When is Swedish Prime Minister, Frederik Reinfeldt going to wake up an smell the coffee?
Reuters have him quoted today, as follows:
If the world’s largest carmaker hasn’t been able to lay the groundwork for creating a profitable company … I don’t see why the state should be a better owner.
I think he might have said that a little while ago, but the quote is still resonating. That Reuters story, an update, was 19 minutes old as I write this.
The answer to Reinfeldt’s query is that when it came to Saab, GM didn’t know their ass from their elbow. I’m not sure that the state would be the right owner for Saab, but recent history has shown that you could barely get a worse owner.
The point of all this: the lack of in-principle support for Saab sees them not only in a fair bit of trouble, it’s sucked much of the faith that people have in the brand right out the window.
The Swedish government don’t have to make promises about Saab, but some supportive talk about one of their homegrown companies and a contributor to one of their most important industrial sectors wouldn’t be out of line.
European sales data for February is in and predictable, it’s a bad month for Saab. In fact, it’s worse for Saab in percentage terms than it was for almost anyone else.
ctm sent in the numbers:
The market was down by 17% in February and is down 22% for the year so far. There were 902,000 cars sold, and there’s been 1,795,000 cars sold in Europe so far in 2009.
The worst brands (YTD in parenthesis):
Saab -55% (-55%) 2,121 cars
Land Rover -46% (-57%)
Lexus -42% (-45%)
Mercedes -34% (-33%)
Seat -32% (-29%)
Volvo -32% (-32%)
Mini -31% (-40%)
BMW -29% (-29%)
Peugeot -28% (-26%)
Mitsubishi -24% (-36%)
Nissan -24% (-25%)
Kia -23% (-28%)
Renault -23% (-28%)
Opel/Vauxhall -21% (-28%)
The best brands (YTD in parenthesis)
Smart +1% (-5%)
Skoda +5% (-15%)
Dacia +8% (±0)
Suzuki +8% (-13%)
Jaguar +15% (+18%)
Alfa Romeo +24% (+9%)
Hyundai +25% (+3%)
Of other interest
Audi were down 6% (-6%) but are winning the war against BMW, selling almost 25% more cars per month
Chevrolet (aka Daewoo) down 1% (-16%) – The fall in Eastern European sales is one of the big factors in the European negative market this year. Eastern growth has been a big factor in Europe in the last few years.
I did mention above that one brand went worse than Saab. Actually, it was one group of brands.
GM (US) were down 73% (-69%) – probably Cadillac, Pontiac, Corvette, and Hummer with 164 cars sold in Europe.
And go Alfa Romeo!