FAREWELL TO SAAB?
Earlier this week, General Motors sold the Saab Automobile Company to theDutch auto maker Spyker. Never heard of Spyker? Well, you’re not alone. It’s a tiny (133 employees) Dutch company specializing in hand-built sports cars. Last year they only produced 37 cars. Speculation is rampant that Saab, the venerable car company, is on the automotive endangered species list. While this story seems major, it received little media attention. On BBC World News, it was the second to the last story. My local paper buried somewhere between the classified ads and Marmaduke.
We’re talking about Saabs here! Everywhere in world you go, you see a Saab! But can you really blame the media? We are so bombarded with news items about seeming untouchable corporations merging, and possibly dissolving, that newspapers, websites and TV news have relegated them to lower status. Although Saabs will still be produced this year, it is still alarming that something so iconic as a Saab may be yet another victim of our current economic crisis.
Another interesting aspect of this story is the irony that a ten-year old company who builds race cars is merging with a 74 year old company that builds safe cars. The Swedish company boats a host technological advancements over the years. In the 1950’s Saab became the first car manufacturer worldwide to make SEAT BELTS standard on every model. From little things like inventing window wipers to big things like the developing the first ever 16-valve turbo charged engine, Saab research has made all cars safer and better. But let’s face it: The numbers for Saab are not pretty. In 2008, it sold 94,000 cars. In 2009, they only sold 39,000 cars. This decline does not bode well for 2010, does it? Let’s face it, from an economic standpoint, GM really had no choice but unload the once bankable company to whoever would take it.
Hopefully, the economic tides will turn again, and Saab, something as quintessentially Swedish as Abba, will rise again.