OK, so we’re waiting for the proverbial smoke from the conclave, we may as well review the editorials from the last 24 hours or so. Some have been good, some have been not so good, and most have said nothing that we didn’t already know. It’s good to have some corroboration of your opinions, so those thoughts are welcome, too.
UPDATE: This in from Bloomberg: GM continues to wind-down Saab, and they claim that as few as four manufacturing jobs will remain. I’m not sure that I believe that the numbers will be that low, but it would be bleak.
From the Detroit Free Press, Mr. Daniel Howes opines that Saab was the “Stepchild neglected by GM.”
In think that we all agree with that statement. I’ve been less hard on General Motors than most of you, but I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Howes when he says:
Saab never delivered on the promise retired GM Chairman Jack Smith saw in the quirky brand because, bottom line, GM seldom gave Saab the resources to compete with premium automakers.
So, what makes this column noteworthy? For starters, it’s in the Detroit Free Press. These people reflect General Motors more directly than most news outlets. They also owe some or all of their livelihood to the big two-and-a-half in Motown. If they say it, it’s got teeth. On the other hand, Mr. Howes hits upon a criticism often leveled at GM in these pages that is a huge, glaring weakness in how GM treated Saab development. Take a look:
The interiors of the latest Cadillacs — SRX crossover, the CTS sedan and wagon — convey a sense of precision and craftsmanship not seen in decades on Cadillacs. The materials are premium; the layout of the communications and climate control stack is intuitive; the newest entries from Chevy (Equinox), Ford (Taurus) and Lincoln (MKT) are just as strong.
The Saab? Not so much. Switches are clunky. The stereo and its small screen are comparatively crude. Materials on the instrument panel lack refinement and feel more like a mid-decade Chevy than an end-of-the-decade premium car purporting to compete with the likes of Audi, BMW and Volvo.
There is a report from the Swedish Wire that has a Dutch billionaire by the name of John de Mol as the secret investor propping up the Spyker bid for Saab. Mr. de Mol owns much or all of Endemol and he sounds like a heavy hitter:
John de Mol also has the financial muscles needed to finance the acquisition. He has created a fortune with the production company Endemol, that he owns together with Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconis’s company Mediasat. His private equity fund also owns significant shares of football team Manchester United and telecommunications company Versatel. In 2005, Forbes magazine named him as one of the 500 richest people in the world.
The angel investor has previously been reported as Marcel Boekhoorn. Boekhoorn owns a portion of Spyker, so I still say that he’s got the inside track. However, if they are both in the mix, so much the better, yes?
(Except perhaps for the part about Manchester United. I’ll duck now while you English readers throw things at me and each other. ;-))
Swade posted this one before, but I felt that this column deserved another run during the lull.
I thought that this column enititled Lexus killed Saab, but GM let Saab die. from SpeedSportLife.com was right on the money. The author points out, rightly so, that the competition for premium cars heated up with the addition of new competitors right about the time that Saab was most neglected in terms of product development and product content.
This piece is very, very well-written, but I’ll warn you: it’s not a rosy ending. However, Mr. Baruth does love Saab.
I have a bit of a fantasy, as a former Saab owner and unrepentant fan of the old cars. I dream that Saab comes roaring back under some daring little ownership umbrella, freed to somehow create world-class product on a shoestring and humiliate the Japanese juggernauts on the open road. I close my eyes and hope for a stunning new car that has the spirit of that old 99 Turbo and brings the old virtues to a generation not even alive when the only two turbo cars on the market were the Saab and the Porsche 930. I think of the Saab workers, earning a decent wage and building cars they love, a bulwark against the vomitous tide of look-alike crap from the Pacific Rim, the Asian Tigers, and eventually the open maw of China. I can think about this, and I can smile.
Superb. Well done!
If you wish to continue and soothe your frayed nerves with Saab video content, click through….
Saab videos posted in the last week or so:
From Sweden, wimgid consoles himself with a winter drive in his Saab 96 V4:
Ice drifting in a Saab 9-3x! From Kall, Sweden: