Robert Collin wants Swedish youths to peel bananas

JÅJ’s recent announcement has naturally caused quite a stir in our community. My soapbox is small, but I will deploy it nonetheless.

Certain stories have surfaced in the Swedish press, and many have been discussed in comments.

This calls for a summary.

First of all, there was a TV interview (TV4) which didn’t come up with anything really new. They like to remind us that Saab has never earned any money (despite what people close to Saab may say) and people who buy Saabs are like cult-members who only buy them to support the factory. Oh, and Robert Collin again claimed JÅJ and VM had a shaky relationship based on a raised eyebrow and supposed eye roll during a dinner last Fall. Robert already predicted the 9-5 would not sell over a year ago. Now we are told it won’t sell because JÅJ is leaving Saab. And of course, it’s still too big. It strikes me as funny how my MY11 9-5 isn’t too big, but I guess I got one of the few good ones?

Also present at that fateful dinner was our own Swade. Swade writes:

Well, I was at the same dinner and I can tell you that I have no recollection at all of VM leaving significantly early at all. (…)Well, I was at the same dinner and I can tell you that I have no recollection at all of VM leaving significantly early at all. The fact that he might have wanted to get back a little earlier might have had something to do with his recovery from some surgery he had not long before.(…)So to anyone who wants to take the opportunity to give Victor a backhander, I say there are two sides to every story and you ought to make sure you get both.

The same event. Two different accounts. Who do you trust more?

As for Robert’s “cult” reference– it’s unfair and uncalled for. Personally, I bought my first Saab as late as 2008. The 9-3 SC was then the safest car in its class according to folksam.se. Granted, the following year Folksam reduced the 9-3’s rating, giving it the same score as other European brands, but it still remains one of very few models that have been tested for moose impacts. I drive a lot through moose infested areas, and I need this extra safety. I also require Saab’s excellent winter skills. Saabs usually win when magazines compare cars in the winter. The 9-5 that I bought last year is no exception. I drive 720 km every week on some of the worst winter roads imaginable. I know from experience that a Volvo V50 can’t cope properly with such conditions. Saab 9-3, 9000 and 9-5 on the other hand can. With ease. The “too big” 9-5 is extremely comfy, and it is difficult not to smile as I’m able to dig through parts of the road that seems to stump others.

In short, TV4’s coverage painted a very bleak picture of Saab. It would not surprise me if Saab eventually drowns because of the Swedish press alone. It is no longer a question about them being right or not, it is a question of why they so desperately want to bury the company with its thousands of jobs and likely the entire city of Trollhättan. Swedish people should feel upset with their one sided journalists, because otherwise… perhaps Swedish youths peeling bananas in Norway is the answer? Does that sound like a fun and interesting job? Is that really an improvement over working for the evil entrepreneur Victor Muller? At least he’s trying to create something of value.

Erik D
Guest
Erik D

Well spoken Rune! I was actually at my dealer today to try out a very mildly used 9-5 and in my opinion it really doesn’t feel that big at all once you’re on the road… So Robert Collin please try to check your facts next time!

Peter, Sweden
Guest
Peter, Sweden

You’re hitting every nail there is, rune. Excellent writing!

It would be really interesting, SU being such a big site it is, if you guys could contact other experts, professors (maybe someone från Handelsinstitutet, or maybe some of the lawyers who worked with the deal) etc to give their view of the Saab-situation. The Swedish press is going with the same journalists and “experts” all the time. Not because they’re necessarily right or even close to being on spot, but because they tell people what will sell magazines: dooms day stories.

maanders
Guest
maanders
Sometimes I wonder what the Swedish press will report when there is good news. We all know that sales are not what Saab hoped they would be, but as we have also discussed, there are many factors in the US contributing to that (lack of awareness of Saab still existing, lack of awareness of the new 9-5, 9-4X not available yet, etc.). As for your comment, Rune, on need for a safe car…..”I drive a lot through moose infested areas”, I could only smile. For some reason, all I could picture in my mind was a Monty Python-type sketch of… Read more »
Frank
Guest
Frank

Thank you Rune,
You are spot on, I might be in the SAAB cult, not that I for the moment own one, but because i really like the brand.
However, its so frustrating that so many almost feel good talking sh*t about SAAB, the media and all the nasty comments that follows. Apperantly nothing else is going on in Sweden or the World. They need a Charlie Sheen or someting to focus on.
What we need now is more good reviews, more comercials and the volyme numbers. And I would like this bashing to stop, starting with the Swedish media.

Frank

Golfhunter
Guest

All I can say is that at Geneva , at the end of the first press day , JAJ and VM have left the Saab stand in the same time together and looked to be confortable together .
United 🙂

ANA
Guest
ANA

Rune, extremely well written!

Talladegan
Guest
Talladegan

+1

saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut
@Robert Collin I simply don’t get it !! – The new 9-5 too big ??!! Buying this car just for the sake of saving a company ??!! What’s wrong with that guy? I recently bought the new 9-5 MY11 not because I wanted to support a company, but of it’s simply beautiful, subtle design (inside and outside), its awesome ride – yes even the 160 hp/auto diesel rides greatly, it’s sovereign road holding and feeling of safety and although it is 5 meters long, there are many even longer cars on the market. The reason for this car was not… Read more »
Yerrun
Guest
Yerrun
Well Spoken! Collin’s argument that a V60 sells better than a 9-5 is completely useless. Price is different and size is A LOT different. It’s so sad to see and hear Swedish press every single time making stories up to get attention. Yes, It’s sad to see Jonsson leaving and yes, one can discuss about the timing, but seriously: saying things like “he’s leaving the sinking ship” is shameful and based on no facts at all! Is there really noting that can be done to change their attitude? 🙁 Let’s start with: SAAB MAKES ME HAPPY AND WHO ARE YOU… Read more »
saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut

Let’s start with: SAAB MAKES ME HAPPY AND WHO ARE YOU TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME?!

XXactly !! Thanks YERRUN 😉

Joachim Delfortrie
Guest
Joachim Delfortrie
Maybe its wishful thinking but maybe JAJ and VM should just post a short comment on SU that their is no kind of riff between the two and that, although, different personalities have a lot of respect for each other and are actually good friends.. yes friends! Just to cut the lame doomsday stories from the press about SAAB, enough already. I would think that people would be rooting for the underdog amongst the powerful and sleazy conglomerates, guess I was wrong. I read somewhere that Saab might be thinking of manufacturing other brand cars in the Trollhattan factory? Is… Read more »
Red J
Member

I read somewhere that Saab might be thinking of manufacturing other brand cars in the Trollhattan factory? Is this anyway true or just more rumor-mongering?

I think it was VM who said this a couple of times.
For sure they are exploring any ways to increase the profit or decrease the break even, but as long as they don’t sell the (rights to build a car based on the) phoenix platform, I don’t think they will be building any non-Saab in THN.

Marque
Guest
Marque
No one can be a prophet in his own land, maybe this is why Saab has to face its fiercest enemies at home. This causes very strange things, while Saab is heavily in the battle with word wide competitors, it is it’s hearth trying to cause a severe damage. Otherwise I can’t get what’s the driver for their… SABOTAGE. Apart from that, my biggest concern what Saab will be facing soon, is whether she can retain the genuine swedishness. For many decades, there were lines no one else could draw, and way of engineering no one else could do similarly.… Read more »
TuuSaR
Guest
TuuSaR

Soon there will be Q1 report about production and sales, I think focus will move towards it.

Greg Abbott
Guest
Greg Abbott
It is apparent that the new Saab has a severe public relations problem. VM did not create this problem, but his management style (quick! decisive! with no advance preparation for the automotive press!) is making it worse. If it is true that JAJ discussed leaving as early as last October, then the public relations groundwork for the transition should have been well prepared. VM had to have known that JAJ’s departure would produce a whole boatload of “Saab is dying” stories – and if he didn’t know, he needs to hire someone who does know these things and listen to… Read more »
Swade
Guest
Swade

Well thought out, Greg.

I’ve spoken to a few people about the JAJ decision and these are people who have known him and worked with him for a long time. All concur that this decision has been a long time in the making. As you say, this means that the preparation for it’s announcement wasn’t handled as well as it could/should have been.

montahue
Guest
montahue
The Collin guy tries to make it look like as soon as JAJ tries to say “nice weather today” immediately Victor is there to put him down with his vivid personality and flamboyance (and perhaps his shortsighted business ideas) and that this is the reason JAJ had enough and suddenly decided to retire. Also saabs are to big, especially their “JEEP” (literary) that only has gasoline engines no one wants . But of course this speculation got new food when JAJ leaving this suddenly and i’m sure i’m not the only one that had an uneasy stomach over this for… Read more »
Mr.T
Guest
Mr.T

Hey swade, its still not too late for some damage control, some interviews with Jan-Åke and so on. Your are one of the team now so please pass it on. SAAB must learn to be much better at these things!

Realist
Guest
Realist
Right you are, Greg. JAJ has explained that he feels he can now leave because SAAB is in good hands and headed soon, he says, to profitability. In other words, his stepping down is a vote of confidence, not a vote of no confidence. (I’m taking JAJ at his word here but have never had a reason not to.) So, the opportunity VM missed was to convey stability by unfolding a normal transition. Instead, he announced that he would become CEO. And then that he wanted “the next CEO” to be — well, it didn’t matter, did it? If VM… Read more »
Chris H
Guest
Chris H

Gregg;
Another excellent email, spot on. I do however think everyone is missing a point here. This guy is over 60. As a general rule, most Forture 500 corporations are run by the under 55 group. As one about the same age as JAJ I can tell you most people look at the number of really good years you MIGHT have left and start making different decisions. I think that is all he was thinking about. Anyone who is reading the tea leaves any other way is too young to understand.

Hans H
Guest
Hans H

Well said/written!

Jeff
Member
Greg, I completely agree with you as always. What Saab has isn’t a business problem, it’s a PR problem. With very few exceptions (they throw great parties), their message from an advertising and company PR platform is pretty weak. I don’t know if it’s because they’re understaffed, they have the wrong people working for them, or there is some other underlying problem, but it hasn’t been working for a long time– going back to the GM days. I’m heartened to see that Swade is joining the team, and I sincerely hope Victor and the board listen to him if he… Read more »
saabyurk
Guest

Well, for a change, here’s some positive reporting from a USA perspective that might cheer you up a little:
http://www.bnet.com/blog/auto-industry/auto-comebacks-what-kind-of-shape-is-saab-really-in/234

M Frid
Guest
M Frid

AMEN TO THAT!!!…STAY POSITIVE!!!!!!!!

RobertP
Guest
RobertP

I was just reading this article: This guy (Metthew DeBord) did make a good analysis. Mid-luxury car brand that can perfectly fill the gap that is occuring in the US. Ignore the repeating journalists and so-called experts that, out of attitude and misjudged pride, will never change their opinion.

Hugh
Guest
Hugh

I would not be surprised if there are some media “agendas” at work here. Certainly in the U.S. the media ownership is very consolidated and I find the only way to get truthful information is from non-main stream media sources. (Thank God for the Internet!) The U.S. media wants the U.S. to fail and I would wager the Swedish media would also relish the thought of Saab going down due to their agendas! Not far fetched at all, in my opinion.

montahue
Guest
montahue
I was kinda upset for a while before i watched the tv4 interview. I’m a bit upset still but i don’t feel like mailing Collin telling him what i think about his irresponsibly whoring on the crappiest morning tv-show in Sweden. Well, if i’m gonna be honest there are only two morning tv-shows in Sweden but the the channel that makes the good one not long ago did a very funny parody series of the crappy one that was on the spot. Anyhow, at this parodied show sits an aged, tired car journalist with a hair looking like a birds… Read more »
Chief
Guest
Chief
Not that i’m a big fan of Robert Collin and TV4 but you should watch what’s coming out of your mouth before saying something like this.. Robert Collin is one of Swedens most respected car journalists and TV4 is the largest tv network on the private market… its not a parodie, its serious tv broadcasting, one of the two morning shows in sweden worth watching. Using the word “attention whores” about the swedish press does say quite a lot about the frustration and bitternes in the Saab camp.. see this bitternes and overwhelming selfconfidence that surrounds you people here will… Read more »
rune
Member
there is a lot of “funny” stuff going on whether you want to see it or not.. I.e. it should be pretty easy then for you to compile a list? Robert Collin’s attack on VM: “Det är skräddarsytt på Saville Row, yviga gester och insmickrande halvsanningar.”. How VM is dressed is, I hope, not one of the things you consider “funny” stuff? It seems the list of real grievances is pretty short, so the critics of VM are left with commenting on how the man dresses. Why else even bring it up? Be also careful for what you wish for.… Read more »
Chief
Guest
Chief
The “list” you ask for is basically the business history of VM and for that matter Saab as well. Of course i don’t mind how VM is dressed, don’t know why you bring this up. What i want from Saab? I wish they were that successfull that they did not need the government support they currently have. And yes, i know there are supposed rest values in the business that should cover for the money borrowed by EIB in the case of a bankrupcy… however; i don’t believe in that. A business like Saab should be able to stand on… Read more »
rune
Member
What specifically about VM’s business history causes you concern? And what relevance does that history have to him running Saab? Saab’s assets have been scrutinized by the government. That has nothing to do with VM, VA or even Saab. If you believe the loan is in jeopardy and that Saab’s assets won’t cover it, well… Tough cookie. Even if your estimation was correct, it is too late to gripe about it now. (well, that is not entirely correct, you could be able to make a few heads roll in the government I suppose, but first you need to be able… Read more »
montahue
Guest
montahue

God damn you are bitter and sad. Your life mission is to hate this little car company and you hope all of us Saab cultists on our “high horses” soon will go down together with the company so you can sit gloat over our misfortune at various car forums and even here? Be gone! Please?

solvy
Guest
solvy

@chief
“Cause i know in the end VM will one way or the other run away with a bag full of money”

think different! if you are doing a bank robbery, would you show your face on television? no, you are masked. VM is the one who tries to be in the media as much as possible. he is the one who gave up his baby called spyker to concentrate on saab. so why the hell should he take saabs money and run away?

Chief
Guest
Chief

I’m refering to VMs history as car manufacturer and owner of Spyker, his reputation as businessman in general, words from the dutch stockholder association etc.. that he is depending of one of russias famous oligarks.. you name it. Google VM and you will see.

Real dirt or not, it’s still dirt in the eye of the public and it will for sure not help Saab to build up it’s reputation.

rune
Member
that he is depending of one of russias famous oligarks I.e. VA? Who himself have been cleared of all accusations? Is this not circular argumentation? Has VM broken the law at any point? Has he been convicted of anything? You have basically got nothing. Again: Rumours, speculation and a hefty dosage of envy. Rather than form your own opinion of the man, you instead rely on rumours. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. I remember that VEB posed some questions to VM, but how that disqualifies VM from doing any business in the future is beyond me. I strongly suggest you do… Read more »
Kikaluka
Guest
Kikaluka

Look at what Saab achieved over the last year, and that is pretty impressive. Marketing, PR, dealernetwork still need a lot of work, but so far Muller is proving to be pretty competent, no matter what his history looks like. So if people feel the need to evaluate him, please also include the recent achievements in turning around this company.

khrisdk
Guest
I am not so sure that commercial TV and serious TV are completely compatible. Not even i Sweden. Commercial TV lives off sensations and gossip because i gives most viewers. There are good reasons that “funny” things are going on. The problems stems from the fact that swedish government and GM choose to let allegations than have now been proven wrong stand in the way of the strongest investor in Saab, Vladimir Antonov. I does not help to reiterate that there must be some weird connections to illegal activities when Antoinov has been cleared. The delay in letting Antonov in… Read more »
montahue
Guest
montahue
I admit i had a beer or two to much when i called Collin a attention wh*** and i might have been a bit harsh. But i stand for saying TV4 is a generally crappy channel that tries to be something (especially the morning show) its not, and therefore often worth parodying. You should try watch the other channels morning show for a while and hopefully you will understand how low the level of of journalism and interview preparation is at the TV4 morning show. As respected as Collin might be (if years in service is what equals respect) he… Read more »
100%Saab
Guest
100%Saab

“people who buy Saabs are like cult-members who only buy them to support the factory”

Well this Saab owner is a GM family member legacy and why would I want to keep a factory in Sweden open when I live in Texas? I agree with the bnet article. I have coworkers complaining about their poor SUV gas mileage as recently as today. (By the way, 100%Saab equals the number of Saabs owned by my family divided by the number of cars owned by my family times 100.)

Just a thought.

montahue
Guest
montahue

To give Collin a tiny bit of credit what he said at the same time as he called Saab’ers cult members he also kinda said “this is how its always been and saab always strangely survives”

Highway Star
Guest
Highway Star

“people who buy Saabs are like cult-members who only buy them to support the factory”

How is this any different from the other marques (automotive and otherwise) and their loyal fanbases who are repeat customers? And isn’t this good thing for a company to have anyway?

The Swedish media still doesn’t get the big picture.

michaelb
Guest
michaelb
This whole thing is worrisome. According to its own agenda, Saab’s turnaround in 2011/12 is depending on three major markets, Sweden, USA, UK. There are known problems with the US and the UK due to several factors – unfavourable exchange rates, poor market perspectives due to overleveraged households, in the UK fiscal policies. I always thought, Sweden is no problem, with the 9-3 Diesel and the upcoming 9-5 wagon Saab sales will flourish there. The worst to happen is if Sweden the home market for Saab will not take off due to bad press and perception. I agree that the… Read more »
Jeff
Member
Michael… just one quick thought: Last year Cadillac produced 75,000 SRXs, mainly for US consumption. Dealers can’t keep up with demand. The 9-4x is the exact same price, and it’s equipped, looks, and drives better. If Saab could get a quarter as many sales, they’d be a great way towards profitability. The problem isn’t with product, it’s with dealers and advertising. Let’s see what happens in NYC and take it from there. As sales begin to pick up, the press will have to take note, and as new product is reviewed well, they won’t be able to ignore it. Yes… Read more »
Marco
Guest
Marco
I think TTELA had the best article about JÅJ’s retirement. They asked the Man himself the right questions and got the best answers. It could have been even longer… I hope someone does this with TV cameras as well. In this article he also explains that he is not leaving immediately: He will be working until September. Is that how a fired or unsatisfied CEO is leaving? Robert Collin in TV4: He should know better if he dares to give out business cards with the title “car journalist” printed on them. Cars aren’t developed in weeks: the 9-5 was already… Read more »
StefanH STHLM
Guest
StefanH STHLM
Got an Vip invitation to the Saab show in Nacka Strand conference center in Stockholm. I´ve emailed twice to the SU Crew about this, believing this is a major opportunity for Saabers on one of the major Saab markets to get in close with the PhoeniX, the 9-5 SportCombi, 9-4X and the Independence Day Cab. At least it could be noticed in the calender on the SU page. Vip on Thursday the 7th of April. Open for all on Friday to Sunday the 8-10th of April. Perhaps U have planned to announce it soon, but I think U should do… Read more »
Peter, Sweden
Guest
Peter, Sweden

I’ve emailed as well… but yeah, I sure hope all of us swedes know about the event anyway… wonder if I’ll get an invitation in the post today as well?

Do you know what the conference center is like? Never been there… is it a nice venue?

StefanH STHLM
Guest
StefanH STHLM

I was there a long time ago, so the memory is quite blurry. bit I imagine that its a nice venue.
🙂

granne
Guest
granne

It is very suitable an old car factory.
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacka_Strand

granne
Guest
granne

and also with a slight Saab-connection. 🙂
The car factory was owned by Philipsons Automobil AB, the same company which was Saabs first customer and original agent in Sweden. http://www.saab92.se/Historik.html

montahue
Guest
montahue

I also was there a long time ago, like 12-14 years ago when i worked nearby and was invited to free beers but sadly what was on display then was the products of Swedish match ie swedish snus/snuff. I got only one or two free beers and the whole thing was pretty boring. Also i think i actually payed for a small pin with their products on which is sad. I think this is the most off-topic comment i ever made.

montahue
Guest
montahue

The place i worked at was the (at the time) brand new Nacka mediagymnasium and i think that was a heavily renovated old car, or something factory if my memory serves me right?

Joe
Guest
Joe
I agree that the 9-4X is likely to be as appetizing as the SRX. My worries are that supply/sales force is to small to achieve anything near 1/4 of SRX sales, at least in the immediate future. Partly because production (in the Mexico plant) is limited to 10k per year, partly because I fear that Saab dealer network and marketing muscle is much weaker, I don’t know if quantity of new cars available at cars.com can be used as a proxy, where there are about 10 times more new Caddys available compared to Saabs. But in the long run I… Read more »
RS
Guest
RS

Good post Rune! Maybe someone from (Göteborg?) rang TV4 after they visited Trollhättan live the other week and ‘forced them’ to balance all the positives with the usual sh$t. I’m surprised the guys weren’t sitting with their ovloV caps on.
Too fears (brotherly) rivalry will only make you vulnerable to attacks from the outside. I really don’t see the point in killing each other on home ground, especially when all this campaigning seems to be sooo one sided. Someone must really be scared of a strong and profitable SAAB?

All this crap just makes me want a 9-5 SC more.

Nils
Guest
Nils

In fairness, Robert Collin wrote a very favourable review of the 119g 9-3 TTid. He has also written positively about the NG 9-5. His remarks about the size of the car for European markets is true. It is after all one step up from the OG 9-5, both in terms of price and size. Nevertheless an excellent car.

I agree that all the gloom in the Swedish (business) press about Saab is a pity, but SU should be careful bashing the friends of Saab among the journalists. There are positive reports as well.

Tomas TL1000R
Guest
Tomas TL1000R

I agree Nils! But he talked clumsy, they all do. As if they don´t know that GM decide the sice of the 9-5, or the fact that Sweds doesn´t buy sedans that much.

RS
Guest
RS
Sorry guys, I have to disagree. One of the reason the OG 9-5 was losing sales was the fact that competition was getting bigger all the time and the current NG9-3 is the same size (as wide and just a few inches shorter). I believe they actually had to make the 9-3 SC’s trunk a bit too small imo so that it wouldn’t be exactly the same size as the OG9-5 at the time. The JC 9-3 should with a longer wheelbase be very close to a OG 9-5. My family currently needs the extra space and I therefore welcome… Read more »
ak
Guest
ak

If only the swedish press could stop bashing Saab and take the example of the german press and their “supportive” comments of german cars. They make sure you get the message and no wonder they “win” all comparitive tests……be at least objective and cut out the negativity. It`s a sorry state of affairs that hasn`t been helped by the RP mess of JÄJ departure .

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

You know, after re-reading the above article you have to laugh, Cult-like members! You know I always wanted to be a member of a cult, but I missed the flight to Jonestown, and the space ship flying over LA. And yes, it is true, we have purchased 5, or 6 Saabs since the day the first one saved my life, and gave up it’s own. So yeah, I guess you might call that a cult-thing. I would rather call it payment on a debt due.

Lars Jorge
Guest
Lars Jorge
Robert Collin became well-known as the guy who demonstrated the Mercedes A-class trend to overbalance. He argues also for considerably increased speed rates on Swedish highways, something that I also once was an advocate for. After that during a 10-year period of driving approximately 20 times the stretch Malmö-Alicante-Malmö, almost 55,000 km through Denmark, Germany, France and Spain I have a certain understanding for the authorities’ sights. I have seen multiple accidents on highway during this time. One which was lucky and had no injuries, occurred on the road to Sweden north of Barcelona in Spain. In the rearview mirror,… Read more »
JL
Guest
JL
I agree with most of what is written and find SOME of the media behaviour shameful. But it is what it is and a sign of the times. Bad journalism has low credibility and journalists who upset the general public create opposite reactions to what seemed to be intended. We are not the only ones who can detect poor journalism and we are not the only ones who care about the SAAB factory! We know that SAAB have been working in a furious pace, with very limited resources. Not all tasks are being executed with perfect precision, obviously including the… Read more »
rune
Member
Thanks for all the nice feedback guys. Let us hope more people will (re-)discover Saab in the near future. maanders: My sister was bitten by a møøse. 🙂 Last year I spotted two moose in the road. One hit by a truck (the driver was redirecting the traffic while waiting for the authorities to arrive) and another I spotted at night; A young moose was running back and forth on the road looking somewhat confused. The speed limit was 90 kph. In December my wife told me she spotted a few a bit off the road. They are definitively there.… Read more »
maaders
Guest
maaders

Rune, LOL!

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…

turbin
Guest
turbin

Moose Up!

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