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Despite automaker’s troubles, should I buy a Saab?

Consumer Reports News: May 12, 2011 03:03 PM

Most of the auto industry has emerged from the so-called auto crisis that brought Chrysler Corp. and General Motors to their knees, but Saab continues to struggle. New owners Spyker Cars signed a deal with a Chinese partner and benefactor Chinese Hawtai Motor Group, who would invest in the company and open Asian production and distribution opportunities. That deal has since been nixed, and Spyker is now reportedly in talks with Great Wall Motor. So, where does that leave car buyers?

Honestly, Saab buyers are in a tough place. The brand shows hope in its products, with the all-new 9-5 on the market setting a new tone, followed by the 9-4X SUV and 9-5 SportCombi. At the New York auto show, the company displayed its futuristic Phoenix concept car, signaling the potential for a company poised to rise from the ashes of being expunged from General Motors during its bankruptcy-driven brand purge.

The reality is, the company’s fate remains uncertain, creating risks for current and prospective car owners. Production is currently halted, as Saab seeks short-term funding and debt relief. As we have seen before, such turmoil can impact resale values and down-turned business can hurt dealerships and potentially lead to closings and diminished support—all things that do not enhance the ownership experience.

Should Saab go under, could Spyker provide parts and service to support current owners for years to come? Hard to predict, but when infinitely larger GM was looking to do the same, we cautioned buyers about an uncertain future. The message should be stronger and clearer now.

Exercise caution when considering a Saab until the business is back on its wheels. For now, there are simply better alternatives that do not carry undue risks.

Jeff Bartlett

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