Media reaction to the Koenigsegg-BAIC deal

With so much criticism of both Koenigsegg and Saab in the Swedish media, it was always going to be interesting to see the reaction of the press to the announcement of Beijing Automotive’s involvement.

As was noted by a few in comments, they’d have no right to complain and seemingly little reason to protest. Koenigsegg asked Swedes for the money and were told to go jump. So they did.

ctm has been kind enough to collate a number of the Swedish reactions and michael H was good enough to prompt me towards an editorial from Auto Motor and Sport, which I’ve Googletrans’d and reproduced at the end.

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Actually not that many editorial comments on the announcement. Journalist were obviously expecting some juice stuff to scare the kids with, but got a much more low-key and sensible deal. Here’s the few prominent I could find:

di.se (business newspaper)
Interviewed the usual susp.. I mean, “experts” who says that it could be a good thing if it works (d’oh), but that there are lots of uncertainties. In other words, the same cold-reading, open-ended crap they usually produce in their so called analysis.

e24.se (business website)
One of the experts also interviewed in di.se now says that it is a milestone for the automotive industry at large and that it is an excellent solution for Saab… No need to worry about the jobs in Sweden!

gt.se / expressen.se (regional newspaper / national tabloid)
Jan-Erik Berggren: “How could GM allow this?” Koenigsegg’s license deals with GM responsible for GM accepting BAIC. But it’s not over yada yada yada. They need EIB loans and that could be a tough process.

svd.se (national newspaper)
Jonas Fröberg: “Is Saabs future secured? Not yet. It’s just a MOU and before a signed contract there are no guarantees.” EIB loans yada yada yada. It’s not something that was planned, it’s a last minute desperate solution. Positive on that BAIC is the partner and that it’s only a minority stake.

In general, I note three things.

1) Extensive coverage, but mostly matter-of-fact stuff with the press release, pictures, interviews with CvK, positive quotes from the unions and Government. No doomsday headlines so far, but rather a media coverage that I feel generates a positive spin on the brand name…

2) Feels like there is a surprise that it was BAIC. They can’t dig up dirt on them, can’t show any EuroNCAP tests with crappy BAIC cars, can’t deny them working with Daimler for 30 years…

3) Some die-hard pessimists try to spoil the party with no EIB loans yet, not a signed deal yet, we don’t know what they want, jobs will be moved to China, how come GM accepted this and not for Opel… Still, several things can’t be ignored even by them: Saab has only a small plant that is one lean machine and obviously secured for the European production, BAIC are buying only a minority stake and not controlling Saab, and access to the Chinese market could prove to be a cash cow.

My thanks to ctm for the local look!!

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And now to the editorial from Auto Motor and Sport.

For what it’s worth, Auto Motor and Sport and TTELA have been the two news services that have always kept a balanced reporting stance when it comes to Saab stories. They haven’t gone hunting for so-called experts to provide damaging fodder for their stories. Instead, they’ve kept a positive frame of mind, reported the problems when they’ve occurred and reported the real news in an accurate manner.

My hat is off to both publishers.

The following Googletrans is of an editorial written by AMS’s Chief Editor, Alrik Söderlind, and I think it sums up the enthusiast’s thoughts pretty well.

The Saab affair seems to be in port – my initial analysis is extremely positive. I can not see a better arrangement for Saab and its employees.

China is a fantastic country, but also scares. The political system we ridges and culture is almost impossible to understand for a Swedish trygghetstillbedjare.

But: Chinese companies owner of the Swedish car industry is the current trend. In the case of Volvo Geely Automobile, I am still very hesitant. The founder Li Shufu is admittedly an extremely polished entrepreneur – but it is the same as the legal owner of the Volvo? What I heard from various quarters is Geely Automobile, the people who visited Sweden is not entirely easy to understand. And having a Chinese company as the principal owner of Volvo? Well.

As I understand it, BAIC may have a number of votes in the Koenigsegg Group, but not a majority role. This means that Saab will be “guided” from Sweden.

In the case of Saab, I can not see a better partner – even though I really is not a connoisseur of BAIC. (Started a collaboration with AMC in 1983 and now has partnerships with Mercedes Benz, Hyundai and some 20 component manufacturers and is expected to build over 1.1 million cars this year. It is no small undertaking).

The Chinese market is growing extremely rapidly, Saab must of course there, and one has a partner who can kick and produce new Saab 9-5 is ideal.

New 9-5 has also the right rear seat dimensions to suit the Chinese people – we do not need to build an extended version.

BAIC is of course also in great need of skilled development engineers, all the Chinese automakers want to “catch up” western. Thus, it is not farfetched to think that Saab engineers may have lots of development work. That means Saab can stick with a large well-trained development organization – which of course will benefit future Saab cars.

On the other hand I do not think there is any reason to cut car production in Sweden, Trollhattan plant is efficient and close to the European market.

With the new approach has therefore Saab plants in Europe, in Mexico (Saab 9-4) and in a few years in China. It means hedge funds.

A Chinese partner also provides a strong future-proofing, the Chinese government is doing everything it can to help Chinese companies at the expense of the foreign Joint Venture manufacturers.

So: Congratulations Saab!

And to all the skeptics who last year demanded that Saab will be closed: ( “Do not throw good money after bad”, and “Saab has never made a profit and will never do it”) I can only say: how does it feel now ?

Certainly, the future will be extremely tough and no one can know if Saab really survive in the long term.

But the pessimists do not build the future I want to live in.

Now it feels good.

Yes, it does.

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