Saab. 5 years later.

Exactly 5 years ago today was the darkest day in Saab history. The first clues reached Mark and I shortly before 9 a.m., a little later it was certain. Victor Muller made his way to Vänersborg to bankruptcy petition for the Saab Automobile AB.

Saab factory in the fall 2011

If I review this day, 5 years later, then a few things have particularly stuck in my mind. There was the last conference call with Victor Muller. At this point - at the height of the crisis - the Saab blogs were very closely involved in what was happening. It was about avoiding misinformation and providing first-hand facts.


In the afternoon of the 19. In December, Muller held his last international conference call. The Saab leadership team and he was visibly battered and at the end of their strength arrived. Nevertheless, at the end there were words that should provide comfort and hope.

Swedish bankruptcy law, according to VM, allows companies to come back to the market after the procedure. There was hope among the staff. There had been Christmas crises again and again in Saab's recent history. The employees left their offices intending to return to work in January.


At the Saab branch in Frankfurt, the Saab Germany team had set up provisional offices on the first floor. A makeshift temporary solution after leaving Rüsselsheim, with far too little space. Until the last day, the plans for the future ran in close coordination with Trollhättan. The end was also a shock in Frankfurt, because only a few days earlier, the plan had been approved to build a strong, German sales organization.

The coordination between Saab Germany boss Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher and the bloggers was particularly close these days. The main focus was on damage limitation and support for dealers and Saab drivers. Don't leave the Saab drivers alone, take care - that was the watchword. The situation of Saab and the spare parts supply were explained in interviews. Frankfurt immediately started planning for the future. The focus was on securing jobs and maintaining the brand in Germany.

Today, 5 years later, Orio Germany has more employees at its Eschborn site than Saab Germany in 2011. A provisional branch has become an ultra-modern logistician with a national central warehouse. Orio is a German - Swedish success story that emerged from the most difficult of circumstances. Managing director Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher continues to guarantee continuity and reliability.

Somewhere in Germany

After December 19, 2011, many people made their way to Trollhättan. It was about securing the Saab leftovers as quickly as possible. There were visitors from China, Turkey and also from Germany. One day after the bankruptcy, the CFO of a German manufacturer flew with the last Lufthansa plane to Gothenburg and then on to Trollhättan. A model of a new, compact Saab was in a design studio of his company, which was to roll off the production lines in the Stallbacka together with cars of a second brand.

The platforms would have been identical, the engine was a well-known 1.6 liter 4 cylinder with turbo charging. The plans to take over Saab had been in the drawers for a while, and yet they fell apart. The board had a rationalization plan in their luggage. Both the traditional summer holidays and the complete break in production would have been canceled. That met with rejection in Sweden, and the Germans were already out of the race in January.

Trollhättan 5 years later.

In Trollhättan, the situation is estimated positively, 5 years later. The city on the Göta Älv has remained an automotive development location and is better and stronger in this regard than ever before. Many new small and medium-sized enterprises have emerged, the structure in the region has changed and dependency on big employers has fallen. The expansion of the connection to Gothenburg has provided further positive impulses. Everywhere in the municipality, construction cranes are turning.

Only among the workers is unemployment above average. Some have been able to stay in Hisingen near Volvo, but many still have no job prospects. If cars are built again in the Stallbacka around the year 2020, then under the NEVS brand name, it will be too late for many former Saab workers.

29 thoughts on "Saab. 5 years later."

  • Sorry, but you have to look at it realistically. What rumors have not existed in the past, Saab was to become Volvo's B brand at last, it became “Lynk & Co”. BMW had made an engine deal with Saab in 2012 and was therefore one of Saab's creditors. Norbert Reithofer had rebuilt BMW, the expensive Formula One commitment was canceled, there were layoffs and savings. I hardly think that the takeover of a loss-making car manufacturer was on Mr. Reithofer's agenda for this. Rationalization, cooperation and the sale of engines to third parties. Lessons had been learned from past mistakes. Sure, we would certainly have liked to work together in the future, but not in the form of a takeover.

  • They were already plundered

  • The pink NEVS glasses ...

  • Well, is there any new NEVS to buy after 5 years? Has anything other than spare parts been produced in Trollhättan except the few Saab 9-3 MY14? Nevs has orders that Muller had as well, and never let it go to production for delivery. There are rumors about whether in Trollhättan even complete cars are built. Focus of Nevs is and remains China. So what did Nevs really produce so far? 5 years is a long time. Can you really trust the Chinese? At Volvo, the S90 is now only available from completely Chinese production. Is something desirable?

  • Heiko, you speak to me from the soul. Saab remains Saab and not a mixture of Nevs and other manufacturers. That means maintaining the inventory, supporting the blog, so that we can enjoy the Saab community for a long time

  • Too bad that the alternative did not work out. If it would have worked, who knows. But when I think about the scrape for the leftovers, it was the only chance.
    Five years go by so quickly, she still lives, the memory.

  • Hoping for NEVS and calling BMW a dubious company, I think it's very ......
    I want to drive SAAB and not NEVS. I want a good burner and no E engine.
    Nevs is not SAAB and has nothing to do with SAAB except that they continue to use the property. Incidentally, BMW has been building E cars for quite some time, in contrast to NEVS. But I never want to drive.

  • NEVS is taking a long time to start - the title of this article is “5 years later”. That must be the really big vision. Others have since made and sold vehicles.

    What is more reassuring for today's NEVS than working with an industrial investor and accessing marketable products and technology is not something I understand.

  • With some of the “comrades-in-arms” in the blog, it keeps coming back that NEVS has not gotten anything off the ground - people are about to get off to a good start. Anyone who has only seen the NEVS job offer page now and then in the past few months can guess that the Trollhättan sequel is imminent.

    You should just wait and see and not mourn some dubious companies that did not succeed in taking over. As already mentioned, the chemistry with BMW was not right - on closer inspection this is understandable and reassuring that it did not work out. Personally, I would have liked BAIC as an investor - but unfortunately it failed because of the smug Mr. Muller. Perhaps a collaboration between BAIC and NEVS will come into play anyway - I'm curious what the future will bring.

  • Thanks for the correction. Now I know that, too.

    GM is still happy about the 2.0 if I'm not mistaken. A Swedish heart beats in some Opel ...

    In the whole discussion within the SAAB community, which company and which brand has to do with how much has to do with SAAB or under any circumstances, the feeling that SAAB had no chance, creeps me already.

    If you stand with your back against the wall and then it is too fine for one or the other, I find that funny.

  • BMW would have been a chance for Saab. Would have been interesting what comes out of it. Definitely better than what NEVS made of it.

  • Good thing that did not work out with BMW. At Rover and Land Rover BMW has also looted only and thus the Rover brand destroyed. Mini kept simple, this brand belonged to Rover and with the numbers then Rover could have survived.
    At Landrover they have used the four-wheel drive, fortunately they have survived, thanks to Ford and Tata.
    At Saab similar would have happened, unfortunately, BMW and Mercedes can not deal with other companies.
    Then prefer a NEVS with Siemens or Bosch engine.

  • Nope, the 1.6 was a GM engine, the 2.0 an engine developed in Trollhättan. Only test vehicles were traveling with the BMW 1.6.

  • Only if he has the small 1,6l gasoline engine. Otherwise not, to my knowledge.

  • So you can be wrong. Another wrong decision in the long series, which led to the known and unfortunate result (Kopfschüttel). This would have SAAB probably also a successor with top engines for the 9-5 he had and would definitely have been with good chances in the race.

    Who does not go with the times, goes with the times ...

  • Did I read that correctly, in my 9-5 NG is something of the BMW?

  • Maybe I know too little about BMW and do other things?

    But I know with certainty that it does not increase the knowledge when it comes to things and different names around. SAAB is history. To write them completely and analyze everything is on the table. Everything.

  • I think back to this difficult period. But I'm still impressed how Muller and his managers have argued so long, have investigated so many possibilities, but still throw at the end of the hand cow. These days there are fewer of these teams that have so much motivation and power to swim against the tide for so long.

  • Just my 2 cents ...
    I think BMW should have taken Saab. Even if the brand had necessarily positioned something under the main brand BMW, cars with Saab emblem would continue to be rolled off the assembly line and, with modular systems, would certainly not be even worse in some things.
    In any case, BMW missed out by acquiring new market share through a new brand. The brand MINI makes it in my eyes, it can work and not necessarily bad
    Even if Saab had changed drastically, I would have rather seen that than this great brand completely disappears from the market and is exploited for years.

  • The real reason will probably have been that you simply did not accept the investor from Munich in Trollhättan. So it was reported to us. Maybe rivalry and pride have something to do with it. The money for Sweden was invested in England and Nedcar.
    Years later, the mirror reported about it. There one would have written BMW instead of Saab to buy it prefer to invest in electric cars.

  • It was the summer 2011 and we just bought a fairly new 9-3 convertible 1.9 TID AT. That it was not good for SAAB, I knew. Did not deter us. We are still driving 2 SAAB today, and hopefully for many years.

    I followed the discussion about the “White Knight” with great interest. The Chinese, the German competitor and and and. Already at that time I noticed that apart from a rather vague announcement of the takeover, above all a solid and well-calculated business plan was needed to revive the “GM appendix” that was lying down. The German “White Knight” that is BMW would certainly have put such a plan on its feet. What would then have remained of the SAAB genes is difficult to assess even today after 5 years. But it has to be considered. With the takeover of Mini, BMW has managed to successfully implement the essential image and product features in a new, larger market environment. In principle, this would have been possible with the SAAB brand, although a large part of the SAAB product range was already available at BMW (3 Series BMW and 5 Series BMW). If you then consider the situation at the “big” VW group, where Skoda is in the process of “competing” with VW step by step from the market, then the BMW people have probably assessed it correctly in the end. Especially with the above-mentioned volume models from BMW, good SAAB 9-3 and 9-5 series would have been very tough competition on a limited market. A smaller SAAB, in turn, would have been a direct competitor to Mini. Also rather meaningless.

    At the end...
    Had I had something to say to BMW at the time (thank goodness not the case), then the takeover of SAAB would have been rejected by me. So if BMW had seriously offered, then very safe to completely unacceptable conditions. I do not think that it was only on work leave and on the upcoming summer holidays.

  • what BMW has been referring to customers over the past approximately 15 years is indeed rather repugnant.

    And to act insensitive with such a demand is once again typical of the big-headed people.

  • If the BMW people in Trollhättan had spread out, I would have been out very quickly (as a possible customer) - both today's BMW image and the company's past (especially the takeover by Quandt with funds that can be proven to be due to the Exploitation of slave labor) would have been a major obstacle for me.

    I prefer to watch the development at NEVS and suggest that the product portfolio may still be acceptable to me in the next few years.

  • Why so cryptic (“the Germans”)?

    That's like Harry Potter. Except that there seems to be more than one dark lord on the subject of SAAB, whose name some people do not dare pronounce. I think it's time to call everyone involved in the drama by name.

    BMW so! BMW, BMW.

    That would have been better than the status quo!

    And BMW drove with some 9-5 NG anyway ...

  • One has Mark and me Xnumx very clearly to the story with the prospective customer from Germany expressed. The chemistry has apparently not completely tuned. If the memory is not deceptive, the Germans were the first outside in the race for Saab.

  • The one said model we have never seen, but know that it exists (has?) And who was responsible for the design. NEVS still has some clay models from the time, they stand in a hall on the site. Maybe you will show it someday?

  • That makes me sad to read that, but thanks anyway. What I'm always wondering, where are the sketches, models and prototypes that remained before 5 years ago
    existed. How would the cars have looked?
    Sure, there is one or the other release, but it can not have been everything.

  • “The CFO of a German manufacturer flew [...] on to Trollhättan. A model of a new, compact Saab was in a design studio of his company, which was to roll off the production lines in the Stallbacka together with cars of a second brand.
    […] The engine was a well-known 1.6 liter 4 cylinder with turbo charging. The plans to take over Saab had been in the drawers for a while ”.

    BMW wanted to take over SAAB ... and that only failed because the Swedes didn't want to do without their summer vacation? 😮

  • 5 years later and SAAB is still here! For someone who later came to read really exciting and dramatic. The blog is a time machine

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