A bit of background first….
Those of you outside Sweden may not be so aware of this, but Jan-Ake Jonsson has earned himself a nickname from some of the more cynical journalists in Sweden. The nickname is “Trollhattan Bob”.
The name is a call back to Saddam Hussein’s information minister back during the initial hostilities in the Iraq war in 2003. “Baghdad Bob” was always good for a chuckle, standing in front of the cameras and ensuring the Iraqi people – and anyone else who cared to believe him – that the Iraqi army was holding fast and there was nothing to worry about. Victory was assured.
Jan-Ake Jonsson’s calm and reassuring manner has been seen by us as pretty steadfast and solid. He’s been hailed here as an anchor of sort, one to which all of our hopes for Saab have been tied. Some in the Swedish press haven’t seen it that way, however, and see his reassurances as some false hope when the situation is so obviously a dire one for Saab.
Alrik Söderlind from Auto Motor and Sport is not one of those cynical ones. In fact, he’s written an editorial in the last few days that paints JAJ as many here see him.
Blogo was kind enough to provide a translation in comments, which I’ve brought to the front page as a separate article.
Saab Head is “Swede of the Year”
Alrik Söderlind – 2009-07-10 09:46
Jan-Åke Jonsson – Saab CEO – is my candidate for the title “Swede of the Year” – or the “Bob of the Year”. I am not being ironic.
Successfully navigating a death-sentenced Saab automobile industry through the worst crisis ever to the safe port of Koenigsegg is an achievement. Jan-Åke has been so positive that he has been named “Trollhätte-Bob” after Saddam Hussein’s military chief “Baghdad-Bob” who up until the end always claimed that he was seconds away from crushing the U.S. troops.
If one loves cars as well as the country of Sweden the tale of the Saab can hardly become a more exciting story than the one currently being written. And best of all: The story is full of “Bobs”.
Christian von Koenigsegg is a Swedish contemporary hero, who proved that anything is possible. He has dreamed himself to build the world’s best supercar – which is Swedish. Talk about “Supercar-Bob”.
Bård Eker is a “Norwegian Bob” who among other things dreamed up Hydrolift Vessels, an offshore World Championship title and achieved the impossible: to get a bunch of investors on the road who think that Saab will be a profitable car company!
NLV Solar is the name of the German (Swiss – SW) company, which in a very “Bob-ish” way, declared that it, together with Koenigsegg will build electric cars that are loaded with solar cells placed in car paint.
The Swedish government with Maud Olofsson in the lead can not be accused of being “Bobs” – who see the impossible as fully probable. Instead, it has in a “Maud-ish” fashion demanded the evidence on the table and not believed in anything.
But now, after “Bob” met “Maud” and they agree that it is time to throttle up and investing billions of Goverment guaranteed money mixed with a few healthy “Bob-timistic” billion, anything but a positive view towards Saab would be the glorification of death. Pessimsts such as Eeyore – friend of Winnie the Pooh – will always be found, but what have they ever achieved?
Finally, and for the first time we have an owner of Saab willing to invest in order to get out of the crisis. The focus is on the sporty “green” cars of high quality. Cars made by carenthusiasts for carenthusiasts. Cars to love or hate. Bob-cars.
The only Bob who is not aboard is former GM boss Bob Lutz – a genuine “Bob” who was ground down by GM’s largescale trap and became a lacking in vision ” Eeyore ” who ordered the Saab 9-2X, 9-7x, cowardly 9-3 and meaningless Cadillac BLS, Saturn and … Time for the a Royal motto: For Saab in time – and – above all, Bob.
Blogo also included some thoughts on this article, which are probably a good place to start in addressing it.
Who is this guy trying to fool? This piece was published July 10.
1)NLV Solar? I thought that was off. And wasn’t NLV Solar Swiss?
2)The Swedish Goverment is ready to invest? No way they are!
3)The new owners are ready to invest? No way they are!
4)The focus is on sporty “green” cars? Well, let’s wait and see.
5)”Christian von Koenigsegg proved that anything is possible”? Right, but only up to a point. Making a profit still seems IMpossible.
Enthusiasm is good, but without the (correct) facts enthusiasm can waste a whole lot of cash, as well as making life difficult for “serious” enthusiasts.
1) Yes, the NLV thing is off, and personally I think was far-fetched anyway. I think the author could have left this out and his article would have been just as effective.
2) The Swedish government isn’t as ready to invest as what our author makes out here, but I believe they will come around. Leaving Saab to die would stick long in the memory of voters and whilst there isn’t an election this year, I understand there might be one next year. The other thing to remember here is that whilst things have been quiet in public, there is money behind this bid. As enthusiasts, we may not like the sources, but I believe it’s there.
3) The new owners may well be ready to invest. We’ve focused on the personalities we can see. There are more that we can’t and AMS are likely closer to this than we’ll ever get.
4) “Green” – I agree with the author that there’ll be a new focus on this. Saab have been talking about several things for a few years now: BioPower cars specifically tuned for ethanol (instead of petrol cars that can run on ethanol) and hybrid technology. From what I’ve heard from several sources now, Saab have some pretty good hybrid technology under development and not far away. As an all-Swedish affair, I really think they’ll be emphasising this considerably.
5) What Koenigsegg and Eker have been able to achieve with their careers really is quite impressive. We’re concerned with some of the others in the picture, but these guys seem top shelf to me.
Your last point about the difficulty of making a profit is well made. Saab have an uphill battle of huge proportions ahead of them.
On a personal level, I’ll always try to be objective about Saab’s position, and in that vane I’ve got to say I’m hearing things from Sweden that are bringing me around to a very positive frame of mind with regards to this deal. I still have my concerns about the conditions of the deal, etc, but with CvK and Eker on the ground, along with Saab’s own very competent and resilient management team on the ground, my hopes have been raised quite a bit.
I certainly am looking forward to see what they do in terms of Saabs of the future and I think we’ve all got to remain realistically hopeful and enthusiastic so as to see them come about.
Thanks again, Blogo!