This the second of two articles appearing in the Swedish press recently. As it’s motor show time, the car company executives are out and about and Jan-Ake Jonsson from Saab is amongst them.
This article actually features more of GM’s head honcho, Rick Wagoner.
This article was first published in the Swedish paper E24, and was translated from Swedish into English by ctm. He earns a huge “hats off” from me. Thanks mate.
Rick Wagoner, CEO at GM, aims to almost double Saab’s sales figures in the US. From today’s 30,000 to around 50,000 in five years. All this thanks to GM putting resources into ethanol – an area where Saab has established itself. Rick Wagoner’s pledge is an important piece in the puzzle to get Saab profitable again. The GM head is in Frankfurt to promote new environmentally friendly cars. Among others, yesterday saw the premiere of the plug-in hybrid Flextreme which promise a range of 55 km on battery before the diesel engine kicks in. But in the near future, it’s all about diesel and ethanol. And ethanol is something he really believes in. Especially in the US, where the goal is that 50% of all new GM vehicles should be able to run on E85 in 2012. Thanks to the R&D on ethanol at Saab, it has a strong position within GM. Saab now has the responsibility for development of ethanol engines for all GM brands.
Why not introduce Saab’s ethanol cars in the US?
– “What an excellent idea, I’ll buy that!”, says Rick Wagoner and laughs.
Can you promise that?
– “It’s the next logical step. In the US, Saab only sell about 30,000 cars – in about five years I believe in 40,000 to 50,000. But you have to remember that Saab is niche brand.”
It’s an important piece of information for Saab. The pride of Trollhättan is still not profitable, and sales are still around 130,000 cars per year. Saab doesn’t see a profit until 2009-2010, when new models like the 9-4X and the smaller 9-1 arrives. At that time, sales are projected to be at least 150,000 cars. That’s why another 20,000 ethanol cars sold in the US is an important piece of the puzzle.
Jan-Åke Jonsson, CEO Saab Automobile AB, welcomes to information.
– “It feels good that him say that. We are of course monitoring the situation on the US market and are ready to move in.”
Today, the lack of ethanol pumps is the problem – only about 600 exist. But numbers are growing rapidly, partly thanks to the GM decision to invest in ethanol vehicles.
What’s his [Wagoners] opinion on the new EU directive on emissions, with a limit on 120 g CO2 per km in 2012?
– “It’s an aggressive goal.”
Will GM be able to make it?
– “As I said, it’s a very aggressive goal. The products that will be sold in 2012 basically already exist today.”