RAC Cars News


The end of Saab

By raccars Published


It's a sad end for a once great brand as NEVS confirms it won't be using the Saab name.

Saab fans have been hoping that the firm's new owner, NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) would retain the famous name but this week it has been confirmed that it is not to be, and there will be no more Saabs made in the future.

Saab AB refuses permission to use the name

After a period of uncertainty, NEVS has agreed not to pursue the use of the Saab brand name on cars after it was revoked by Saab AB, which is now focused mainly on its aerospace business. Saab the automotive brand came under the Saab AB umbrella until it was sold by the parent company to General Motors in 1990, which is when it all went downhill. NEVS is attempting to make the best of a rather sad situation with an attempt to build brand recognition of its own name, but Saab AB's part in the situation is undoubtedly a factor.

The early days of Saab

Saab started life as a military hardware manufacturer supplying the air force in Sweden, which was building its defences in response to the threat of WWII. Later on the firm decided to use its resources for automotive production. Saab's aerospace origins were clearly apparent in its early models, which boasted futuristic designs and the lowest drag coefficient in the industry. In 1949 the firm launched the 92, its first production car which was named after its 91 single engined aircraft. The 92 sold well and developed into the 93, the 95 and Saab's first sports car, the 94.

The company ventured into motorsports with some success, which helped the small business to build an enviable reputation. The 96 was the first Saab to be widely exported and the first Saab to be sold in the UK. By the late Sixties Saab had launched the 99, which became its defining product. The turbo version was one of the first mass produced turbo cars and the firm became an expert in turbocharger technology.

The 900 Turbo

These days Saab is best known for the 900, of which over a million were built from 1978-1998. Again heavily aerospace-inspired, it was hugely successful and became an icon both commercially and in motorsports.

The 9000 was the result of a collaboration with Fiat and saw Saab seeking premium status. As part of the same deal, Saab sold a badge engineered version of the Lancia Delta called the Saab 600. In the late Eighties GM snapped up Saab in a drive to expand its premium brands sector but failed to ensure sufficient investment and resources to continue a modern and relevant product line. The 900 replacement was the Saab 93 and the 9000 became the Saab 95, both Opel-based and lacking the brilliance of the earlier models.

GM battled on for a few unsuccessful years but struggled with exchange rate issues. Ultimately turmoil within the parent company sounded the death knell for the Swedish firm, which was put into administration in 2009. A couple of prospective purchasers emerged, particularly Koenigsegg, but eventually GM sold the rights to certain Saab products to Chinese firm BAIC. Spyker also invested but chaos continued as GM flip-flopped over potential new ownership deals. It ultimately refused to allow any Chinese firms to have access to its technology and phased out the brand.

After acquiring Saab Automobile in 2012, NEVS produced some Saab-badged cars, such as 2014's 9-3 and made it clear that it planned to invest in new production using the old Saab names. The company is majority owned by a Chinese-Swedish firm which claims its interests are primarily in China. This week's announcement was a sad end to the uncomfortable story.

Image source

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars