General Motors just announced that the deal it had in place to sell Saab to Koenigsegg Group AB, a consortium led by Christian Von Koenigsegg, whose Koenigsegg Auto manufactures ultra-exotic supercars, has fallen apart. This does not bode well for Saab's future, which is now very much up in the air. In its brief press release, GM quotes CEO Fritz Henderson as saying that the automaker will "assess the situation and advise on the next steps next week."
Saab aficionados might take some solace in that, unlike when the Saturn deal collapsed, GM did not immediately announce the brand's termination. Still, it's hard to see why the General would keep Saab going, even with the somewhat eagerly-anticipated new 2011 Saab 9-5 (shown at left) waiting in the wings. Last month in the United States, Saab sold only 513 vehicles -- a 74% drop from the same period in 2008. Even Smart (661 cars in October) outsold Saab here. The numbers were just as ugly in Saab's home country of Sweden, where it moved just 588 cars. Overall, reviews for Saab's current vehicles are middling at best, with critics generally finding other cars that can do everything better.
It'll be interesting to see what solution (if any) GM cooks up to preserve Saab. It could try to roll it up into its larger European operation, Opel, which GM just backed out of selling. Honestly though, it's hard to envision a believable rationale for keeping the once-quirky Swedish automaker, and equally difficult to imagine many people (read: car shoppers) even noticing if the brand were to go away entirely.