A personal reflection on recent news

I’m writing this from my living room in Hobart, Tasmania. I was meant to land at Gothenburg airport today on my return to Sweden, but I’m stuck here in Tasmania thanks to a cloud of ash from a volcano in Chile.

It was tough to read the latest press release from our parent company today, stating that wages would be delayed. After all that we’ve been through as a company, it feels like a real kick in the guts and I know the workforce must be doing it hard today.

It was tougher still to phone in to our team’s regular Thursday morning meeting and discuss the release, to hear the voices of my colleagues, for whom this news was still sinking in.

I’m due to head back to Sweden on my postponed ticket next week and I can’t wait to get back there. It feels horrible to be away from a workplace that I care about so much, to be away from a team that I care about so much, in such a time of distress.

It’s fair to say that working at Saab is a dream come true for me. I’ve been a huge fan of the company ever since I first drove one of their cars and I’ve been working my tail off for them for more than 6 years now (as an employee for the last few months). I’ve never come across another place with such a rich history, such a right philosophy and such genuinely smart, warm and caring people. It’s such a pleasure to be there every day and share a deeper insight of this company with its community.

The obituaries for Saab are already coming in from the various writers and tweeters, all trying to be more insightful and/or wittier than everyone else. I don’t blame them. I’d probably do the same in their position. I was urged by one person on Twitter to give it up, to let it go and admit that this is the end of things for Saab. I can (almost) understand where he’s coming from. There’s a lot of tiredness surrounding the fringes of this company right now.

My response, however – no chance. No chance at all.

There’s no covering over the darkness of the hour, but I keep telling people what a colleague told me last year: when you’ve got new, great product, there’s always a reason to keep on going. Right now, we’re in a very difficult position. But we’ve got heaps of great product on the verge of release and even better technology being worked on out in the back rooms.

For me, there’s absolutely no chance of giving up on this company. I can’t wait to get back to Sweden next week, rally with my colleagues and take up whatever fight we have to win.

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53 Comments

  1. Thanks Steve about this message. I know problems will be solved and I get my yesterday ordered 9-5SC soon! Keep up the good work and spirit!

  2. Hi Steve, thank you for the message. As you say never give up. There is a solution out there. It’s case of looking under every rock until you find it. I am sure the inside story is quite unbelievable but you can’t tell the story yet. I am sure it’s been one hurdle after another. This is just the way human things go when money is at stake and people are under pressure. Someone somewhere will have the solution and everyone as Saab must work to find it. A bit of creative and lateral thinking could work wonders. Saab is a great company with fantastic products and this ultimately means it has value. Someone somewhere will see that value and want a slice of it. Banks and Governments look at things differently and this is the source of some of the problems I am sure. E.g. Richard Branson and Virgin were nearly shut down once because Coutts their bank wanted to pull the plug because of a short term funding problem. But Branson got together some alternative funding and moved his banking. I don’t think he’s forgiven them even though it was around 20 years ago. I think it’s a case of everyone at Saab collectively turning over every rock and exploring every idea until the solution is found.

  3. I totally agree! If I was working for Saab (which I really wish I was) I would think the same so I really wish Steve, everyone at Saab and THN the best for luck! Just hang in there!

    For all those who have ordered Saabs I’d say like the Guinness advert “Good things come to those who wait”.

    Cheers
    Henrik

  4. Uncharacteristically, I peeked at my laptop at home this morning and saw the news. Closed the laptop fast and watched the Whitey Bulger story instead. When I got to work, and came to IS to see Swade’s take. I opened the story and scrolled  down, before having read the article, and one phrase jumped off the page (visually) and it terrified me: “no chance. No chance at all.” I think my heart stopped for a moment. Then the logical part of my urged calm, and I read the article from the beginning. I feel better. Worried, but better. Thank you.

  5. Good luck to all in Trollhattan.

    Thank you for your wonderful work and gorgeous automobiles.  Stay strong, we in the USA are rooting for you!

  6. I hope you’ll have the pleasure to be back at Trollhättan pretty soon . Everyone is usefull for the fight

  7. On Saabs facebook page people are starting to talk about how we can make a donation to saab. So, if you know how we can do it please let us know, both here on your blog and on facebook!!

  8. SU with Swade at the wheel flashback!!! You somehow manages to keep our chins up with your words. Thanks Swade.

  9. Swade, This is what you do best. You put the news in a context that inspires faith and hope without the rose colored glasses.
     
    From the dealer level, this news is concerning however just coming back from Denver’s dealer meeting, I continue to have faith in our team.  There was not one shred of “giving up” from them. The meetings were all conducted in a positve manner as our business going forward…not failure.  Further, the current management team is exceptionally talented and knowledgeable. Probably the finest I’ve seen collectively, in a very long time.
     
    I am a “glass half full” kind of person, so I will always have faith that our beloved brand will survive. The new 9-4x is on the way and loads of other great stuff is going on, as well. This alone is reason to keep the faith.
     
    Stay strong Saab friends!
     
    AJ Murphy

    1. When I read the news, I went out and drove my new 95 out and around for a little while. What a nice ride. I was right to buy this car.
      There is no way that a company with such good products will not be around. 
      Product is the key, and that is why I think Saab will survive and prosper.
      Oh, and Razor Blade, what makes you the smartest guy in the room? All I think you qualify to be called is a troll.  

  10. Really, Razor_Blade? Really? (Nice name, clearly you needed the ego boost) You have taken time out of your day to post this. To direct your browser to this website, and to comment maliciously with some snide remark. You are truly despicable. However, to each their own… We can only hope you will go waste your pessimistic views somewhere they will be valued. This is NOT the place. If you read the surrounding comments you will see that this is a place of optimism and community, of which you do not fit. I only hope that Swade does the honor of blocking you from this site as well. Your brash and rude remarks will fall on deaf ears, and Swade is a bigger person than thou. Have a lovely friggin day.

  11. Joe,
    You sound like a terrific person!  I guess there has to be someone like you on every blog.  I love my “crappy” Saabs…….all of them that I have driven for the last 50 years…….I know you will call me a nut, but I AM RIGHT AND YOU SIR ARE VERY WRONG!!………BESIDES BEING UNBELIEVABLY RUDE!!

  12. Swade we are with you…..we have just begun to fight.  My SAVE SAAB stickers have a new meaning.  Let us all know what we can do to help!

  13. IN THE EVENT I FAILED TO MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR THE FIRST TIME:
    Really, Razor_Blade? Really? (Nice name, clearly you needed the ego
    boost) You have taken time out of your day to post this. To direct your
    browser to this website, and to comment maliciously with some snide
    remark. You are truly despicable. However, to each their own… We can
    only hope you will go waste your pessimistic views somewhere they will
    be valued. This is NOT the place. If you read the surrounding comments
    you will see that this is a place of optimism and community, of which
    you do not fit. I only hope that Swade does the honor of blocking you
    from this site as well. Your brash and rude remarks will fall on deaf
    ears, and Swade is a bigger person than thou. Have a lovely friggin day.

  14. Really hope you’re right Steven, this situation is becoming unbearable. Good luck to you and the entire the team.

  15. There’s so many people around the world praying, hoping, or keeping fingers crossed that some good news is heard soon. Saab is so imoprtant to so many of us.

  16. Oddly I am somewhat optimistic.  There is real value in Saab.  The situation will work itself out, perhaps not in the way that you or I would prefer (or that Victor might prefer), but it will work itself out.  

  17. Swade, just suggest Victor to open up an international bank account or paypal account so that Saab owners, fans and supporters of the company deposit their contribution to save the company. Or either Victor or the company can sell a small number of shares to individual supporters in return of their contribution.

    I don’t want to see Saab going into bankruptcy.The company just does not deserve it.

  18. I am in agreement with Greg Abbot.  There are too many good things going on for the ship to go down now.  It will resolve with Saab continuing on making fantastic and unique cars for enthusiastic drivers. 

  19. lsiten , i dont thinkg this is going to get any better , i work for saab and have done for 14 years and early love is but , i nearly wish some one would put me out of my misery !!! I dont know how ,if we get money , how long it will last , we just cant make enough cars , sell and develop to a level that means we can make money . Too much damage has now been done

  20. Mr “Razor_Blade” has had his comments removed and details blacklisted on the site’s software.  Those who saw them will understand why.  He was banned from my former site, Saabs United, because he was a persistently abusive troll with no other purpose than to smear the company and the people in it.  His presence here is for the same reason (plus a little smugness at our current difficulties).  Not wanted.  Not needed.  And in his case, not permitted.

    1. Thanks Swade. Dr schräyer is trolling a lot on Swedish Saab web sites. As a former (fired and unemployed) saabworker he is angry and upset. Dont care about him. Dev/null is good for him. Thanks again. 🙂

  21. I should also thank everyone else whose chimed in here for your support.  As Greg mentions, there is too much value in this company for it to not work out somehow.

    Abel, I know it’s tough, mate.  Have a happy midsummer and hopefully there will be a solution in place when we all return.

  22. My heart goes out to the employees who have not been paid.  I can’t imagine how difficult this is, especially with so many families living pay check to pay check. As Saab fans, our troubles are small compared to the families of those who haven’t been paid.  Hopefully soon there will be a solution.

  23. Steven, I am very optimistic that this too will be all sorted out. Saab is in a good place with products and have a lot of orders waiting to be filled. Most of us don’t work for Saab directly as you do and I’m sure that people like yourself have other opportunities, so when you say “no chance, no chance at all” that is huge because you have more information than us and have made the decision that this is where you belong and you believe that this too will pass. Thank you Steven for constantly rallying the troops and keeping us all pumped.

    Jason Powell
    Springman’s Saab

  24. The thing with Saab, as I have always seen it, is that their biggest “thing” that make them what they are is also their biggest problem; to be innovative. That’s the company in a nutshell. To be the underdog who always put much time, effort and money into concepts, crazy ideas, stylish/functionalistic design and new innovations that eventually evolve into a small revolution in the car industry. The downside with this is the economy. Money doesn’t grow on trees, yet, and as long as they wont, it’s easier to bring money in the safest way; produce big volumes of affordable cars that people will buy. Just look at Toyota for example. But Saab strive to do it one step better and obviously that will cost.

    From what I’ve seen of Saab’s models so far during and after GM I am more than impressed. But the question is if Mr. Debit will go hand in hand with Mr. Credit in Trollhättan. I try to be optimistic about the future of my favourite brand, but something tells me that this cat maybe have used all of its nine lives.

  25. Well, for me, as for Steven Wade, this brand means a lot: my father was the first importer of Saabs in Italy in the early 60s, and I still remember vividly the day he came back from Trollhattan driving the first Saab ever to be imported, a white 96, 1963 model year. I had waited at the window of our apartment for several hours monitoring the street below, until I saw him park in the street this very weird little car with a funny popping engine sound (2-stroke, .85 liter 3-cylinder engine) and a wisp of smoke trailing the exhaust (2-stroke = mix of gasoline and oil).  When I ran down to check it out I found many strange details: such as the ribbon speedometer that changed color the faster the speed and especially the funny flat ribbons of fabric hanging from hooks inside of the B pillars which, my father informed me, were called “shoulder seat belts” (imagine, in 1963). 

    I was a little kid then, not even in my teens yet, but over the following several years I was exposed to a lot of Swedish culture, which I appreciate to this day (all except the food!).  Less than a year later, I was on the assembly line in Trollhattan, and a delighted passenger with one of the company rally drivers (these were the years when they were winning the Monte Carlo) scampering up unpaved roads in the Swedish forest in a rally-prepared, group 2 car, with my father in hot pursuit on a similarly equipped car.  That evening my parents and I we were invited to a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant where we learned the Swedish penchant for eating mountains of shrimp interspersed by abundant schnaps drunk in single shots from tiny glasses;  my dad, well-meaning, decided to introduce our hosts to some Italian flavors, and, since pasta or other basic fare was not available, settled on large bowl of lettuce and tomatoes which he prepared with olive oil, salt, pepper and vinegar the way we serve it in Italy.  Unfortunately itt was quickly clear from their expressions that they were trying to be polite but did not really like the taste: finally one of them discreetly reached for the sugar shaker on the table and poured a generous portion on his salad, and the others quickly followed suit.

    Saab were not commercially successful in Italy in those years: we only sold a few, but the buyers were wonderfully interesting persons.  Like the US Army sergeant, stationed in my hometown of Verona, who bought a “Montecarlo 850”, three carbs, more power and US specs: when I met him in our service department I shook his hand in a typical, limp child mode, and he, in classic American direct manner, told me “Hey kid, when  you shake a hand you’re supposed to squeeze it: let’s try again!”: I learned a proper hand shake that day.  Or like the Orchestra conductor from Rome who bought one of the first face-lifted 96 with a Ford 1.5 liter four-stroke V4 engine: he bought it sight unseen, based on pictures, specs and a few phone calls, and we delivered it in person, driving it from Verona, with my mother driving a second one for the return trip: we were treated to music and a wonderful meal, and some phenomenally entertainign conversation.

    These were quirky cars appealing to interesting, unusual people, and for quite a while they were part of my growing up.  Many years have passed, I live in America now and I own many cars but no Saabs.  However, I’m distressed to see the company in such dire straits: I’ve been reviewing some memorabilia from back then (the leather key chain, the Ballograf ball point pen with the Saab emblem, the big brochure of the 93 assembly stages in 1957) and I think this weekend I’m tempted to drive over to the local Saab dealer and check out a 9-5….(though it might be the death-knell for the company: after all, I’m the very happy owner of one of the last VW Phaetons to be sold new stateside…)

    Stefano Falconi – Boston

  26. Well I stopped by my dealer today and the service department was busy as ever.  The new 9-5s and 9-3X SC looked downright gorgeous.    My wife, a non-saabnut,  saw the news on the BBC
    news and commented that she thought the cars overpriced.   I think that’s true of a lot of cars
    these days.  Sadly, today, the 9-3XSC was listed at 35K US dollars.  The 9-5 stickers were all 40K + dollars.  

    It got me thinking what got me into my first Saab…a 1992, non-turbo, cloth, no alloy wheel, no sunroof C900.  It was like 16K dollars I think back then…end of the year discount September sale.  I remember  my test drive..coming from American cars ..the way it handled, shifted, it just screamed “I am a well designed and fun car”….no other cars I test drove gave the same experience.  I asked if I could get a big black rubber wing on the back and I was sold.  I can’t help but think that Saab needs some low priced model that will get people to fall in love with the cars…..I want to support the brand and employees…just can’t afford much lately.  

  27. Some have described Saab as a cat with many lives, and my gut says it still has at least a couple left.  I think it will remain quite a bumpy ride until the new 9-3 arrives, but I feel that car will be a turning point for Saab.  In the meantime we all have to keep calm and hang on.

  28. Your strength through this is hugely important for the company and the community Steven. I’m continually impressed by your ability to rationally wade (no pun intended) through the BS (insiders will know, pun intended) that the press has thrown at Saab, and come back with the truth. We’re behind you through all these events, and we have faith in Victor to get the deals completed that will ensure the next phase of Saab’s independence can continue.

  29. There should be a solution for Saab. Most industries or even enterprises such as Airbus, BMW would not exist, if they had not get public financial support at some time! It is no surprise at all, that Saabwill need some time to stand on their own feet again after leaving GM!,

  30. Swade, once more Saab faces trying times and yet again I find it reassuring to read your measured thoughts on the situation. Whilst accepting the gravity of the current predicament you inspire support for a company whose products deserve to flourish.  

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