A Case for Keeping Saab

I was asked my opinion on Saab by the Swedish newspaper Expressen. This is the article as was provided to them in English. One could write a book on this subject; I was limited to 4,000 spaces.

By Joe LaMuraglia
The current global economic situation dictates that individuals and companies re-evaluate their financial situation and ascertain where they can cut back in order to survive the downturn. For a family, it may mean eating out less, buying fewer clothes or selling a vehicle that they don’t rely on. For an auto company, it means cutting costs, closing plants and in the case of GM, looking at niche brands like Saab to sell for much-needed cash.
There are many arguments in the press for GM to rid itself of its Swedish nameplate, but I’d like to make a case for them to keep the brand.
As journalist, this opinion is based solely on the information that I have at hand and my personal experiences. I do not take into consideration the complicated financial implications that GM must consider. But from my armchair, there are some compelling reasons to keep the brand “Born from Jets” in their global portfolio.
Gaywheels.com Perspective
Saab was the first vehicle brand in the U.S. to advertise to the gay consumer and as an owner of the only gay-targeted automotive site in the U.S., I can say with confidence that there is a loyal following of the Saab brand among my readers. The Saab 9-3 has been popular on the site and has been on our Top 10 Most-Researched list since it began in 2006. The vehicles on the list are generally from niche brands, nicely styled and fuel efficient. Saab fits all three of those attributes. The gay consumer likes style and individuality and driving a Saab allows them to stand out in a crowd and express themselves. Saab’s leadership in turbo charging also allows an owner to have a fun-to-drive European vehicle that is economically and ecologically responsible.
Product Planning Perspective
Saab is the leader in turbo-charged engines and bio-fuel engines. This skill set will be vital for GM’s future in the global marketplace as the price of oil continues to fluctuate and the move to alternative fuels quickens. The cost to develop new centers of expertise if Saab were to be sold should be factored into the equation. The recent launch of the cross-wheel-drive vehicles (XWD) also established Saab as the global center of expertise for all-wheel-drive in passenger vehicles. This too is an important competency that would be lost and costly to replace if Saab left the family.
Enthusiast Perspective
Saab owners have always been among the most-loyal in the U.S. and until I started my career as an automotive journalist, I never completely understood why. They’ve always appealed to me from a style point of view but it wasn’t until I spent time in a 9-3 Aero convertible did I truly understand the source of the owners’ enthusiasm. My test drive wasn’t just living with the car for a week, as is the usual experience. I was part of the first gay team to take part in a cross-country race. My 9-day journey included open stretches of highway, two track days and racing our competitors to solve clues in cities all over the U.S.
This ultimate test drive sold me on the Saab 9-3 as it performed flawlessly on the road and track and never once did we dread getting behind the wheel during the grueling event. Our competitors were also impressed and often asked what modifications we had made after witnessing the Saab 9-3 pass more expensive vehicles from Germany on the track. A quick look at the engine proved it was as-is from the factory.
The experience convinced me of the Saab’s ability to deliver world-class performance in a comfortable, fuel-efficient and beautiful package. It is a shame that more people aren’t aware of what Saab’s can do and it would be more of a shame if GM had to sell Saab.
I wish GM the best in weathering their current financial situation. Like the family mentioned earlier that is considering the sale of a car for generate cash, if GM comes to the conclusion to sell Saab, they’ll miss it when it’s gone and perhaps when they really need it the most.