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The Future of Saab?



  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Saab is too small to make it on their own--well, porsche makes it on their own, but they've spent a long time building a top-notch reputation.

    Saab/gm didn't exactly make sense. Their goals were too different. Saab makes small(er) turbocharged cars with a heavy emphasis on safety, utility and the environment. I recall GM salivating over saab's great demographics, as if they could sell their normal cars to a captive audience. Their strategy seemed to be to "normalize" saab. Ford basically upgraded volvo's quality but the cars are much as they always were.

    For saab to stay alive, they will have to go to a company with whom there is some resonance ( similar engineering that can be shared ) and synergy ( something saab can bring to the table). I wonder if someone like honda wouldn't make sense. Their cars are are already good-handling FWD, their engines amenable to turbocharging, safe, they have the best overall fuel economy as a company, etc. Saab selling alongside acura could make sense. Furthermore, saab's biggest hurdle is upgrading reliability and reliability reputation and honda could help there as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I dunno, that would be tough. Saab has a heritage in FWD, and Inifinitis are mostly RWD (G35, M35/45, Q). Nissan's interiors are too plasticky to carry a Saab name, though maybe they could be dressed up slightly.

    I'm not sure the philosophy of those compaines are compatible. Maybe more with the Renault side of things.

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    That sounds like a good idea, but where would that leave Acura?

    That sounds good though, but is there enough synergy? Saabs will have to continue to be built in Sweden, to not upset the loyalists. They need hatchbacks. The convertible 9-3 is a cash cow.

    I see how both could gain. Saab could gain on the reliability front, and Honda/Acura could gain on the turbocharging front. At both companies, Engineers rule. Safety is a priority also. They like fuel efficiency. They have their little quirks. (Double Wishbones on the Accord; Center Console Ignition on Saabs)

    Perhaps they could retune Acura to be a Mercedes-Benz type (plush, luxury cars) and help turn Saab into a BMW type. (performance)

    Would Honda be willing to pump some serious capital into Saab? This idea is sounding better everyday! :D
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'll give it to you guys, you all have some vivid imaginations. Saab would definitely have a better chance being owned by Honda, Toyota or even Ford...anyone but GM. GM doesn't understand Saab and more importantly they don't want to. Saab had a brilliant idea a few years about a variable compression ratio engine, but GM said "NO" and that was the last of that idea.

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I see the bifrucation between honda and saab being this : acura seeks to be 'inoffensive' in various ways. Unsurprising. Saab's sort of the opposite, quirky. Acura wants the car to feel familiar to everyone who sits in it, saab wants to people to say "they did THAT? Cool!" The markets are definiitely different.

    I see acura getting:

    * Turbocharging expertise ( perhaps for later, higher-power versions )
    * Safety focus and innovation
    * ergonomic and design "skunk works"

    I see saab getting:

    * Reliable platforms.
    * Durable engines that could take turbocharginbg
    * A parent company that respects engineering

    The TSX 6-speed manual is loaded at 27K and has 200hp. A saab with the same equipment (sunroof, xenons, heated seats ) would be 30K. I imagine a turbocharged saab-ified version of the TSX selling for 30K as well, but the turbo 2.4L i-4 putting out 250each hp/torque.

    Same basic thing for the TL. The manual TL is 33K, pretty luch loaded. The 9-5 aero sticker is 40K. Saab could turbo the v6, make the car really saab-great, and still hold their price point.

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I like it! I love this idea!

    And at Honda, engineers rule the world. What they say, goes.

    Saab could be the "performance" division Honda never had.

    Acura could be retuned to appeal to the aging baby boomer set, and Saab could continue to appeal to the yuppie set.

    Question now is financial: Does Honda have the cash to buy them out? How much would GM take to unload this so called "money pit"?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    what the H#@L are you doing to my Acura? If you're so hot to turn out another aging baby boomer brand (hello, Buick), make it Saab, not Acura! :mad:

    At least Acura HAS customers. I have driven the current 9-3 and 9-5 and can see exactly why Saab has no customers. Both are TOTALLY unimpressive in their segments - there are WAY nicer cars available, that even cost less money.

    The rest of the Saab line isn't even Saab-made. Actually, between Acura and Volvo, Saab is one of the most redundant brands on the market. Honda would gain nothing from picking up Saab. Neither can anyone else. Why can't we just let Saab RIP for goodness' sake?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,260
    Thank you for setting this straight Nippon. No offense jchan, but Honda has no need for Saab. There is nothing that they can bring to the table that HMC doesn't already have available. Saab safety? Check. HMC cars across the board have top notch safety ratings. Turbos? Actually if I recall Saab Turbos are Mitsu sourced and besides VTEC and now i-VTEC motors eliminate the need for Turbos in the first place. The only thing Saab has to offer are a few gimmicky things like "night panel" and an ignition in the floor... I agree, their ship saled long ago and it should be sank mid voyage... RIP.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    c'mon guys, how can we expect objectivity guys with names like those :)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    I believe it's in the Edmunds bylaws that we all agree NOT to promise to be entirely objective. :-)

    Despite the handle, I do try to be objective, but what has happened to Saab in the last few years is like watching someone beat a corpse. Now we want somone ELSE to buy the corpse?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 48,052
    They are "euro-centric", and have lots of cash... I think that would be perfect for Saab...

    And, I agree.... leave Honda alone, please.... :D

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  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "I believe it's in the Edmunds bylaws that we all agree NOT to promise to be entirely objective. :-) "

    Fair enough, i see that you note in your profile that the name has caused controversy before. To be fair, i'm not a fan of japanese cars in general, i think the engines tend to be somewhat torqueless, the handling numb, and the interiors somewhat uncomfortable. For me, an extra few projected percentage points of reliability isn't going to make me overlook all that.

    Frankly, from my point of view, acura is already much like buick. A pedestrian car with a big(ger) engine and a lot of standard equipment, much of which i don't much want/need. If i wanted a car like a TL, i would probably just go buy a LaCrosse and save a few bucks. I think saab could make their (acura's) cars into something interesting and appealing (to me).

    I have driven the 9-5 and TL back-to-back, and for me the 9-5 is a much more interesting car. Nicer interior, better room, actual torque at low RPM, and ooh those ventilated seats. ;)

    Of course, discussing it on here isn't going to change anything.

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,260
    Objectivity? I like(d) Saab... alot. But that was before GM came along. Since the early 90's they have loafed along on two nameplates, the 9-5 being unchanged for 7 years! Add to that the elimination of the hatchback, the integration of Chevy Cavalier powerplants and now a glorified Trailblazer (with a good'ol fashioned V8 yeehaw!) and a Luxury version of a Rally car. What kind of customer base do they expect to have?

    It is a brand that has spun out of control, make that WAY out of control. And with Gm's current financial woes, I don't see the point of sinking more and more money into a failed brand.

    Sorry comparing Acura and Buick is like comparing Lobster and canned Tuna. But to each his own I guess...
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    is that GM has come in and destroyed what there was left of Saab's uniqueness - they killed their engineering division, they are about to borrow their manufacturing plant to build Cadillac DLS's for Europe, and killed most of the things that made Saab unique. Whether those unique things were important and could generate sales is debatable, but without them, what is Saab? It is literally nothing, except maybe a loose small confederation of dealers in the U.S., some rebadged cars no-one is buying, and a bunch of sales brochures ready-printed. There is no brand equity left in this brand. If GM were to abandon it now, what would a buyer really be buying?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    How exactly did they kill the engineering division?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    moved them all to Opel Central, to the GM corporate headquarters of Europe. There, all the engineers from all the companies under GM's umbrella will design cost-effective platform mates for European GM brands, including Saab. Your Vectra and your 9-3, and yes, your Saturn Aura will henceforth be very similar cars, with perhaps a different engine, some different interior dressings, that sort of thing. But basically similar cars. I would say that given the level of Saab engineering in, say, 1990 or 1995, this will result in a dumbing down of Saab vehicles, from its days of yore.

    Now, GM sells the company after they have already scattered "the talent" at Saab to the four winds, not to mention got Saab on the future hook by incorporating GM engines into the car designs, and what will the buyer be getting? I ask again.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Originally it wasn't my idea, but it sounded good. For a while.

    Renault is more likely though. Honda has a phobia of acquisitions. And Ghosn can engineer a turn around really fast.

    They're losing customers quick. If they want to stick around until 2020, they need a stong leader to bring it back.

    Robert Lutz apparently has Saab on the back burner.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I don't know, nipppononly, did GM actually remove all of saab's engineers, or is it just speculation? I did a web search and all i found was this:

    Which says some engineers were trained on the epsilon platform in germany, not that they are now all designing malibu cupholders.

    I could change a few words in your platform sharing post, an ask what the buyer will be getting by buying an acura, lexus, or infiniti. Very similar, different dressing, etc. I don't think it's brilliance in one case and treachery in the other.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    I wasn't talking about buyers of Saab vehicles, I was talking about a prospective buyer for the whole company.

    Havne't read anything on Saab recently, but earlier this year I remember reading in Autoweek about how Trollhattan was going to be converted for GM use in building Euro-Caddys, and that they were moving all engineering and design from there to Opel's design center. I will see if I can find something...'s a link to an article about how 9-3 production is going to move out of Trollhattan to Germany in about two years, when they will start to build the Cadillac BLS there. So it has not happened yet. At the time, Saab's CEO quit after he learned GM had decided to move production of Saabs out of Sweden.

    edit2...this one is kind of sad - it was less than four months ago. Dealers were "excited" by future prospects, even as Saab officials wouldn't comment because they were so peeved. The article mentions the future 9-6x, now dead. It mentions they AREN'T revamping the flagship 9-5, but rather just changing the plastic on the front. It mentions the 9-3 SportCombi, pretty much the ONLY thing in the article that is really going ahead. And it mentions that "future Saabs will be true Saabs", even as it says that the 9-3 and 9-5 will be designed and built in Germany beginning in 2007, with the 9-3 in particular built on the Epsilon 2 platform, using Gm engines and transmissions.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Fair enough. But it seems reasonable to assume that _if_ GM does sell saab, they're probably not going to go forward retooling the trollhatten plant to build caddies.

    I didn't see a reference to the engineers being stripped away, nor the models being designed in germany. Built, yes. And i agree that's a Bad Thing(tm).

    I think we all agree GM has royally botched things, but we're differing in our assessments of how dead the patient is, and perhaps how alive it was in the first place.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    OK, here is an even more recent areticle, and it DOES state that they will maintain a separate Saab design center in Sweden. It is not clear where design will occur for the 9-3, which will be built in Germany off the Epsilon/Epsilon 2 platforms using GM parts (engines, transmissions, etc). I would consider this vital information, since Saab's volume model is the 9-3.

    The article does also say this: "The GM Europe design center's main task is creating Opel, Vauxhall and Saab products based on architectures for which GM Europe is the global leader. These are the upper-medium and lower-medium architectures formerly known as Epsilon and Delta."

    Which makes it seem as if 9-3s will indeed be designed in Germany. But I guess the plans from earlier in the year to fold all Saab engineering and design into the Opel Europe design center got modified later in the summer. Which hopefully means the 9-5 will still be designed in Sweden, even if it will be built in Germany.

    Question: why would GM rebadge a Trailblazer to be the 9-7, when it had the SRX available as well? The SRX would fit the Saab driving motif much better than the TB. And now that the 9-6 is history, the 9-7 will have to fill the role of Saab's ONLY SUV. They should rebadge the SRX instead.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    well, OK, so what would a buyer get? They would get the 9-5, a VERY old model but at least one that is entirely, uniquely, Saab still. Which sells in such small numbers I can almost count them on my hands. They would get the 9-3, a model revamped last year that has sold dismally, and shares a ton of stuff with GM. They would also get the 9-7, a model completely inappropriate for Saab that is built by GM in America. And the 9-2, another model that sold dismally except when it was on fire sale as part of GM's employee pricing gig. Which is built in Japan and would have to be PURCHASED from Subaru. (And by the way, now that GM has divested itself of Subaru shares, just how long do you think there will continue to be a 9-2 model?)

    They would get a company in disarray after years of being starved of R&D money, forced to fall under GM's corporate design plan and consolidate, and with many key personnel from the past gone. They would get a company that hasn't made any money in how long? With a small dealer network in the U.S.

    It's hard to put a pretty face on all that.

    And what does Saab stand for that no other car company stands for? It sure isn't any state of independence. What do Saab cars have that no other cars have? Nothing I can think of.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "OK, here is an even more recent areticle, and it DOES state that they will maintain a separate Saab design center in Sweden. It is not clear where design will occur for the 9-3,"

    One might speculate at the saab design center, but who knows. Things are weird. The mini was "designed" in california, as are a number of honda products.

    "which will be built in Germany off the Epsilon/Epsilon 2 platforms using GM parts (engines, transmissions, etc)."

    I argue that there's more differentiation that in acura/honda, toyota/lexus, but we've been down that road already, haven't we?

    "why would GM rebadge a Trailblazer to be the 9-7, when it had the SRX available as well? "

    Good question. The SRX would have made more sense to me, as well.

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "well, OK, so what would a buyer get?"

    Dunno. Nissan was nearly DOA and ghosn turned them around.

    I know you really don't like saab(s), but some people really, really do. You might as well argue about brands of chocolate.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    I think Saabs used to be a refreshing splash of "different" in a car world full of sameness. I don't think that as much any more, no.

    I will bite on the Nissan thing: Ghosn got a MASSIVE carmaker with an established rep and a full line of vehicles. But more importantly, Renault did NOT take the GM road to ownership/mergership, whatever. It did not move all of Nissan's design and production to existing Renault facilities and insist on parts-sharing with other Renault vehicles. It most certainly did not rebadge Renault or any other cars with Nissan badges; the only rebadged models in the Nissan Group are the Infinitis that are/were rebadged Nissans.

    Ford has certainly not treated Volvo the way GM has treated Saab. They have respected that Volvo engineers and designers have something worthwhile to offer, and have taken those offerings and leveraged them all over the Ford universe.

    Saab of 1990 or even 1995 (perhaps) would have been a tasty apple to bite into for a prospective buyer of the company. The "Saab" that remains after more than a decade of GM tramping all over it isn't.

    If GM hangs onto it, I just can't imagine what is coming next. I suppose the 9-2 will go away within a year, the 9-7/TB clone will remain the company's only SUV for several years, the 9-5 will soldier on for two more years with mid-90s design and driving dynamics. Maybe they will actually build that cute retro-Sonnet concept car. Not a big-volume segment of the market, but could draw in new buyers, which would be welcome.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "But more importantly, Renault did NOT take the GM road to ownership/mergership,"

    Um, yes, but that's not the point. Renault got a failing company and turned them around. Therefore it's not always pointless to buy a failing company, perhaps particularly so for Ghosn. Now, quite possibly saab is in worse shape than nissan was.

    Again, we already agree GM has done a poor job with saab.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Does the 9-5 as it is really utilize chassis parts/components from the old 9000?
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    it shares some parts, but how much I'm not sure.

    And Saab in 1995 was probably a stronger entity with a stronger customer base than the Saab of 2005, despite only having 2 product lines versus 4.

    I think Saab can be turned around. GM just has to dump some serious cash into this company, keep Trollhattan open, at least to build niche Saab models (see my idea a few pages back) and build "volume leaders" like the proposed 9-2 (my idea) and 9-4 in Russelheim, Germany, where they can be built alongside their Opel counterparts.

    Saturn and Saab could go together. Saturn = mass market models with few frills
    Saab = a unique quirky premium brand for consumers who want to be different.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,260
    I think Saab can be turned around. GM just has to dump some serious cash into this company, keep Trollhattan open, at least to build niche Saab models (see my idea a few pages back) and build "volume leaders" like the proposed 9-2 (my idea) and 9-4 in Russelheim, Germany, where they can be built alongside their Opel counterparts.

    Dude! That's the point. GM doesn't HAVE the money to sink into the brand. Heck the brand has been LOSING money while under the GM umbrella. You wanna sink even more $$$ into it?

    Even if GM were to all of a sudden stumble on a pot of cash (or win the lottery) I think Pontiac or Buick (or even Saturn) would recieve attention before Saab would. ;)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    even win the lottery??!! :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

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