If there's one thing GM doesn't do well, it's learn from history. There's an article on MSNBC about the fate of Saab, talking about the possibility of the marque disappearing. It's not very likely, and it would be a shame, but it illustrates my point. From the Cadillac Cimarron until today, GM just never see's the patterns.

 According to GM insiders, the company remains unclear what the Saab brand stands for. The typical customer is an academic - and, says one executive, "the question is, are there enough university professors to make the investments worthwhile?"

 Saab is easy to understand, if you're Swedish. When the rest of the world was using rear-drive platforms, there was Saab using front wheel drive. When the V8 was king, Saab was using a turbocharged four. Everyone put the ignition somewhere near the steering column, except Saab. Things are done differently at Saab, or at least they used to be.

 Saab has lost money in all but one of the past 10 years and GM has steadily reduced its autonomy over the past 18 months. Manufacturing, engineering and most design decisions are now controlled by GM Europe executives, based in Germany or Switzerland, reducing Saab's local management to controlling branding and marketing.

 Everything that made Saab what it was has been destroyed, "centralized" in GM's view to save money. A Saab is no longer a Saab, it's now a warmed over Opel or Subaru or (gulp) Chevrolet. The point in having different brands is to attract different customers. Taking one platform and using it for several marques has not worked in the past for GM ( a'la Cadillac Cimarron), why should it work today?

 Saturn used to be nearly autonomous in the GM world, but as that autonomy has diminished, so has the Saturn brand. Big suprise that the same thing has sappened with Saab. Everything GM has done has been in the name of saving money and better profits, but it's had the opposite effect.

 It's already over for Saab. Something unique in the automotive world is now gone, and it will never be back. It was nice knowing you Saab.


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