The longest, more tortured death of a car company in the history of the automobile business is finally drawing to a close.
Automotive News and many other news services are reporting that Saab’s owners, Swedish Automobile, has sought protection from creditors in a Swedish district court.
It’s time to close the coffin and throw dirt on Saab, go to the wake, knock back a few glasses of Akvavit, sing a few Swedish drinking songs and move along. Saab is dead and it surely is a loss. But prolonging this drawn-out road to the Grim Reaper is not only silly, it’s cruel.
Swedish courts might just give approval for a voluntary reorganization until funding from the latest suitor, Chinese investors Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman, starts emptying its pockets. That would be a mistake.
Victor Muller, CEO of both Saab and Swedish Automobile, has said in a statement: “We have concluded that a voluntary reorganization process will provide us with the necessary time, protection and stabilization of the business, allowing salary payments to be made, short-term funding to be obtained and an orderly restart of production to be prepared.”
Forget it. Who on earth would buy a Saab car now? Muller may believe “Saab Automobile will emerge stronger from this process,” but I don’t and no sensible person would. The world is not short of car companies and car brands; Saab’s moment has passed.
If Saab had any real value for Chinese investors it was not in the technology, but Saab’s global distribution network. But that’s in tatters now. Tried buying a Saab in Canada lately?
Automotive News, Reuters and Bloomberg all report that if the court approves Saab’s filing, the reorganization will be for three months, although the court may later extend this period to a maximum of twelve months. In 12 months Saab’s latest models will be a year older and not nearly as attractive as they were in 2010, when General Motors sold Saab to Spyker Cars.
In 2011, Saab first suspended production in late March and as Automotive News reported, the factory in Trollhaettan, Sweden, hasn’t made a car since early June.
Saab, born of jets, has essentially died from neglect and the incompetence of a long list of owners and managers. Time for Saab to rest in peace.