Greetings. I've been a loyal Saab and Volvo owner for many years. Loving the acceleration, handling, and quirkiness of Saabs, and appreciating the feeling of safety, comfort, and practicality of Volvos. Two very different and very remarkable brands from one equally remarkable country. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should note that my passion for these vehicles can probably be traced to the day I met my Swedish wife. The cars give me one more way to bond with Lisa's home, especially when we're not traveling in Sweden…where these two brands are hard to miss. I've even set the sound and information systems to operate in Swedish in my continuing effort (i.e., struggle) to master my adopted second language.
But now the world of Swedish cars is changing. Driven by the global "recession" and the ongoing and very dramatic restructuring of the automobile industry. After a less than perfect period of American ownership, Saab and Volvo have recently changed hands. Saab, the car company started in 1949 by aircraft engineers, was acquired by Spyker Cars N.V. of the Netherlands–a manufacturer of very high-end custom-made cars. But a company captivated by Saab's rich heritage, loyal customer base, and the possibility of reinvigorating it as a "premium" brand and enabling "Saab to build real Saabs again."
Volvo found a very different suitor–Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China. "Geely" is a growing Chinese automaker, but barely known in the rest of the world. In buying the 83 year-old Volvo brand, it envisioned becoming a far more credible global player while offering a line of higher-end cars for the fast growing Chinese market. And, as Volvo's fortunes declined over the past several years, this unusual combination became possible.
Two unique brands with rich histories and deep roots in the same Scandinavian country. Now part of a broader globalization of the auto industry in a time of great change. What will they look like five years from now? And, will their new owners inject the new capital, energy, and innovation that–combined with their past genius–creates a more successful future? There comes a time in the life of every company and organization when it needs fresh perspective and the infusion of new ideas and possibilities. Sometimes we figure it out on our own. Sometimes we need the help of others. (And sometimes we never get the chance.) It's a new day for two brands near and dear to my heart.
We win in business by continuing to strike a cord with our most loyal customers. And by finding partners who see us as something worth building on. Who will you align with in the year ahead? Your future success could hang in the balance.