Saab: Killing it softly

The final chapter has been written on Saab, the Swedish maker of unique cars skittering on the edge of bankruptcy for the last few years. A potential saving deal was blocked by GM.

Saab 9-5
Saab's last new car, the 9-5, looked like it had potential, but was not enough to save the company. Josh Miller/CNET

Saab's struggle for survival ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper, as a final deal to save it is blocked by GM.

The company, founded in 1947 and owned by GM since 2000, was due to be shut down in 2009 as GM consolidated its brands. Victor Muller, former CEO of Spyker Cars, threw Saab a lifeline, taking over the company and attempting to arrange financing.

Most recently, Chinese automaker Youngman Automobile Group was set to purchase Saab. But GM, which still owns Saab technology licenses, spiked the deal by refusing to extend the licensing to Youngman.

Saab fans might see GM as the villain in this corporate drama, as it had the choice of maintaining some small revenue from the licenses or squashing a potential competitor.

The name of Saab's last concept did not, in the end, prove prescient. The Phoenix was shown off at the 2011 Geneva auto show, a final bid by the company to show it could rise from the ashes.

The last iteration of the 9-5 had considerable promise with its modern design. Its turbocharged 2.8-liter engine made 300 horsepower and cabin technology was built around a hard drive-based navigation system.

(Source: Reuters)

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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