Relief and Determination

For those who haven’t heard yet, Saab has secured short term financing in the order of EUR 59.1million to re-start production at the factory. We are also set to announce a strategic partnership with Hawtai Motor Group, from China. The nature of that partnership is yet to be revealed, however such an announcement can only bring positive benefits for Saab Automobile.

I was in a meeting this afternoon when the short term funding announcement was made and I can tell you that the dual feelings of relief and excitement in the offices at Saab was palpable.

As an enthusiast, I’ve commented several times to the effect that there was no way that I could imagine this company going down. As with the sale from General Motors, there was just too much excellent product in the pipeline – product that is now imminent – and too many interested parties for that to happen.

That’s not to say, however, that the company hasn’t been stretched in an almost unreal manner over the last few weeks.

The factory hasn’t produced a single vehicle since I’ve moved here to Sweden to commence work with Saab. That’s a difficult scenario both for the workers idling at home and the office staff trying to function as usual, making plans for when things get better. It would have been easy to take a doomsday type attitude in the last week, for people to drop their heads and lose some hope. All I’ve seen, however, are people 200% committed to making this company work.

A lot of people have asked me what got Saab into this situation and the honest truth is that I just don’t know. I wouldn’t tell you if I did – that’s a job for someone with greater responsibilities than mine – but I simply don’t.

What I do know is that all the people I’ve met who work for this company, love working for this company. And those are exactly the people we want. My colleague in Saab’s social media area left a more secure job at Ikea to work for Saab. I know guys back in Australia who have come from Mercedes Benz and BMW to work for Saab. People want this company to succeed and they want to be a part of it. Now we have to execute.

We know that the Saab community gets passionate about this brand and we have to be just as passionate about developing, selling and serving the best we can. We have to prove to our customers, our dealer network and most importantly, our suppliers, that we have what it takes to succeed.

We believe the range is in place. Sales of the 9-5, in prior and more ‘normal’ conditions, were growing slowly but surely and the key model for Europe, the SportCombi, is on its way. The Saab 9-4x is already receiving extremely encouraging reviews and more press is on the way next week after a short-lead press introduction in the United States. Finally, the 9-3 Griffin – like wind-up models before it – is the best iteration of the Saab 9-3 that we’ve ever made. It still looks absolutely fantastic and the addition of the new direct injection engine will give the model a new lease of life. And don’t forget the low-emission 9-3 diesels that free owners up from road taxes in a number of countries in Europe.

With the range in place, it will be time for us to execute. I know there are things that need work in my particular area of interest (the web) but I also know that upgrades in that area are coming very, very soon. I know that we have very creative people looking at the best ways to promote our vehicle range in a way that gives us great value for money and will offer the opportunity for great experiences for the public.

We need to play our part, and we will. We also need you to play your part. We have a good order book ready and waiting for the factory re-start, which is very encouraging. Of course, we’ve always got room for more 🙂 .

Thanks for your support and your interest in Saab already. This company just keeps on fighting and we couldn’t do it without you.

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13 Comments

    1. Swade

      great news. I am in the north east US, as you know he US is Saab’s biggest market and the northeast is the prime area for Saab sales.

      Saab desperately need to get financing fixed up, previously with Saab Financial customers were treated exceptionally well, then GMAC (GM’s finance unit) customers were treated just as well, which is now Ally (and GM have sold nearly all their equity) and let me tell you Ally is terrible, and given leasing is such a large component of the US business it is critical they get it right. This really needs to be acted on or Saab USA will suffer with Ally, they will lose customers.

      I personally have just gone through a horror story with Ally, they accepted four payments for four one month extensions on a TX, then claimed notwithstanding that they accepted and banked the money that they didn’t extend for two of the months and attempted to collect on a daily rate of $65 for those two months. It’s very straight forward from a legal perspective when they accepted the payments and is very extensively documented and I have no concern legally. I have never been charged a cent for excessive wear ever over five leases, and they through a few grand into that too. I got a bill for circa 6K. The dealer, the largest in the north east told me they had a lot of very negative feedback about Ally, charging ridiculous amounts for excessive wear etc.

      I really hope for the company’s sake, customer loyalty and retention that they replace Ally and do it as soon as possible. I’ve driven Saabs for twenty five years, and I am not currently, and will not until they fix leasing up and hopefully replace Ally.

  1. I never had a doubt that a solution to the current problems would be found because I know about the dedication of the management and the employees at Saab. Congratulations to everyone! There is still a lot of work ahead but with all those new models and advanced technologies in the pipeline the future will be bright. I believe in Saab and the people there and I try to do my small part to help.

    Keep going, there are many like me out there who are thankful for the cars you make and the fun they bring.

  2. I’m so happy rigth now! Saab on its feet again and I feel I have done my share by ordering a new 95SC Vector TTiD.
    Can’t wait to hear what the pressconference brings tomorrow.

    Swade, I really hope you enjoy Sweden and that everybody has made you feel welcome.

  3. Hi Steven,
    It’s good getting your perspective from inside the Saab walls.
    Any chance of you coming to the North America Dealer Meeting (tentatively in June)?
    Hope all is well,
    AJ

  4. The uncertainty of the last few weeks has been compounded for me by the closing of the Leamington Spa, England SAAB franchise and the movement of all personnel to Coventry. This happened overnight just before Easter. The Leamington dealer had been operating on that site for nearly 40 years prior to the lease ending.

    As it happened, I needed some rather major work done on my Classic 900 as this was happening (replacement of the steering wheel assembly). Amazingly, this was done on the Wednesday following Easter at the new location with total dedication and competence by Ben Lane and his team. It is this sort of approach in very trying circumstances that make me a loyal customer and make me feel great about sticking with SAAB (and the dealer, Concept SAAB) through thick and thin.

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