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GM Plans to Keep Saab, Hummer
General Motors is going through a cataclysmic change, one that will certainly pull the company out of its current financial plight or result in bankruptcy, even the possible dissolution of the company. In a quest to right the listing ship, the company is divesting itself of several brands including its share of Isuzu, Fuji Heavy Industries [Subaru], and others. As far as its wholly owned brands, speculation has been rife that one, two, maybe even three brands might be discontinued or sold. Two of the most talked about makes for possible divestment are Hummer – the niche military-style SUV brand – and Saab – the Swedish automaker. Although both brands are currently fairly weak, GM has maintained that the two makes will not only survive, but receive fresh product and backing. Let’s take a look at two of GM’s most vulnerable brands and what the company may have in store for each one.
Saab -- Saab enthusiasts have been highly disappointed ever since General Motors snapped up the Swedish automaker back during the early 1990s. Admirer’s hopes that the brand would receive some deep pocket support haven’t quite worked out the way many would have wanted it to. Instead, the Saab brand is simply a shell of its former self with most models based on other automaker’s platforms including the Subaru inspired 9-2x and the GMC inspired 9-7x. Saab’s future more than likely rests with Opel, GM’s big European brand based in Germany. Future production of some Saab cars is likely to go to Germany with rebadged Opels being sold as Saabs.
For the long term, look for every single Saab model to based on someone else’s technology, effectively ending what was once a unique Swedish brand. Hummer -- Desert Storm gave rise to the Humvee and soon after the war ended, the AM General company began to produce civilian versions of its military vehicle to fulfill consumer demand. By the late 1990s, General Motors bought out the rights to the Hummer name, but GM still relies on AM General to produce the two largest models, while building the H3 itself. Despite intentionally low sales, the Hummer name has managed to thrive. Celebrities, financial moguls, and everyday citizens have been attracted to the brand which has given GM a bit of a “halo” effect. With gas prices surging, demand will certainly drop for the larger Hummers, but GM may counter that with stronger emphasis on the H3 and the development of the H4, a vehicle reportedly much like the compact Jeep Wrangler. Of course, not everyone is happy with GM’s plans with the two brands, but then again these aren’t normal times for the struggling automaker. In time, GM’s plans may be refined and Saab could still be sold, especially if Swedish interests step forward. In all, GM is attempting to right its listing ship without peeling off too many brands. Will it work? That is hard to say, but if you are a fan of the GM you certainly hope that it will.
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