Automotive News have a couple of stories on Saab today.
In the home of Saab, there’s still optimism.
GM’s legacy can help a stand-alone Saab, says brand’s top engineer.
As AN’s a subscription paper, you may not be able to see those stories. If that’s the case, here are a few highlights.
From the GM Legacy story:
Mats Fagerhag, Saab’s executive director of vehicle systems, says GM’s investment in Saab means the Swedish brand has the facilities to design and build its next generation of cars.
“We are going to get a kick start from GM, we have architectures and lifetime licenses to use vehicle architectures,” Fagerhag told Automotive News Europe here.
He added: “GM has been investing in Saab and Trollhattan for the last years. We have never had better equipment and tools and engineers than we have today.”
…..Fagerhag said even with an engineering staff of 900 people Saab would be able to design and build new models.
“We definitely have the capacity to do other vehicles,” he says…..
…..Being outside of GM’s global engineering system will enable Saab to be move faster and not be subjected to lengthy technical reviews and changes.
The crisis in the auto industry means suppliers will be more willing to sell their products at lower volumes, he believes.
Strategic partnerships with other automakers are an area that Saab will also look at, particularly engines, which Saab will probably buy in from other manufacturers.
“Now can go out into the market to buy systems and components which makes us competitive,” Fagerhag said. “No longer having the complexity of being in GM is going to make life much easier.”
The whole issue of GM’s legacy to Saab is an interesting one.
On one hand, they spent the best part of 16 years starving the brand of product and shrinking it to the point where when they finally had to shed brands, Saab were at the top of the list – and quite happy about it.
On the other hand, they did make a commitment to Saab back in 2005. Whilst that hasn’t resulted in new models before now, it has meant the development of vehicles that will come in the next few years as well as a very tightly run manufacturing operation.
In five years from now, we may even have got over things sufficiently enough to thank GM.
Then again, maybe not. This is just stuff they should have done from the get-go.
From the other article, about optimism in Trollhattan:
Hope and uncertainty grip the people of Trollhattan in western Sweden as they prepare for Saab’s separation from General Motors.
…..”People are worried, the last few weeks and months have been tough,” said Paul Akerlund, president of the IF Metall Union, which represents blue-collar workers in Trollhattan.
“But there is a lot of fighting spirit here, we shall get through this situation.”
…..”I am very optimistic. We have had a lot of potential buyers looking at the company and I am quite convinced we will have a new owner presented to us in the near future,” [Saab employee, Jan] Olander says.
He is wary about becoming part of another large automaker again, but he says Saab needs to work with other automakers to achieve scale and share technology.
“To have Saab as part of a big company we can say that was not a good idea. GM was too big for Saab,” he says. “I am not angry, (but) a little disappointed the captain of the ship hasn’t take care of our business the way they should have done.”
……Petra Stoerch, 36, is a team leader in the general assembly part of the factory. She says: “People do blame GM a little. They want us to be out of GM and on our own.
“Most people think we can manage this on our own, we have good products and we don’t have to do everything through a worldwide organization.”
Workers believe there will be a buyer for Saab, but they worry about whether a new owner will have the carmaker’s best interests as their focus.
…..Workers are particularly concerned about production being moved away from Sweden.
“It cannot be a Saab if it is not made in Sweden,” Stoerch says.
……Union official Akerlund, 49, says GM did not really understand Saab.
“I think we could be better away from GM. They think about volume cars, not brand cars. You cannot take a volume approach with Saab.
“I think they had a problem understanding the brand. In Europe, GM would talk about Opel, Opel and Opel again. But if you sell one Saab you make the same amount of money as selling four Opels.”
Akerlund has worked at Saab for 31 years, joining the company straight from school at 18. He said people are used to overcoming problems at Saab.
“People cannot think of a day without Saab,” he says. “We believe there will be a good end to this story.”
A fantastic perspective piece from Automotive News.