GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Editor
Joined
·
26,951 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The future of Saab's factory in Sweden has been thrown into doubt by General Motors Vice Chairman Robert Lutz.

"Who knows where Saabs will be built in future? There is nothing that says Saabs have to be made in Sweden," Lutz said.

Saab's plant at Trollhattan, Sweden, is operating at just 59 percent of capacity, according to consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers. The plant assembles the Saab 9-3 and 9-5.

General Motors has struggled to make Saab profitable since it bought 50 percent of the Swedish automaker in 1990 and assumed full ownership in 2000. Saab's losses in 2002 were 450 million euros, or about $551.5 million at current exchange rates. Last year's figures are not available.

Lutz said GM Europe will restructure radically its production capacities to improve utilization of its plants, a move that is likely to affect Saab.

"We like Saab, we like its design, we like its customers," Lutz said. "But Saab's problem is that its product line has been too narrow. That is why we have to do things differently."

Lutz added that Saab needed new models but was too small to develop them alone while it had total annual sales of just 130,000 and huge annual losses.

The 9-2X sport hatchback, which goes on sale in the United States this month, will be produced by Subaru in Japan. It is the first Saab to be built outside Sweden.

Saab's new 9-7X SUV, based on the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, goes on sale in the United States next February. It will be built at GM's plant in Moraine, Ohio.

"Saab has been trying for 20 years to reach sales of 150,000 units a year -- the critical volume it needs to be profitable," said John Lawson, from London-based analyst SmithBarney.


Full Article
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
The Oldsmobilification of Saab continues. 10 years from now, I doubt Saad will exist even as a brand of rebaged GM products.

Mark
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Saad but true.

I expect Saab to be folded in to Opel - left as only a division of designers basically.

If the Saab version of the CSVs hits the showrooms, its over. That is, if you didn't think a pushrod V8 and a 4-speed transmission in the 9-7X was the end.

Saab is GM's current attempt to take the exotic appeal of an Import nameplate and sell rebadged Trailblazers and Opels....basically targeting an import-intending audience one level above Saturn, but offering them restyled, rebadged GM product.

It could succeed to some degree, but I doubt it will ever be a resounding success. The auto critics at Edmunds, etc. that influence 50% of car buyers today who do online research, won't let GM get away with hastily rebadged and restyled product, unless there is some sort of uniqueness - an unwavering sense of brand identity.

Unfortunately, GM's Beancounters saw to it that, for example, the 9-7X was reskinned, but has the same powertrain as a much cheaper Chevy or Isuzu Ascender. As long as GM continues this cheap charade, Saab has no chance of long-term success.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
hmmm... saturn had some unique vehicles, and GM is phasing them out while phasing in products similar to those offered at other GM brands. same deal with saab... from quirky, unique vehicles to versions of other corporate GM hardware. you'd think GM'd be content with it's mix-matched chevrolet/buick/pontiac/GMC portfolios, and be glad to have cadillac, saturn, saab and hummer as distinctive marques with varied appeal. alas, this isn't so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
We need to keep in mind that if they were left on their own, Saab would be dead in ten years (or less) anyway. The industry simply won't allow small, stand-alone players like them anymore.

If GM bought them and then let them keep going the same direction they were headed anyway with all their own engineering, keeping their full Saab-ness in tact, they would still continue to bleed money profusely like they had been doing on their own, and what's the point of that? Saab's quirky character assured them of an audience for many years, but it was a small audience and was not going to grow.

The complexity and cost pressures of the industry today are to blame for Saab's troubles. A company with the volume Saab has had simply can't survive without sharing products from a larger manufacturer. This started back in the 80's. Wasn't the Saab 9000's basic platform shared with Alfa and some other car (that I can't think of right now)?

Everyone thinks they know how to do things better than GM has while knowing a tiny fraction of what it takes to run an automobile company. When you dismiss GM's platform sharing with Saab, the alternative is to keep throwing a lot of cash at this money pit simply so that they can keep their own identity, or let it go belly up.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 8 2004, 09:56 AM
When you dismiss GM's platform sharing with Saab, the alternative is to keep throwing a lot of cash at this money pit simply so that they can keep their own identity, or let it go belly up.
Platform sharing is good. It's the future.

Wholesale powertrain sharing along with that, AKA "rebadging" is not.

The 9-7X would have been met with more praise by the critics if it had followed the formula of the 9-3. Turbo 4-cyl, great transmission choices, and enough uniqueness to keep it Saab even while sharing the Epsilon platform.

Unlike some others here, I like the 9-2X Saabaru. It has the character of a Saab - turbo 4-banger and all, and even an old Saab like hatch.

I fear more cars like the Saablazer, and less like the Saabaru in the future. Once that shift occurs - where engines and transmissions no longer hold brand character, it is over for Saab. No need to prolong the agony if that is the direction GM is headed.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 8 2004, 02:56 PM
We need to keep in mind that if they were left on their own, Saab would be dead in ten years (or less) anyway. The industry simply won't allow small, stand-alone players like them anymore.

If GM bought them and then let them keep going the same direction they were headed anyway with all their own engineering, keeping their full Saab-ness in tact, they would still continue to bleed money profusely like they had been doing on their own, and what's the point of that? Saab's quirky character assured them of an audience for many years, but it was a small audience and was not going to grow.

The complexity and cost pressures of the industry today are to blame for Saab's troubles. A company with the volume Saab has had simply can't survive without sharing products from a larger manufacturer. This started back in the 80's. Wasn't the Saab 9000's basic platform shared with Alfa and some other car (that I can't think of right now)?

Everyone thinks they know how to do things better than GM has while knowing a tiny fraction of what it takes to run an automobile company. When you dismiss GM's platform sharing with Saab, the alternative is to keep throwing a lot of cash at this money pit simply so that they can keep their own identity, or let it go belly up.
i'm curious why saab can't be volvo though. i'm on the "don't care if it looks different" side of the platform sharing debate (and am not trying to start a new one here!). volvo, to my eyes anyways, has retained all of it's character and positioning despite being under fords control and using shared platforms. volvo doesn't compete in every market, but does well within its narrow field of vision. and yeah, it's easy to sit here and decide how GM should do things, but i'd rather see saab fade away than become another full-line GM division with nothing substantial to differentiate its vehicles. and i'm not saying it's there now... but looks like it's heading that way.

the article says 150,000 is the magic number of vehicles for saab profitability... done properly a 9-5 sedan & wagon (maybe with an AWD all-road sorta option), 9-3 sedan, hatch and 'vert, and perhaps a unique 9-2x could reach that, no? again, it's easy to be an armchair expert... but that's the place i see for saab within GM's quagmire of vehicles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
579 Posts
If the plant is under-utilized why not build more variants of existing products? E.g. where's the 9-3 Coupe? Wagon? Crossover?

GM is ruining Saab at every step and it's REALLY pissing me off. If they can't figure them out - WHICH THEY OBVIOUSLY CAN'T AND NEVER WILL - sell it to Ford or VW or someone else you can! GM simply has no understanding of niche manufactureing and never will - what on earth made them think they could make a success of Saab?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Originally posted by paul8488+Jun 8 2004, 03:12 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (paul8488 @ Jun 8 2004, 03:12 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-MelvinJ@Jun 8 2004, 02:56 PM
We need to keep in mind that if they were left on their own, Saab would be dead in ten years (or less) anyway.  The industry simply won't allow small, stand-alone players like them anymore. 

If GM bought them and then let them keep going the same direction they were headed anyway with all their own engineering, keeping their full Saab-ness in tact, they would still continue to bleed money profusely like they had been doing on their own, and what's the point of that?  Saab's quirky character assured them of an audience for many years, but it was a small audience and was not going to grow.

The complexity and cost pressures of the industry today are to blame for Saab's troubles.  A company with the volume Saab has had simply can't survive without sharing products from a larger manufacturer.  This started back in the 80's.  Wasn't the Saab 9000's basic platform shared with Alfa and some other car (that I can't think of right now)?

Everyone thinks they know how to do things better than GM has while knowing a tiny fraction of what it takes to run an automobile company.  When you dismiss GM's platform sharing with Saab, the alternative is to keep throwing a lot of cash at this money pit simply so that they can keep their own identity, or let it go belly up.
i'm curious why saab can't be volvo though. i'm on the "don't care if it looks different" side of the platform sharing debate (and am not trying to start a new one here!). volvo, to my eyes anyways, has retained all of it's character and positioning despite being under fords control and using shared platforms. volvo doesn't compete in every market, but does well within its narrow field of vision. and yeah, it's easy to sit here and decide how GM should do things, but i'd rather see saab fade away than become another full-line GM division with nothing substantial to differentiate its vehicles. and i'm not saying it's there now... but looks like it's heading that way.

the article says 150,000 is the magic number of vehicles for saab profitability... done properly a 9-5 sedan & wagon (maybe with an AWD all-road sorta option), 9-3 sedan, hatch and 'vert, and perhaps a unique 9-2x could reach that, no? again, it's easy to be an armchair expert... but that's the place i see for saab within GM's quagmire of vehicles. [/b][/quote]
Volvo had a more mainstream character to begin with. I've only done minimal research on this, but it looks like Volvo typically has more than double the sales of Saab. This makes them a much more self-supporting organization and more worth the investment to keep them unique.

That said, I think Volvos have become more mainstream in recent years also, just like Saab. And their platorms are being shared too, although the other way around - Ford is using Volvo platforms. Should GM build something on a Saab platform, or give Saab responsiblilty in designing a platform? Maybe. That would help them earn their keep, but they have less to offer there than Volvo.

They've done a good job differentiating the 9-3 from it's other Epsilon siblings. I don't think there's anything to be ashamed of there. The 9-7 and 9-2? It's true, at best they are stop-gap vehicles. I like the idea of Saab having a version of the SRX rather than the Envoy.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
You guys make some good points - why DID General Motors take over Saab? Were they just imitating Ford?

Daewoo makes much more sense - a cheap source of product that sells for rock bottom prices, gives them a foothold in the Korean market, and is revitalizing Suzuki and giving GM Canada something to sell to compact-concious buyers other than aged Cavaliers.

GM seems to have little interest in Saab production, and is making not enough effort to keep brand character intact....seems to me that they only want the nameplate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
579 Posts
Very true. The Deawoo and Suzuki partnerships make sense since they are viable companies on their own and fill gaps in GMs lineup (cheap cars for Deawoo, small cars for Suzuki). Plus Suzuki is a Japanese nameplate they can exploit.

Subaru and Saab, OTOH, have no place in the GM empire. Subaru gives nothing and takes nothing from GM (it can surivive on its own very well), while GM simply doesn't have the resources Saab needs (Ford and VW would be a much better fit). Both should be cut loose.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
I find it pretty amusing that so many people cry about Saab loosing its "unique, quirky character". If all of those people owned a Saab we would not be discussing this.

GM wanted to expand, they bought Saab as part of their hopes of expanding globally.

Saabs just don't sell in large numbers. If they took the time to develop all new vehicles to have all of Saabs quirks it would be 5 years or more before they could afford to develop anything worth while. The quickest way is to rebadge. I think they will sell the 9-2 and the 9-7. They changed enough to get the sales. The vehicles fill a gap in the model lineup and in 2 years or so we will have all new vehicles to replace them.

I personally always liked Saabs. With the spike in Luxury car sales, Gm will get the 150,000 they need to make that profit. It might not be this year, but its coming.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,621 Posts
Originally posted by jwvrod@Jun 8 2004, 07:51 PM
I find it pretty amusing that so many people cry about Saab loosing its "unique, quirky character". If all of those people owned a Saab we would not be discussing this.
oh i'd love to own one. but i can't afford it now. someday i hope. i'd absolutely love a 9-3 sedan. it has just enough of that 'uniquness' and 'quirk' (great buzz words!) i want. even the 9-2x is a little pricey. just because i can't afford a cadillac or ferrari doesn't mean i don't wanna see the vehicles head in the right direction. same thing with saab. something to aspire to!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
776 Posts
Yeah, put up or shut up people. I see a lot of this complaining about Saab losing it's character. Clearly it's character isn't selling. What kind of character is FWD 4-banger for the same price of 6-cylinder RWD, anyway? Maybe if we lived in Europe and had the bejesus taxed out of us, but most U.S. people want the Bimmers and M-B's that are all over Saab's price range (except the new 9-2X) and honestly, I can't blame them. I really like the new Saabs, I think the styling is great, but for the price there are better things out there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,488 Posts
I don't really like this, I enjoy Saabs...

Saab-Scania's automobile division was bleeding money profusely since the late 1980's. (around 1987+). As a whole, this was offset by Saab-Scania's truck, bus, airplane, defense, etc. profits.

There were talks of a Fiat buyout, since Saab already had dealt with Fiat and Alfa Romeo on the Group of Four project (that gave the Fiat Croma/Lanica Thema, the Alfa 164 and the Saab 9000) however, Fiat wanted to sever all ties with Sweden, and relocate all design and production to Italy. Saab refused 100%, and later negotiations had them relocating to a neutral territory (the Netherlands).

Still, nobody in Sweden really liked the deal.

Ford approached them. The deal still stank, and Ford wanted to do "major restructuring".

In 1989, Jaguar was put up for bids. Ford and GM were very interested. Ford ultimately won the bidding war, and overpaid - a lot. Ford suddenly had little interest in the Swedish automaker

Soon thereafter, GM approached Saab, and GM's deal was sweet - access to GM parts bins, free money, and essentially no physical GM involvement. Saab Car Division became Saab Automobile Aktiebolaget, 50% owned by the General and 50% by Saab-Scania.

Anyway, the deal was pretty successful, especially with the new-generation GM-derived Saab 900.

Sales however, didn't pick up the pace GM had expected. This ultimately led to a buyout of the remaining 50% by GM in 1999, although Saab-Scania didn't own it - Saab-Scania split up, and the stock was sold to an investment company in '94 or so.



100% free webcam site! | Awesome chicks and it is absolutely free! | Watch free live sex cam - easy as 1-2-3
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Originally posted by Smaart Aas Saabr@Jun 8 2004, 08:25 PM

Saab-Scania's automobile division was bleeding money profusely since the late 1980's. (around 1987+). As a whole, this was offset by Saab-Scania's truck, bus, airplane, defense, etc. profits.


There were talks of a Fiat buyout, since Saab already had dealt with Fiat and Alfa Romeo on the Group of Four project (that gave the Fiat Croma/Lanica Thema, the Alfa 164 and the Saab 9000) however, Fiat wanted to sever all ties with Sweden, and relocate all design and production to Italy. Saab refused 100%, and later negotiations had them relocating to a neutral territory (the Netherlands).

You had posted the term "bleeding money profusely" in another post a while back, and I stole it for my post earlier in this topic. Thanks.

And thanks for clearing up who shared the 9000 platform. I knew someone out there would remember.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
It is amazing to see how much of a soap opera one tiny car company can generate. Beyond the questionable choices being made at GM regarding Saab, much of the blame for Saab's current predicament has to fall to Saab in Sweden. Talk to virtually anyone at Saab Cars USA, even those who've been with the company since the good old days of Robert Sinclair running the show in Orange, Connecticut, and they will tell you that they would much rather deal with Detroit directly than with Trollhatten (sp?) at this point. That doesn't mean that a lot of stupid decisions aren't being made for the brand by the powers at GM, but if the brand does die or become irrelevant, the Swedes will be just as culpable as the gentlemen and women of GM. Would Ford have done a better job? I doubt it. If Volvo is succeeding, it is in spite of Ford, not because of it. I think Volvo has given more to Ford than it has taken from it, the new S40 notwithstanding. I don't know which marriage would have been best for Saab, and you never can tell. I mean, did anyone think Nissan had any chance when they paired with Renault? Look who's laughing now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,723 Posts
A couple of other points to ponder:

SAAB has a long history of borrowing and sharing major parts with other automakers. When SAAB moved from its 2-cycle three cylinder to a 4-cycle V4, it simply bought engines from Ford Europe.

When it was developing the SAAB 99 and needed a inline four, it struck a partnership with Triumph to develop a motor for them to share. The resulting motor was also used in the TR-7; it was the SAAB mainstay throughout the '80's in normally-aspired and turbo form. It eventually gained a twin-cam, four-valve head. But, the engine was only viable for SAAB because the initial initial costs were shared with another company.

As someone else pointed out, the successful 9000 platform was co-developed and shared with Alfa-Romeo, Fiat and Lancia. Again, SAAB would have never been able to afford the development costs on its own otherwise.

So, SAAB clearly doesn't need to have it's own platform or engines to be a SAAB. Access to GM's vast engineering and parts resources should have been a godsent to the company. The problem still seems to be product and profitability. The new 9-3 isn't quirky enough to win the hearts of SAAB enthusiasts, but it isn't a knockout competitor for the BMW 3-series, either.

I think Lutz is wrong about the need to increase SAAB's volume. What needs to happen is SAAB needs to radically decrease its costs so it can survive as a niche manufacturer. It already has access to all of GM's resources - how hard is it to creatively dip into what GM has and create something unique, interesting and truly "SAAB?"

That said, GM does seem to be heading in the right direction with one key (apparent) decision - pairing SAAB with Subaru. From a brand character point of view, it's a match made in heaven, IMHO. And, it serves to address two problems - the difficulty in moving the Subaru brand upmarket and the need for SAAB to have access to appropriate plaforms and mechanicals for future cars. If this approach works, it will benefit both SAAB and Subaru while preserving the essential nature of each brand.

Reportedly, the next SAAB SUV will be based of the forthcoming Subaru 7-passenger model, which will likely be a much better fit for SAAB than the TrailBlazer stop-gap. For all of the criticism of the 9-2X, it too is a stop-gap measure; wait until Subaru and SAAB can co-develop platforms to see the potential of the partnership.

We'll see!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Hello,

I bought the 2003 9-3SS because it looked and performed great enough for me and had enough SAAB character. The exterior design, to me, looked vastly improved over the previous 9-3. I'm a first-time SAAB owner. I like mine a lot.

I hope they make the 9-3X sport hatch they showed at Frankfurt as opposed to another Saabaru. I have seen a 9-2x in person and my impression of them have since improved, though. I hope they do well with it.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top