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A matter of opinion Saab bankruptcy: cultural asset or one-hit wonder?

Dino Eisele
A matter of opinion Saab bankruptcy
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For Jens Dralle a piece of automotive culture is being lost

O b I kissed my first love in a Saab? No, it happened shockingly in an '86 Ford Fiesta Diesel. How many children did I father in a Saab? Not a single one, in no car at all. Perhaps it was due to the '86 Ford Fiesta Diesel. I've never owned a Saab either. So why break a lance for the Swedish outsider brand? Because it is part of the automotive cultural asset. Because it also closed itself to design trends when other manufacturers were still looking for them - and in some cases still do today. This means that Saab retains that individuality that marketing has to laboriously create elsewhere.

Is that already true? Far from it. Because Saab also cultivated the turbo engine. And because the Swedes managed to build a decent car based on the Tipo platform, while Fiat made a Croma, Lancia a Thema and Alfa Romeo a 164. But no car. The Saab 9000 was one thing - classy, ​​spacious and comfortable, with mostly powerful drives. A coherent concept that harmonizes perfectly with the brand values.

Saab knows how to build premium models

Amazingly, even GM did not manage to ruin that - and only a little later that one to tinker with strange 9-2X, there he is right, the colleague Jens Katemann. Not to forget: the ruthless 9-7X. But be careful: The 9-5, based on the Opel Insignia, turned out to be respectable, based on the well-known recipe for premium brands: Behind an individual facade, millions of cheaply purchased components work that skilled engineers mix together to create a high-quality whole. Sure, Audi, BMW, Mercedes must tremble at least as much before the 9-5 as they do before the new Lancia Thema, but it is definitely an attractive alternative. In addition, the US group invested a few hundred million euros in the modernization of the main Trollhättan plant and brought the development department up to scratch, as their turbo know-how was suddenly in demand across the group. Keyword: downsizing.

But under pressure from the shareholders, the Americans sold Saab to the sports car craft shop Spyker and its owner Victor Muller, whose eloquence far exceeded his financial means in times of crisis. Until today, the lawyer from the Netherlands could not have the necessary moneygossip for a happy reanimation. Meanwhile, GM's fearful rabbits are blocking the entry of Chinese investors to prevent the flow of knowledge to Asia. Ford apparently did not bother with the Volvo sale.

Now the bankruptcy is circling Trollhättan, a manufacturer whose image is still stronger than that of the entire Asian auto industry. And he knows how the currently popular premium vehicles can be developed and built. And which has a pretty tradition, even spiced up with a few motorsport successes. So: where is the strong partner that the Swedes need? Then at least my children could kiss their first love in a Saab at some point.

For Jens Katemann, Saab has been dispensable for years

At autoscout24, the large online marketplace for used cars, around 1.9 million cars are currently for sale. There are only 1,356 Saab. But the Swedish brand is not only statistically insignificant, it has also been dispensable for many years. The glory days of the turbo engine pioneer are over half an eternity. Which Saab model has stood out from the crowd in the past 20 years with technical highlights or such an unmistakable design that car connoisseurs flattened their noses on the windows of the showrooms?

Instead, there was a single mash at a premium price : I remember with horror the uninspired Saab 9000, which had to share components with the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema and Alfa Romeo 164 models. The US giant General Motors joined Saab as the messiah in 1989, but the strategy for the 9-3 remained the same: Many identical parts with the Opel Vectra were supposed to improve the tense cost situation, which had already turned away from Saab's customers and the brand was once again competitive do. But the Saab engineers redesigned a large part of the components and thus put a more independent, but significantly more expensive and by no means better car than the Rüsselsheim-based company. That couldn't work.

Saab 9-2X was the low point

But the low point was the 9-2X, which was just a slightly retouched Subaru Impreza and really nothing at all had more in common with the avant-garde claim of the Swedish brand. Thank goodness he was spared the German customers. After the latest, once again unsuccessful rescue attempts with Chinese investors, the Dutch Saab owner Victor Muller is now supposed to knock on the door of the Turkish government and the Indian car maker Mahindra. It seems to me like the behavior of an aging musician who had a hit 30 years ago and is now trying relentlessly to get a new record deal after countless flops. In such a case I find it betterTo break up and instead listen to the old hit every now and then.

I enjoy looking at the neat Saab 900 convertibles in the summer. And that's where the brand is in good company. Car fans from all over the world admire puristic English roadsters from Austin-Healey or Triumph, although neither of these two traditional brands is still building new cars today. Dear Saab fans, you'd better get hold of a well-preserved Saab 900 instead of mourning your brand. But you have to hurry: There are less than 200 copies advertised on autoscout24.

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