I must admit I had given up on Saab, as much as I’ve rooted for the company over the years. It was, surely, only a few signatures from the scrapper.
But Saab has been saved at the 12th hour, sold by General Motors to Dutchman Victor Muller, who’s also the boss of Dutch supercar minnow Spyker.
I’ve just been on the phone to Saab Spyker’s Trollhatten HQ and have been told that the original product plan is back on. And Jan-Ake Jonsson – who worked incredibly hard last year to keep Saab alive, but was removed by GM two weeks ago – will get back his job as company boss.
The new 9-5 will be built at the HQ, alongside the current three-model 9-3 line-up. Saab will buy finished 9-4X SUVs from GM’s Mexico factory. All of which is assuming that the Swedish government underwrites the European Investment bank loan that will keep Saab rolling
And, as far as I can gather, the next 9-3 will be assembled from the best components that Saab engineers can assemble from global suppliers, massively reducing development costs and, possibly, ushering in the age of the ‘virtual’ car company.
But that’s for the future - today’s story is the incredible way that Saab was saved from certain death by a global alliance of enthusiasts and web site activism.
Anybody who’s glad to see Saab survive should be thanking Steven Wade, a local government employee from Tasmania. His enthusiasts website Saabs United (nee Trollhattan Saab) has been the notice board for Saab enthusiasts the world over.
From this website had come a daily feed of inside information and, latterly, the foundation for the global ‘Saab Support Convoys’ demonstrations.
If you think that’s an overstatement, check this. When Victor Muller signed the documents, the first thing he did was call Steven in Australia and tell him that Saab had been sold.
Apparently, Muller said that site’s concentration of global support from Saab enthusiasts had made all the difference to him when he was struggling to get GM to do a deal.
What we’ve seen today is just how much the Internet has changed the world. You’ve heard all the e-buzzwords about ‘the wisdom of crowds’ and the power of the ‘nudge’.
Today, a chap in a house on a small island about far away from Sweden as its possible to get has corralled the support of the world’s Saab enthusiasts, helping force the world’s largest car maker to sell, rather than close, Saab.
In Sweden they call it Folk Makt. The rest of us call it people power.
The only thing remaining is for the new 9-5 to knock our socks off. Saab has a lot to live up to.