Saab Story: Famous Swedish auto could handle the worst snow but not the bull— in Detroit.
November 30, 2009
“Hey Sven, your car needs a jump!”
After 80 years, Saab Auto is likely to shut down forever. Bought by GM a decade ago, the legendary Swedish automaker quickly turned into a liability for them. Or was it the other way around? Either way, General Motors was too big, too provincial and too screwed up to affect a suitable business plan. Car models were not updated. Dealerships were left to languor. And then the recession hit. Saab never had a chance. Unless a white knight appears pronto the car “born from jets” is crashing into oblivion.
I’ve owned Saabs for almost 20 years. I like the way they look. I like the way they handle in Chicago’s cold, snowy weather. I even like the cool, Swedish logo. I am a brand loyalist. For me, Saab is like a Mac on wheels. In 2008 I fought back skepticism about the brand’s decline under GM and bought a 9-5 Aero. As you might expect, I’m not as happy with it as I was with the one before and the one before that. The product is simply not as good. And clearly neither is the company. I suppose I acted in denial, buying the 2008, such was my affinity for the brand. And now my beloved Saab is going extinct.
Saab is not the first automobile in my life to pass away. As some of you know, in the 1990’s, while at Leo Burnett, I co-created the infamous “Not your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign. The slogan fared better than the car. Other than running on gas, Saab has little in common with Olds. Yet, it will suffer the same exact fate.
Doesn’t seem fair. It’s almost as if American thugs kidnapped the sexy Swede, dragged her to Detroit and then murdered her. Scarily, this assessment is all too accurate.
Perhaps another brand loyalist (with a few hundred million dollars) will bail out Saab before it runs out of gas. Surely there’s an outraged Swede out there. Come on Sven, your car needs a jump!