C6 – Saab

This chapter recounts the history of Saab Cars from its inception as a division of the Swedish aircraft in the 1940s, though its 20 year ownership by General Motors between 1990 and 2010, its brief ownership by Dutch sports car maker Spyker and finally its bankruptcy in late 2011. We also examine subsequent attempts by its new owner, NEVS, to use Saab as a basis for the production of electric cars. The Saab story graphically illustrates the challenge of simultaneously achieving distinctiveness and the economies of scale necessary to ensure viability, and the difficulties that mass market companies may have in managing premium brands.


Selected Quotes

“The Saab story can be seen as a failed attempt on the part of a niche producer and a global giant to satisfactorily resolve the underlying tension between the dual needs of distinctiveness in the market and economies of scale in design and production”. (p.214)

“Saab’s failure does not appear to have been rooted in a dramatic lack of capability to design and build cars. Some readers might find this position uncomfortable, or even difficult to believe – surely if a company designs and makes good products, it will succeed?” (p.215)