They have interviewed Jason Castriota, talked to the supplier’s organization and this morning got a comment from GM.
Saab’s chief designer Jason Castriota says they were busy putting the final touches on the new 900 (née 9-3) when the bankruptcy was declared. “We had put in extra effort to get it ready fast given Saab’s predicament”.
“We were getting ready to put prototypes on the road to really test the car. To think that this car won’t be built is an impossible thought to me as I know what great car this would become. I have worked for bigger automobile manufacturers and realize the qualities of the 9-3. If it won’t be built when at the same time considerably worse cars are sold and are rolling around on the roads – it is incredibly frustrating. The car was very competitive in terms of size.”
He continues explaining how the team was preparing to move forward with additional models based on the Phoenix platform.
“Work had commenced exploring the bandwidth and size of future models of the Phoenix. We had a good cooperation going. The spirit of the development team has been fantastic including the cooperation with Mats Fägerhag, Kjell AC Bergström and all involved teams.”
“The Saab brand is so strong and this model so valuable that I can not imagine things coming to an end now. We worked 20 months on this project. If it won’t be known as a Saab, one must hope it will be realized under a different name. I truly hope the receivers can take care of the values found here and that the facilities and personnel in Trollhättan will continue production. When I went to Trollhättan it really hit me the ability they have to innovate, despite its small population.”
Jason does not know what events currently take place. “We were sent on Christmas holidays directly after what occurred last week and have not met since. I have only been in touch with Victor through SMSes, he has been very busy. We will see what happens next, but as I said, I hope Saab will continue.”
Fredrik Sidahl of the Automotive Suppliers’ Organization (FKG) and the CEO of Semcon Kjell Nilsson say the suppliers most definitively are in favor of a restart of Saab, but warns that chances are slim. “It is not for a lack of interest, but because GM so clearly has behaved in a bitter and irresponsible fashion.”
“Without the current models it will be practically impossible to restart the production, no matter how terrible that sounds. Without a 100 percent GM-backed plan there is no hope.”
GM’s spokesperson James R Cain says GM will not dismiss a qualified buyer of Saab.
“If there is someone who are interested in building cars licensed from us and their interests do not conflict with ours, then we would definitively listen to their ideas. But that is a remote possibility right now.”
Kjell Nilsson says it would take about 200-250 Saab engineers to continue developing the Phoenix. “Not everybody are qualified to design the Phoenix”.
A plea to our readers: I realize we are all very frustrated with the current situation. To my great surprise, some of you take out your frustration on Victor. I know Victor has openly admitted he made a few mistakes, but I have yet to see someone step forward and say what they would have done differently. Yesterday I got caught up in a “discussion” where the proposed ideas were exactly some of the many things Victor tried. If you are so desperate to be a backseat driver, at least come up with something new.
PS: OTOH, it is very easy to spot things EIB could have done differently. Or what GM could have done differently. Or what Swegov could have done differently! The owner of Saab have done their best working within the constraints put in place by the others. I know where to point the big fat finger of blame. Even Riksgälden were surprised by EIB’s decisions and I think it was Swegov’s responsibility to take on EIB. In fact, I think EIB actively sabotaged Saab and I see no reason why Swegov should honor their deal with EIB. (EIB could of course reply that Swegov pushed EIB to not approve the Antonov deal, but surely Swegov would never had done something like that..?) What Victor may or may not have done is small potatoes compared with EIB and Swegov.