Posted by Barry Silverstein on July 28, 2010 01:00 PM
When GM announced it would first sell and then discontinue Saab, it was just another moniker like Hummer, Pontiac, and Saturn that was to be tossed onto the brand scrap heap. But somehow, Saab survived where the others didn't. The brand is now staging a comeback, but is it too little, too late?
The 73-year old Saab was saved from GM's chopping block by a Dutch carmaker with a helping hand from the Swedish government.
At the time it was acquired, "the company was all but dead in the water," writes Alex Taylor for Fortune. Saab cars weren't being produced, ads had been discontinued, and the brand was all but forgotten by a car-buying public.
Now it's turnaround time, assuming it's not too late. The new Saab 9-5 Aero (above) has just been launched and new models are planned for 2011 (a 9-4x crossover vehicle) and 2012 (the new 9-3).
Saab owner Victor Muller hopes to product 39,000 cars in 2010, up from 29,000 last year. He has set a target of 125,000 cars along with being profitable by 2012.
It's clearly a long road — but Muller thinks the 4.5 million former Saab owners represent a solid market. He plans to pitch them on "tradaitional Saab values: safety, environmental consciousness, and turbocharging."
Muller hopes that by building cars in Sweden again, Saab will recapture some of its cachet. But that may not be enough — Saab has little presence in China, and that's where the growth is, as former owner GM (which is creating a China-specific brand) will attest.
Obviously, Muller is hoping this Saab story won't become a sob story.