DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Saab's heart still beats

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Saab is not producing cars any more but it hasn't abandoned its estimated 1.5 million customers.

The company's parts and service arm, Saab Automobile Parts AB, continued its expansion this week by opening a North American subsidiary to serve an estimated 500,000 Saab owners in United States and Canada. That's the largest concentration of Saab owners anywhere.

Saab Automobile Parts North America joins similar independent companies established in Great Britain and Sweden that serve an estimated 70 percent of the world's Saab owners.

Saab Automobile Parts, which is not part of the bankruptcy process that shut down the company's vehicle making unit, also provides technical support to about 1,200 workshops globally.

"Our mission is to take care of all Saab owners," Lennart Stahl, CEO of Saab Automobile Parts, told Automotive News Europe. He added that in countries such as Italy and Spain Saab continues to meet customers' needs through its national sales companies while in places such as Belgium it serves Saab owners through an independent importer.

Saab Automobile Parts also is keeping the company's Trollhaetten factory from collecting dust through an agreement that allows it to use the press and body shop to make replacement big parts. About 30 people are involved in producing hoods, doors and fenders at the plant.

So while Saab's future remains uncertain, at least the heart is still beating. Stahl is confident the patient won't be down for much longer. "There is no question that someone will take over the company," he said. "We expect to hear something in the coming weeks. It looks promising."

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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