The Saab Club of Canada web site comes to life!

I’d like to welcome everyone to the brand new Saab Club of Canada.

I encourage everyone to have a look around.  If you see something missing or don’t see something you would like, please LET US KNOW!  One of the areas we will be strengthening is the “Member’s Only” section.  I have just uploaded a few Saab Canada brochures from 2006 and will continue adding more and more material as time progresses (it is a very slow process as you can imagine …).  I will also be putting pdf versions of  past editions of the Gryphon up there, also for members only.

If you are a current club member, please sign up for access to the site and be sure to use the same e-mail address as we have on file … the one we send e-mails to.  This will make it MUCH easier to be able to grant you the access you deserve.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone here … and remember, the more we all contribute, the better the site (and this club) will be!

Scott

Our New Website is Live!

The new site is now live!  If you wish to post comments or access the members only section, please create an account.  We will approve your first comment, and then you can post comments without approvals after that. We have already started posting upcoming meetings and new articles directly to the new site.

The old forums content will be maintained and will remain accessible – for now you can access them here and via the link in the old site below.

Most of our new web site will be accessible to everyone, however Saab Club of Canada members will have access to members-only content that includes the discounts listing, past issues of The Gryphon, and Saab multimedia.

In the coming months we plan to add the following:

  • Updated forums, including integration with the new WordPress user accounts
  • Online membership management
  • Past issues of The Gryphon (Members Only)
  • Online Discounts listing (Members Only)

Please direct all questions and feedback to Fred Hopper at vicepresident@saabclub.ca.  Please also let Fred know if you are interested in helping to create content for our site.  We are particularly interested in original articles (Saab repairs and customization, road trips, insurance tips, Saab news, Saab history, etc.).

You can still access the old site at saabclub.ca/classic

Review: Who Killed Saab Automobile?

This article originally appeared in the March 2012 Gryphon.

By Fred Hopper

During the dark days of December 2011 a report was published by a pair of academics from the UK just one day after the announcement of Saab’s bankruptcy. Who Killed SAAB Automobile? Obituary of an Automotive Icon was written by Matthias Holweg of the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and Nick Oliver of the University of Edinburgh Business School. It’s a scholarly and highly detailed look at the history of the company and the context in which it found itself facing bankruptcy.

The paper starts with a two-page executive summary and I would recommend reading at least this if you don’t have the time to read the full 41-page report. There has been much criticism in the Saab community of General Motors throughout the entire time they have owned Saab, but particularly since their decision to sell Saab and their refusal to allow it to be sold to potential Chinese buyers, effectively forcing the company into bankruptcy. Common criticisms include assertions that GM did not understand Saab, they did not know how to effectively market it, that they diluted the uniqueness and therefore the distinctive appeal of Saab, and so on.

What is not so often explained is that the automotive industry has been undergoing tremendous change in the past few decades with globalization, increased competition and most significantly increased product complexity which makes it incredibly expensive and time consuming to develop new products. It now takes many years and millions of dollars to develop a new car model and many manufacturers are now able to share R&D and parts among families of cars under different marques. According to the report one of the key reasons for the failure of Saab is that did not have the economies of scale that it needed to survive in its current niche as, in the words of the authors, a “low volume producer of not-quite-premium cars.”

Although I personally would not agree with the “not-quite-premium” assessment, the comparisons made in the paper with companies such as the Volkswagen Group make for a compelling argument. In theory the Saab purchase held out much opportunity for both companies and to its credit GM spent (and lost) a substantial amount of money on Saab throughout the time of its ownership. Saab however resisted the level of integration needed with the other GM marques for what everyone in the Saab community will agree were “all the right reasons.” This reluctance to lower its standards to enable better integration with the parent company was also highlighted in the recent Top Gear tribute to Saab. Unfortunately this meant that GM was not able to integrate Saab into its product group the way Volkswagen was able to integrate Audi, for example.

Finally the story of Saab as a business is very well told in the paper. After reading Section II “A Brief History of Saab” I was amazed with how many facts about the company I actually knew, in part due to the serialized books that we have published in The Gryphon in the past on the company’s history. This brief history itself takes up 11 pages of the paper and does an excellent job of covering the company’s history and in particular the events of the two years under Spyker and Victor Muller.

Although the paper is written with all of the usual disciplines of academic research including a comparison of leading hypotheses with supporting evidence, references, etc., it is hard to escape the feeling that Matthias and Nick secretly care about the Saab marquee and that this project was a labour of love. Who Killed Saab Automobile is a must-read for all English-speaking Saab owners and enthusiasts.

Download the paper using the link below (or alternatively search on the paper’s title):

tinyurl.com/whokilledsaab