Saab Automobile AB, maker of classic cars such as the Saab 99, Saab 900, Saab 900 S Classic Convertible and Saab Sonnet, has filed for bankruptcy.
Its former owner, General Motors, recently turned down an investment from the Chinese company Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. Ltd that would have provided a life-line for Saab.
Saab employs around 3400 people, many have been without pay. The bankruptcy and liquidation deal will hopefully provide a payout package for its employees, although it is not known if an emergency fund can be provided before Christmas.
Saab started out in 1944 as Svenska Aeroplan AB when its Project 92 created the first Saab car, the Saab 92001 (also known as the Ursaab). This was the most aerodynamic car ever built – Saab used its skills in the aviation industry to produce a car with a very low drag coefficient (0.30).
Saab-Scania was formed in 1969 when Saab and Scania-Vabis Am merged. A decade later Saab made a deal with Fiat and the Lancia Delta was rebranded as the Saab 600. This led to a range of cars on the same Type Four chassis, including the Saab 9000, Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema.
In 1989 General Motors controlled a controlling stake in the business and launched the new Saab 900 in 1994. The success of this and the Opel Vectra that was built on the same platform, Saab made a profit in 1995, the first in 7 years. In 2000 General Motors bought the remaining Saab shares to take full ownership.
Unfortunately GM’s decision to launch the Saab 9-2X (that was based on the Subaru Impreza) and Saab 9-7X (that was based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer) resulted in a commercial disaster.
GM put Saab under review in 2008 while deciding if it could turn the business back to profit. Talks of sales and takeovers continued for several years and eventually GM agreed to allow Spyker to purchase Saab. In April 2011 Spyker announced plans to focus entirely on the Saab brand by selling off its sports car business. However, by June problems in the supply chain led to parts shortages and this had a knock-on effect, by July Saab was struggling to pay the salaries of 1600 workers.
Saab filed for bankruptcy protection on September 7, 2011 to keep the company alive until a Chinese investment could be agreed. However, the Swedish courts rejected the petition for bankruptcy protection.
Today Saab officially filed for bankruptcy.
Photo by Martin Bergstrand