In the latest chapter in the long, surreal, and ongoing saga that is Saab, the company’s current owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has announced a new proposal that aims to get the company out of bankruptcy so that it can resume talks with several prominent OEMs in a bid to resume vehicle production.
The new proposal which was highlighted in a press release from NEVS reveals that the majority of the company’s creditors would receive full repayments as part of the new plan. As for the remaining 104 creditors that are owed balances in excess of 500,000 Krona (equivalent to $60,000) their repayments would be reduced by half which may disappoint some that were hoping to receive full repayment for some of the outstanding bills that NEVS racked up since it took over the helm at Saab several years ago.
The company claims that if creditors approve this latest proposal it would provide “the conditions for completion of ongoing negotiations with two major OEMs”. Which brings me to my thoughts on the whole situation as a whole. While the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 were decent vehicles that were practical, fun to drive, and unique when compared to others in the marketplace (the 9-7x and its flawed Chevy Trailblazer based charms do not count.) It was ironically the company’s reputation for uniqueness that played a role in Saab’s eventual demise as well as its current plight. While being unique may appeal to a group of niche fans that understand its rich history and enjoy all of a Saab’s quirky attributes, for broader mass market buyers it was like being thrown a curveball with many of them seeing some of the quirkiness as unnecessary and odd. This was especially apparent when viewed against rivals from Volvo and even BMW (a brand that Saab benchmarked during the 90’s and early 2000’s)
Furthermore it is important to remember that when GM was going through its reorganization during the financial crisis, Saab was bleeding money and was hemorrhaging cash for 17 of the 20 years that GM owned them. While some of the loss was due to events that precluded GM’s 1989 purchase, it also amounted to the cars themselves considering that they were not as refined as the German competition and often times under-performed (Viggen and Aero models excluded) in raw performance a key factor for a brand that was eager to promote its turbocharged capabilities. That said, do I want Saab to ultimately succeed? The answer is a solid yes. Surprising perhaps, but for me I am curious to see what would happen if the brand had proper management and financial structure. It’s not without precedent considering that Audi was once an afterthought here in the U.S. back in the early 1990’s before radically improving under new management that knew what needed to be done and were willing to provide the support and discipline that was needed to resurrect the brand into what it is today.
The same could very well happen for Saab if given the opportunity to survive especially with a revamped 9-3 and 9-5 leading the way. In the meantime you can read the press release here, and tell us what you think about this latest proposal, and whether Saab has any chance of surviving in the current automotive marketplace.