On December 19th, it was 9 years ago that the factory gates in the Stallbacka closed. A long time from an automotive point of view. How has the brand held up in your home country since then? A look at the current numbers makes you worry and think.
It doesn't look really good for Saab in Sweden. The home market is weak, and has been for some time. Sales of Saab spare parts are falling. Specialized workshops report a dwindling workload, at Orio in Nyköping the Saab-specific sales decreased by 9% compared to the previous year in the first 26 months. Second worst on the global network, only the UK reports worse numbers.
Saab are traded extremely cheaply on the used car market, the level is well below German prices. And, worse, the brand seems to go invisible. In a recent survey by Kvdbil, which cars are the best vehicles from Swedish production, the brand closes disastrously.
Classic and youngtimers from Volvo dominate, as the best Saab, the 9-5 can establish itself in 8th place. The 900 comes in 11th, the 9000 doesn't take place at all, and 96 and 9-3 just make it onto the top 15 list.
The top 15 best Swedish-made cars:
|5.||Volvo PV 444|
|9.||Volvo 240 / 260|
|10.||Volvo 740 / 760|
How did it come to this, in Saab's home country of all places? Trying to explain.
Is Saab invisible?
Of course, the brand's visibility on the streets has decreased rapidly in recent years. Unlike in Germany, where you are used to seeing a Saab now and then, the decline is remarkable. You can drive through Sweden for days without seeing a Saab.
In addition, 9 years after the tragic finale in Trollhättan, the Saab legacies are hardly perceived as such. NEVS has long been sorted into a certain drawer as a supplier of mobility theories. You tell a lot, you have visions. But when it comes to delivering, others are ahead.
Then there is Corona. The elimination of all major events with international participation. The resulting relative calm around the Saab Museum, the lower frequency of reporting by foreign journalists from the historical Saab fund.
Saab is different in Sweden?
Probably the most sustainable explanation for the slide in Sweden is the brand image. Saab has always been different at home than in the rest of the world. While in Central Europe and North America the image of an elitist - not cheap brand was developed and high-quality vehicles were offered, things were done differently at home.
With inexpensive entry-level models, which were mostly only available for Scandinavia, they fought for market share. That was the case at the time of the Saab 900, and it lasted until the end of 2011. The new Saab 9-5 NG was available with a decidedly lean equipment for the fleet business. Vehicles with H7 headlights and without a light signature in the headlights, with fabric fittings and inexpensive radios on board. This gave Saab the image of a low-budget brand, similar to what Opel has in Germany.
Without the exotic and premium status that you enjoy abroad, things won't look bright for the near future either. One will probably have to live with the fact that the Saab world, or what is left of it, is divided in two. The brand is cult abroad and, if you observe the number of readers of the blog project, it is likely to increase.
However, it is quite certain that Sweden will continue to decline at a rapid pace. Invisible, little appreciated. There are no reasons why things could go differently in the future.
A renaissance can come at some point. A reminder of the time when Sweden still had two world-class manufacturers.
But how many vehicles will there be on Swedish roads by then?