With sales plummeting, and parent General Motors distracted by its home-market woes, Saabs best future is as a spun-off organization, dealers and company insiders said.
But with no buyers in sight, the ability of the Swedish automaker to be truly autonomous is hampered.
Spinning off Saab would allow it to return to its roots and speed up the introduction of urgently needed new models.
It also could allow Saab to bring production back to its home Trollhättan factory in Sweden.
GM wants to turn struggling Saab into a separate business, with control of its own finances and decision-making.
GMs cash burn makes it almost impossible for it to give Saab money to go it alone.
Saab is a brand that needs a lot of focus, it needs to be more authentic again a GM source said.
GM COO Fritz Henderson said the automaker is working with the Swedish government on a plan to help Saab.
Were engaged with the Swedish government as we speak. Weve talked to investors and well see where it goes, Henderson said.
Uncertainty has surrounded the Swedish brand since GM put it under review in December.
Gary Clay, head of the UK Saab dealers council, said Saabs ownership situation needs to be resolved quickly.
From a dealer perspective it does not help to have uncertainty. It does not sound good to have a strategic review going on, Clay said. He believes the best outcome would be if GM remained a strategic partner, with a new owner backed by the Swedish government.
Dealers have suffered as Saabs global sales fell 25 percent to 93,338 cars last year.
It is a miracle we have been able to sell as many cars as we have, said Allesandro Zamperdi, CEO of the Zamperdi Commerciale Saab dealership in Brescia, Italy.
Saab is a strong brand, but it needs a quicker flow of vehicle redesigns, Zamperdi said. The current Saab 9-5 has gone 12 years in its current iteration, as redesigns have been repeatedly delayed.
Said Zamperdi: It was always restyling and more restyling of the existing models without developing real new products.
Negotiations are under way to keep the next 9-5 at Trollhättan, rather than moving it to Opels plant in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Saab also wants the 9-3 cabriolet brought home from the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria.
Saab backers believe sales could eventually rise to 150,000 to 170,000 units -- at which point the brand can be self-sustaining.