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article imageLast-Ditch Efforts Persist to Save Saab

By Martin Laine     Dec 29, 2009 in Business
Even as American carmaker General Motors plunges ahead with its plan to shut down production of its Saab line of cars, stories circulate throughout Sweden of efforts to save the brand.
Last week, marketing expert G. Clotaire Rapaille, who has been an advisor to several large carmakers, claimed he could turn the financially failing company around.
“I want Saab. Give me Saab and I will save it and make it prosper again,” claimed Rapaille in a letter to his subscribers.
Rapaille told the Swedish online news service The Local that he was “very serious” about his offer, but also conceded that he had had no contact with any of the principals involved.
He criticized GM for treating Saab as a “generic car,” ignoring its link with Sweden. Saab has “a loyal tribe of followers,” he said, and represents the “core value” of Swedish culture.
Meanwhile, workers at Saab’s Trollhaten plant are continuing to follow GMs instructions to wind down operations. Rumors there have surfaced suggesting that the new Saab design 9-5 might appear as a Buick or Opel.
The Dagens Industri newspaper is citing sources inside the company for a story that the new Saab 9-5 model might be released as a Buick in the US market. Industry observers, however, are skeptical.
“I’ve heard about it, but I doubt there’s any substance to it,” said Hakan Danielsson, chair of the Saab chapter of the Swedish engineers union.
And finally, there is no word yet on Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker’s renewed bid for Saab. The Local reported last week that representatives of Spyker met with union representatives to outline their plans, and union officials expressed optimism.
Throughout all this, GM has remained quiet, apparently standing by its resolution to close the company at the end of the year.
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