Greetings from England, where I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the Saab Owners Club of Great Britain annual meet. I’ll have a bunch of photos from the event in the next few days. Today, I’d like to point you towards an article that appeared in the Swedish press over the weekend.
I’d like to point out something I wrote last week in an editorial here at Inside Saab:
I still love this place and I still believe in this company. It’s exactly the same as when GM were considering shutting us down: there’s simply too much good stuff – brand, product, plant and people – for this [company] to be left to wither.
Brand, product, plant, people. To me, that’s what it all comes down to.
There are very few automotive analysts or writers willing to assess those elements of Saab’s operations in any detail. They have a tendency to skim over a few of them with a summary, essentially saying “brand=damaged and product=not enough” without looking at the whole company in any depth. The focus is purely on financials, which do have to be sorted out, no doubt. But a look beyond that would be welcome.
Discovered via SaabsUnited, I’d like to point you towards an article in Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper. In this debate article, the writer does manage to take this deeper look at Saab and expand on those four essential elements in some detail, finally saying in a Swedish newspaper some of the things that many of us who believe in Saab have been trying to promote for some time – Saab has some superb potential.
Click through and translate the full article online. If you’re familiar with the workings of this company, then I think you’ll find yourself nodding your head quite a lot.
A summary of the virtues discussed in the article:
- Reach – Saab’s new deal with Pang Da has the potential – if each Pang Dab dealer sold just one car per week – to provide around half Saab’s required volume.
- Technology and talent – Saab’s engineers have recently developed extraordinary tech that gives the 9-3 TTiD Griffin a full 180hp whilst keeping under the 120g/km emissions threshold. I’d like to add to that some of the technology under development and due to be seen soon: things like e-XWD and iQon. Saab also has a world-class design team led by Jason Castriota.
- Partnerships – our engine partnership with BMW and vehicle development partnership with Youngman and Pang Da.
- Range – Our range is bigger than it’s ever been and it’s only getting better. The cars themselves are constantly improving and the 9-5 and especially the 9-4x are getting fantastic reviews in key markets.
- Brand – Our brand has taken some damage in the last few months/year, but remains very identifiable and strong. The author cites the Saab support convoys (world-wide gatherings 18 months ago when GM threatened to close Saab) as evidence of this.
There’s a lot more to the article, too. A glance is cast towards other niche carmakers that seem to survive pretty well, and a look towards other markets that have supported their car industries with assistive policies or actions (see below about a ‘bailout’).
Both as an employee and as an enthusiast, it’s very encouraging to see an editorial such as this in the Swedish press. There is a strong fear in this market that Saab will turn out to be another instance like the shipyard corporate bailouts of the 1970s. Many people seem to be very negative towards Saab because of this fear but it’s encouraging to see someone looking at the potential within this company.
And having mentioned the shipping industry bailouts, I’m obliged to also mention that unlike the shipyards of the 70’s, Saab is not asking, nor have we ever asked, for a government bailout.
Brand, product, plant, people.
Given conditions that would allow the right investors to come on board and help this company stabilise and grow, we could make the most of all these elements of our company.