An open letter from Saab Automobile

It would be a significant understatement to say that the last weeks have been challenging for Saab Automobile.

We are a car company. Designing and building distinctive cars according to a well honed, Swedish philosophy is what we do. And yet our production line – the beating heart of our company – has been idle for the last five weeks.

Though no-one’s fault but our own, we found ourselves in a cashflow crisis and unable to buy the parts we need to build our cars. This has hurt our dealers, our suppliers, our employees and many of our customers, a situation for which we are truly sorry. We want nothing more than to secure our financial position so that we can get to building cars again.

On May 3, we announced a deal with Hawtai Motor Group, a vehicle manufacturer from China. This deal would have included an ownership stake for Hawtai and significantly, an opportunity to develop Saab manufacturing in China, the new automotive frontier. This deal collapsed late last week due to an inability to secure the required regulatory approvals for it to proceed. This was a significant blow for us, however we persisted with partnership talks in China, which we see as an essential step in securing Saab’s future.

On May 16, we announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. Pang Da is the largest publicly traded sales and service distributor in the Chinese market, with over 1,100 outlets in China and Mongolia. The MoU includes strategic deals for distribution, branding and potential future joint ventures in manufacturing.

Perhaps even more importantly for our immediate future, Pang Da have placed an order for approximately 1,300 vehicles, with immediate payment to be made for these vehicles. A further order can be placed in the near term, subject to certain conditions.

This cash injection is important for Saab, not only as a vote of confidence in our brand portfolio, but also as a much-needed cash injection that will enable us to get our plant operational again.

With this and other cash injections in place, Saab Automobile will be well placed to initiate negotiations with our 1,200+ suppliers. These negotiations are intended to provide full payment for outstanding amounts at regular intervals and within a specified time period – and they are crucial to getting the supply chain moving, and our plant and our business operational once again.

Saab already has an order bank of nearly 5,000 vehicles for the Trollhättan factory. These are cars that are ordered and awaiting delivery to dealers and customers. These are cars that will see our cash position improve as soon as they leave the factory. We will also have the initial order from Pang Da to build, as well as the potential secondary order. These orders would take our order bank to well over 6,000 vehicles for our Swedish plant.

In addition, we are also pleased to report that orders of the new Saab 9-4x crossover vehicle are very strong, coming on the back of very favourable reviews from our recent Saab 9-4x press event in Washington DC. The Saab 9-4x is intended primarily for the North American market and US magazine, Winding Road, said “the driving dynamics of the 9-4x are positively brilliant”. The Saab 9-4x has also attracted praise from markets outside of North America. Robert Collin from Sweden’s Aftonbladet called it “the best Saab ever built”, noting the crucial role Saab played as the architects of the vehicle. The Saab 9-4x is indicative of the future for Saab Automobile. Dynamic. Exciting. Engaging.

In addition to the Saab 9-4x, the new Saab 9-3 Griffin range is the most fuel-efficient 9-3 range we’ve ever offered, featuring a diesel range specially developed to offer road tax advantages for a number of significant European markets. Our new 9-3 petrol engines offer the best combination of fuel efficiency and power in their class. We also have our new flagship Saab 9-5 Sedan and the all-new Saab 9-5 SportCombi coming later in 2011, which is going to deliver a new level of practicality to Saab 9-5 customers around the world.

Our vehicle range is constantly expanding and improving. More than that, we have new vehicles and groundbreaking innovations coming very soon, things that we believe will excite our customers everywhere. We are working on partnerships that will take us to new places, with new technologies to make driving safer, more enjoyable, more economical and more ecologically responsible.

The Saab Spirit that built this company remains strong and we cannot help but be excited by the future.

We thank you for your patience and we ask for your continued support.

Signed:

Kjell ac Bergström – Vice President Product Development Powertrain

Gunnar Brunius – Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing

Mats Fägerhag – Vice President Vehicle Product Development

Matthias Seidl – Vice President Global Sales & Aftersales

Anders Svensson – Vice President Vehicle Lines

Knut Simonsson – Vice President Brand & Marketing

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17 Comments

  1.  Thanks for that open letter. Running a company myself I know how tough things can be when it comes to cashflow and liquidity. However, I never stopped believing because as I could see all those great products that are about to hit the market by myself at Geneva. Go ahead and continue that great work and make us happy by what you can do best – building great, fun to drive cars.

    And bring the 9-4x to Germany so I can support you by buying one.

  2. Dear friends,
    It’s a tought time for SAAB.
    Since I know SAAB brand and try to contact you from USA at 1979, and became a marketing manager while back to Taiwan at 1981.
    I do love SAAB cars, but I leave the team very short(at 1983).
    After my trip from SAAB to Volvo, Lotus, Audi, VW, Jaguar, Ferrari, Lancia, Fait, Maserati and even GM, Chrysler, Rover, Land Rover….. I traveled very often into China as a senior trainner from branding, marketing, operating and even DOS.
    I don’t know what can I work for the lovely brand in very near future. I’ll visit some firm end of this month at Shanghai. Cause there are many need on most part of car business.
    If there are any possiblity to give me a room with SAAB, please let me know.
    Best,
    Justin Chiou
    +886958373009
    cwf010@gmail.com

  3. I got my new 9-5 Aero TTiD two months ago: this is my third 9-5 in nine years. I hope SAAB will keep on going, since these are very good cars with a specific identity.   

  4.  Continued support you will always have. Let’s get the show on the road, the community is ready and waiting for new and shining Saabs. Just go and surprise us as per usual with good quality cars that last you a lifetime (or indeed save your life as well).

  5. Great to see how Saab’s communication has changed since they are no longer a part of GM. A big thank you to the whole team for keeping Saab alive and kicking. The statement about the fuel efficiency is, BTW, quite true. I have a new TTiD convertible, it has 20.000 km since I received it in december last year, and it runs at around 5.5 l/100 km – an MPG of around 4.3. Not too far from the official 5.2 l/100km, if you ask me. Good results for such a heavy car. Thank you Saab!

  6. Total separation from the Americanized designs is the only thing i see lacking in the new company.
     I wish I knew more about the current models and their origins.  I knew my 81′ and 85 car from front to back and drove both cars hard. I never got on the roof but was on 2 and 3 wheels several times. The new cars besides the convertible are missing the rally history of SAAB. Knowing the car I was driving was from the company that made the Viggen jet fighter just made you more confident in driving it hard.
      Not seeing or feeling the true identity of SAAB is perplexing. When I purchased my first SAAB you knew where it came from and who SAAB was. The car turned heads, made people ask questions. It was a distinct automobile. The front windshield the key on the floor between the seats. Functional design like the curve of the dash to match the arc of the drivers arm as they reached for the controls. The simple ads that marketed the car in black and white.

    The brand identity needs to be displayed again. Remove the paint that is covering it up. GM came in infected the original SAAB bloodline and here you are now.  I do not hear see or read anything about SAAB and who they are. I did from 80′ to 99′. Facebook is doing a good job. Maybe an Alabaster yellow four door sedan would help. You have no 2 door coupe. I feel that is the core to the past success of the brand and a missing component in the new company.

    Where is the ingenuity that made all the big three come look at the assembly lines in Sweden and  learn how you had a “team concept” in building cars to get quality up? Created the APC system? What a great piece of technology that was.

    I’m waiting on a Independence convertible. Its as close to a 2 door coupe you get. 

    You will prevail

    1. “Infected the original Saab bloodline?”

      As someone whose first Saab was an 86 C900 and who owned two other pre-GM cars, I can say that “infected” claim is a total stretch. The C900 was creaking along on 20-year-old drivetrains while the rest of the auto world zipped by it. GM’s ditched the goofy and unreliable transaxle setup and put in bulletproof drivetrains capable of handling two or three times the stock torque. The “Americanized designs” have proven more reliable, better handling and easier to repair if anything goes wrong. 

      Yes, handling suffered in the NG900/9-3, but the OG9-5 is a wonderful car (minus the sludging issues), and the post-2004 9-3SS competes favorably against most cars in its class. Each GM-influenced Saab I’ve owned has been more reliable than my C900s and early 9000s, although I’ll agree that they might not have the same style aplomb. 

    1. Well a read a piece some time ago where it was said that companies where women run finances are more stable… 😉

  7.  Word. That´s the spirit we all admire. Keep up the great work, and customers will find their way back to the showrooms. 

  8. Glad to see how improvement in customer relations from SAAB … I hope in future I will have money to buy a new one, that’s my dream and I’m glad that I can see that management feels strong positive vibrations coming from all over world to SAAB … Keep on good work and be assured that anyone who has ever tried to drive a SAAB will try to get one asap 😀 Best regards from Serbia 😀

  9. This writing shows the true spirit of Saab. Open, transparant, determined.
    It’s good to read that the management take their responsibility by communicating this way. It clearly backs the staff and, hopefully, keeps everyone involved highly motivated.

    Griffin up, Saab up! Get the show rolling again!

  10. I just ordered my first Saab a few months ago (9-5 Vector 2.0TiD). It should have been delivered
    somewhere near the beginning of May, so I’m one of these new customers impatiently awaiting the production restart. I must say I am quite happy with the open communication on this blog about the issues Saab encountered and the steps the company makes in tackling them. It does not temper the anticipation though, but it is comforting to at least know what to expect.

  11.  Well spoken!
    Swade – you are good with words, this is exactly what should have been said a while back. Stay focused and honest and we are listening!

  12. Honestly thank you for all the efforts that you are putting. Yesterday i really got SO disappointed when i heard the news about the financing issue 🙁 I really hope that things get better ASAP cause i cant wait to get my 9-5. Thank You SAAB for making driving an enjoyable experience .

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