden and being "engaged with the Swedish government" on a plan for Saab's future. But GM has admitted that "Saab is not a U.S. strategy," and the code behind that statement is probably, "We get rid of or kill it."

GM's focus is on Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, and Pontiac "will shrink substantially." The other brands appear to be waiting out their death row sentences on appeal. Saturn, like Saab, is so entrenched in GM that an outside buyer is a remarkably dim prospect. Saturn production is funded until 2012 (for now), but unless GM finds a partner or folds it into the mothership, it would appear to have no future beyond then. HUMMER is living like a medieval leper, locked up in a shed outside the castle walls.

But let's also get this out there: there are two ways out of this impasse. One of them is to spend a lot of money assisting GM. The other is to let GM fail and spend a lot of money cleaning up after GM. (Remember our perspective on "a lot of money:" Citibank got $45 billion after a couple of phone calls and recently had to be asked by the Obama administration not to spend $50 million on a French corporate jet.)

In two weeks GM is supposed to "show that it is likely to achieve long-term profitability and has a positive net present value." Let's be honest: there is no way GM (nor Chrysler) can prove long term viability in the next 15 days. (Neither could many companies if they had to.) If GM's viability plan is rejected, the government could ask for its $13.4 billion dollars back, which would be the equivalent of taking GM out back and shooting it. And that would be the equivalent of emptying another ammo clip into the economy's slowly-beating heart. All of which is to say that we have no idea how this will play out, but we're pretty sure that this is only the beginning of the beginning.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req'd]


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  • 37 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wait, doesn't Saturn outsell Buick and Saab?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder what Saab's smoking...
      • 5 Years Ago
      'That includes moving 9-3 and 9-5 production to Sweden'

      9-3 and 9-5 production never left Sweden. I am looking at a 9-3 and 9-5 window sticker right here.

      Final assembly is in Trollhattan Sweden for both the 9-3 and the 9-5. For the 9-3 the engine is from Austraila, trans from Japan and 33% of the parts content is from Germany but final assembly is in Sweden.

      The 9-5 engine is Sweden, trans is Germany and 31% of the parts content is Germany as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are talking about the new 9-5, which was planned to be build in Opel's Russelsheim plant, Germany.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Maybe the Swedish government should nationalize SAAB.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jonathan, this is the best AB line of the year;
      "HUMMER is living like a medieval leper, locked up in a shed outside the castle walls."
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Pontiac heritage is mullet's and Firebirds."

      Best comment of the day.The sad truth about it is that even the beloved Firebird was only a badge engineered Camaro.

      Gm really needs to limit itself to 4 brands (GMC, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet). People are tired of seeing 5 versions of the same car.





        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually the Camaro and Firebird, although sharing core body panels and drivetrains, were actually tuned quite differently. The suspensions and interiors were more different than people recall. I believe it was Motor Trend who did a comparison somewhere around 1978 and found the the ride and drive of the two vehicles was more dissimilar than expected.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He's right Firebirds were always more "pleathered" than the Camaro's. Also more red lights on the dash gave a hint to its sporting intentions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      relative to their competition, Saabs suck. and since relative to the opposition is all that matters, Saabs really suck. Winning DISawards isn't a healthy place to be (http://goodcarbadcar.blogspot.com/2009/01/bad-8-v20-part-viii.html). It makes an awful lot of sense for Saab to die or be completely revitalized with new product NOW, which can't happen. I'd like to see Pontiac as a three-to-five car brand as a genuine sub-BMW. Rear-wheel drive powerful sport sedans x2, maybe a rear wheel drive coupe and a car like the Solstice. A 3-Series and 5-Series for the masses, a 3-Series coupe competitor at $25K in the vein of the old Acura Integra (with drive to the other end) and an improved Solstice. Just a thought. It'd make for a wonderful showroom. Who knows how much money they'd make....
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Jared

        A good portion of that engineering is from Saab anyways.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "relative to their competition, Saabs suck. and since relative to the opposition is all that matters, Saabs really suck."

        So sad, so true ... I was just thinking about that the other day. If the main competitors for the 9-3, say, are the S40, Passat, TSX, and Legacy, then the 9-3 loses. The S40 has better seats and a more solid-feeling construction (I know after driving both back-to-back ... my 9-3 and a test drive in the S40 T5 AWD), the VW has more room and a stellar interior. The Acura has the interior and resale value + reliabilty (or at least the reputation), if not, currently, the looks. I don't know much about the Legacy, but their owners seem have little complaint.

        What advantage does the Saab have? The interior is chinzy, the resale value is crap, the electrical/computer problems are a nuisance, and the seats aren't nearly as comfortable as the Volvo's and, as I've experienced in other models, the VW's. The only advantage I can think of is that Saab is more or less giving the cars away, which is good in the short-term, but not very helpful with resale. And the MPGs are extremely impressive .... Other than that, I don't know ...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry Jamie, but $2-3B won't save Saab. Both the 9-3 and 9-5 need to be replaced, and replacing a single model can cost $1-2B. Furthermore, the planned replacements are on GM platforms. Saab will no longer get access to those platforms and that engineering.

        Saab sells so few cars that the cost of design and engineering is much higher on a per car basis than that for competing companies. And finally, Saab simply can't survive until it has new cars to sell -- it is loosing too much money too quickly. $2-3B more would just be good money after bad.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "relative to their competition, Saabs suck. and since relative to the opposition is all that matters, Saabs really suck."

        Saab only sucks because GM has mismanaged the brand. Rather, GM has raped Saab of all its technologies, like VVT, turbocharging and Haldex XWD, without incorporating any of it in Saab itself. Very short sighted on GM's part.



        "It makes an awful lot of sense for Saab to die or be completely revitalized with new product NOW, which can't happen."

        The Swedish government has offered Volvo and Saab $2-3 billion to revitalize the industry. Are you saying that GM can't use $2-3 billion to make Saab a profitable proposition? Heck, a blind man on the street could recharge Saab's batteries with that kind of loot!

        Take a look a Saab's concept page and you will see where GM is getting all of it's ideas for the Volt and the Converj. Hmmm
      • 5 Years Ago
      Awesome pic!
      • 5 Years Ago
      This thread, like others is a good representation of SAAB's place in the market today. The vast majority see the company as a waste of money, with outdated 'rebadged' products, with no future. Where do they get this info. places like here where news is almost copied from other media sites/news groups and like lambs follow the same old same trend of ill informed negative accusations.

      How often do you see the words, quirky, ailing, non-profiting, loss-making, and OPEL in a news article about SAAB? Off the top of my head I struggle to think of a single news article where SAAB has been shown in any positive light; certainly not from a media source or GM themselves. How on earth can SAAB be thought of as a via brand by the buying public when their owner has no faith themselves and have received such an immense amount of barrage almost a generation. It is saddening but it's understandable why any average person wouldn't consider a SAAB as a viable purchase. What GM and the media has done to this brand over these years could be considered a miscarriage of justice.

      I feel it's just not worth the energy defending SAAB yet again and try and undo some untruths about the brand. The enthusiasts have commented enough, not just here but on other sites too, however it seems to no avail. Maybe once SAAB's 'all new' products come to fruition this year they will appeal to individualist once again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saab should do well in East Asia (e.g. China) with proper marketing. Owned by GM or not, most people there still regard it as an European brand with a long history.

      Hummer might have a market in the middle east's oil rich countries.

      Saturn..... I say kill it. Or replace it with the Opel badge and market it as a German brand in North America.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope SAAB survives (hopefully the Swedish government or a private investor takes control). Its quirkiness is too good to lose.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I owned two Saabs, but gave up on them because GM shrank the dealer/service network. The best thing that could happen to Saab would be to be bought by Subaru, which represents many of the same values. Saab could teach Subaru something about styling, not to mention placement of the ignition. It would give Subaru a brand to parallel Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura.


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