Saab Story: Bankruptcy Filing Marks End of Storied Brand

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Here comes the messy ending. Now that existence has become a purely short-term phenomenon for Saab, all the bad ramifications are kicking in.

At this point the victims include not only the brand, the Dutch-owned company, Saab’s Swedish workers and its dealers in the United States and round the world, but also any American consumers who are brave enough to buy one of the remaining approximately 2,400 Saab units still available in the U.S. market.

After GM balked at an 11th hour China deal to save the brand, Saab announced this week that it has suspended warranty coverage on all vehicles sold henceforth in North America — and that they’re for sale merely “as is,” with liquidation expected and the end to a storied automotive brand.[more]

“As a dealer, today I am planning for the worst,” Bernie Moreno, a Saab dealer in Ohio, told Automotive News.

Swedish courts put the kibosh on Saab (known for its “quirky” cars, as the Wall Street Journal puts it) after the company no longer was able to overcome objections from General Motors, its previous owner, to Saab’s tentative deals with Chinese automotive firms.

GM, which promises to cover “some” Saab owners’ warranties, still owns key patents used by Saab and so was able to veto the Chinese investments because GM feared the competitive impact of its own relationships in China.

Thus, add Saab to the list of brands that effectively have been sunk by GM’s 2009 collapse, also including Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac. And years before that, of course, Oldsmobile, as GM tried to slim down.

At least we’ll be left with a library of notable advertising, including the “Find Your Own Road” campaign and, more recently, “Born from Jets.”

Saab was known for manufacturing quality and occupant safety and for quirky design outside and unique features inside such as the ignition key slot on the floor. But now it’s just another brand that has wound up in the salvage yard of this very rough period of modern automotive history.

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