Saab’s former owner, GM, would not sell any of the intellectual property connected with the Saab 9-5 model or the Saab Parts unit. Long before GM refused to let go of the Saab DNA, the Swedish brand was already a shell of what it once was. When GM went through bankruptcy it made the decision to only sell the Saab name and plant in Sweden, but not the designs and technology that went into Saab models.
It has been a swift, though not surprising, fall for a brand that never lived up to its potential. GM sold more than 130,000 Saab models in 2006. I remember talking with former GM CEO Rick Wagoner about the future of Saab. He talked of the value of the niche Saab filled in the GM portfolio.
Wagoner held onto the Saab potential even though it was clear to most in the auto industry that it was a higher cost brand that never completely fit in the GM stable.
There are still thousands of Saab owners here in the U.S. who love their car. A good friend of mine who drives an ’09 Saab calls it a great car. He also ends every comment about his car by saying, “I’d buy another one if I could, but we know that’s never happening.” No, it’s not. But someday if you’re in China you may be able to drive a Saab electric car.
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