Saab Triumphs

saabThe Saab brand is back, producing two 9-3 Aero sedans per day, reports Christina Zander in The Wall Street Journal (12/3/13). Most automakers have to push out "dozens of vehicles per hour to be profitable," but of course Saab is a special case – and at the moment is far from profitable. The Saab nameplate is currently owned by National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, which is Chinese-backed. It plans to manufacture the 9-3 in Trollhattan, Sweden, and initially will be available for sale in Sweden only, although the long-term plan is to market an electric Saab in China.

For now, however, the cars are strictly gas-powered. If you want to test drive it, you have to travel to the Trollhattan factory, and if you want to buy it, you can only do so online "because a Saab dealer base no longer exists." If you want to buy the first car off the line, that’s not a possibility either because it will first "be shipped to China for a certification process" and "then travel back to Trollhattan, where it will end up at the Saab museum."

In other words, it’s still a very long road ahead for Saab. For starters, its new owner lost about $18.5 million during April and December of 2012. Figures for this year haven’t yet been released. It also must pay "suppliers — burned by the brand’s past – to get back on board after the plant in Trollhattan had sat idle for 2-1/2 years … the new owners of the brand had to invest ‘substantial amounts’ to regain their trust." Company officials are not making sales forecasts but, with production "now up and running" it says it "can make promises on prices and delivery times."

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