Saab etymology: What does its name mean & letters stand for?

With NEVS brush with bankruptcy in 2014, the Saab name will no longer be applied to cars, but what does its name mean? And do the letters stand for anything?


Saab began life in 1937 as airplane maker, and was initially styled as SAAB, with the letters standing Svenska Aeroplan AB or Svenka Aeroplan Aktiebolag. Translated it means Swedish Aeroplane Company Limited.

This is why advertising for Saab cars has often made reference to their, rather tenuous, airplane heritage. In fact, the company once went so far as to claim its cars were “born from jets”.

Saab began its involvement in automobile manufacturing in 1945, but it wasn’t until 1949 that it’s first production car, the 92, rolled down the line.

The company took over truck maker Scania in 1968. The company demerged in 1995 into the Scania truck company, Saab Automobile, and the Saab Group, which specialises in aircraft and military products.

If you’re curious about Aktiebolag (AB for short), which occurs regularly in Nordic companies, it’s literally translated as “stock company”, but it’s roughly analogous to “limited company” (Ltd) or “public limited company” (PLC).




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Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Editor-at-large — Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]


Saab etymology: What does its name mean & letters stand for?