Bluestime Vol.2

The production quality was already better, the model is hopelessly outdated.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several new model generations roll to their customers, one still builds the slightly modified infusion of a completely outdated cart.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.

Saab Bluestime. With Saab 9-5 NG. © 2014
Saab Bluestime. With Saab 9-5 NG. © 2014

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 The clientele is outdated and Jaguar has an acceptance problem on this side of the island.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.

31 thoughts too "Bluestime Vol.2"

  • I hope the right people read this!

    • Oh, now that you say it ... One of my preferred candidates is reading along

  • I think Toyota would be great - its engines and processing standards fit!

  • Of course, my side, dear Tom, Saab is shown as dead. Your added great ideas, however, are wishful thinking and I would be very happy if you are right.
    However, the brands mentioned have not been driven by the incapable once again in front of the wall.
    The very good staff is annoyed and will certainly - God willing, that Volvo is maintained - (drive by now even one) no longer give up his new job against a Kriesengeschüttelten.
    Not to forget are thousands of very good regular customers, which are certainly - just like me - massively upset, even if it still hurts -
    I would not buy a Saab anymore (I have two more ones without GM accessories 🙂)

    • It was about the brand Mini as an example, which was already in the basement. Like you said back then customers that they would never drive a mini again. Nothing in the world. And today?

  • I also think that it is too bad SAAB dies! However, I believed that years ago! What I can not understand is the fact that no one has struck yet! Of course it will always be cheaper for the new owner! But at this time, a lot of porcelain is breaking too! And I think that in hindsight it might even be more expensive to get the stamp out of the valley than to have struck earlier where the SAAB world was still reasonably ok!

  • I find this interesting mind games, but can believe in nothing. In effect, it reduces to the question of what this Phoenix platform is worth. Is it effectively a highly flexible platform suitable for a variety of models? How far has it developed? For everything else Saab is worth nothing: no customers, no sales network, and for production facilities there are overcapacities everywhere and otherwise contract manufacturers such as magma. If I were a big manufacturer, I would rather squint at Volvo. If the problems with Geely come to a head there, this can be very interesting. Saab is a victim of the financial crisis. The last chance was squandered by Viktor Mueller and his unspeakable operations.

    • Of course it's my mind games, (almost) without any background. I see only one possible future option, the Phoenix platform of course plays a role and should be very far. However, what will ultimately become of this, whether a brand XY uses the platform or whether there will again be new Saabs, that is in the stars.

  • Everything you write about Tom would be nice and could fit everything. Only I am afraid that this is another speculation of many, or is there any evidence or evidence that suggests that these names are behind it? When will the 2 alleged interested parties come out of hiding? Too much time has passed and too much hope has followed disappointment and too much speculation has been made to believe in a good ending.

    • Peter, so nobody misunderstands, it's not about speculation or interest. It's all my own ideas about the future of the Saab brand, which is testing a new low under NEVS. I see, apart from the platform that NEVS has already outsourced to another company, and no longer have any assets other than the plant. What can come is a complete reboot, just as a company from Bavaria reinvented the Mini brand.

  • I just say, "TOM FOR (Saab-) PRESIDENT"

    • He had my vote.

      Jan-Philipp Schumacher should then be VP for Sales. And if someone else is needed for the pre-development, I would like to submit my application.

    • Yes saabsunited died today, so Saabblog.Net must now be scribed in english

      • What's going on there? The English version is actually not available. The Swedish already, last article from the 22.10. Do you or someone else know something? Swade is also silent ?!

  • Toyota had already worked extensively with Xnumx on in-house manufacturing and organizational optimization at Saab. At that time I enjoyed an individual management in Trollhättan, where in almost every area Japanese could be seen. Thus, the factory for Toyota should not be unknown, even if 1999 years have passed since then.

    In addition, the circle would close at least somewhat to electric drives, since the hybrid drive from Toyota, especially in the city works almost perfectly. In Tokyo convinced me some trips with Auris / Prius of this technique, which I was allowed to move through the city traffic.

    This sophisticated hybrid drive is certainly - more realistic - than the pure electric drive.

    Exciting times ....

    • Toyota also knows the plant through NEVS and acted as an advisor to the acquisition and beyond.

      • Maybe the slogan "Nothing is impossible" will soon have a completely different meaning.

  • Dear Tom, a really great article! Very successful the arc of suspense with the brand Mini and your thoughts on possible Asian partners. Very intelligent and exciting. Hopefully other than you think in such intelligent and future-oriented solutions!

  • THANK YOU Tom, for the emotionally charged article! Your view of things shows: there is something else! 🙂 May the right decision makers read along .... 😉, SAAB deserves it !!!
    My Kandiat from your listing: TOYOTA!
    -are interested in effective cooperation,
    - LEXUS can be significantly "upgraded" with / by SAAB,
    -a company that, like SAAB, has taken the issue of environmental protection,
    and accordingly the necessary drives already have
    -PLUS SAAB-Turbotechnik: fantastic prospects !!!

    I will continue to watch the situation in Trollhättan ... and wish a happy end to this painful story!

  • After this article, dear Tom, I feel like a real trailblazer. In my garage, yes, the two brands are peacefully side by side. I can only say positive things about the qualities of the Japanese (suspension, steering, SEATS, ventilation, workmanship.) If the marriage would come about, it would be a big hit for us SAAB fans, I think.

  • It is the non-aggressive image that represents the value of the brand, technically most cars of all makes are ok, or otherwise could have turned an Insignia into an 9-5ng? ... .why not from a Toyota? ? .. and if the Prius gets a decent shape ..!
    Although I am always on the side of the little ones who pee the big time with innovations on the leg ... ..

  • Tom, your thoughts and the two brands are really sympathetic. I would not have a problem with an XF, the XE is on the other hand too A4-heavy and the Japanese I like the technique, but not the kink and fold design.
    The problem nowadays (or perhaps mainly in D) is that manufacturers have to define themselves through the miserable fleet business, private customers no longer count and pay excessive prices. Since masses of one-way cars are produced, which must survive only a lease period and the guarantee, then the (electronic) theater starts.
    But there are enough creatures that have to show their supposed status on company parking lots and in new development areas, which in turn leads to perceived annual model changes - at Audi and VW I've completely lost track of the current model numbers - but does not do anything ....
    Brands like SAAB or Jaguar, also Lexus give me the impression of being free of these constraints and that makes them likable. As I had to and always have to take care of my mobile pedestal, I have no problem driving to one of these brands anywhere, on the contrary.
    When I'm in a traffic jam, I often think, now all unpaid cars out right, then is free ride!

  • So, I'm trying to work up some of the main points of the article:
    That Mahindra, for example, can not be one of the interested parties, Tom has concluded well. Have long thought of Mahindra, but I can not imagine that the SAAB AB for a "small" Indian manufacturer, the brand name, etc. will release again. That is one thing that should be clear to all negotiating partners. In fact, I also think that two "big fish" are interested in Saab; Again: otherwise the negotiations would certainly not come to pass. After all, NEVS is the best example of how Saab is a size too big for the small ones in the auto industry.

    Now to the possible prospects:
    Toyota on the one hand ... sounds a bit contrarian - in my opinion, Saab does not really fit into the portfolio. Sure, it would be a way to regain market share in the European market with an upscale brand. For me, however, the Toyota Group stands for overdesigned cars from the Asian region. So portfolio-wise, it would be an eye-catcher with Saab.

    Tata on the other hand ... the construction site Jaguar has already been mentioned. Sounds therefore for me not really for a good concept: buying all the former European upscale brands? Jaguar, Land Rover, Saab. Of course, Saab would rank well there, but bite himself with the other brands.

    So the question arises to me: is there any other (maybe even European) prospect? Is it perhaps only about the work? Or. what are these negotiations really about? Phoenix platform - if that was not botched by NEVS, if you look at the meadow E-Saab. Does the Saab brand really fit into the portfolio of potential buyers?

    Ultimately, NEVS is all about pulling the head out of the noose. So it does not necessarily have to be about a Saab future. Or am I wrong? 😉

    PS It would be interesting to know if Detlef R. still holds on to Mahindra?

    • It could eventually be all at the point where it really only about the work. No more about Saab. If you think of IF Metal, the Saab factory is the cheapest in Europe. I can not quite imagine that, but it's probably at a very good level. That makes it interesting for many manufacturers.

    • I still tend towards Mahindra - they may also bring in their own refined platforms for new SAAB models, because at the request of SAAB AB, Dongfeng will be left out with the PHOENIX platform.

      Mahindra is currently, according to my thoughts, the only major company in search of a European brand - the name SAAB will be released for Mahindra (without Dongfeng) with certainty.

      These assumptions are of course without guarantee - I could possibly be completely wrong.

  • I have to say, this article along with the comments is one of the most interesting I have read in recent months. With thanks and respect, I bow to the author and commentators.

    Greetings Daniel

  • Complementation: It is also very likely that potential prospects already have a "building block solution" in their eyes. Saab would be quick and easy to integrate and would ultimately be almost a design issue. Everything else makes no sense ... Conversely, that would also mean that if the negotiations are concluded successfully, it may not be such a long way to new Saabs.?!

  • "The benefits: the great history of a European brand, close to cult status."
    Now I have to smile a bit ... can it be that as a Saab driver you see the brand as something too pink? Which history? The achievements in rallying for ages, to which only the generation Ü50 remembers or who has the appropriate literature on the shelf? What good is cult to Saab? Saab had exactly one model that deserved the term cult, the 901, by the way, the only car that can not connect Saabfahrer / fans with the brand. The rest are certainly good cars, but certainly not a cult. An 99TU may still almost reach out to an 901, more or less as the ancestor of the turbo ...

    • If SAAB is not a cult, then what? Kopfschüttel.

  • It would be nice if Saab could succeed by a potent and capable partner / investor a similar ascent as Mini or Audi. But why did not that happen already? Saab was at least in the years to buy 1990, 2000, 2011 / 12 and even now, it has not accessed a capable (!!) group. They are not all blind! No, the automotive industry does not trust the Saab brand with the potential and radiance needed for such a resurgence. So far only full posts (GM), megalomaniacal spinners (VM) and Chinese from the province believed that ....

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