Saab Automobile AB (/sɑːb/) is a defunct car manufacturer that was founded in Sweden in 1945 when its parent company, Saab AB, began a project to design a small automobile. The first production model, the Saab 92, was launched in 1949. In 1968 the parent company merged with Scania-Vabis, and ten years later the Saab 900 was launched, in time becoming Saab's best-selling model. In the mid-1980s the new Saab 9000 model also appeared.
In 1989, the automobile division of Saab-Scania was restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB. The American manufacturer General Motors (GM) took 50 percent ownership. Two well-known models to come out of this period were the Saab 9-3 and the Saab 9-5. Then in 2000, GM exercised its option to acquire the remaining 50 percent. In 2010 GM sold Saab Automobile AB to the Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V.
After many years establishing a sound engineering reputation and ultimately a luxury price tag, Saab failed to build its customer base beyond its niche following. After struggling to avoid insolvency throughout 2011, the company petitioned for bankruptcy following the failure of a Chinese consortium to complete a purchase of the company; the purchase had been blocked by the former owner GM, which opposed the transfer of technology and production rights to a Chinese company.
- Then there's power. There was a time when people cooed over Ferraris that developed 200 horsepower, whereas today 2.0 litre Escorts can manage that. It's almost impossible to buy a car that won't do a hundred. (If you really want one, various Mercedes diesels make a pretty good stab at it.) Then there's the environment. The Volkswagen Beetle could kill a rain forest at 400 paces whereas today's Golf trundles around with tulips coming out of its exhaust. The gas coming out of a Saab is actually cleaner than the air that went in. That's true, that is.
- Jeremy Clarkson, Born to be Riled (1999), p. 21
- I mean, it isn't as though the Saab badge stands for anything particularly dramatic. This fighter jet thing seems a bit weak somehow, and anyway it wasn't that long ago when Saab were selling their cars on the safety ticket. And before that, they were doing rallies. The result of all this haphazard marketing is that, today, the cars are almost completely image-free. And that, I suspect, is where their appeal lies. They are sold to people who don't wish to use their car as a style statement, people who simply need four wheels and a comfortable seat so that they may get to work as easily as possible... We're getting somewhere here, because if this is true it explains something else- no one has ever been carved up by a Saab. Think about it: has a Saab ever jumped a red light or tailgated you on the motorway? Have you ever seen a Saab being driven in anything other than a considerate and stealthy fashion? No, and neither have I. This is because the sort of people who are drawn to this image-free environment are the sort of people who don't use their subconscious to drive. They know that to do it properly they have to concentrate, absolutely, on the job in hand. So they do. And that's why they never carve us up.
- Jeremy Clarkson, Born to be Riled (1999), p. 176