Friday, December 16, 2005

Amen to that Pierre! While my ride was not nearly as hellacious as Pierre's last Friday, it did take me close to two hours to commute home on a ride that never takes more than 25 minutes. As I sat steaming in traffic in Belmont, I finally decided to take the chance that my 9-5 could get through the 8 inches of slush and snow that were all over the roads up Belmont Hill. I really had no right getting up that hill, but to my utter amazement the snow tires and the Saab technology not only got me up and over the Hill, but that Ford Expedition in front of me was getting in my way! Truly amazing. I had Route 2 all to myself since everyone else was stuck on Route 60.
GET SNOW TIRES! They get you through the snow, save your expensive wheels and rims from potholes and winter crud (and give you a few extra years on your 3-season tires since the miles won't pile up as fast), and heck we even install them free during Novembers for you!
And yes, we live in New England. It snows. Embrace it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mostly I Love Winter, Except for....
Unlike a lot of New Englanders, I love winter. Really love it. OK, I hate the short days....but otherwise I love the cold, and it can never snow too much. As it was when I was a kid, I'm even disappointed when I see a snow storm coming to an end. I don't understand others around here who whine about winter.... "It's too cold!"...... "I hate snow!" SHUT UP AND MOVE.
In the past two weeks, we have had a bit of snow. Now I'll get into what irks me this time of year. First, on the eve of the first snowfall, we are inundated by people who want their snow tires installed. Not being magicians, we can't accommodate everyone all at once. What is the matter with these people? When November was finished on their calendars, did they think they were going to flip the page and find July? So they wait, have an epiphany watching the Weather Channel, and are outraged when we won't drop everything to get their bloody snow tires done right away. BASTA! Here's a hint to those I have described above: if you make it to Thanksgiving with no snow, consider yourself lucky and pick up the phone the next day and make an appointment to get your snow tires installed.
Next irksome thing about winter? People driving their cars around with bald summer tires. First, if these happen to be Saabs we have to endure inane complaints about how their cars stink in the snow, how their warning lights are all on, blah blah blah. These same people are outraged that they should deign use snow tires. Next time, they say, they'll buy an AWD this or that....And when they do, if they drive around with bald tires, perhaps they'll realize that no matter what technology you have, you can't undo physics. Slippery roads are slippery roads. Put slippery tires on slippery roads....I don't care if you have 20 wheel drive, you still can't steer or stop so going is not of much use.
The drivers, in Saabs or otherwise, who drive on baloney skin tires in winter should be drawn and quartered, or at least spanked, for endangering the rest of us and causing catastrophic chaos on the roads. During the December 9 storm, I left as I am scheduled to at 2pm in the hopes of arriving in Ipswich by 4:30 to start my teaching. As I proceeded in white out conditions at a slow pace, I heard the traffic reports. My normal route, Route 1, was impassable--meaning that some blokes with baloney skin tires were stuck part way up the hill. I took the Mass Pike to the Ted Williams Tunnel and planned a route taking me via Route 1A and 107, and then making my way to Route 1 at Walnut Street in Saugus. Great plan! I proceeded fine, albeit slowly, until I arrived at the end of the tunnel at Logan. The traffic stopped. And there I sat. And sat. And sat. At long last traffic started to move, and we never knew why. My guess? The ramp from the tunnel to 1A has an incline--mix that with fierce snow and baloney skin tires, and we all end up sitting. I was in the mouth of the tunnel for an hour and a half, and proceeded slowly thereafter. Later in my journey, as I descended Walnut Street to 1, I learned the true evil of baloney skin shod cars. A car attempting to ascend the hill was stuck, spinning its bald tires in futility. Not only did the traffic behind that car back up out of sight, but this froze the movement on the exit ramps from Route 1 in both directions. So one idiot, who probably complains that she hates winter and that her car is no good in the snow, ties up a significant roadway, plus another roadway in both directions. See? You just need one dolt at each interchange, and the entire vehicular world comes to an amazing halt.

My 40 mile ride took me 5 hours (less the 30 minute break I took). I missed out on my students that day. Why? Baloney skins....

Friday, December 02, 2005

Saab Scores Big with Active Head Restraints

Saab has a great reputation for safety, but it often gets overlooked due to the fact that Volvo has quite masterfully positioned themselves as the 'owner' of the safety message. But if you know and understand Saabs, you feel quite comfortable as you experience New England roads and New England drivers.

So it was great to see the news that Saab scored top marks in a test of car seats by Thatcham, a research group of British Insurers. In the tests, Thatcham measured car seats and looked at the position of the head restraints compared to the head of the dummy; in a dynamic test the seat with the dummy was mounted on a sled, which was accelerated in 0.1 seconds to 10 mph to study the effects of a rear-end collision.

Seats with the Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) fared better than all others in the tests. Statistics of the insurance claims show that there were 42% fewer complaints of whiplash after collisions with the Saab 9-3 with SAHR, compared to its predecessor without this system.

The survey also showed that only 16% of the cars scored "good" and 36% scored "poor" when it comes to head and neck restraints and protection.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Swedish Car Day
This year's sixth running of Swedish Car Day was a smashing success. Coming on the heels of ten straight days of heavy rain, we actually had some blue sky and reasonable temperatures. Unfortunately, the windspeed about matched the temperature, and having any event in heavy wind is not ideal. I did point out to the fellow from the Larz Anderson Auto Museum that the registration tent was not really needed, given that the rains had stopped. But he was hell-bent on us having a tent. And a grand tent it was--heavy gauge steel tubular frame, and about 10' x 20'. About 30 minutes before the event started, a huge gust lifted that tent (with a dozen of us working under it!) straight up, and then sent it hurtling into a parked truck, which inflicted a huge dent on its roof and shattered a side window. No one was hurt. The truck belonged to the museum. Whew!
While not the best attended SCD, it was one of the best. Every year I have gone to Saab looking for them to contribute display cars. Some years they sent a car or two from their training center in Connecticut, and usually we had to provide the transportation for those cars. Some might remember the "push-me-pull-you" 900, two 900 front halves spliced together, or the Skip Barber 1980's race car. But they never sent the really cool stuff, because it was holed up in Georgia, and we had to be embarrassed every year by Volvo North America, for they would bring grand collections of antique Volvo's to display. This year, the tables turned.
At the Saab Owners Convention, I lobbied every Saab Cars employee I knew, and some I didn't, to press the case for having Saab's collection sent to SCD for the first time. Chip Wilkerson from Saab was designated by his comrades as my point man. When I returned from the convention I started sending him information and pictures and pleaded for help. One week before the event I still had no confirmation that anything was coming. Finally, the Wednesday before I was given an assurance that "some cars" from the collection would make it to Brookline on Sunday. On Saturday morning, I got a message that a tractor trailer of cars had left Michigan (the Saab collection is now a part of the GM Heritage Collection--which is a very good thing). One trailer fits about 5 cars, so I was really happy.
When I arrived at the museum at dawn on Sunday morning, I was shocked and thrilled to see not one but TWO trailers being off loaded. The collection was amazing: 5 two-stroke cars including the ultra-rare Sonett 1 (one of six built, one of five remaining), two Talladega speed/distance record cars, an original 900 Convertible, a Pike's Peak racer and Monte Carlo racer that Erik Carlsson raced to victory at the RAC rally in Britain. The GM Heritage team has restored these vehicles beautifully, and has done ultra due diligence in learning about the cars. They run them, pamper them, and love to show them off. Our good fortune was to have former Saab technical guru John Moss (a perennial participant at SCD) who intimately knows every car in the collection give a walking tour and technical description of each car. What a delight that was.
Otherwise it was a grand time with old friends and new acquaintances. There seemed to be an extra air of excitement this year, and I got a rousing ovation when I suggested a competitive rally next year between Volvo and Saab owners. Have to start dreaming up that one soon!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Never Say Never....
As my venerable 1988 9000T was amassing needed repairs that I could not justify in terms of their expense, I started looking for a replacement. Indeed, I thought the replacement was already in my driveway. My wife has for years adored her 1993 9000 Aero and would not let me have it no matter what I proposed as a replacement. That all changed when her car was in for repair and she had a chance to drive a 9-5 Wagon for several days. It was even an automatic, something she has never really driven, even growing up. In fact, her parents have three cars, and two of them have a third pedal. But she grew fond of the shiftless experience, found that while not as fast or sexy or edgy as her Aero, that the 9-5 was vastly more comfortable and pleasurable to drive. So I set about finding her an appropriate car, with visions of the Aero finally becoming my ride. And then.....
A lovely 1993 900T was traded in. I had never considered that I might own one of these again. The newest ones are 12 years old, most need a lot of work to make them road-worthy, and did I really want to own one of these again. With their leaking heater valves, clutch pedal linkages that wear out, balky shifters, steering column joints that seize, rattles and squeaks galore....who needs all that? Right? But then I drove it. I listened to it (no car comes close to the lovely baritone gurgle that the Classic 900T emits from its tailpipe). I savored the upright driving position, the shifter that grazes your right thigh, the mechanical feel and sound throughout the car that makes it seem oh-so 20th century, and I was hooked.
We did a little fixing up, got the turbo boosting properly, fixed the steering and got a cover for the cracking dash top. Added some side outlet vent covers (the last ones Saab had!), wheels from a 1995 Super CS, replaced some badges and gave the car a proper detailing. Voila! I am now the proud owner of a truly fine old Saab. It's not as fast or comfortable as my 9000, but it is a hoot to drive, in a funky-Saab sort of way.
So for the moment my wife keeps her Aero. I have to wait to get my hands on that car. Already, though, my older sons (who share a 91 900S) have started to lobby. "...and if you get mom the 9-5 and you drive the Aero and then we can have the 900T. Right Dad?" I don't think so. But, never say never.....

Friday, August 19, 2005

SportCombi News from Saab Owners Convention 2005
Last week a contingent from the Charles River Saab and Saab City family went to Stratton, Vermont to attend the 2005 Saab Owners Convention. With the density of Saabs in the Northeast, this was one of the best attended conventions, at somewhere around 550 particpants. While I saw many familiar faces and cars, mostly from Swedish Car Day, there was much for me to see that I had never seen before. I had my first experience seeing a 1956 Sonett 1, one of only six in the world, and the only one in private hands in the US. By the way, there is one available in Germany, for a mere $210,000. I also had a chance to see, hear and smell a 1950 Saab 92. This is a two-cylinder, two-stroke, suicide-doored car, and the one at the convention is the oldest registered Saab in the US. There were other fascinating cars, some heavily modified beauties and beasts, and a portable dynomometer was kept busy looking for the torque and horsepower kings of the event. Both turned out to be 9000's, one producing 388 lb/ft of torque, and another 335 hp.
Saab Cars USA was very active in this event. Much of the top brass attended, including new top-dog Jay Spenchian. They brought with them the collection of antique Saabs, along with a fleet of 9-7x and 9-3 SportCombi for test drives. My turn came in a beautiful blue SportCombi Aero with the new 2.8 V6 turbo and 6-speed automatic transmission. Oh, what a nice car. And when you want it, what a nasty beast. I was very happy to find that this car has a terrific baritone exhaust roar when under load. Plus, this car is even better looking in person than in print, especially without the roof rails. Inside scoop--the clear taillamps that have been deleted for US consumption are illegal only in California, so Saab will offer them as an accessory everywhere else! If you'd like to see this car ahead of its launch, we are expecting to have them at Swedish Car Day on October 16!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

9-7X Through the eyes of a Saab Junkie
Dealers have been screaming for Saab to get into the SUV game for years. Saab loyalists have decried the notion of a Saab SUV. Having an interest in both sides of this dichotomy, I chose to forgo judgment until I could see and drive the 9-7X. It is true, I do not like the notion of an SUV, especially one based on a truck platform. They are, by nature, too inefficient and unsafe to justify their enormous popularity. That they sell well does not give them a raison-d'etre. Lots of people buy cigarettes and eat at McDonald's.......
But if the world is to have truck-based SUVs, let's say, for towing a camper or large boat, this is certainly a reasonable alternative in its milieu. While there is still too much GM360 in its styling, the overall effect of the 9-7X is pleasing. It is handsome, inside and out, and while I could do with fewer varieties of plastics inside, most of the pieces seem of good quality. The driving experience is good. Handling is sure, steering is precise, brakes are strong. But I have some beefs....
Foremost, there are no Saab specific safety features in this truck. That the 9-7X was introduced without ESC is shameful (but it becomes standard in 2006). Where are the active headrests? Where are the pendulum B-pillars and triple-load-path crumple zones?
Then there is the power train. The 4.2l six is a nice, modern engine, if not especially Saab. But a 5.3l pushrod V8? Doesn't belong in a Saab. GM has a nifty 5 cylinder turbo truck engine--that would have made sense. How about a turbo diesel variant? That would be different!
Then there is the styling. Handsome, OK. Much too GM360 from the side and rear, though. Why not have modeled the 9-7X after a Scania truck, giving it a neo-industrial rugged look, then add the turbo-diesel engine, some safety features....
When I think of other truck based premium SUVs, I think of the Lexus GX470, Range Rovers, and some pricier domestics. In that context, I think the 9-7X is an outstanding value. Otherwise, I suppose it falls into the category of necessary evil.
Now the SportCombi.....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I second Phil's observations!
You see? All we need to do is get people around Saabs and behind the wheel a few times, and they're hooked--even if they've been driving Volvos for years. And when Phil came over from the dark-side, he took no prisoners. He didn't mess around with a 9-3 this or Linear that. Nooooo. He went right for the ne plus ultra--9-5/Aero/navigation/every package. Good for Phil!
We do hear a fair amount of moaning that the 9-5 is a tired design. But this is our history! The Classic 900: 15 years. The 9000: 13 years. And people are kvetching about a 6 year old car being stale? Clearly, the problem is that people don't own cars the way they once did. In those old times, you bought a Saab, kept it to the point when most people would trade it in, maybe 4 years or so, and realize: "Why should I trade this car in? It's paid for, runs great, looks timeless, still drives wonderfully.... and it's paid for!" And this would go on for years and years, and perhaps after 8-10 years when they wanted a new car, there was something really new to look at. Not these days. Leases. Two-three years and your out. So you leased a 1999 9-5, another in 2002, and now you come into the showroom and find a car that has some refinements and content you didn't have before, but it looks and feels identical. That's the conundrum. Here's mine. If I were king of the world, or of Saab, anyway, and I could chose what to do with the car, what would I change? Hmmm.....Engine? Nope. Transmissions? Nope. Chassis? Well, maybe add some spring stiffness. Brakes? Nope. Interior? Nope. Anything missing? Not for me, but there are those who gullible souls who insist on AWD, but since I'm king and contrarian, no the car does not get AWD. The point is, on a car that works so well--not just each system, but holistically, what would we change? True, the exterior styling looks a little dated now and that change is coming in the fall, and some of the 9-5 wheels look dopey. But that's it. I love the 9-5. I wish it were slightly larger in the rear seat ala the 9000, but other than that, there is no Saab and very few other cars of any marque that matches it for tactile ambient quality.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My New Saab
I must admit it - until 6 weeks ago I was not driving a Saab. Yes, I was driving another Swedish brand when I started working here, and the lease didn't run out until this Spring. But with that confession out of the way, I have to run on for a bit about the Saab 9-5 Aero and what a great car it is.

One of the unfortunate tendencies of American culture these days is our obsession with all things 'new'. You see it in the car business all the time - if a car design is more than a year or two old, then the vehicle is viewed as an also-ran. Saab markets these 9-5's that are 6 years into their perceived life cycle, so of course they aren't heading up any best selling lists. But I think if consumers got past their fixation with 'new', there would be a lot more 9-5's on the road.

The 9-5 is truly a great automobile. I knew I was driving something special the first hard corner I dove the car into. And the car can move; a great local test is to head up the Route 2 hill in Arlington and see how quickly you can accelerate up the incline. Trust me, this car passed the test. Boy, does it pass the test! The car is as solid as can be, and when I feel as comfortable buckling my kids in the back seat as I did in my old Volvo, then you have something of merit.

And what about this design is 'old' anyhow?! Great profile on the outside, big alloy wheels, Xenons, great radio and navigation system, fantastic Swedish seats, an automatic transmission with manual option, dripping with horsepower and torque, great mileage for its size, trip computer, night panel option, huge trunk, functional design, etc... Throw in the fact that the car actually looks unique - unlike pretty much every other luxury sedan in the marketplace - and it doesn't seem very 'old' to me.

If you are in the market for a sedan that moves, handles quite well, and is functional, comfortable, solid and quite safe, then you're not going to do much better for your dollars than a 9-5.

Off the soapbox now...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

La Reine est Morte...Vive le Roi!
Ding dong the witch is dead...I won't contain my glee. During her tenure as the COO of Saab Cars USA, I never publicly criticized Debra Kelly-Ennis. As of her departure on April 1, 2005, she is fair game. Perhaps it is unfair to criticize her as much as it is those who installed her as the US leader of Saab. Her automotive CV was dubious to begin with. She came to Saab from Oldsmobile, which she was entrusted to close down. Is it any wonder the Saab world greeted her like the Grim Reaper? Then she had the audacity (I'll give her that) to try to communicate with the Saab faithful, which only created more resentment toward the current direction of the brand. I haven't come across too many fans of hers, including those who worked for her.
To the Saab enthusiast, any Saab president (or COO, CEO GM or whatever the nom du jour is)has large and legendary shoes to fill. Saab's first president was Ralph Millet, the Hingham resident who first brought Saab to these shores. The most notable president, and perhaps the most successful was Bob Sinclair during the Orange, Connecticut years. Bob had enormous charisma, loved cars, loved Saab and had to testicular fortitude to make bold decisions. When Sweden sent him a 900 2 door coupe in the early 1980s and asked him for suggestions on improvements, he attacked it with a saw, cutting off the roof and creating the 900 convertible. He was respected, maybe even revered, by the Saab enthusiasts, employees and dealers alike. My favorite Bob Sinclair quote: "We're not in the automobile business. We're in the expensive toy business." While modern business suits would scoff at that attitude, it might be pointed out that this quote was made at the absolute height of Saab popularity.
Saab has had a revolving door on its front office since Sinclair's retirement. We were fond of Dan Chasins because he was the last Saab Cars insider to reach the top. Joel Manby was a hit because he had great charm and poise, was a car guy and damn, he was a good looking guy. Many others were forgettable, as I have forgotten them.
So, the new GM at Saab is Jay Spenchian. His recent experience is with Cadillac, and that division surely has done well with its product as of late. I welcome Mr. Spenchian with open arms, I wish him all the best, and truly hope that he is the answer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

At a Northeast Region Aftersales conference last week at Foxwoods we were treated to an introduction to the 9-7x. I am no fan of any vehicle in this segment (except maybe the MB G-Wagon in its early iteration with a diesel engine, rubber floor mat and manual everything--this truck was never imported), but even I had to admit that the 9-7x is handsome. Fortunately, the styling works. Where the 9-2x looks like a Saab only from the front, and a Subaru from every other angle, the 9-7x does not look like its sibling GM360 stable mates at all. The complete absence of moulding and cladding from its flanks contributes to this, making the profile, while not especially Saab, more importantly, not especially Envoy/Trailblazer.
The interior is a different matter. Overall, it's well done. I appreciate, that as opposed to the 9-2x that has no Saab DNA in its interior, that the 9-7x interior designers made an effort here, with mixed results. The ignition in the console, the 9-5 cupholder in the dash, the color of the wood, the design of the dash vents, and even the printing on the dash switches all look very Saab. However, you can't just pull an instrument pod, no matter how good and how complete, out of the parts bin and fool people. This is my biggest complaint in a 9-2x as well. Speedometer in the center, tachometer to the left, other gauges to the one oval pod. Same goes for the shifter and steering wheel. They're OK, but I've seen them before, and where the driver will have such intimate contact with them, they should have been more Saab as well.
I did not get a chance to drive the 9-7x. I really want to. I want to like this truck. Of all the trucks in its segment (full frame SUV with solid rear axle), it is clearly the best looking and perhaps is the best driving.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Le Roi est mort!
On the heels of the announced failure of Saab's Trollhattan plant to garner future production of mid-size Saab-Opel-Vauxhaul automobiles (which came just after the good news that Trollhattan had been chosen to produce the Cadillac BLS) which means that production at that plant may cease after 2010, Peter Augustsson, President of Saab Cars, has resigned. The reason cited in the Financial Times was his desire to embark on a project to start his own business development company. Sounds suspicious to me. He has been replaced by Carl-Peter Forster (President of GM Europe) as Chairman of the Board.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Russelsheim Defeats Trollhattan
Sounds like a sports headline, no? Unfortunately, the stakes were a bit higher. Saab's factory in Trollhattan was competing with the Opel factory in Russelsheim, Germany for the "contract" to build future mid-size GM Europe products (Saab, Opel and Vauxhaul). Word came last Friday that Russelsheim was the winner. This is not totally unexpected, given that this is GM's largest European plant, in the country with the largest population, and Germany is on the euro and Sweden is not. What does this mean? As forecast now, presumably, Trollhattan will continue its current production, plus add the newly released Europe-only Cadillac BLS--which based on a 9-3 platform--until 2010, and then production would be consolidated at Russelsheim. Is Trollhattan doomed? Maybe, but maybe not. While the next 9-3, and maybe 9-5 might be built in Germany, there may be other products on the horizon that might make use of the Trollhattan facility. So many things can change, though, that everything prognosticated here, in the press and even people at GM, is entirely subject to change. What fun!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Saab Rumor Mill is Turbocharged
2005 has seen the Saab brand in the news with great frequency. Not, unfortunately, because of any ground breaking technology or sales records. Rather, the fate of our beloved Saab seems rather uncertain.
The startling news that GM was considering closing Saab started the fever pitched rumors. That rumor was explained away as a mixup and that GM was only considering the shuttering of Trollhattan. Now, in a much more plausible scenario, the latest rumors out of Europe are that GM is secretly negotiating for the sale of Saab. Of course they deny this. Question is, what are secretly trying to sell? The Trollhattan factory? Or the Saab brand itself?
If Trollhattan is indeed to close and the brand stays within the GM portfolio, as GM's only global premium car division, look for many diverse GM products to wear the Saab moniker. Besides Saabarus and Saablazers, maybe we'll have a Saab/Cadillac, called the 9CTS5, or a version of the Opel Kappa, we could call it the 9K, and maybe a Saab/Hummer.....OK, I'll stop.
The current rumor purports that GM is in negotiation with a Chinese buyer and with Renault. Renault was in the hunt for Saab many years ago, and at the time, I was not enthused about that possible marriage. Both companies seemed in disarray. But now, with Carlos Ghosen at the helm and Nissan in the Renault family, that company is producing a large array of dynamic and exciting vehicles, and their perfomance in the marketplace has been impressive. Imagine then if Saab had access to, lets say, a full complement of Nissan/Renault chassis to work upon, including light trucks, SUVs, AWD platforms, vans, sports cars and sedans. Imagine if Saab had access to some of the best new diesel technology. I like the possibilities! The Chinese bid? I'm not so sure.
In any event, stay tuned and let's see what the future brings for Saab!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cool Stuff Coming
If you don't have your ear to the rail, I just wanted to mention some fun stuff coming out of the Saab pipeline. 2005 is going to be a pretty good year for Saab if everything promised gets delivered.
Most everyone knows the 9-7X is coming in April. I won't be too excited by it, but that is a matter of preference. I just don't like trucks posing as passenger cars. They do fill a need, though, and even in the era of $2/gallon gasoline, they are still desirable. The 9-7X will certainly be one of the nicest truck-based SUVs, and if one has a large boat or camper to pull, this will be a swell way to do it.
Real news--the 9-3 Sport Hatch, or Sport Combi (hearkening back to the 99 hatchback in the 1970s) bows this year. The pictures are gorgeous, very sexy. Plus, the Aero version gets a 2.8 litre V6 turbo producing 280 hp. It will probably torque steer like crazy, and damn the auto-writers, torque steer means your having fun! Bring it on!
The 9-5 is going to have a revision in 2005. There hasn't been anything leaked about this, so I don't know what to expect. Would Saab leave its flagship with less power than the new 9-3 Sport Hatch? Maybe this will force them to ratchet up the power there. Navigation is already available in 2005 (it is pricey but works very nicely).
The 9-6X (a joint venture with Fuji, aka the Saabaru II) is still some time away but pictures have started to surface. I doubt the authenticity of any of them in this age of Photoshop, but this car-based SUV does look interesting to me.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Adjo Saab?
Unless you read the British publication Financial Times, you likely missed the story that had everyone in the Saab sphere reeling a few weeks ago. It was reported in that respected periodical that GM was doing a study on the viability of Saab, which would be completed by March, whose conclusion might be that GM would close Saab down. Needless to say, those of us who have hitched our professional wagons to Saab were mortified.
The recanting has been fierce, and the revised story, which is not news, is that GM has overcapacity in both Trollhattan in the Saab plant and in Russellsheim, Germany, where Opels built on the same platforms are produced. One of these factories will likely close. The Saab plant is newer and enjoys excellent efficiency. However, the Swedes are not on the Euro and as strong as it is, the krona is stronger, which contributes to high cost of production.
If GM is to be believed at this point, it is the Saab plant in Sweden, not the brand, that is danger of closing.
This would seem to make sense, given that we have two new products being released this year--hardly what you'd do if you were about to hang a going-out-of-business sign on the brand. There is also another joint venture with Fuji on a brand new product (for Saab and Subaru), and talk again of a more European 92X. We shall see....

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Can anyone clean the snow off their cars these days? Every time that it snows I am stunned by the number of people who drive around with their vehicle ensconced in snow and ice. Isn't it hard to drive when you can't see out the windows? Don't you realize how inherently dangerous it is to other drivers when the snow eventually dislodges as you drive (and it does, since I can personally attest to how scary and infuriating it is when a 4-foot block of ice comes smashing down on your car's roof on Route 2)? Isn't it a bad thing when you stop short and the snow on your roof slides down over your windshield? Am I missing something here?!
And what really irks me is the number of truck and SUV and minivan drivers who can't get a snowbrush out. Come on - if you want to drive something tall, the rules about being conscientious to other drivers don't go away because it is harder to get up to the roof to clean off the snow!
We are all too busy, it is nasty out, but take a few minutes and clean your car off!