Year in Review: Saab Year 2011

"We had a dream ..." The dream of a small Swedish car manufacturer. The dream of independence, good design beyond the mainstream, the dream of a cool Scandinavian brand. “Dreams can come true if the people who have the dreams want to experience them”. That was how I had written in the summer.

Trollhättan, Saab plant with the new Saabs
Trollhättan, Saab plant with the new Saabs

As we know, the dream did not become a reality. Because the year was difficult, the hurdles just too high, and it had already started difficult. With a "... morning cold ..." as Victor Muller said. This then expanded to pneumonia and brought the patient to the intensive care unit. No, I don't want to write about the commercial inability of the Dutch owners, not about too many visions and the lack of realism. We had enough this year. I would like to write about Saab, the community and Germany.

No matter how it goes with the production sites in Trollhättan, we do not know yet, no matter if there is still a buyer. The brand lives on, and in the worst case, it becomes a classic brand and a cult object. That Saab exerts an almost magical attraction on those who carry the virus in the genes during the crisis, we could see throughout the dealer tour across Germany.

At the main entrance, Saab 9-5 and Saab 9-4x
At the main entrance, Saab 9-5 and Saab 9-4x

A Saab dealership, which also sells a South German brand, said everything about the high degree of mobilization and the enthusiasm of the fans. While fans of 5's German premium product 100 follow an invitation, Saab is more than halfway there. That expresses a lot about brand loyalty. The dealer tour also mercilessly showed the weakness of the brand, more on that later.

Saab would have had, if the crisis year 2011 only slightly better run, had a good future in Germany. Great new products, the Saab 9-5 sportswear and the Saab 9-4x should have rolled into the showrooms. As a guarantor of success, in addition to the new Saabs, we had a great, highly motivated team in Frankfurt near Saab Germany.

Saab Germany CEO Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, Marketing Manager Henrik Claesson, After Sales Manager Mike Helfer in front of the Saab factory
Saab Germany CEO Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, Marketing Manager Henrik Claesson, After Sales Manager Mike Helfer in front of the Saab factory

Which brings us to the Saab Chef personally. Germany had so many Germany bosses that we forgot the names. Which is not difficult, because most remained without a face and the commitment to the brand was usually modest.

With Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, the brand got a face, finally a Saab manager with charismatic aura who goes to the dealers who seeks direct contact with the Saab drivers. He would have been the head of Germany who would have made Saab a success story after a long dry spell. One who listens and understands the brand. The German Saab dealer tour - his idea - was a wake-up call in Trollhättan that was also understood in other markets.

I was with him, accompanied him to press appointments and photoshootings, and I studied him these days. A positive car-crazy manager full of energy. On a working day that started in Rostock at 6:00 am and ended with check-in at a Berlin hotel around 23:00 pm, he came up with the idea “… Tom, let's go to the Brandenburg Gate for a photo shoot… ”Tom had declined, so there are no pictures of the Saab 9-4x and Saab 9-5 sports suit in front of this national monument. This event says a lot about Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, is typical of him and his commitment without limits.

The Saab 9-4x and Saab Sales Manager Thomas Schweizer
The Saab 9-4x and Saab Sales Manager Thomas Schweizer

I know many of his long-term plans for the brand, and all that makes me now, in retrospect, annoying and sad. Annoying for those who did not have an eye for reality in Trollhättan and who finally prevented our German Saab story. Sad, because opportunities were missed. But I did not want to write about that.

Shortly back to the dealer tour. The fact that normal car buyers are allowed to drive with pre-series products on the German highway was something unique, and we will probably no longer see similar.

The glitz and misery of the Saab brand were summed up by the old men who could be met at almost every dealer. "My Saab already has the second turbocharger .." was the reproachful introduction to almost every conversation. A look at the courtyard brought clarity. A Saab 9-5, built in 1999 or 98, so at least 12 years old, first hand and yet the second turbocharger. Shock ! Comparable products from competitors are rocking through Baghdad at this age, the turbocharger is no longer an issue, and the elderly gentleman would already have the next generation but one in his possession.

But it's over. Which can also have comforting sides. Because, everything could have been worse.

Everything can get worse: Chrysler - Lancia on the A3
Everything can get worse: Chrysler - Lancia on the A3

When I was driving with my friend Mark in the Saab 9-4x in the direction of Frankfurt, a press car of the German FIAT branch crossed our way. A new Lancia Van, which unfortunately is only a Chrysler with a different label. Like Saab, Lancia was one of those brands that are too good for this world. Only the decline of the brand from Italy began much earlier, and instead of leaving this label with great history in peace to rest, torments the last fans with scrap metal from the United States.

How bad it once can catch proud brands, is not only FIAT. Even investors from China do not recognize the jewel they own. Rover, however, was never such a real gem from Rover, Roewe and one of the most successful manufacturers of British sports cars hit it really hard.

The MGB was the best-selling sports car of its time, and the traditional brand is in a bad way MG Caught. The owners from China have set up a final assembly, a design office and a development in England. After discontinuing the MG TF production and wasting the remaining copies, the MG6 is now produced. The most sedan that would pass as Korea Chevy or Ssang Yong, with technology from the day before yesterday. The success is corresponding. In October, 11 copies were sold in the UK, and in November 7 a piece of the brand new sedan. Good stories do not look that way!

Saabs, that's for sure, won't end like this! The trademark rights are - and that's a good thing - not with Swedish Automobile. They are owned by Saab AB and Scania, both companies are responsibly managed companies. If there is no takeover of the plant by an investor - we all still hope for it - then no Saabs will come from low-wage countries. That leaves us with a great automotive legacy and with it a whole lot.

We have our cars Swedish, turbocharged and timeless, Scandinavian elegance. Our cars are proud to wear the royal griffin on the bonnet and we should be as proud of our love for the automobile.

We have our conspiratorial and at the same time tolerant, open Saab community that represents something unique and valuable in the automotive world. We have long-standing workshops that continue to stand by Saab and keep our vehicles running. And we have our clubs that hold the Saab flag high.

All this is very much and at the same time our mission for 2012! Let's keep our brand alive, let's keep it, in our hearts - and on the street!

The insolvency administrator duo yesterday spoke with a cautious optimism about the situation of Saab. I think so we should also take a small amount of optimism to start the new year.

A good new 2012 to all Saab drivers. Keep on saabing and take care!

Text: tom@saabblog.net

12 thoughts on "Year in Review: Saab Year 2011"

  • Hello Tom

    The best wishes and best wishes for the 2012 I wish you and many thanks for your Superblog.
    You have invested a lot of time and effort in this top car brand from Sweden. Let's be positive about a good solution.

    Many greetings from Switzerland
    Walter

  • A nice, almost somewhat melancholic summary. Let us hope that in 2012 we will find a solution with which real SAABs will once again enrich the automotive landscape!

    SAAB up!

  • Also from Schleswig-Holstein just before 2012 the best wishes for all SAAB enthusiasts and especially for Tom, who is always on the ball!

    We think that a little more optimism about SAAB is indicated for 2012 - the lawyer duo, who will initiate the most extensive recovery of the patient in the next few weeks, does not appear to be a dreamer in our eyes. The two specialists will provide all the necessary measures for healing - we are sure here in a circle that it will succeed!

    DR + family

  • Hopefully at least this blog will be preserved!

  • Thank you,
    a great article and no matter what happens in 2012 with SAAB, many fans will let the brand live.
    I myself had ordered, waited, and now written off a 9-5 Aero Sportcombi TTID XWD.
    But no, no Audi, no BMW, no Mercedes and no Jaguar. Starting next week, a new 9-5 Turbo4 sedan in black next to my 9-3 convertible in black in the garage.
    SAAB lives on and honors, no matter what.

    Have a Happy New Year 2012 with lots of hope ...

    Klaus

  • Hi Tom,

    Without hope there is no progress, no survival and no future.
    So I reach for the last little hope and hope that the Swedish brand moves back into the production phase
    To all Saablern a happy new year to you and your dearest.

    I would like to thank you, Tom, for your coverage and I hope that you will keep us up to date with 2012 as well.

    Greetings from Switzerland

    Yves

  • Great Tom,
    You speak to all Saab drivers from the soul!
    All the best for 2012 to you, your family and the entire Saab community!
    Special greetings to Sweden!
    Hope dies last !!!

  • Great report, nice to read ... !!!

    Happy New Year to you all! 🙂

  • Dear Tom, you and your family a healthy, successful and happy new year!

    Thank you for your commitment to Saab and the Saab family! I visit your Bog page at least twice a day and I really appreciate your coverage and your comments!

    Let's hope that the griffin (soon) spreads his wings from Trollhättan back to flying high!

    Best regards from the lr. EBE,
    Alexandros.

    PS: I hope the Saab key fob that I recently purchased from you will not be the last Saab I've ever purchased!

  • If someone asks me today whether there is still SAAB, I say “you are definitely building planes again at the moment because people no longer know what is good and the nonconfirmists are unfortunately dying out”.

    Tom,
    Thank you for the great coverage.

    I wish you and all other Saab drivers a successful start into the New Year and I look forward to seeing you again on the streets.

    Best regards from Berlin

    Martin

    PS: Everything will be alright

  • Hello Tom…
    Thank you for this and all the other articles that I was allowed to read from you ... and there will also be in the future ... I'm sure of that! 🙂
    With pride I drive my yellow SAABINE and always with the hope that there will soon be new SAABINES!
    A happy new year to you, your loved ones and all SAAB FANS ...
    Ciao Alex

    PS: and until the next meeting !!! 🙂 Oh ... I just say TATRA 😉

  • A great article!
    All a good start to the new year!

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