It was only a matter of time before the quirky little car company called Saab would be eaten up and put right by it’s domineering owner General Motors. Since General Motors took a 50 percent stake in 1989, Saab thought that this would be the end of it’s monetary problems allowing it to compete more in a global market. Unfortunately the company still lost money but the General was there to step in and purchase the other 50 percent making it a totally owned subsidiary of General Motors.
Now, since the beginning, Saab was an aircraft manufacturer only venturing into the automobile business when the sales for aircraft dropped considerably after the conclusion of World War Two.
As a car manufacturer the Design Center has always resided in Trollhattan, Sweden but as of June 30th 2006 at 15.06pm Trollhattan time (GMT +1) the Design Center official transfers to the new GM Design Europe facility in Russelsheim, Germany. This fact is confirmed by a long time friend and colleague, Mike Cartwright, who I have known for over twenty years. He had the unfortunate task as Studio Manager of wrapping up shop as we say.
The Saab has always been renown for its quirkiness but driver oriented design, especially before the acquisition by General Motors and many a traditionalist has decried the watering down of the fundamentals that make up the DNA of a true Saab. This may be true in some respect but if the take over had not happened would Saab still be a viable automotive manufacturer now.
In any event the move to Russelsheim may bring all European Brands for GM under one roof but can the unique identities still be kept separate. In todays extremely tough market, separate identities may be the only thing that keeps a brand alive, will this be the same for Saab after uprooting it from its homeland and from the people who know best.