Divergent fortunes of Saab, Volvo

Written by New York Times | Updated: Oct 26 2011, 07:46am hrs
On a gloomy, rainy afternoon, Rafael Hernandez, strained through his exercise routine, preparing for the day that he would return to work at the local Saab auto plant at Trollhanttan, Sweden.

Well be back at work soon, and I want to be ready, said Hernandez, a 10-year employee. He is a door adjuster in the body shop, and now works out six days a week. The Saab factory here has not produced any cars since April.

Just 62 miles to the south, in Gothenburg, the contrast is stark. There, Volvo is operating two shifts, churning out 54 cars an hour. That the outlook for the Swedish carmakers could be so different is partly testimony to diverging histories under former American owners GM for Saab, Ford Motor for Volvo. It also reflects their ensuing fortunes: Volvo found a deep-pocketed rescuer and Saab did not.