How it all began - SAAB 92
auto industry

SAAB's Brand Name a Peddling Object?

SAAB - that used to be a good four-letter word: The abbreviation stands for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolag – the Swedish Airplane Incorporated Company.

After a decade of building planes SAAB launched its first automobile in 1947, and to no one’s surprise it resembled an airplane without wings. Ever since that premiere SAAB has been renowned for its innovative technology, especially regarding safety aspects.

More than fifty years ago SAAB cars were equipped with seat belts, followed by collapsible steering columns and head restraints.

Originally powered by two-stroke engines that delivered a modest 25 horsepowers, later models sported turbo-charged four-stroke motors, the strongest of which had 400 horsepowers.

But all that is very likely to come to an end that many find untimely.

SAAB engineers have a simple explanation: ‘General Motors did not let us build the cars people wanted to buy,’ they say.

And even though Dutch Spyker in a last-minute move came with a new bid to buy SAAB on Sunday, all that may be left soon may be its good name to remember.

But as if GM wanted to add insult to injury, the bosses in Detroit are now considering to put the SAAB brand name on the market. Talking to Swedish Radio, General Motors vice president John Smith confirmed this:

“I suspect it’s possible that as we now enter the wind-down process, we might get expressions of interest in the SAAB brand as an asset. I don’t know that in fact we will because we’re just really making the announcement today as to what we’re going to do next. We could get inquiries of that type and we’ll see.”

One prospective name-buyer could be Chinese state-run automaker BAIC. The company just purchased production rights and technology for SAAB’s 9-3 and 9-5 models, which would have to be sold under a different name if the SAAB brand were not available. SAAB’s marketing director Anders Blom told Swedish Radio that the name is still highly valued at the home base in Trollhättan:

“It is the brand we are working with in dealing with our customers and target groups. We are determined to protect that name.”

Blom made it clear that SAAB has the written right to veto selling of its brand name:

“If we find the applicant to be unsuitable we can absolutely say no.”

But even then General Motors might find a way to make money with the SAAB name, by forcing the Swedes to buy back the brand as part of the wind-down process.

GM’s latest move surrounding the SAAB name provoked some bitter reactions. Said one engineer:

‘This is as if a bad guy watched someone die and then snatched his ID card to sell it.’

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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