Saab Automobile AB
, better known as
, is a Swedish car
currently owned by General Motors
. It is the exclusive
automobile royal warrant holder as appointed by H.M., the King of Sweden
its inception, Saab has been known for its quirkiness; as it
evolved and adopted ever more advancements to its turbocharging
, safety and green technology
February 2009, the district court of Vänersborg received a request for reorganization from
Parent General Motors planned to divest itself of the
company by the end of 2009. On 11 June 2009, a letter of intent was
signed by Koenigsegg
and a group of
Norwegian investors to purchase Saab. On 24 November 2009, however,
Koenigsegg withdrew its offer to purchase the operation; GM's board
of directors will convene on 1 December 2009 to discuss the future
for SAAB Automobile
Saab was originally created as a division of the Swedish Aeroplane Company
(Svenska Aeroplan AB
in Swedish). The company had been established in 1937 for the
express purpose of building aircraft for the Swedish Air Force
. With World War II
nearing its end, the company began
looking for new markets in which to expand.
Svenska Aeroplan AB (1947–1969)
In 1944, Project 92 began, with the goal of creating the first Saab
passenger car. Five years later, the Saab 92
began production. The design highlighted the company’s roots in
aviation. Notably, the car’s drag
of 0.30 was the lowest of any production car at the
In 1955 the SAAB 92 was reworked and became the SAAB 93. The engine
was upgraded from two to three cylinders but unusually remained a
two stroke. The car received a facelift, including the first Saab
with the brand’s trademark trapezoidal grille. A wagon variant, the
, was added in 1959 and would remain in
production for the next twenty years. The decade also saw Saab's
first foray into true performance cars with the Saab 94
, the first of four Saab Sonetts
Saab partnered with Swedish heavy vehicle manufacturer Scania.
The need for a larger model saw the birth of the Saab 99
in 1969. The 99 was the final Saab designed
by Sixten Sason
, who had designed all
their earlier models. Its design, a clean break from all earlier
Saabs, would mark the brand's styling for the next twenty years.
The 99 was also important in that it marked Saab's first
In 1970, the 500,000th Saab was built. Six years later the
1,000,000th would follow.
signed an agreement with Fiat in 1978 to
sell a rebadged Lancia Delta as the
Saab 600 and jointly develop a new car
The agreement yielded the Alfa Romeo 164
, Lancia Thema
and Saab 9000
, all riding atop the Type Four chassis
1974, saw the introduction of the Combi-Coupe, which continued to
live on in the 99, 900, 9000, NG900 & 9-3 as the hatchback
which was ended in 2002.
General Motors ownership (1989–present)
In December 1989 General Motors announced it had bought 50% of
Saab's automobile division for US $600 million with an option to
acquire the remaining shares within a decade. Despite this, losses
continued and the Malmö plant was closed in 1991. At this point,
Saab Automobile AB was created.
GM's involvement spurred the launch of the "new generation"
in 1994. The new car used the same
platform as the Opel Vectra
polarized Saab aficionados, but thanks to its sales, the company
declared a profit in 1995 for the first time in seven years. In
2000, GM purchased the remaining shares of the automobile division,
making it a wholly-owned subsidiary.
2005, it was announced that GM would move the production of the
next-generation Saab 9-5 from Trollhättan
to the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, Germany in 2009.
The Trollhättan factory
also produced the Cadillac BLS
2009. The next-generation Saab 9-3
scheduled to be produced at Trollhättan.
models are the 9-3 and 9-5, both of which are manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden. The Saab 9-7X
SUV, discontinued since 2008,
was manufactured in Moraine, Ohio.
, a rebadged Subaru
manufactured in Japan, was discontinued after the 2006
A new crossover SUV
, dubbed the
, will share a platform with the new
and is expected to go on
sale in 2010. It will be built in North America.
In December 2008, General Motors Corporation announced that Saab
was “under review”, which also included the possibility of selling
off the Swedish carmaker. 27 parties reportedly expressed interest in
buying the company, among them BMW, Renault, the Hyundai-Kia group, Tata Motors, Geely
Automotive, Fiat and Magna International. Saab held talks with
three selected bidders, reportedly the Renco
Group, Koenigsegg with financial
backing from Norwegian investors, and Merbanco, a
group of Wyoming-based
On 11 February 2009, Saab Automobile announced the Saab 9-3X – a
new addition to the 9-3 range with all road capabilities.
On 17 February 2009, Saab’s parent company GM announced that Saab
would apply for administration within 10 days unless it received
substantial aid from the Swedish government. GM had requested 5
billion Swedish Kronor
565 million, €
449 million) in state aid to help keep the company
going until the start of 2010, however the Swedish government has
appeared reluctant to provide this aid, and the Swedish Industry
Minister was quoted in the press to have stated“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 20 February 2009, Saab duly entered into administration, which
is seen as the equivalent of US Chapter 11
. 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”.
The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
said on 18 February 2009
that the U.S. company’s demands amounted to a “trap” set to
pressure the government into granting financial aid. The Swedish
trade minister, Maud Olofsson
suggested the company had a brighter future moving to production of
wind power turbines than continuing to produce cars in an already
oversupplied market. GM with Saab Automobile AB included have had
little support from the Swedish government in supporting the
Swedish brand through it´s difficulties.
During the planned "carve-out" of Saab from GM, Saab “wordmark” has
now been launched as a replacement for the Saab-Griffin logo that
has been used for the past twenty years. The Griffin originates
the previous owner of Saab;
then owned by Investor AB
On 24 November 2009, the first pre-production vehicle SAAB 9-5
second generation rolled off the serial production- line in
Trollhättan. It is the second car out in Europe from the GM Global
Epsilon platform. Development of that platform, has been a true
team-work between fork-force in Trollhättan, Detroit and Rüsselsheim.
Planned sale to 'Koenigsegg Group' (2009)
On 16 June 2009, Koenigsegg
, the Swedish
super-car maker, and a group of Norwegian investors announced their
intentions to purchase the brand from General Motors. It was
announced on 18 August that GM had signed the deal, although
certain financing details remained to be completed. There was a
financial shortfall of some three billion SEK
that must had to be sorted before the deal
could go through, and although the European Investment Bank did on
October 21, 2009 approve a loan of $599 million, to be guaranteed
by the Swedish government., Konigsegg Group AB released a press
communique on November 24, stating the the acquisition would be too
risky due to delays in closing the deal.The statement indicated
that they had come to the painful and difficult conclusion that
it could no longer carry out the acquisition
. According to the
statement by Koenigsegg Group the reason for the abrupt end to the
acquisition process was because of timing issues; the original time
table established in the summer of 2009 was no longer valid and
this removed Koenigsegg's ability to complete the purchase.
Some of the early cars such as the two-stroke
and Saab 99
were quite successful in rally
notably the 96 in the 1960s RAC Rally
Monte Carlo Rally
, driven by
- 1950 Saab enters two Saab
92s (chassis numbers 7 and 8) in the Monte Carlo Rally. One car is crewed by
Rolf Mellde and K G Svedberg, and Greta Molander and Margaretha von Essen compete in the
other. Greta Molander comes in 55th overall, 5th in her class and
2nd in the Ladies Class. Rolf Mellde wins the Rikspokalen Rally in November, and Saab becomes
the best marque team with Mellde, Svedberg and Greta Molander, who
also wins the Ladies Class
- 1952 Greta Molander and Helga Lundberg win the Ladies Cup in the
Monte Carlo Rally.
- 1953 Rolf Mellde wins the Swedish Rally
- 1955 Mellde rolls his Saab 92, but still
manages to win the Rikspokalen Rally.
- 1956 Bob Wehman and
Louis Braun win the Great American Mountain Rally. Rolf Mellde comes sixth
and another Saab 93 finishes in seventh place.
- 1959 Two Saab 93s are entered in the Le Mans
24 Hours. The car driven by Sture
Nottorp and Gunnar Bengtsson
come in 12th overall and second in its class. The same year Erik
Carlsson wins the Midnight Sun
- 1960 Erik Carlsson wins the RAC Rally and Saab start competing in Formula Junior with the Saab Formula Junior.
- 1961 Erik Carlsson enters the Monte Carlo
Rally in a Saab 95 and finishes fourth, and
wins the RAC Rally for the second successive year.
- 1962 Erik Carlsson and Gunnar Häggbom win the Monte Carlo
Rally, and completes a hat-trick of RAC Rally wins.
- 1963 Erik Carlsson again wins the Monte Carlo
Rally, this time with Gunnar Palm as
co-driver. They also finish second in the Spa-Sofia-Liège Marathon de la
- 1968 Finn Simo Lampinen wins the RAC Rally in
a Saab 96V4.
- 1971 Stig
Blomqvist wins the Swedish and RAC Rallies in a Saab 96V4. Erik
Carlsson retires from rallying and become Saab ambassador.
- 1976 Stig Blomqvist wins the Belgian Boucles de Spa Rally in a Saab 99 EMS.
- 1977 Stig Blomqvist wins the Swedish Rally in
a Saab 99 EMS.
- 1979 Stig Blomqvist wins the Swedish Rally in
a Saab 99 Turbo. This was the first time a turbocharged car won a
World Championship Rally event.
- 1980 Saab withdraws from all competition
activities citing reasons of cost, and because it cannot compete
with 'prototype' vehicles using its production-based cars. Being a
small manufacturer, SAAB could not afford to build special a
"Homologation Special" like the
Ford RS200 and Lancia Stratos. These Group B competition
cars had evolved so they had very little in common with production
cars and thus were of no value to production car development. A
number of personnel from the competition department branch out and
start Trollspeed aimed at producing
competition upgrades for Saabs.
- 2000 Saab returns to competition by sponsoring
Swede Team Motor who compete with a
Saab 9-3 Aero SportSedan, a Saab 9-3 Coupe and a 1964 two-stroke
Saab 96. The return to competition was to attract students to the
auto-mechanic educations. The students
get to work on the race cars before, during and after races to
expand the students' knowledge and quality awareness.
- 1958: The GT 750 is the first car fitted with seatbelts as
- 1963: Saab becomes the first volume maker to offer
diagonally-split dual brake circuits.
- 1969: Saab creates an ignition system near the gearbox, instead
of behind the steering wheel like most cars.
- 1970: Saab introduces a world-first - headlamp wipers and
- 1971: Heated front seats are introduced, the first time in the
world they are fitted as standard.
- 1971: Saab develops the impact-absorbing, self-repairing
- 1976: Saab was the first manufacturer to produce a turbo engine
with wastegate to control boost.
- 1978: Saab introduces another 'world-first,' the passenger
compartment air filter (pollen filter).
- 1980: Saab introduces Automatic Performance Control
(APC), and an anti-knock sensor that
allowed higher fuel economy and the use of lower grade fuel without
- 1981: Saab introduces the split-field side mirror. This reduces
the drivers blind spot.
- 1982: Saab introduces asbestos-free
- 1983: Saab introduces the 16-valve
- 1985: Saab pioneers direct ignition, eliminating the
distributor and spark plug wires.
- 1991: Saab introduces a 'light-pressure' turbo.
- 1991: Saab is the first manufacturer to offer CFC-free
- 1991: Saab develops its 'Trionic' engine
management system, equipped with a 32-bit micro-processor.
- 1993: Saab introduces the 'Sensonic clutch' and the 'Black Panel', later to be called
the 'Night Panel'.
- 1993: Saab develops the 'Safeseat' rear passenger protection
- 1994: Saab introduces the 'Trionic
T5.5' engine management system, its processor is a Motorola 68332.
Saab presents an asymmetrically turbocharged V6 at the Motor Show
in Frankfurt, Germany.
- 1996: Saab introduces active head restraints (SAHR), which help
minimize the risk of whiplash.
- 1997: Saab introduces Electronic Brake-force Distribution
- 1997: Saab fits ventilated front seats to their new 9-5.
- 1997: Saab introduces ComSense; an alert delay feature that
reduces the risk of distraction by briefly postponing lower
priority alerts when the brakes or indicators are activated
- 2000: Saab introduces Saab Variable Compression, an engine
in which the compression ratio is
varied by tilting the cylinder head in relation to the
- 2002: Saab developed ReAxs System provides crisp steering
feedback and contributes to enhanced driving stability in
- 2003: Saab introduces CargoSET; automatic storage well
retraction for the convertible, a
two-step tonneau action for quicker soft-top deployment
- 2008: Saab introduces Cross-wheel
drive, an advanced all-wheel drive system with eLSD.
- Saab cars are subjected to the moose
test (aka elk crash test).
order to increase production volume, Saab helped Valmet
Automotive to start a car factory in Uusikaupunki (Nystad), Finland. Since 2003, Saab no
longer manufactures any cars in Finland as the production of the
9-3 Convertible was moved to
- A common feature of Saab car types is the use of the number
9 in the model numbers. Current models are the 9-3 and 9-5, both which are
manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden, and 9-7X, which
is manufactured by General
Motors. The exception to this naming rule is the Saab
600, which was a rebadged Lancia Delta.
- 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 hotwire. Ergonomically, the
ignition's location next to the parking brake lever, gearshift, and
seatbelt, saves time as all motions associated with startup fall
right at hand and become second nature. 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 shifter to a
floor shifter, the ignition key followed along, except in the
Sonett III and 9000.
- In October 1986 the Saab Long Run
took place. Three standard Saab
9000 Turbos set 2 world records and 21 international records at
Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama, USA. 100,000 km (62,137 miles) were
covered with an average speed of 213.299 km/h (132.537 mph)
and 50,000 miles (80,467 km) with an average speed of
213.686 km/h (132.778 mph).
- Ten years later, in 1996, three standard Saab 900 Turbos driven by factory test drivers
and two standard naturally
aspirated Saab 900s driven by journalists set new world records on the same
- 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. Click Here to view the video.
Saab Performance Team at Linköping, in
1997 (Saab 91 Safirs in 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 were used. All of the team's
members have previously competed in rallies, but what's unusual is
that all 5 Performance Team members hold 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. Click here
to view one of their videos
- Dating back to 1937, Svenska Aeroplan AB (SAAB) created
airplanes, introducing their first car, the Saab 92001, in 1947. Currently, Saab AB is separate from Saab Automobile (which is
owned by General Motors), and is
probably best known for its Saab 37
Viggen (the Viggen badge would be shared by a 9-3). This has led to a ad campaign, "Born From
Jets," evoking the days when Saab produced both aircraft and
early December 2006, a Wisconsin traveling salesman donated his 1989 Saab 900 SPG (Special Performance Group) to the
Wisconsin Automotive Museum after amassing on the original factory
engine. This mileage was verified by Saab.
- Saab have compiled a database where they have analysed more
than 6,100 real-life accidents with Saabs. The first recorded event
was in 1948 where Julian Shermis had an accident.
- 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 the
owner/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
- A Hewlett-Packard CPU-support chip features a Saab 900 Turbo 16
Cabriolet etched into its structure.
- Saab drivers have the highest level of "psychological
involvement" with their cars. They are more than 10 times more
passionate than the average Volkswagen driver.
Saab's main production facilities in
Saab's total world production in 2008 was 90,281 vehicles produced
in 3 countries.
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.
- Saab 9-4X (2010 – onwards)
- Saab 9-5 (2010 - onwards) A long due
replacement for the Saab's Flagship, the new 9-5 advances styling
cue from past Saab models and adds elements from recent Saab
concepts to create a stylish large sedan. Rumored to be available
at the end of 2009 or early 2010, it will boast a host of turbo
engines in four and six cylinder configurations, include high tech
gadgets such as a Heads-Up Display, Hard Drive based
infotainment/navigation, available rear entertainment screens and
an advanced chassis that might even have a Pneumatic Suspension.
The wagon variant should follow the sedan onto the market in a year
Concepts and prototypes
Economist, For sale: Saab and Volvo are on the block. But
are there any buyers?, 31 January 2009, pages 68-69
- Saab to become independent company
- JS Online: This Saab story is one in a
- "THE SILVER BEAST" - James Bond 007 - CommanderBond.net -
James Bond At Its Best
- Molecular Expressions: The Silicon Zoo - Saab 900 Turbo 16
- Financial Times: Why the Saab inspires intense
- World Motor Vehicle Production, OICA correspondents
- Saab Company Snapshot, 2009 - Saabs United