The production quality was already better, the model is hopelessly outdated. In the period when other manufacturers let several new model generations roll to their customers, one still builds the slightly modified infusion of a completely outdated cart. The management of the producer is driving an unclear course, money for investment is missing ... and as if that was not bad enough, the cars of the traditional brand are now sold through new distribution channels.
Which brand am I talking about? Well, guess? Or not. Resolution follows. Okay, people forget fast, especially when it comes to negative things. It should be a kind of self-protection function that helps to overcome unpleasant experiences. The brand Saab is stuck in the crisis, and again and again comments come on the blog that the saga is over. Can not be, must not be. Because Saab as a brand is too good to let her die. Especially because it would fit perfectly into the portfolio of other manufacturers.
The advantages: the great history of a European brand, close to cult status. The unique opportunity to start over on a piece of white paper, completely free of past pollution and obligations. Only, who would be able to reinvent Saab? Since NEVS always speaks of one or two Asian car giants, but does not like to give a name, I simply picked two suitable candidates myself.
As a surprise, Mahindra is neither. Why? Because I think that the relatively small group with Ssangyong already has a large construction site and will cope with no more. That's why my gaze goes to the next neighborhood. And there we find: Tata.
My candidate from India: Tata
Unlike Mahindra, Tata is a true giant. Just for comparison: at Mahindra & Mahindra 11.600 people work, at Tata it is 455.000. 2008 has taken over Tata Jaguar Land Rover, has invested billions of dollars since then, has given management full freedom, and is clearly moving forward.
Everything Land Rover says is sold by itself; the Jaguar brand is lagging behind. The clientele is outdated and Jaguar has an acceptance problem on this side of the island. It can not be on the vehicles, there should be more. The numbers speak for themselves: only 76.668 new Jaguar, but 348.338 new Land Rover ran 2013 off the line. With three model series XF, XJ and F-Type, it is far behind what Saab once made possible with two model series. This year, another series was launched, the brand expects much of it.
But it is the social acceptance that is missing. Which company will want to send their sales force to the customer with an XE or XF? Problematic, problematic ... Jaguar lacks the big fleet business. That's exactly what, and the fact that Jaguar Land Rover's belts are running on the limit makes Saab interesting for the Indians. In Sweden, a highly flexible work is boring, it could run Jaguars and Saabs parallel from the band. The link to Trollhättan exists since 2012; JLR is one of the larger customers in the Stallbacka and Innovatum. Everything would be there for success: own engines, modern platforms, an existing sales network. Saab DNA has always been socially acceptable. The Swedes would be a third brand that could ideally complement JLR's portfolio.
Farther east, I exclude the Chinese manufacturers. They are not ready to take over and build a traditional European brand. Geely, the Volvo owner, shows how uncertain the foundation is. In China, the Volvo mother fights with slumps in sales and rising debt. As with Volvo, the level of debt financing is alarmingly high. So even further to the east, to Japan.
My candidate from Japan: Toyota
It's been a good 30 years, even before the launch, when the first Lexus rolled past me. Four Japanese managers on board, they came from a presentation in my former neighborhood. The Japanese had moved out to conquer North America and Europe with their brand.
That failed in Europe, the brand does not come from the spot. 2013 broke the modest sales in Germany even more than 42% on only 1.653 approvals. And in the US, the Tesla S sweeps the Toyota luxury daughter off the market. How much investment Toyota has been burning with Lexus in Europe is unknown. One thing is for sure, it does not seem to have been well spent money.
We may remember so faintly that at the beginning of the NEVS story there was talk of a link to Toyota. What it was about was never quite clear; All that is certain is that the Japanese know the work in Trollhättan quite well. A European manufacturing facility would also be of benefit to them, especially with the flexibility available in Sweden. Niche products for the European market would be easier to realize and the brand could become more attractive. Needless to say, grabbing the Toyota shelves would help Saab resurrect - and Saab could help the Toyota corporation.
In the big duel with VW for the place 1 in the global competition has Toyota in Europe no antidote, in order to compete with Audi. Lexus is unfit, the 1.653 German approvals with - yes, how many series actually - prove it. There are really four complete model lines that Lexus drives for the most modest sales figures; and to prevent misunderstandings - quality does not lack the vehicles. It is - from a certain price range - to other values. The pedigree is the one that counts.
It's about tradition, origin, unique stories that brands can tell. Mercedes stands for automotive history like no other manufacturer; also BMW, Porsche, Jaguar transport a great past. Each brand in a very special way, they are not comparable to each other. Saab offers an incredibly fascinating history, the Saab DNA is at eye level with the well-known premium manufacturers. In southern Sweden, Toyota could find the answer to the question of how to permanently drive on the road to success against the Premiumplatzhirsche. If you are looking for it ...
Is Saab worth the investment? Let's get back to the brand I described in the beginning. Mismanagement, obsolete products, unreliability, underground quality. The brand tested new lows for years. One was achieved in the 90 years when the vehicles were sold through Real supermarkets. No bookmaker would have bet even a penny on a great future. The brand seemed in the end.
But she too was too good to die for. The name: Mini.