Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Two Saab

All is quiet in Trollhättan. No Saab automobiles are being build. No salaries are paid to the workers. Now everyone is waiting for financial support from China.

The problem is that there are two Saabs with the same company name and very confusing logotypes that easily can be mixed up. When I speak to people in other countries they often ask me if the manufacturer of Gripen will be bankrupt soon. What they don´t understand is that the aircraft and the automobile manufacturer are not the same company any more. The Saab automobile museum give us some clues to that there are more than one user of the Gripen logo.

Aircraft manufacturer
In the beginning it was only the aircraft manufacturer Saab in Linköping. It was founded in 1937 as Svenska Aeroflygplan AB. In 1965 the name was changed to Saab AB. In 1967 Saab was merged with Scania-Vabis and the name of the company was changed to Saab-Scania AB.

The first Saab logo was with their first manufactured aircraft, the Saab B 17 dive-bomber. The second logo that was used for a long time on all cars was with their twin engined Saab B 18 Bomber.

Today Saab AB uses a very similar logo to Saab Automobile with the head of the Gripen in the center. This has nothing to do with the Gripen aircraft.

The symbol was introduced in 1984 and was the symbol for the then Saab-Scania group. This is the first Saab logo to reintroduce the head of the mythical Gripen, or Griffin, first seen on the AB Scania-Vabis logo.

Saab Automobile AB introduced the new corporate symbol of the red Gripen head and gold crown with the name SAAB in silver beneath it all contained within a blue roundel.

The heraldic Griffin's head - derived from the coats of arms of the Skåne and Östergotland counties in southern Sweden traditionally symbolizes vigilance.

This logo was officially introduced on 14th August 2000, just months after the complete takeover of Saab Automobile AB by General Motors.

Saab say that the corporate symbol "...has now been refined to reflect more clearly the strengthening brand name and a model range which is the most competitive ever produced by Saab."

Automobile manufacturer
After the second world war the Swedish government wanted that Saab manufactured other things besides aircraft in order to be a more financial stable company. The first car prototype was shown in 1947. In 1949 Saab started to manufacture cars in Trollhättan. In 1990 Saab Automobile was separated from the aircraft manufacturer and half of the company was sold to GM - General Motors. At the same time Scania was made into a separate company within the Wallenberg Investor industrial sphere. However Saab Automobile still used a lot of branding from the aircraft industry and a lot of the car commercials showed Saab aircraft. The owner Wallenberg wanted that the car industry kept the high-tech image from the aircraft industry. In 2000 GM bought the rest of the stocks in Saab Automobile. Even after this sell-out Saab automobile still kept using the aircraft industry connections in their commercials.

In December 2009 GM decides to close down Saab. The company is bought by the dutch car manufacturer Spyker in January 2010. 6 April 2011 the production stops at at Saab due to financial problems. The Chinese company Hawtai buys stocks in Spyker. 15 June 2011 Spyker change name to Swedish Automobiles and sold the Spyker car plant to CPP Global Holdings.

Unfortunately there is today not much left of the well known Saab Automobile brand with driving legends like Erik "Carlsson på taket". Saab even had a short time in formula racing.

Saab future
Unfortunately the dying Saab Automobile are dragging the other Saab companies into the dark and deep pits of bad brands. My recommendation would be to be very careful when talking about Saab and distinguish between the two companies by using the full names "Saab Automobile" and "Saab AB" that is divided in a number of sub-companies among them "Saab Aeronautics" that manufactures the Gripen aircraft. And if I were in charge of selling Saab Automobile I would not let the brand "Saab", now sold to China, to be used for second class cars

Note the Gripen aircraft on the display behind the car in the video above. Note also how Saab Automobile President Jan-Åke Jonsson uses the word "pilots" to connect the car design to aircraft design.

Saab AB lawyers has stated that the Saab brand can not be sold separately to any buyer without buying he entire automobile manufacturer. This is regulated in a contract between Saab AB, Saab Automobile and Scania.

It will be very difficult to think about quality in the future when one hear the name Saab. Maybe it is to late to save the brand Saab? Maybe Saab AB (or Saabgroup) should be renamed to Saab Defence to distinguish it more from Saab Automobile? "Release me" is maybe still a campaign that should be used by Saab to release the Saab logo and Saab brand from the Chinese?

These commercials clearly show the link between the car manufacturer Saab Automobile and the aircraft industry. Saab Automobile has always used their connection to the aircraft manufacturer Saab AB as a quality mark.

Lastly an "oldie, but goodie" from the historical archives. The Saab stunt group was used in the same way as aerobatic display teams to sell the Saab car brand.

Read more in "SAAB Aircraft since 1937" by Hans G Andersson, ISBN 0-85177-886-0.

Interesting articles about the Saab logos here, here and here.

SvD1, SvD2, SvD3, SvD4, SvD5, SvD6, SvD7, SvD8, SvD9, DN1, DN2, DN3, DN4, DN5, DN6, DN7, DN8


  1. Spyker has many similarities with Saab. It also used to be an aircraft manufacturer (under the brand Trompenburg) and it has also went bancrupt, twice. The Trompenburg aircraft was no match for Fokker.

    However the existing Spyker company was started in 1999. It has nothing to do with the original Spyker, except the name.

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