The first car I ever had a choice in (the first-first being a Mercury Villager minivan with almost 200k on the clock) was Saab 900 Turbo. “Born from Jets” was their motto, and that car was as fun was it was safe, saving my life not once, but twice…and amazingly, it wasn’t my fault either time. So Saab has always had a special place in my heart. I’ve watched with a lot of sadness as the plucky Swedish automaker has swirled the drain, each promise of salvation just another lie, and this last time seemed to be the really, really last time.
But like a horribly disfigured, paraplegic Frankenstein-PhoeniX, Saab has risen from the grave once again. A Swedish EV consortium owned by investors in Hong Kong has bought Saab, pledging to deliver an electric car by 2014. Here we go again.
I love Saab, and nothing would make me happier than to see it come back as an electric car maker. Yet the market for electric cars has proven to be softer than many enthusiasts care to admit, at least in the U.S. and Europe. China may prove to be the saving grace for electric vehicles, but National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the investment group that bought Saab, has not said what they will build or where; only that it will be electric.
I’m not getting my hopes up here, but there is one reason, and one reason only, that this might, possibly, could work if they do it right and get really lucky. GM blocked the last-last resuce plan for Saab because it didn’t want to give the would-be owners access to technology pertaining to the Saab 9-5 and Saab 94x. Towards the end, plenty of plans came out talking about rebuilding Saab as a purveyor of fast, fun, alt-fuel vehicles, but nothing ever took hold, and GM didn’t want to share its toys. That was that.
Rebuilding Saab as a limited-production EV maker, an all-electric Swedish Aston Martin if you will. There is one group of people who are buying electric cars, and that is the uber-wealthy. Tesla has seen a lot of success with its blend of performance and range, selling out of the first run of its Model S and Model X EV’s almost overnight. Positioned correctly with the right blend of performance engineering and luxury features, an all-electric Saab might sing a pretty sweet Sonnet (I needed at least one pun in this post).
The end of the Saab story was sad as the company’s workers went unpaid, its assets were put up for auction, and the last glimmers of hope were buried. I doubt Saab will make a comeback as an EV maker.
Source: Inside Line