Saab Brief History
In 1937 the Swedish Aeroplane Company began its business. However, they had problems selling their products by the end of World War II. A new product was need for a new market. The manufacture of the first Saab automobile, known as Project 92, was accomplished in 1944.
Because Saab was originally an airplane company it is understandable where the most interesting feature of the Saab 92 came from. The automobile had a very low coefficient of drag of 0.31, which many modern automobiles have difficulty attaining.
In 1955, improvements were implemented to the Saab 92 in the form of an engine that was upgraded to three cylinders and also featured the trapezoid grille, which, in later years, become a trademark for Saab. In 1959, a wagon model of the automobile, known as the 95 arrived.
As the Saab model 99 demonstrated, the general direction for Saab became more innovative during the 1960’s. Because the Saab model 99 was turbocharged, it also introduced additional power. This became a common feature on later automobiles cars as well. Sales for Saab had increased to one million automobiles by the 1970’s.
By the late 1970′, a new platform was required of the older Saab automobiles. Therefore, Saab signed a deal with Fiat which later launched the Saab 9000, the Lancia Therma, the Fiat Croma, and the Alfa Romeo 164. As the result of this joint venture, all these automobiles were built on the Type Four chassis.
Saab found itself having financial problems by 1987 and, to decrease costs, was forced to close the factory at Arlov. In 1990, this problem was alleviated somewhat when GM purchased 50% of the Saab stocks. However, Saab was still losing money and, to further decrease costs, the factory at Malmv was closed.
The Saab 900 proved to be the saving grace for Saab. In 1993, this vehicle was developed with the assistance help of GM. The automobile provided Saab with its first profitable year since the 1980’s. Sometime later, GM bought the remainder of Saab’s shares and Saab became subsidiary to GM.
In 2003, Saab introduced the all new model 9-3, as the result of this new close relationship with GM. As the result of this new model, which was introduced as a sport sedan, Saab stopped producing its iconic hatchback in favor of the more traditional four-door model. The relationship with GM became more of a joint engineering effort than ever before.
The Saab model 9-2X was engineered under the direction of GM. In 2005, the Saab model 9-7X was also introduced to the American market. However, both models were a commercial and crucial and, after a few years, were cancelled. GM also delayed the introduction of the Saab model 9-3 wagon by three years, shelved a hatchback model of the Saab model 9-3 sedan, delayed plans until 2008, for all-wheel-drive capabilities in Saab models, and cancelled a Saab model 9-5 replacement.
According to GM, the Saab brand was considered to be under review in late 2008. This process included the possibility of shuttering of selling the automobile manufacturer. Reportedly, some 27 potential buyers emerged, which included the Renco Group, Merbanco, Koenigsegg, Tata Motors, Renault, Magna, Hyundai, Geely, Fiat, and BMW. However, support by GM decreased as the talks proceeded. and Saab went into the Swedish equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. For its part, the Swedish government didnt want to become involved.
Koenigsegg announced its intention to acquire Saab from GM in the middle of 2009. The bid was backed by BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company) Ltd and by a group of Norwegian investors. Later that same year, both investors announced that GM had agreed the deal. Although it was anticipated that a loan from the European Investment Bank would cover them, there were some outstanding financial details. In November of 2009, Koenigsegg announced that it wouldn’t be going through with the deal, even though in October of the same year, the loan had been approved.
Later that same year, it was announced that BAIC would purchase the production equipment and intellectual property rights for the previous generation Saab model 9-5 and Saab model 9-3. This deal was worth approximately $197million US, which was sufficient money enough to keep the company in business for three months. BAIC also expressed its intention to develop a new brand around the acquired technology and the purchase of three overall automobile platforms, two transmission systems, and two engine technologies. GM announced that the Saab brand would be discontinued in 2010 if the brand didnt secure a buyer before the end of 2009. GM formally announced its intention to decrease the production of Saab automobiles, as talks with many different companies failed.
However, a new round of offers came to pass. The earlier bidders of Merbanco and Spyker revised their offers. Until early 2010, GM continued to accept bids. GM vowed to evaluate the offers with due diligence, although they acknowledged that the possibilities of reaching a deal with any party were somewhat slim.