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June 28, 2012

SAAB's New Owner Gets Everything But SAAB's Naming and Branding

The news that the beleaguered SAAB brand might see light again as an electric car brought a smile to my face. It seemed, well, genius.

saab-griffin-logo.gifSAAB was always a kind of off-beat car for American drivers and its reintroduction as an eco-vehicle made sense, sort of like the news that the DeLorean might make a similar comeback.

The brand looks set to be controlled by a group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden or NEVS (ironically owned by a Chinese-Japanese investment group). So, it seemed that after a few false starts, a new SAAB with (sort of) a Swedish connection would hit the road.

And then reality struck. NEVS seems to own everything related to SAAB including the Trollhattan production facility, but not the right to use the SAAB name or griffin logo we all know and love.

The SAAB name is shared by Swedish defense company SAAB AB and the logo is used by SAAB related truck company Scania. And thus the SAAB story gets another setback as the whole attraction of the new SAAB vehicle would be in the name.

saabphoenixconcept.jpegChalk this up to another company learning the hard way that you may buy another company but you don't automatically get the name. NEVS will need to work with SAAB AB and Scania to come to an agreement on use of the SAAB name.

I have followed the demise of SAAB for years now, and once called the name the ultimate "anti-brand." I meant it in a good way. The brand has the kind of individualistic, exotic cache that Apple used to have. And the Swedish connection makes it even more exotic, even if it has Chinese-Japanese owners.

SAAB has been around since the 1940s and it is one of those car brands we would hate to lose. But as Autoblog says, "Not to state the obvious, but if you're going to buy an automaker, it's probably advisable to secure rights to use the name."

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Posted by William Lozito at June 28, 2012 8:30 AM
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