March 2006 – One heck of a month

There will be little doubt when we get to look back on it that March 2006 was a huge month for Saab Automobile AB. The only question remaining now is the perspective in which we’ll see it.

First up there was the Aero-X. A concept in every true sense and a pointer for the future. A car that has captured the press and the people. A car that made Robert Collin smile.

The one that snuck up on us was the Hybrid. Just mere days after the Aero-X has rocked the world, Saab announces a Biopower Hybrid. Potential zero fossil-fuel emissions and better performance, and all this modelled in a convertible of all things. Talk about different!

Add on to these mammoth events (and they are mammoth events, don’t let my brevity fool you), the fact that Saab has had it’s best start to the year ever in terms of sales, with March looking to either hold steady or continue to improve depending on the market – there’s little doubt that March 2006 has been an absolute cracker!

Perhaps one of the biggest things to influence Saab over the next 5 years or so happened just in the last few hours. It happened in a court room in the US. Farago‘s writing about it, Detroit News is writing about, Reuters, the IHT and plenty of others will cover it too.

Delphi took the next step in its bankruptcy proceedings today, filing its restructuring plan and asking the judge to tear up it’s existing labour contracts with its largely UAW workforce in the US. Delphi’s looking to shed plants as well as slashing the hourly rate for contract workers from $27 and hour to $16.50.

The UAW won’t have a bar of it and the consensus opinion is that there’s a strike coming. It won’t happen straight away, but chances are very high that it will happen.

I’ve got no idea the number of parts, if any, that Delphi manufactures for new Saabs. I’ve got no idea whether or not a strike by Delphi workers in the US would effect Saab workers in Sweden at all. Perhaps the 9-7x will be the only vehicle to feel the pain. But I do know that a long, protracted strike will pretty much cripple GM in the US, and what cripples the parent will surely be felt by the child, even if they’re a continent away.

The cynical amongst us could raise the sale possibilities again. Saab’s value right now would have to be higher than pretty much any point in the last few years. Improved sales, 2 magnificent and well-received concepts – one of which having real practical applications in the near future. That’s a company with momentum and value. One could go even further…..GM have known about the Delphi deadline (March 31) for some time now. One could even say that this build-up in momentum, the concept announcements etc, has been timed to add value at a critical time when potential suitors could come knocking.

But that would be me being cynical.

Many analysists have said that bankruptcy would be the best route for GM. Shed the fat and come out a leaner machine, still holding all your future designs. Maybe that’s the case. But I’d hate to think that things would fall over just when the GM-Saab relationship is starting to bear some fruit.

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  1. Anyone know the U. S. parts content (if any) in Saab 9-3’s and 9-5’s? This may be critical in the not too distant future.

    The radio/sound system in the 9-5, as well as the AC system come to mind.

  2. And now we just wait for the sales figures for March. No sign of them in Sweden yet… Maybe have to wait until after the weekend… 🙂

  3. I would throw wild guess that 9-5 uses very little Delphi parts and 9-3 none.

    And Saab can stock more parts or order from elsewhere.
    Also aint it totally clear at this point that there will be Delphi strike causing GM also to start real battle with unions.

    So everybody knows the scenario, time to prepare 1 – 8 weeks, depending on how fast will judge give verdict.

  4. The only sales figures I have seen is the one reported after an interview with Saab CEO J.Å.J.
    He told that in Sweden Saab did 60-70% better than last mars…
    And 16000 unit was sold world wide…It has to be a good month for Saab.

  5. Wow. I hadn’t put things into this perspective — it is a banner month.

    The UAW is going to have to relent if GM and Ford are to survive. And, believe me, the UAW hates that Saab sales are up. They hate it because Saab is proving that cars built in foreign plants with little union control over content or culture will sell successfully. In the past, they’ve been abloe to ignore successes at Toyota, Honda, et al as unfairly subsidized by the Japanese system. This time around, the only one of GM’s own that’s not under their control is making positive headway. That’s embarrassing to UAW, let me tell you.

    TuuSar, I don’t know where your ‘wild guess’ came from, but it’s incorrect. Delphi at least makes radios, touch-screen control centers, and airbags for all Saab models. And some Saabs have controllers and instruments manufactured by Delphi as well. In fact, Delphi has a Swedish division that makes some of the same components for Volvo, too.

  6. I’m pretty sure GM will be preparing for a Delphi strike. The gap between the UAW and Delphi on wages is pretty big, and the UAW will be seeing this is as a test case for GM itself, because whatever concessions Delphi gets on wages and conditions, you can bet the others will be queueing up as well.

    I will be big.

  7. In Sweden there’s one of worlds biggest airbag factories. It would be weird not to use their bags and import stuff from the USA.

    “Delphi has a Swedish division”

    But they aint striking.

  8. Car sales in Sweden up 6, 8% compared to mars last year. Up 2.9% year to date.
    The detailed stats will be releases in….1 hour…But J.Å.J told us last week that Saab had increased there market share

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