Chinese getting serious about Saab

Updating the sales figures for June and reading the last press release from Saab is like being in a pitfall for days and hearing the leader coming to you. You know you are still in the pit but you will come out soon.
And while the rope leader keeps falling, yes it is a deep pit; I would like to share my thoughts on this last press release.

Pang Da and Youngman
One or two weeks ago the CEO of one of those two companies said that the current situation of Saab didn’t worry him, because the long term perspective for Saab is very bright.

So why did they first do a non binding MoU? Why did they wait till now to convert it into a binding agreement? We all know what happened to Hawtai for, maybe, trying to be too fast. So Pang Da and Youngman simply decided to be more cautious and wait for a positive sign from the Chinese authorities before moving forward.

This is pure speculation; as I have as much insight as most of you, but would show the confidence those Chinese companies have in Saab and the future of the Brand.

But why can they be so confident if Saab production line is still stopped? I think that from now the factory restart is only a question of time. Some suppliers did not only ask for money to deliver Saab once again with parts, but they wanted to see a functioning mid-term financing. I think many of those sceptics will be convinced now, and they will be taking the gamble that all those agreements are approved in autumn of this year as already anticipated by Saab.

From my private point of view, I would love that Saab is able to build cars before the summer vacations, as I am one of those customers waiting for the delivery of a car, but if it is only possible to restart production after the summer break it will be also be OK for me.

9-1, 9-6x, 9-7

The second part of this press release is the announcement of three new models that should broaden the Saab palette.

The first thing that I read out of it is that the cars will have odd numbers, where the SUVs will get the even numbers.

  • 9-1, 9-3, 9-5, 9-7
  • 9-4x, 9-6x

There is still space for a future 9-2x.

Secondly, by the numbers we only see how those cars might be positioned, but we don’t know its size. Yes the Phoenix platform is able to underpin a 5.20m long car, but being able to do something, doesn’t mean that you should do it.

There is still the possibility of a smaller next-get 9-5 and a 9-7 of about the size of the current 9-5, and the same is valid for the 9-4x/9-6x.

But this is more the European view on it. If I go to the US/Russia/China, it seems like people are asking for different things. How many of our US readers did ask for a third seat row in the 9-4x? And why is BMW building a long wheel base 5 series or Audi building an lwb A6, for China?

So there is still a market for such cars, and if you don’t believe me, why is Audi working on the next Q7?

My point of view is that Muller wanted the funding to build the 9-1 and the Chinese wanted the bigger 9-7 and 9-6x. At the end of the day Muller got the funding for the 9-1 and the Chinese the development partner for the 9-6x and 9-7.

All in all, it bodes well for Saab future, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Chinese authorities also see a future in those joint ventures.

DUTCH900C
Member
5 years 2 months ago

What a unbelivable nice day with good news!

dcpattie
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Yes it is (a great day) – the Chinese desire luxury and Victor knows how to do luxury, just look at the interior of a Spyker. Now Saab needs to get that kind of luxury in a Saab that is the size of a S-class Merc. This could be very interesting.

900 classic cab
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

For the first time in a few months a really feel that this is it 🙂

saab93f
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I can probably start breathing normally now 🙂 It has also been a drag to not be able to open a website without fearing bad news…
Saab UP!!

Börjesson
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Don’t worry! It’s a matter of minutes before media starts publishing opinions by various “analysts” who are eager to inform us about why this is a terribly bad thing and it can never work. And then we can start feeling at home again. 😛

SaabNut93
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Very true but I see a different trend comingwithALMEDALENandEIB.

Actually I wonder if this wont hurt you government – for their ignorance – in essence the EIB loan has been all that the government did to this industry – but it turned out being like sending life vests made of led to a person fighting not to drown. Not to mention their attitude up until just a moment ago.

jond
Member
5 years 2 months ago
To me, this looks suspiciously like the Chinese see a great deal of potential for Saab as a vehicle (sorry!) by which they can potentially make inroads into all major markets. They will have voting control, so they can experiment with whatever they feel might match the individual markets. They can sell Saabs, with all the high quality brand image that implies, to Europe and the US (and, of course, Russia and China). In effect they will own the design operations in Sweden and could create a large parts manufacturing base in China, to supply parts to assembly lines in… Read more »
Seb C
Member
5 years 2 months ago

And it’s even better for Saab since it might avert almost certain death…

SaabNut93
Member
jond
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, I agree that of course there will be technology transfer, but they will also have to maintain a Swedish base for the time being if only to claim ‘designed in Sweden’ so as to maintain brand image.

TonymacUK
Member
5 years 2 months ago

But if it will be autumn before everything is settled with the Chinese, where is the money coming from NOW in order to restart production?

zippy
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Or pay wages.

Toby K
Member
5 years 2 months ago

This is good news indeed but i still feel the essential peise of information is missing.
Parts suppliers happy are they?
Re-starting production soon then?

Tim
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Eric Geers still hopes production will resume next week. So I guess they are getting closer…

Jeff
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Really good assessment, RedJ. Your theory is confirmed by background rumors about meetings we’ve heard of, which I obviously can’t go into here– we’ll talk.

Turboladdade
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Would the SUVs continue to be produced “globally” aka Mexico, China, or somewhere other than Trollhättan?

sportwagon28t
Member
5 years 2 months ago

wooahhh! how did we get to this stage…
As far as i knew the factory still isnt producing cars the workers arent err ‘working’ and the parts suppliers still havent been paid but still’ thats ok why not roll out 6 new models!!!!
Its publicity at its worst to be honest, lets take things one step at a time and then everybody can have realistic expectations for the short term.
Id love to rejoice in this news but in all honestly there are far more pressing issues to be taken care of – like getting the production line rolling for example!

Tripod
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I agree that there definitely are more pressing issues; but one thing doesn’t exclude the other, and I’m sure they are all working on different things. As Red J mentioned, mid-term financing seemed to be part of the questions from some suppliers, so, to move forward on one front, you need to move forward on another. But I’m sure that these negotiations would have happened no matter what was going on with the suppliers. And above all, I think it’s good if the negotiations with the suppliers stay out of media for now; they, Saab and their suppliers need that.

RS
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Whoa, wait a second. How do you get production started? By showing suppliers that a) Saab will become profitable in the future, b) it’s going to be good business to co-operate with the company.

Don’t you think negotiations will go a bit smoother ones there is a clear view of where this ship is going and there’s plenty of fuel on board.
You can be as sarcastic as you want but imo they’ve chosen the right path to clear up this mess with the binding agreements at this point.

sportwagon28t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
The suppliers arent that stupid, anybody can say want they want to do but the parts suppliers need to see Saab in a sound state very very soon. They need to see cash not speak, new models cost a great deal of money and since the employees diodnt get paid on time last month i doubt they are taking billions of £££ worth of new models that seriously at the moment its only my opinion by the way RS and i hope im wrong because like you (i assume) im a big Saab fan and only want the best for… Read more »
Henric Tungström
Member
5 years 2 months ago

You seem to be missing this important part of the press-release:

The plant in Trollhattan will, according to the press release to be responsible for design, development and test process while Youngman stands for the necessary financing.

RS
Member
5 years 2 months ago
sportwagon28t, I’m glad if you are a Saab fan -I honestly couldn’t tell. Please don’t let your frustration cloud your judgment, it will only make any rational discussion impossible. You have been venting for quite a while now, but the honest truth is that Saab has been doing everything it can to solve the problems and restart production for many weeks now just to see someone put yet an other bureaucratic obstacle in front of them. What more could they have done now? What would you have you done different? Last week they got tens of millions into the company.… Read more »
Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago
Frankly, unless the suppliers have been fed more information, this looks terribly like smoke and mirrors to me. Don’t blame people to have very little trust left in the current Saab management, they have done everything they can to do away with it. When your factory is standing still, when there is no sign of anything being done to restart it, when all signs big and small point towards the impossibility to restart before the summer holiday (and have we even heard if any of the suppliers agreed to the shortened summer holiday), with a management of now revealed track… Read more »
hilmar
Member
5 years 2 months ago

“Fighting against windmills” – the first round is won ! Thanks to all who made it possible ! Youngman LOTUS ? Perhaps they are able to build the Aero X any time ? 🙂

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Forget Aero X. Sadly that wonderful design direction is a thing of the past.

Now we have the ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Aero-motional’.

Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Aero-X won’t be forgotten!!!
!!!
!!
!

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago

No it certainly won’t. It was and still is a fantastic and modern piece of design. Same goes for the 9X and 9X Air.

Phoenix, Mantide…Play time is over, let the adults design the cars now.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Hmm…I’m not so sure I like the Adults. 🙂

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago

@Khrisdk

You’re referring to the people responsible for designing the current 9-5, the 9-3 and facelift 9-3, 9-3X and 9-4X…? They are/were the adults I was referring to.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Yes..
The only one of those cars that in my view draws anything other that a modified frontend from the Aero-X is the 9-4X.
That’s what adults do.

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I think you will find there is a large amount of Aero X in the current 9-5. As I said earlier, you can forget that ‘look’ now, it disappeared when VM hired an external consultant to be the design chief.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Yes
Where we do not agree is that you think it is bad.
I don’t think it is

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago
What I find disappointing is the loss of such a great design ‘language’ and all its potential that was yet to be realised (with the exception of the current 9-5 and 9-4X). Imagine an Aero X coupe the size of a 9-3, or a 9X hatch the size of a Mini; I’d be at the dealer tomorrow with a deposit for both. Take away the sexy paint and show-pony doors from the Phoenix and what have you got…a student’s effort at best. Hardly a thinking person’s design and certainly not a step forward for a ‘Move your Mind’ type philosophy.… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago
There’s a long way from concept to production. Try taking a look at the cars off JC’s hand that are actually for sale on the road. There is also one thing that you overlook. In cardesign big is beautifull, meaning that the larger bodyshell the better lines you can make. The Aero-X is a HUGE car,. So is the 9-5 and the 9-4X The car I would find the most interesting as a new Saab would be a 9-4x the size of a Fiat Panda with a 1.6 turbo engine. The most beautiful Saabs in my view are in no… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

oops..forgot
Very impotant:

Saab 96 Bullnose, not just any 96

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I am well aware of the the size of the Aero X and the freedom one has with lines and volumes when things are scaled up. It is in fact one of the main reasons why many seasoned car designers actually prefer the challenge of small car design. The 9X and 9X Air are not large cars (by today’s standards at least), illustrating that the design language was adaptable over a multitude of scales. Clean, sophisticated lines and refined design solutions are not the sole domain of the limousine, or in fact a soft roader as you suggest (?). As… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Maserati Grand Turismo

http://www.flickr.com/photos/speed-timer/2638382001/

The production car from JC

We will never agre on this.
I have never liked any of the Saab concept cars, and wouldn’t buy any of the new ones because of design.
I have had the chance to study the NG9-5 in max specs close up and drive it several times.
I like the car. Not the design that much

oistein
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Fair enough.

You are generous with your GT credit though.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I know

But it is hard to tell exactly who did what at any time at Pininfarina
JC mostly gets the major credit for the GT

ANA
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I don’t read anything unusual into the process. Companies often sign MOUs first in order to give the other party(s) the confidence to invest the time and money required to close a binding deal.

Turbine
Member
5 years 2 months ago
This seems to be relative good news but perhaps more “jam tomorrow” than “bread today”. Still issues with immediate financing and cashflow- be sure the chinese will stay in this one because it represents a very cost effective opportunity whatever the result- too many people are ignoring the fundamental issue – a lot of cash is going to be required to get saab back on its feet – not least inspiring a younger generation back to the brand against some real tough opposition. Yes Saab is still here but the longer the twists and turns continue the harder it will… Read more »
Audun
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Then I guess, Saab and their owners has to use the Turbo. 😉

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

There’s more to business than money and strategies.
This one’s a crash course in Business Psychology

What this also is is “breaking the rules”.
Yes, it will take a lot of money to get Saab up and running, but not as many as the standard analysts and experts expects. They only know the past, not the future, and that may well be very different that “expected outcome”

How many “rules” have by now been broken by Saab?
Expect more rulebreaking

Audun
Member
5 years 2 months ago

+1 🙂

Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Thanks for providing carefully calculated numbers when mentioning that numbers never lie. Thanks to all those figures you have shown us we now have the absolute certainty we are not being lied to!

SAAB LANCE
Member
5 years 2 months ago

With a plant shut down once again and not producing cars OF ANY MODEL TYPE for a significant portion of the year,with sales in the United States in numbers that are below irrelevant…talk of EXPANDING the model line-up is the definition of hubris!

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Not if The Chinese are paying for those models to be produce in the future
Which they are

Pedro
Member
5 years 2 months ago

My 2 cents: I would say no 9-7 and no 9-6X. 9-1; 9-3; 9-5; plus 9-2X and 9-4X are enough to feed a self-sustainable brand. The Sonnet name could be always used for ‘something special’. Rightsize the cars by improving packaging (5000mm long 9-5 is a bit too much), and continue to rightsize/downsize the engine lineup to focus on environmentally responsible performance. Keep tech integration on the highest priority list: people like to be connected.

Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Would you lend me your 2 cents? 🙂

After reading somewhere that VA is contemplating having overflow assembly in Latvia, I honestly question the grasp those guys have of the automotive industry.

I do hope it’s the Chinese and VA who are clueless and that’s whom the smoke and mirrors show is for, and the Saab management knows better, only needs a bit of deception to get the means they need to proceed.

Toby K
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Do you mean you are worried about all the “Grand Planning” whilst the day to day operational details are overlooked?

One -day they might just get there but today…the story is more “slight of hand” than anything else.

I wish them luck, I really do…but I want news of the operation before news of possible growth in the far future, in the far east…

daniel_t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
1.) I like Saab as a design driven company, form follows function. 2.) I feel that most of the steps shown by Victor, focus more on the bling aspect, than the functional aspect. I believe he is drawn to the razzle dazzle, call it showmanship if you will. 3.) Saab is in the situation now because it focused on chasing the American market in a poorly thought out way. 4.) Now having been caught flat footed that the American market didn’t come back as fast as they hoped, 5) China, as a huge nascent market ends up making a great… Read more »
Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 2 months ago

11 – that’s how modern-day car manufacturers work, and it works very well for them. Actually, that’s how most industries work – the value is in integration, design and assembly.

12 – no, if you want quality and still make money on it, outsource it to companies specializing in a given area who can deliver both focus on quality and economies of scale. You can’t make floor mats or radios any better or cheaper than a specialized manufacturer.

daniel_t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I respect your opinion, but respectfully disagree. That is the Ford, GM, and to a lesser extent Toyota model. This is a fad of how to manage, outsourcing, surely someone else will do it cheaper, and on it goes. A prime example is Boeing’s 787, where they freely admit they outsourced too much of their core competencies. How much do you think that this current work stoppage is costing Saab? You make money by being an integrator AND a producer, the cost of the learning curve drives your total profitability, otherwise one needs to build 6 million cars a year… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 2 months ago

This is everyones model.
Unless you are Koenigsegg or someone else in the “price doesn’t matter” range

sportwagon28t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
6.) This is unfair, in fact i dont think Saab dealers are any less capable than any other brand – just because the dealers may be less fancy it doesnt mean the people running them are any less capable Can you imagine whats its like to be a Saab dealer right now? Im guessing it cant be that pleasant with customers cancelling orders and not being able to commit to build times (or just build). Its a real shame that two of my closest Saab dealers have both taken on other brands to make ends meet, I cant imagine that… Read more »
daniel_t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I understand that I tarred with a broadly unfair brush, however, a few points to make: 1.) Even when times were good, Saab salesman weren’t good at SELLING their inventory or differentiating it from the competition. 2.) Very few salesman were knowledgeable about the company or the cars in a manner which customers could relate too. 3.) If you as a business in a down environment are waiting for your customers to walk in the front door and fall all over themselves to buy your wares, you will not succeed. Period…..End of Story….. 4.) Yes, it is terrible to be… Read more »
Pedro
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I certainly would land you my 2 cents! 😉

Seriously though, this discussion about brand focus has happened before and IMHO these news smell of SAAB losing brand focus. Or then it’s all smoke and mirrors and we have Rover Mk2 unfolding before our eyes. For SAAB’s sake I hope SAAB secures the funding they need and then proceed to convince the Chinese that the 9-6X and the 9-7 really belong in Buick’s portfolio and not SAAB’s.

Pedro
Member
5 years 2 months ago

‘lend’, not ‘land’… Guess proofreading really is one’s friend 😛

SAAB LANCE
Member
5 years 2 months ago

The sooner Whomever is actually making decisions recognizes and grasps the reality that THE U.S.MARKET IS IRRETRIEVABLY LOST the sooner SAAB can concentrate on being a major European player.This is the realization that Renault,Alfa Romeo,Peugot,Fiat,Opal,Citroen,Lancia all grasped to remain viable in Europe.

Toby K
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I think that’s a little harsh -Americans for the most part like American or Jap/Korean cars-but there are a fair few decent european makes too-Saab should just try harder to market and sell-especially with the 9-4x

its the marketing that’s lacking-not because the product is incompatible with the american mindset or market.

RS
Member
5 years 2 months ago

I’d have to agree. You cannot compare Saab with the makes listed. Non of those are premium brands. BTW Opel is Buick in NA and we hear all the time how well they’re doing over there…

Until SCNA learns to market Saab as ‘a true drivers car’ they won’t succeed. That’s why we buy them in Europe. Not to show off or to make you feel important. In fact I couldn’t care less what other people think as long as I’m having a blast wether its a rusty old 99 or a NG9-5.

GrumpyGriffin
Member
5 years 2 months ago
I feel that the European market is pretty well screwed as well, it will take at least three years to get any confidence back in the Brand after this summers fiasco, Saab’s only hope of returning to profit lies in exploiting new market as in China and Russia. The overall build quality of their cars has improved in recent years, but to me they are still trying to sell a budget product at a premium price when what is needed is for Saab to sell a premium product at a budget price, obviously this entails making more losses but Saab… Read more »
Pedro
Member
5 years 2 months ago

That’s very disturbing to read for all of us who like the brand. 🙁

I fully agree with your assessment of SAAB needing to “premium product at a budget price”, budget price not being Skoda prices, but not being BMW/Audi/Mercedes prices either. The “trying to sell a budget product at a premium price” has Old GM written all over it; one would think that SAAB would have tried to move away from that…

GerritN
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Please not he’s saying “early model new 9-5 saloons”. For obvious reasons those have GM all over them.

Pedro
Member
5 years 2 months ago

But those are the cars making an impression on people, and since SAAB isn’t producing any cars at the moment that’s the impression that will be in people’s minds. SAAB insn’t exactly in a position to announce any upgrades to the car (be it materials or build process improvements), is it?

GerritN
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Listening to some of the comments here I do think that the interior quality improved for the newer models. Didn’t check this myself because I’m not interested in the new 9-5 whatsoever other than as a Saab moneymaker.

Börjesson
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Is it the interior build quality (i.e. how well the intent was executed) or the basic interior design and materials (i.e. the intent itself) that you see as the problem with the early 9-5s? (Or both?)

GrumpyGriffin
Member
5 years 2 months ago

Both, but if the materials and finish were better it would be easier to forgive the rest.

SAAB LANCE
Member
5 years 2 months ago

@daniel_t…I spent 16 years in Ardmore .Pa,selling Saabs in an environment that had Acura,Lexus,Bmw,Audi and Infiniti dealers within a 11/2 mile range.Our dealership consistently did 30 new Saabs per month.I averaged 10-12 per month.You speak of Saab Salesmen not knowing their product or their competition,nor how to sell the product.You never dealt with me or any of my colleagues Sir and I take umbrage at your broad based remarks.You obviously never came to our dealership or ever dealt with me.

daniel_t
Member
5 years 2 months ago
To you I will gladly apologize and would love it if you could give lessons to those who have not done as well. You obviously have the passion which I have found lacking in other dealers and in SCNA. I unfortunately live three thousand miles away from you, otherwise we’d talk more. I think as well if you were to calmly assess the dealer situation in North America, from mid 90’s till now, much could have been improved upon. 🙂 No offense intended to those who are good at their game, that’s why the 80/20 rule is one that is… Read more »
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