Student Saab marketing questions – continued

Back in January I published an email from a student in the US asking for some help in understanding the Saab company message and philosophy and how it’s communicated. Kirsten is leading a project on brand marketing and being a Saab driver, had chosen Saab as her group’s subject.
Many of you were able to help out then in comments and I thought maybe you’d like to help out again with these final questions.
I’ve provided some brief answers, below. Please feel free to add your thoughts in comments.
Why does Saab build cars? Their reason for being.
Saab started off as an aircraft manufacturer in 1937 and expanded to cars in 1947 with the goal to build a simple car for the Swedish people. The Swedes have always been a pretty practical bunch and the Saabs built under full Swedish control reflected this. They were safe, pretty efficient, capable of carrying loads much larger than what they looked like they were capable of, fun to drive and affordable.
They’ve become more sophisticated as time has moved on and under General Motors’ ownership, they’re also a lot more generic. They build cars today because that’s what a car company does. They’re a manufacturing resource that needs to be utilised. They have a philosophy of responsible performance, being driver-centered and they’re still a safety leader (though not recognised as such) but in essence, they’re not positioned anywhere near to the independent foundation they were built on.
There is some hope for a more independent future for Saab. That plan is being written as we speak and a lot will hinge on the plans GM submit to the US government tomorrow. The hope is that Saab will receive some support from the Swedish government to continue as a quasi-independent entity, building vehicles that are more closely aligned with the company’s original philosophies. Should that plan fail, they will probably be liquidated and the remnants sold to the highest bidder as part of a GM bankruptcy proceeding.
Since the very beginning, if you could name Saab’s purpose what has that been?
To build a relatively simple, strong and practical car in the Swedish tradition (well designed, user-oriented, safe, and fun-to-drive comes as a bonus).
How do you feel SAAB will inspire the next generation of SAAB owners? Or how do you feel SAAB will be able to connect to the next generation?
By re-connecting with that philosophy. Saab started building cars by using people who had no history with the car industry. They were good designers and manufacturers of machinery (aircraft) but many of them didn’t even drive! They built a car the way they figured a car should be built.
That car evolved into a great handling, practical and economical car that was safer than other offerings, able to handle a variety of driving tasks in all weather conditions and was different to almost anything else out there. Subsequent cars followed in the same tradition.
Being so different is probably more difficult in these modern times due to safety and efficiency standards that all companies have to meet. I do believe, however, that Saab thinking is still good thinking and that Saab designers and engineers are capable of building cars for the future that can inspire and be just as practical, safe and fun as Saabs of the past.

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