For today, the last day of 2009 and of the decade, I’ll put on my physic hat and predict that Saab will not die, at least not this time around. Two reasons: 1) the Swedish automaker’s brand image and 2) its 2010 9-5 sedan.
Despite not being on the same level as BMW, Mercedes or Lexus, Saab’s brand image is still respectably good, even though it has taken a beating over the years. Sure enthusiasts may sometimes talk smack about its performance credentials given its performance-oriented aspirations, but to the average North American, Saab is a prestige product, so much so that most of them are unaware of its true owner, GM. Why the brand sells so few in North America is mainly attributable to insufficient marketing, and marketing was something cash-strapped GM couldn’t do a lot of.
Saab has strong consumer goodwill, and GM knows this. Toss in the upcoming 9-5 sedan and the future looks even more promising. The 2010 9-5 sedan is one of the classiest-looking cars in its class. And judging by the latest batch of GM’s offerings, it will undoubtedly be highly competitive in regards to both quality and performance. On lesser note is the Saab’s upcoming 9-4X CUV, lest we forget about it. The 9-4X doesn’t capture our hearts in the same way as the 9-5 does but it is nonetheless likely to be very competitive in its segment.
With its brand image still in respectable shape, Saab has the foundation needed to leverage the release of both the upcoming 9-5 sedan and 9-4X. The quality of both vehicles will only serve to enhance its image and help bring back its glory days. GM sees this potential and so does the bidders, especially Spyker. Terminating Saab will be painfully wasteful. This might explain why GM eventually dropped the deadline to find a suitable buyer and why there are still several bidders in the race.