You have to give it to mr Victor Muller, he make things happen. I have understood from my Dutch friends that it doesn’t always happen in a social correct way…but it does happen. He is an achiever.

SAAB was on very close to be shut down, which would have been the only natural call for GM (which I did write another post about for some time ago). But instead it ended up with mr Muller and a bit unclear financing. And now, after the introduction of the new SAAB 9-5, they also got a new engine supplier; BMW.Going from low graded GM engines to the one of the best engine manufacturers of the world is an achievement.  It also shows how co-branding is working at its best.

SAAB wants to be one of the top dogs among european car brands. They could end up there, if they ¬†had the engines and drivetrain for it. Honestly, the engines and transmissions available for the new 9-5 is a vibrating catastrophe from the 1980′s. ¬†Audi, Mercedes and BMW are lightyears ahead in performance as well in comfort and culture. And as long as you don’t have the premium horsepowers, you’re not premium.

So what does mr Muller do? Well he calls up BMW and get new engines for the forthcoming 9-3. It’s probably just a start and it’s a start with right supplier. BMW is really in the forefront of engine development…for many different fuels. The deal for BMW, measured in Euros, is probably not that big, the amount that SAAB will buy over a year is most likely assembled on half a day in Munich. But BMW actually get paid to ¬†get a good insight in the small Swedish car manufacturer that aims right at…BMW.

With the PR SAAB got from it, the co-branding work is already done. The images presented on this blog unnecessary. But they visualize where the co-branding takes the SAAB brand. And that is in a good direction. I hope it all works out for them in the future.

Now as Spyker has finally taken over SAAB, the hope has returned to many in Trollhättan. At least for a while. To run a car company today is a risky business, to say the least. It has been interesting to see how much the SAAB case has engaged people in many countries. Obviously the SAAB brand is of great interest. Much more than the products, they are in fact today an Opel with a few clever solutions and a slightly tweaked design.

Everyone that has been interested in bidding for SAAB, including Spyker’s Victor Muller and F1′s Bernie Ecclestone has mention the brand as the main reason for buying a car manufacturer literally never has been profitable. Of course, the new 9-5 model is also a reason, as well the reason for GM to raise the price.

The question now is if anyone can turn the potential in the SAAB brand to a profitable business. Steve Jobs succeeded in turning a almost bankrupt Apple to a huge success in delivering the brand promise in many ways. Who will be the Steve Jobs for SAAB?

There’s a lot of discussion going on in Sweden about SAAB and the future of the car. The brand is worth a lot according to many. And of course we have the discussion about lay-offs. No one want them. But then again, SAAB has never (besides two years) been profitable.

If I skip the ethic, keeping-the-jobs-perspective and put myself in the leading chair of GM. What would I do? Well, I wouldn’t sell the blueprints and all the tools you need to manufacture the latest construction made by the corporation. That would be to create your own competitor to Opel. It might be ethically correct and of course great for all the workers in Trollh√§ttan, but just stupid if you want your corporation to carry on.

Actually, if I were Ed Whitacre I would do what GM always had done; badge engineering.

I would close down the manufacturing of the non-profitable SAAB. Keep the brand and put its trademark on the cars that might need it. It has been done before with the 9-2X and 9-7X. They did it with that stupid looking Cadillac based upon the 9-3 Estate. They have done it with Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac…they have done it with all the brands they have. Why not do the same thing with SAAB? Have one construction, change badges on the hood.

It’s true. Many people laugh when the badge engineering goes to far at GM:s headquarters. The 9-7X was such a moment. It has been many more. GM don’t recognize that the brand is not what we say it is, it is what they say it is. And with “they” I mean anybody outside GM.

Then again, let’s say that I am still Ed Whitacre I also might say that “we would need some proper brand management here at GM” and hire FIAT’s brand manager who successfully kept the FIAT, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari brands apart. I would still keep the SAAB brand, and close down the production of the cars.

Sad. But probably the right thing to do.