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Saab honours ‘Save Saab’ activist

Thankyou: Saab enthusiast Steven Wade receives the inaugural Saabs United Award from Saab Automobile CEO Jan Ake Jonsson.

Aussie’s efforts to save Saab boomerang back in new award from Saab CEO

12 Aug 2010

AN Australian Saab enthusiast who helped to mobilise a global grass-roots ‘Save Saab’ campaign via the internet has been honoured by Saab Automobile CEO Jan Ake Jonsson in Sweden.

Steven Wade, from Hobart, is the first recipient of the Saabs United Award, created by Mr Jonsson and named after Mr Wade’s Saab blog website from where he helped to co-ordinate groups of fellow enthusiasts in dozens of cities around the world to rally in support of Saab when General Motors threatened to kill off the Swedish brand.

The trophy features a boomerang that Mr Wade originally gave to Mr Jonsson because he thought it symbolised the Saab’s chief’s approach to saving the company – “he kept coming back to the negotiating table and would not go away”.

Also featuring a model of the first Saab car, the Ursaab, the trophy will be presented annually to any individual who, in the eyes of Mr Jonsson and a judging panel, makes the single greatest contribution to Saab’s success.

Mr Jonsson said the award would be the company’s way of "expressing its gratitude to people like Steven and others who continue to show us such great support".

Saab was saved from oblivion in February when it was sold by GM to Dutch sportscar company Spyker Cars NV, whose CEO Victor Muller credited the Save Saab campaign with helping to convince GM to change its mind.

 center imageLeft: Save Saab campaigners in front of GM's headquarters in Detroit in January.

Mr Wade, 40, was one of the first people Mr Muller called once the deal was sealed.

The new award was presented to Mr Wade at a recent dinner for about 800 ticketed guests at the Saab Festival, in Trollhattan, Sweden.

Mr Wade said the award was nice recognition for work done by the enthusiasts.

“They (Saab) sprung it as a surprise, too, although I did have a sneaking suspicion that something was going on when I saw the plaque at the Saab Museum the day before the dinner,” he said.

Mr Wade said his Saabs United website prided itself on its accurate coverage of the Saab sale process, and it had even been contacted by a number of suitors looking to buy Saab.

“The biggest single event for which the site has received recognition, however, is co-ordinating information about the Saab Support Convoys that were held all around the world, mostly during January 2010,” he said.

“The convoys were initiated by a group in Holland, but Saabs United became the central meeting point for information about what was happening.

“In all, there were around 60 convoys held in various cities around the world, with around 6000 cars and an estimated 10,000 people involved.

“This kind of consumer activism is pretty much unheard of in the car industry, and it provided the people on the ground in Trollhattan with a large measure of support, as well as a whole lot of media coverage that meant GM couldn't make a decision about closing Saab without it being noticed.”

One of the most telling Save Saab rallies was held in Detroit on the opening day of the Detroit motor show in January, gaining critical publicity when the world’s motoring media and motor industry leaders were all gathered in ‘Motown’ – home of GM.

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