My name is Al and I own a SaaB.
There I’ve said it. I own a car from a company that died and I am happy with my choice.
I could wax lyrically about my beautiful 2008 model Silver Aero Convertible, sporting the renowned Turbo charged engine technology Saab pioneered back in the 1980’s. I could tell you that it was the best selling four-seated soft top model in the UK, a land that given its damp climate strangely has more rag top owners than any other country in Europe, even the hot ones!!!
I like to think my SaaB is a future classic
So if their cars were so popular, where did it all go wrong?
SaaB was a Swedish car company that died a slow and painful death following the global financial crisis in 2008.
It took until 2012 for the final nail to be hammered into the coffin, but after several failed takeovers and buy outs the plug was finally pulled.
It seems a shame when a business fails. As a car buff I can’t help but feel a little saddened that a car manufacturer known for having the bravery to be different is gone.
SaaB had something different to offer, a style that appealed to the person who wanted something more than the average. Yes, German cars are efficient and for that alone they should be applauded and respected, but it also makes them just a little bit boring.
Italian cars are exciting and thrilling, not least because you never really know if they will get you home in one piece. In fact I’m fairly sure the people that design Italian cars are the same people that design elaborate Italian clothes in those high-end fashion boutiques you see in Milan. You’re not exactly going to find yourself saying “ah yes, this will be perfect for doing the school run!”
And French cars have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, which literally translates into English as “I don’t know what”. As in I don’t know what the appeal of these cars actually is. Pardon Monsieur.
But Sweden has a sense of style, based on quality and substance, which is, recognized the world over. Who hasn’t lost themselves in the maze that is the IKEA store and still been joyously happy to get home with a flat pack leather Poang classy armchair, a bottle of vodka and some meatballs.
You can compare the typical SaaB lover to the type of person that would buy an Apple device over Windows or Android. They seek the trendsetters; the pioneers in their field. They respect the incredible amount of attention to detail that goes into good design, style and user experience.
But it seems that having a clearly identified brand and a customer profile of the discerning individual who could identify with the qualities that owning a SaaB provided was not enough to save the business.
As with any commercial organization, you have to be profitable, deliver the right product at the right time and be efficient in your production process. Did SaaB do this? It’s hard to say, but given the fact that I am no longer able to buy a new SaaB, unless I go to China, strangely enough, I think not.
Saab’s failure can be accounted to an unfortunate case of poor timing. They misread their market and did not meet customer expectations at a time when doing so was critical. By the time they reacted it was too late, the damage had been done.
Companies need to have information on all aspects of their business, and they need it as soon as possible. Could Saab have been saved if they had access to real-time production plans that could run every few hours to ensure the best utilization of resources and reduced manufacturing time?
If they could have analyzed global sales trends in hours instead of weeks or months, would that have saved the business?
I guess we will never know, but with today’s in memory, real time, business computing I bet they would have had a much stronger chance of surviving the crisis of 2008, creating beautiful new cars and still be a living, breathing prosperous business today!
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