They're called uncharted waters, and everyone who has anything to do with Saab is floating in them. It's been a while since a global, decades-old automotive brand went bankrupt and wasn't rescued or provided immediate after-death care by a corporate parent, but that's the case with Saab, and no one's quite sure – not the company itself, nor dealers, nor employees, and certainly not customers – how this plays out.
There's the outside chance that another (presumably non-Chinese) company could swoop in and purchase the brand whole before the liquidation process takes hold, but as this didn't happen earlier, there's little reason to think that a white knight can be found at this late date.The bankruptcy has been filed and two receivers have been named, but there isn't even a timetable for who's going to get what, or what to do while everyone waits.
Why is that important? Take Saab's U.S. dealers: 188 dealerships have roughly 3,000 cars in inventory that they've already paid for but which have depreciated massively in the last 24 hours, and they don't know what they can expect to get from Saab by way of remuneration. Which is another way of saying that they don't know how much of a bath they're going to take on the cars in stock, much less winding down their stores. The conference call alerting dealers to the bankruptcy was just nine minutes long and didn't involve a Q&A because Saab "is waiting for directions from the court in Sweden." The dealer body is working to sort out customer liability issues and it will assuredly be lodging a claim against Saab for compensation.
Or take the marque's customers: through November of this year, there were more than 5,300 Saabs sold in the U.S. in 2011 and nearly 20,000 sold since the beginning of 2009. A Saab spokesperson has said dealers will continue their parts and service operations, but no one has any idea how long parts will continue to be available, and as of now, all warranty coverage has been at least temporarily suspended because the company might not have enough funds to pay for it.
Saab's 3,600-strong Swedish employees, who are still missing November wages, are now standing in the creditor line for a piece of the pie. Supposedly, part of Muller's reasoning for giving in now was to get the employees paid by Christmas – assuming there's anything at all in the cupboard – and assuming that's where the receivers would decide to dole out any of it in the next six days. Even mere observer and fellow Swedish brand Volvo could take a hit since Saab's exit deals a blow to the local supplier base.
Follow the jump to watch the post-filing press conference with boss Victor Muller, along with a short interview with Muller by SaabsUnited. For the complete breakdown, SaabsUnited also has a timeline of the night Saab declared bankruptcy on their website. Not the way anyone wanted the 64-year-old brand best known for the word "quirky" to come to an end. It is instead, as one Swedish government official declared, "horrific."