An open letter to the Swedish Prime Minister

After several optimistic quotes from the Swedish political establishment, it seems that the removal of Fiat from the list of potential owners for Saab has soured the mood of both Industry Minister, Maud Olofsson and even the Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt.
A quote from a recent news report:

“The problem with the car industry lies in the overproduction of cars that nobody wants to buy,” he said. “Well, I must tell you: when a ship is sinking my main aim is to save the sailors – not the ship.”

I’d like to reply with a respectful, short note to the Prime Minister.
Mr Reinfeldt,
Your comments with respect to the car industry have been noted and I understand your sentiments. Vehicle sales all over the world have fallen dramatically so your opinion on oversupply is warranted.
But is it also shortsighted?
Times will get better. People will start buying cars and other goods again. And it might be sooner than you think.
I don’t need to tell you how important the vehicle manufacturing sector is to Sweden’s economy. It’s a major store for scientific and engineering excellence as well as being a major source of employment and taxation income. It builds communities.
And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Saab are not a reason for that oversupply. They aim to sell probably 200,000 vehicles when they get back on their feet again. The 2009 market for automobiles, even in these depressed times, is estimated to be 9.5 million vehicles in the US alone, and even more than that in China. Saab’s capacity is a drop in this ocean and they make fuel efficient, smaller vehicles rather than fuel-draining land yachts.
But more than that, Saab have a vehicle philosophy that is right for the time that we live in. Expertise in alternative fuels, for example. Saab led all of Europe in alternative fuel vehicle sales before the current crisis hit. They don’t have a hybrid vehicle yet, but the word circulating is that they are very close to hybrid technology that will compete very well with the established players. They’ll also sell that technology to GM, bringing in valuable export dollars.
Saab have a lot of potential. Their expertise in turbocharging technology and subsequent ability to ‘rightsize’ their vehicles is the right philosophy for the right time. They have a long track record of being environmental leaders in the automotive sector with decisions such as vehicle materials recycling, CFC-free air conditioning, BioPower technology. They are safety leaders, not to mention great Swedish ambassadors.
Saab have the right plan to build a successful automotive company again. All they need is the chance to implement it. To do that, they would benefit from your support.
Steven Wade

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