Most commentators blamed GM for not doing enough to bring out Saab’s full potential and said the Swedish centre-right government – which repeatedly said the state would not step in as owner – could not be blamed for Saab’s fate.
GM said in a statement Friday it would wind down Saab Automobile after failing to reach agreement with Dutch sports car maker Spyker on a sale of the Swedish unit, just three weeks after another luxury car maker, Koenigsegg of Sweden, withdrew its bid for Saab.
“It is a tragic but nonetheless not totally unexpected announcement that Saab will now be wound down,” Göteborgs Posten newspaper wrote, noting that the Swedish automaker had barely turned a profit in two decades under GM management.
“The government did what it could to facilitate a sale of Saab and kept the door open for loan guarantees,” Svenska Dagbladet wrote.
“Now that Saab has come to the end of the road and it’s time to write the epilogue, much of the blame will be placed on General Motors’ lame ownership,” it said.
On Friday, the Swedish government vowed to aid the 3,400 employees in Saab’s hometown of Trollhättan and the thousands of other subcontractors who will soon find themselves out of work – up to 8,000 according to some estimates.
But Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper cautioned against quick fixes to help the town of 55,000 deal with the blow.
“The government should keep a cool head. Dispensing money to build up replacement industries usually ends in failure,” DN wrote, recalling previous efforts after crises in the textile and shipbuilding industries.
GM’s decision was also a heavy blow to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government as it struggles in the polls ahead of Sweden’s general election in September, financial daily Dagens Industri noted.
The government has been lambasted recently over a reform of sickness benefits, leaving it trailing in the polls behind the opposition Social Democrats, who are seen as the founders and protectors of Swedes’ cherished welfare state.