Bluestime Vol.2

The manufacturing quality was already better, the model is hopelessly out of date. In the period when other manufacturers rolled several new model generations to their customers, you still build the slightly modified infusion of a completely outdated cart. The management of the manufacturer is on an unclear course, there is no money for investments ... and as if that weren't bad enough, the cars of the traditional brand are now being sold through new sales channels.

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

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 anew on a blank sheet of paper, completely free from legacy and obligations. Just who would be able to reinvent Saab? Since NEVS always talks about one or two Asian auto giants, but doesn't want to give a name, I just 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

In contrast to Mahindra, Tata is a real giant. Just for comparison: 11.600 people work at Mahindra & Mahindra and 455.000 at Tata. In 2008 Tata Jaguar took over Land Rover, since then has invested many billions, given the management complete freedom, and things are clearly moving forward.

Everything that says Land Rover sells itself; the Jaguar brand lags a little behind. The clientele is aging and Jaguar has a problem with acceptance on this side of the island. It can't be due to the vehicles, more should be possible. The numbers speak for themselves: only 76.668 new Jaguars, but 348.338 new Land Rovers rolled off the assembly line in 2013. With three model series XF, XJ and F-Type, you are far behind what Saab once made possible with two series. Another series was launched this year, and the brand is expecting a lot from it.

But it is 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. Exactly that, and the fact that the production lines are running at the limit at Jaguar Land Rover, makes Saab interesting for the Indians. In Sweden, a highly flexible plant is boring, it could run Jaguars and Saabs off the production line in parallel. The link to Trollhättan has existed since 2012; JLR is one of the larger customers in 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.

Further east I exclude the Chinese manufacturers. You are not ready to take over and build up a traditional European brand. Geely, the Volvo owner, shows how uncertain the foundation is. In China, the Volvo mother is struggling with slump sales and rising debt. As with Volvo, the level of leverage is alarmingly high. So even further 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; What is certain is that the Japanese know the Trollhättan plant very well. A European production facility would also be advantageous for them, especially with the flexibility available in Sweden. Niche products for the European market would be easier to implement and the brand could become more attractive. Needless to say, reaching into the Toyota shelves would help resurrect the Saab brand - and Saab, in turn, could help the Toyota group.

In the big duel with VW for first place in the global competition, Toyota in Europe has no antidote to compete with Audi. Lexus is unsuitable, the 1 German registrations with - yes, how many series actually - prove it. There are really four model lines that Lexus drives for the most modest sales figures; And to prevent misunderstandings - there is no lack of quality in the vehicles. From a certain price range onwards, it's about other values. It is the family tree that counts.

It's about tradition, origins, unique stories that brands can tell. Mercedes stands for automotive history like no other manufacturer; BMW, Porsche and Jaguar also have a great past. Each brand in a very special way, they are not comparable with each other. Saab offers an incredibly fascinating history, the Saab DNA is on par with the well-known premium manufacturers. Toyota could find the answer to the question of how one could drive permanently on the road to success against the premium top dogs in southern Sweden. If that's what you're looking for ...

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 on "Bluestime Vol.2"

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    It would be nice if Saab could achieve a similar rise to Mini or Audi through a potent and capable partner / investor. But why hasn't that already happened? Saab could be bought at least in the years around 1990, 2000, 2011/12 and even now, no capable (!!) company has accessed it. They're not all blind! No, the automotive industry does not trust the Saab brand to have the potential and charisma that would be necessary for such a resurgence. So far only Vollpfosten (GM), megalomaniac spinners (VM) and Chinese from the provinces believed that.

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    "The advantages: 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 a bit too pink? What history? The successes in rallying ages ago, which only the 50+ generation remembers or who has the relevant literature on the shelf? What's a cult thing about Saab? Saab had exactly one model that deserved the term cult, the 901, incidentally also the only car that Saab drivers / fans cannot associate with the brand. The rest are certainly good cars, but certainly not cult. A 99TU may almost match a 901, almost as the ancestor of the turbo ...

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

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    Addition: In my opinion, it is also VERY likely that the potential buyers already have a "modular solution". Saab could be integrated quickly and easily and would ultimately be almost just a question of design. Anything else makes no sense ... Conversely, that would also mean that if the negotiations are successfully concluded, there might not be such a long way to new Saabs after all.?! 😉

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    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

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    So, I'm trying to work up some of the main points of the article:
    Tom concluded well that Mahindra, for example, could not be one of the interested parties. I also thought about Mahindra for a long time, but I cannot imagine that the SAAB AB will release the brand name etc. again for a "small" Indian manufacturer. This is one thing that should be clear to all negotiating partners. In fact, I am also of the opinion that two “big fish” are interested in Saab; Again: Otherwise the negotiations would certainly not have come about. After all, NEVS is the best example that 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 kind of contrary - Saab doesn't really fit into the portfolio in my opinion. Sure, it would be an opportunity to win back market share in the European market with an upscale brand. For me, however, the Toyota Group stands for over-designed automobiles from Asia. So in terms of portfolio, it would be an "eye-catcher" with Saab.

    Tata on the other hand ... the Jaguar construction site has already been mentioned. So it doesn't really sound like a good concept to me: Buying up all former European upscale brands? Jaguar, Land Rover, Saab. Of course, Saab would line up well there, but would bite with the other brands.

    So the question arises for me: is there another (maybe even European) interested party? Is it maybe just about the work? Or. What are these negotiations really about? Phoenix platform - if it has not already been botched by NEVS, if you take a look at the Wiesen-E-Saab. Does the Saab brand really fit into the portfolio of the potential prospects mentioned?

    For NEVS it is ultimately only about "pulling your head out of the loop". Therefore, 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?

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      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.

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      I still tend to Mahindra - they may also bring their own refined platforms for new SAAB models, because the SAAB AB Dongfeng with the PHOENIX platform is left out if requested.

      According to my considerations, Mahindra is currently the only larger company that is looking for a European brand - the name SAAB will certainly be released for Mahindra (without Dongfeng).

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

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    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 in company parking lots and in new development areas, which in turn leads to what feels like annual model changes - at Audi and VW I have completely lost track of the current model numbers - but it doesn't matter ....
    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!

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    It is the non-aggressive image that represents the value of the brand, technically most cars of all brands are ok, or otherwise an Insignia could have become a 9-5ng? ... why not from a Toyota? ? .. and when the Prius gets a decent shape ..!
    Whereby I'm always on the side of the little ones who piss the big ones on the leg with innovations ...

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    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.

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    THANKS Tom, for the emotionally charged article! Your view of things shows: something is still possible! 🙂 May the right decision-makers read along…. 😉, SAAB would have deserved it !!!
    My Kandiat from your listing: TOYOTA!
    -are interested in effective cooperation,
    -can significantly "upgrade" LEXUS with / through 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 monitor the situation in Trollhättan ... and I wish this painful story ends well!

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    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!

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    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 - still - closer to reality than the pure electric drive.

    Exciting times….

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

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        Perhaps the slogan “Nothing is impossible” will soon have a completely different meaning.

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    I just say: "TOM FOR (Saab-) PRESIDENT"

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      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.

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

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        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 ?!

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    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.

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      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.

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    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.

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      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.

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    I also think it's too bad that SAAB is dying! However, I believed that years ago! What I cannot understand is the fact that no one has struck yet! Of course it will always be cheaper for the new owner! But during this time a lot of porcelain is broken too! And I think that in retrospect it could be even more expensive to get the brand out of the valley than to have struck earlier where the SAAB world was still reasonably in order!

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    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 permanent staff is annoyed and will certainly - God willing that Volvo will stay - (drive one myself now) will not give up their new job for someone who is in a crisis.
    Not to be forgotten are thousands of very good regular customers, who are certainly - just like me - massively angry, even if it hurts so much -
    I would not buy a Saab anymore (I have two more ones without GM accessories 🙂)

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      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?

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    I think Toyota would be great - their engines and processing standards match!

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    I hope the right people read this!

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      Oh, now that you say it ... One of my preferred candidates reads with 🙂

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