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|Key people||Kai Johan Jiang (CEO of Nevs)|
Karl-Erling Trogen (Chairman of Nevs)
|Parent||Saab AB (1947–69)|
General Motors (1989–2010)
Swedish Automobile (2010–12)
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs) (2012–present)
|Key people||Kai Johan Jiang (CEO of Nevs)|
Karl-Erling Trogen (Chairman of Nevs)
|Parent||Saab AB (1947–69)|
General Motors (1989–2010)
Swedish Automobile (2010–12)
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs) (2012–present)
Saab Automobile AB // is a Swedish premium car manufacturer. It was formed in 1945 when Saab AB began a project to design a small automobile. The first production model, the Saab 92, was launched in 1949. In 1968 the parent company merged with Scania-Vabis, and ten years later the Saab 900 was launched, in time becoming Saab's best-selling model. In the mid-1980s the new Saab 9000 model also appeared.
In 1989 the automobile division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB. The American manufacturer General Motors took 50% ownership with an investment of US$600 million, and then in 2000 exercised its option to acquire the remaining 50% for a further US$125 million; so turning Saab Automobile into a wholly owned GM subsidiary. In 2010 GM sold Saab Automobile AB to the Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V.
After struggling to avoid insolvency throughout 2011, the company petitioned for bankruptcy following the failure of a Chinese consortium to complete a purchase of the company; the purchase had been blocked by former owner GM, which opposed the transfer of technology and production rights to a Chinese company. On June 13, 2012, it was announced that a newly formed company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) had bought Saab Automobile's bankrupt estate. According to "Saab United", the first Nevs Saab 9-3 drove off its pre-production line on September 19, 2013. Full production restarted Monday December 2, initially the same gasoline-powered 9-3 Aero sedans that were built before Saab went bankrupt, and intended to get the automaker’s supply chain back up and running as it completes development of its new Nevs products.
Saab AB, "Svenska Aeroplan AB (aktiebolaget)" (Swedish for "Swedish Aeroplane Corporation"), a Swedish aerospace and defence company, had been created in 1937 in Linköping. The company had been established in 1937 for the express purpose of building aircraft for the Swedish Air Force to protect the country's neutrality as Europe moved closer to World War II. As the war drew towards a close and the market for fighter planes seemed to weaken, the company began looking for new markets in which to diversify.
An automobile design project was started in 1945 with the internal name X9248. The design project became formally known as Project 92; the 92 being next in production sequence after the Saab 91, a single engine trainer aircraft. In 1948, a company site in Trollhättan was converted to allow automobile assembly and the project moved there, along with the car manufacturing headquarters, which has remained there since. The company made four prototypes named Ursaab or "original Saab", numbered 92001 through to 92004, before designing the production model, the Saab 92, in 1949.
The Saab 92 went into production in December 1949, selling 20,000 cars through the mid-1950s. The 92 was thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered in 1955, and accordingly was renamed the Saab 93. The car's engine gained a cylinder, going from two to three and its front fascia became the first to sport the first incarnation of Saab's trademark trapezoidal radiator grill. A wagon variant, the Saab 95, was added in 1959. The decade also saw Saab's first performance car, the Saab 94, the first of the Saab Sonetts.
1960 saw the third major revision to the 92's platform in the Saab 96. The 96 was an important model for Saab: it was the first Saab to be widely exported out of Sweden. It proved very popular, selling nearly 550,000 examples. Even more important to the company's fortunes was 1968's Saab 99. The 99 was the first all-new Saab in 19 years, and unlike its predecessors, severed all ties with the 92. The 99 had many innovations and features that would come to define Saabs for decades: wraparound windscreen, self-repairing bumpers, headlamp washers and side-impact door beams. The design by Sixten Sason was no less revolutionary than the underlying technology, and elements like the Saab "hockey stick" profile graphic continue to influence Saab design.
The 99 range was expanded in 1973 with the addition of a combi coupe model, a body style which became synonymous with Saab. The millionth Saab was produced in 1976.
Saab entered into an agreement with Fiat in 1978 to sell a rebadged Lancia Delta as the Saab 600 and jointly develop a new platform. The agreement yielded 1985's Saab 9000, sister to the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema; all rode atop a common Type Four chassis. The 9000 was Saab's first proper luxury car but failed to achieve the planned sales volume.
1978 also was the first year for the 99's replacement: the Saab 900. Nearly one million 900s would be produced, making it Saab's best-selling and most iconic model. A popular convertible version followed in 1986, all of which were made at the Saab-Valmet factory in Finland, making up nearly 20% of 900 sales. Even today, the "classic 900" retains a cult following.
In 1989, the Saab car division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB, headquartered in Sweden; General Motors and Investor AB controlled 50% each. GM's investment of US$600 million gave it the option to acquire the remaining shares within a decade. General Motors' involvement spurred the launch of a new 900 in 1994. The new car shared a platform with the Opel Vectra. Due in large part to its success, Saab earned a profit in 1995 for the first time in seven years. However, the model never achieved the cult following of the "classic 900" and did not achieve the same reputation for quality.
1997 marked Saab's 50th anniversary as an automaker. The company used its jubilee owners' convention to launch a replacement for the aging 9000: the Saab 9-5. The 900 received a facelift and renaming complementary to its new larger sibling: it would now be called the Saab 9-3. The 9-5 was the first Saab without a combi coupé body style option in 20 years. Filling that space was a wagon variant, introduced in 1999.
GM exercised its option to acquire the remaining Saab shares in 2000, spending US$125 million to turn the company into a wholly owned subsidiary.
The new close relationship yielded its first product in 2003's all-new 9-3. The new model, marketed as a sport sedan, dropped Saab's iconic hatchback in favour of a more conventional four-door approach. The model shared a co-developed platform (GM's "global Epsilon 1 platform") and some other components with the Opel Vectra again, but the relationship was much more of a joint engineering effort than before.
Under GM's direction, the badge-engineered Saab 9-2X (based on the Subaru Impreza) and Saab 9-7X (based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer) were introduced in the American market in 2005 with the hope of increasing sales. Both models were a critical and commercial failure and were cancelled a few years after production began. GM also delayed the 9-3 wagon by three years, shelved a hatchback derivative of the 9-3 sedan, stalled plans for all-wheel-drive capabilities in Saab models until 2008, cancelled a 9–5 replacement in 2005, and announced a planned shift of production away from Saab's historic home in Trollhättan to Opel's factory in Rüsselsheim.
Owing to fading fortunes across its entire business, GM announced that the Saab brand was "under review" in December 2008, a process which included the possibility of selling or shuttering the car maker. Reportedly, 27 potential buyers emerged, including BMW, Fiat, Geely, Hyundai, Magna, Renault and Tata Motors; serious talks progressed with three bidders: the Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg, Merbanco and Renco Group.
As the talks progressed, GM's support receded, and Saab went into administration, the Swedish equivalent of America's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Saab's managing director Jan-Åke Jonsson said that this was "the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment". For its part, the Swedish government was reluctant to become involved, with Maud Olofsson, industry minister, stating: "The Swedish state and taxpayers in Sweden will not own car factories. Sometimes you get the impression that this is a small, small company but it is the world's biggest automaker so we have a right to make demands."
On 16 June 2009, Koenigsegg, announced its intention to purchase the brand from GM. The bid was backed by a group of Norwegian investors and the Chinese car maker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co Ltd (BAIC). The following month, both parties announced that GM had consented to the deal. There were outstanding financial details, but a loan from the European Investment Bank was expected to cover them. The loan was approved in October, but on November 24, 2009, Koenigsegg announced that it had "come to the painful and difficult conclusion that it could no longer carry out the acquisition." much because of the constant delays and the difficulties coordinating the involved parties; GM, the European Investment Bank, the Swedish National Debt Office and BAIC.
It was announced on 14 December 2009 that the Chinese automaker would acquire the intellectual property rights and production equipment for the previous generation Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 in a deal worth about US$197 million, which was enough for the company to run for three months. BAIC expressed its intention to create a new brand around the purchased technology and admitted to the purchase of "three overall vehicle platforms, two engine technologies and two transmission systems."
Following the collapse of talks with Koenigsegg, GM announced that the brand would be eliminated in 2010 if it failed to secure a buyer before the close of 2009. As talks with several firms failed, including the Netherlands-based boutique supercar maker Spyker, GM formally announced its intention to wind down the Saab brand.
Undeterred, a new offer round materialized. Earlier bidders Spyker and Merbanco revised their offers and were joined by a submission from Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, which boasted the support of F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. GM continued accepting bids until a self-imposed deadline of January 7, 2010. Acknowledging that the chances for reaching a deal with any party were very slim, they pledged to evaluate each offer with due diligence.
On 26 January, General Motors (GM) confirmed that Spyker N.V. and GM had come to an agreement allowing Spyker to purchase Saab, subject to regulatory and government approval; the sale was completed on February 23, 2010. General Motors would continue to supply Saab with engines and transmissions, and also completed vehicles in the shape of the new Saab 9-4x from GM's Mexican factory. The deal included a loan from the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the Swedish government. It comprised US$74m in cash up front, payable to GM by July 2010, and shares in Spyker to the tune of US$320m.
On February 25, Spyker Cars N.V. announced that it had agreed to sell the sports car arm to focus on Saab. Spyker intended to change its name, in May, to include the Saab name.
On 28 October, media reports stated that the Chinese carmaker Youngman and the Chinese automotive retailer Pang Da had agreed to a joint US$140 million takeover of Saab Automobile and its UK dealer network unit from Swedish Automobile, with Youngman and Pang Da taking 60 and 40 percent stakes respectively.
On 6 December, GM announced that it would not continue its licenses to GM patents and technology to Saab if the company was sold to Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman, stating that the new owner's use of the technology is not in the best interest of GM investors. This was somewhat ironic since most of the patents in question were Saab's in origin but surrendered to GM's ownership back in 2000. Because of this, Saab started working on a new proposal which would not change the original ownership structure and would not include a Chinese partner as an owner of the company, but instead as a 50% owner of a new daughter company.
On 19 December 2011, with no alternatives left after GM continued to block any form of involvement with a Chinese partner, Saab officially filed for bankruptcy after a three-year fight for survival. Under Sweden's bankruptcy laws, a party that files for bankruptcy can be bought out of bankruptcy.
On 16 April 2012, a meeting on Saab’s bankruptcy was held at the District Court of Vänersborg. The official receivers in charge of the Saab liquidation valued the assets at us$500m and the debt at US$2,000m. After subtracting the value of the assets, Saab leaves a debt of US$1,500m.
On 6 August 2012, Spyker, represented by the law firm Patton Boggs, filed a lawsuit against General Motors in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan claiming US$3 billion in damages for the actions GM took in the fall of 2011 to stop the various proposed deals between Spyker and Youngman concerning Saab Automobile where Youngman claimed to be ready to invest several billion dollars in Saab Automobile to guarantee its future. More precisely, under the Automotive Technology License Agreement (ATLA) between GM Global Technology Operations Inc (GTO) and Saab, GM refused licensing of the platforms and technology in Saab cars if any Chinese party were to be involved in Saab's ownership structure.
To solve this issue, Spyker and Youngman came up with a deal where Youngman would provide Saab with a loan of €200 million which would be converted into an equity interest in Saab only after Saab ceased using GM technology in its vehicles. Despite this, GM maintained that it would still refuse licensing of platforms and technology needed for production of Saab cars in Trollhättan and also threatened to cease 9-4X production at GM's plant in Mexico, should the deal go through.
Consequently, the deal finally collapsed and Saab was forced to file for bankruptcy. According to Spyker, the actions taken by GM were not legal. Since Saab had been in receivership since the bankruptcy, and would be until the deal with Nevs was closed, Spyker and the receivers of Saab Automobile had entered into an agreement where Spyker would bear the costs of the litigation in exchange for 90% of the claim if the case is successful.
In June 2013, the district court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that General Motors was within its rights to block the sale.
On 13 June 2012, a press conference was held announcing that the main assets of Saab Automobile AB and its subsidiaries Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB as well as the Saab factory had been acquired by a Chinese consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). Saab Automobile Parts AB was not included in the deal and the Swedish National Debt Office would continue as an owner of that company. Nevs' plan was to build only purely electric vehicles with an electric version of the current 9-3 model available in 2013/2014, as well as to continue development of the replacement to the 9-3, the Phoenix. GM continued to refuse licensing of the technology in the Saab 9-5 and 9-4X, so these models would not be produced. The rights to use of the Saab trademark had not yet been granted by Saab AB and Scania AB and negotiations on that matter continued.
On 26 August 2012, Scania AB let the Swedish press know that the griffin logo used in both Scania's and Saab Automobile's trademark would not be allowed for use on future Saab cars with Nevs as the owner of Saab Automobile. Scania believed the logo is of high value in China and feared that it would end up in the wrong hands through the Chinese interests behind Nevs.
On 3 September 2012, Nevs announced that it had finalized the acquisition of Saab Automobiles assets. Nevs would be able to use the name Saab on future cars but not the griffin logo. Production of the 9-3 would initially focus on a turbo-charged petrol variant, but an electric version - initially aimed at the Chinese market - would start production in 2014.
On 8 January 2013, Nevs announced a deal with Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co, Ltd, for a 22% stake in the company. In return, Nevs/Saab would receive SEK 2bn, along with a production facility for models sold in China. Cars sold in North America and most of Europe would continue to be made in Trollhättan, Sweden. The possibility of using Fiat/Chrysler sourced drive train components for non- electric models was also being examined.
On 12 August 2013, the Saab plant at Trollhättan reopened its doors to welcome back employees for preparations and restructuring of the production line. Production of the existing 9-3 would commence shortly with a new electric motor, while Saab finished the preparations for the new 9-3 Phoenix.
On 19 September 2013, the first Saab-branded vehicle produced by Nevs rolled off of the assembly line. The first pre-production model was mostly aesthetically identical to the previous Saab 9-3 and mainly used to test new components and assembly line equipment. Nevs announced a facelift of the exterior to be shown on a finalised production model. On 29 November 2013 Nevs announced that full-scale production would commence on 2 December 2013, having replaced the 20 percent of parts originally sourced from former Saab owner General Motors.
Production of the gasoline version of the Saab 9-3 has resumed as of December 2013. On 10 December 2013, NEVS started selling their Saab 9-3 Aero directly from their homepage to Swedish customers.
On 20 May 2014, NEVS announced that production had been stopped, 100 consultants had to be let go and 53 blue-collar and 19 white-collar workers had been given notice that their contracts would not be prolonged after the summer. According to NEVS, this was due to Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co Ltd not fulfilling their commitment to finance NEVS operations and as a result had forced NEVS main owner Kai Johan Jiang to fund operations for several months through private funds as well as through assets in NEVS parent company National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd.
On 27 May 2014, NEVS communication officer Mikael Östlund confirmed through a video interview that NEVS was in talks with two large automobile companies regarding funding of operations and co-development of the Phoenix platform.
On 9 June 2014, Swedish media reported that a number of companies had filed debts from NEVS at the National enforcement agency in Sweden for a total sum of 10.4 million SEK.
On 28 August 2014, NEVS itself filed for bankruptcy protection.
On 29 August 2014, Saab AB announced it was cancelling the licensing agreement that allows NEVS to use the Saab name. NEVS' financial problems was cited as the reason. A spokesman for NEVS said that the company expects to renegotiate the agreement after a solution to the company's financial problems is reached.
Saab's total world production in 2008 was 90,281 vehicles produced in 3 countries. Production declined sharply in 2009, as new owners struggled to deal with the company's mounting financial problems. Production was suspended until late 2013, when the new ownership launched a limited run of 2014 model year 9-3 sedans.
|Country||Cars (2013)||Cars (2010)||Cars (2009)||Cars (2008)||Cars (2007)||Models|
|162||32,048||20,950||75,073||102,915||9–3 Sedans, Wagon, and Convertible, 9-5 Sedan and Wagon|
|0||457||0||0||0||9-4x (Q2 2011)|
Saab manufactured various models at the Valmet Automotive plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland, between 1969 and 2003, in a joint-venture established in 1968 together with Valmet. Since 2003, Saab no longer manufactures any cars in Finland as the production of the 9-3 convertible was moved to Graz, Austria. In 2010 production of the 9-3 convertible was moved again to Trollhättan. This marked the first time that Trollhättan manufactured the 9-3 convertible.
A common feature of Saab car types was the use of the number 9 in the model numbers. The final models were the 9-3 and 9-5, both of which were manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden. Until 2008, the 9-7X was manufactured by GM along with the Chevrolet Trailblazer and its platform-mates. The exception to this naming rule is the Saab-Lancia 600, which was a re-badged Lancia Delta.
Safety has a high priority in the design of Saab cars. The cars are subjected to the Älgtest (elk test) as elk are a common cause of accidents in Sweden. Saab have compiled a database containing over 6,100 real-life accidents with Saabs. The first recorded event was in 1948 where Julian Shermis had an accident.
All modern Saabs (except the 9000 and 9-2X) have a floor-mounted ignition. This is for many reasons, some of which follow: Saab believes this is a safer position in case of an accident. The driver's knee often jerks upward in a collision; the compact and dense ignition module on the steering column of many other cars has shattered many kneecaps. Saabs have bolstered dashboards for both front seat occupants. Also, the floor-mounted position yields more space, allowing modern Saabs to have a metal bar that rotates over and up into the ignition when the key is turned to the "Lock" position. This makes Saabs very challenging to hot-wire. Ergonomically, the ignition's location next to the parking brake lever, gearshift, and seatbelt, saves time. Last of all, the ignition is located on the floor because, in the aircraft that inspired Saab automobiles, the throttle controls were all located on the floor. Originally Saabs also had the key located on the right side of the steering column, but when they changed from a column shift to a floor shift, the ignition key followed, except in the Sonett III and 9000.
In October 1986, the Saab Long Run took place. Three standard Saab 9000 Turbos set two world records and 21 international records at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama, USA. 100,000 km (62,000 mi) were covered with an average speed of 213.299 km/h (132.537 mph) and 50,000 miles (80,000 km) with an average speed of 213.686 km/h (132.778 mph).
Ten years later, in 1996, three standard Saab 900 (NG) Turbos driven by factory test drivers and two standard naturally aspirated Saab 900s driven by journalists set new world records on the same speedway.
In early December 2006, a Wisconsin traveling salesman donated his 1989 Saab 900 SPG (Special Performance Group) to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum after amassing 1,001,385 miles (1,611,573 km) on the original factory engine. This mileage was verified by Saab.
Dating back to 1937, Svenska Aeroplan AB (Saab) created airplanes, introducing its first car, the Saab 92001, in 1947. Currently, Saab AB is separate from Saab Automobile and is best known for its old Saab 37 Viggen fighter aircraft (the Viggen badge would be shared by a 9-3) and its successor, the current export success low cost JAS 39 Gripen swing-role fighter. This has led to an ad campaign, "Born From Jets", evoking the days when Saab produced both aircraft and automobiles. Saab is imported into many countries; each has a president of the subsidiary or importer. In the the US, the first president was Mr. R. Millet.
In 1987, Saab created a TV advertisement called "Saab suite" (subtitled Ballet in 3 acts for 8 Saab 9000 Turbos). In the film, stunt drivers show incredible driving with stock cars, such as one-wheeled burnouts, bumper-to-bumper driving through a slalom, cars slaloming from opposite directions on the same course, two-wheel driving, sliding in full speed, and jumping over passing cars—all on a closed airport runway with classical music playing in the background.
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Saab formed a Performance Team in 1987, which laid on exhibitions of automobile acrobatics and formation driving. Initially this was done with Saab 9000s, as above, then later models, such as the Saab 900 (NG) were used. All of the team's members have previously competed in rallies, but what's unusual is that all five Performance Team members held regular jobs at Saab: there are two engineers, a quality controller, a technician and the head of Saab's photo studio. The picture shows these vehicles on display at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Saab Aircraft Company, at Linköping, in 1997.
A Hewlett-Packard CPU-support chip features a Saab 900 Turbo 16 Cabriolet etched into its structure.
As the brand has an unusual image in most markets, Saab owners tend to be correspondingly offbeat: intellectuals and enthusiasts. In his studies of brand communities, Albert Muniz, professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago, found significant characteristics of Saab owners which he called Snaabery. These included ownership of an original, pre-GM Saab; camaraderie with other Saab drivers and contempt for other brands such as BMW. Writer John Crace characterised the typical "Snaab" as a creative advertising executive with large spectacles and an asymmetric hairstyle. Rüdiger Hossiep, a psychologist at Ruhr University Bochum, found that Saab drivers have the highest level of psychological involvement with their cars, being over 10 times more passionate than the average Volkswagen driver. Saab's main three markets are Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Saab 900 Turbo was James Bond's vehicle of choice in many of the John Gardner Bond novels of the 1980s, beginning with Licence Renewed. In the second novel, For Special Services, the 900 was dubbed the "Silver Beast". The car is Bond's private vehicle that he had outfitted with various gadgets by the real-life company Communication Control Systems Ltd (CCS). In conjunction with the release of Licence Renewed, Saab had a real "Silver Beast" created that was virtually identical to the specifications in the book. The car is currently located at the Saab Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden.
In an essay originally published in In These Times in November 2004 entitled Have I Got A Car For You, writer Kurt Vonnegut recounts his experiences as owner and operator of a Saab dealership in West Barnstable, Massachusetts and humorously claims that his criticism of Swedish engineering is the reason he was never awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. The essay also appeared in the 2005 anthology A Man Without A Country.
Saab had a factory rally team with successful drivers, Erik "On-the-Roof" Carlsson, Tom Trana, Simo Lampinen, Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund. The team stopped competing in 1980. In 2012 a new Saab rally team took part in the classic historic Midnattssolsrallyt (Rally to the Midnight Sun). The S2AB Historic Rally team entered four Saab 99 Turbos, driven by ex-champions Ola Strömberg, Erik Uppsäll, Travis Decker and Jörgen Trued. S2AB (Swedish Advanced Automotive Business) is the company led by Magnus Roland, former chassis manager at Saab.
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