Spannerhead Dot

It’s Over: Saab to Liquidate Assets

December 19, 2011 by Matt

Saab Logo Badge Emblem

The long arm of General Motors came back to haunt Saab, even as the company fought for survival, and proved to be the Swedish automaker’s undoing. As I reported back in July:

[O]n the verge of liquidating their assets and shuttering their factories, a pair of buyers emerged, in this case the Chinese firms Youngman and Pang Da.

What looked like the potential for a relatively secure line of credit for Saab has been nixed by GM on the grounds that patents arrangements could be used to further the interests of GM’s competitors in China, an exploding market for the American giant. So although GM no longer owns Saab, technically, a great deal of proprietary technology was shared, giving GM a certain amount of legal, if not financial sway over Saab’s activity.

And so, having been shunned by every major and minor automaker, it seems Saab’s quirkiness will be exiting stage left. The turn of events obviously means the end for Saab’s only current offering, its well-executed and distinctive second-generation 9-5.

What conclusions to draw from Saab’s demise? If I were going to be snarky, after the death of Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn, Daewoo and now Saab, I’d strongly advise struggling automakers against hitching their wagon to the General. Especially compared to the success of, say, former Ford partnerships—Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin and Mazda immediately come to mind—GM’s track record of putting companies on a successful trajectory looks poor indeed.

Also, the increasingly oppressive regulatory climate, both here and across the pond, is squeezing out smaller, more unique automakers in favor of larger, more financially-stable firms better able to absorb lawmakers’ capriciousness. It’s a sad state of affairs when outfits that bring so much color to the automotive world are sacrificed in order to free up the capital needed to comply with new emissions and safety laws, not to mention the overwhelming amount of gadgetry de rigeur in even a basic mid-level car. Now, of course I can’t prove a direct connection between the two; after all, many companies are done in by good old-fashioned mismanagement and stupidity (see: TVR), but it’s almost always the case that when the list of requirements for a product grows, the chance of companies designing very similar “solutions” grows proportionally. Everything fades to gray, and Saab is the latest color to dim.

Filed under: Car Industry, News, Saab


  1. John D says:

    I appreciate your little ‘theory’ that GM is pulling legal strings and protecting it’s market share and there are no other buyers willing to take on such a legal battle therefore forcing Saab to liquidate, etc, etc. The truth is there is a much more simple and direct explanation: that emblem in the picture is slightly off center. No wonder they’re going out of business. Quit trying to over complicate everything. ;)

    • Matt says:


      And here I was trying to be all clever with the image…water droplets…liquid-ation… When in reality I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, the logo’s placement was the culprit after all.

      Well, you could have chimed in earlier, you know? Could’ve saved me a lot of typing…

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