Dagens Industri – the new Saab 9-5, and the new Saab

Last night I urged the Swedes out there to get hold of the day’s Dagens Industri newspaper as it had a good article on Saab that was well worth the reading.
Stefan was kind enough to scan the images and load them into comments. I’ve reproduced them below.
It’s not only those that are the reason for this aritlcle, though…..
Thomas W was kind enough to provide a translation of the full article so now we can all read what Dagens learned when they visited Saab’s showroom of the future.
Here are they selling Saab. – DI got an exclusive look behind the scene.
There are just two candidates left – any day will the buyer be presented by Saab Automobile. It looks like it will not be a car manufacturer, rather an investor with billions in the wallet. (From the two bidders we know about, this is a worrying revelation. Hopefully they refer to someone outside the box – SW)
Saab will try what no other company has succeeded with so far: to survive alone in the difficult car market with a volume of just 150,000 cars.
Mats Fägerhag, technical director at Saab Automobile are convinced that Saab are on the right track: “There is good soil to grow in, even if you are small”.
On the wall in the secret room at Saab car museum is there a sign saying “Think Big” and I am sure that they have done that.
Here we can see the Saabs that are coming: new 9-5, 9-5 wagon and 9-4X, it is here where the ten customers have been seeing the future cars.
DI has been invited to a similar program as the potential buyers had during the last months. First a look at the new cars, then a big tour at technical centre.
Reckless (courageous?) Saab management.
All over the automotive world are people shaking their heads at the plan that Saab has for the future as an independent manufacturer.
All over the world are companies trying to be bigger and bigger to survive, with the classical goals share purchasing and development.
” We can have advantages in volume in another way than for just a couple of years ago. There are another “openness” to cooperate now caused of the economical crises. We can work with other manufacturers or buy components from suppliers that are used by other companies. Door locks, electrical systems the inside of an headlight – things that the customer don’t see” says Mats Fagerhag.
He had an top position as vice manager at GM development in Ruesselsheim, but he found out that he could not work in their way..
“We could have 37 meeting over a little piece of metal sheet and if something had to be modified were there a list of 98 persons that had to approve the change. It was very demanding to work that way”.
But he also says that it could be some advantages in working that way, as VW has shown.
If you use the big company’s advantages in the correct way is it very good. Of course will we have a disadvantage of the cost against Audi A6 who are our main competitor for the new 9-5″.
In Saab’s business plan it says that the manufacturing of 9-5 shall be moved from Ruesselsheim to Trollhättan. The manufacturing cost for the cars -as well as other costs – are 35-40% lower in Trollhättan.
“Our costs for this car are fantastic. Everyone who has visit us are impressed with that”
Fagerhäll also says that the development of the car has been made at 75-80% in Trollhättan where GM has had some important areas of expertise, safety for example.
The fact is that 75-80% of the development work in Trollhättan has been made for GM not for Saab.
Kjell ac Bergström says that it is even more for the engines:
“I would say that 92% of the work that we have done here has been made for other models inside GM.”
The goal is for 40,000 cars.
Magnus Hansson, product marketing manager, takes the sheets off the 3 cars – which are the base for Saab’s business plan. He says that the target group for Saab is up to 40 millions customers around the world, the segment for 9-5 is 1 to 1.5 million cars.
“Our target is 3% or 40,000 cars every year under the cars lifecycle. When it comes to 9-4X, our target is 1,9% or 25,000 cars. This is very “conservative” numbers so we hope for more”.
No-one has seen it.
The 9-5 that in the room at DI´s visit is the first production car. It is so new that none of the Saab people has seen it before – not even Jan-Åke Jonsson.
The information director Eric Geers is satisfied that Saab has got a time at IAA in Frankfurt. Just after lunch on Tuesday the 15th of September will the future for Saab be shown to the world.
Of course there has be a new owner before that.
New 9-5 comes close to Audi A6.
It is not the cars that are the main problem for Saab. It is the question about the owner.
A buyer with low trustworthiness will run the company into disaster -a buyer who is in good finances and has a long term plan can give Saab a ninth life.
The first production car of 9-5 that was shown for DI, even before Jan-Åke Jonsson, is a large car – but is really well designed. The car is “Saab branded” and looks modern. Many themes -like the ice cubes- come from the concepts cars that have been shown in the last years.
The new 9-5 was developed in parallel with the Opel Insignia but has partly a different front suspension – it comes from the cooperation with Fiat a couple of years ago, a platform for luxury cars developed in Pixbo outside of Gothenburg.
One question mark is that you can see that some visible components are the same as in Opel Insignia. For example the steering wheel and he buttons on it. From my point of view it is disturbing, but on the other hand is it something that VW-group and Toyota doing with their top-of the line brands Audi and Lexus.
Another question mark is whether the 9-5 has passed the competitors. Even the talk about the safety – there is nothing that the competitors do not have. It feels that 9-5 is coming next to Audi A6 more than passing it – the A6 comes with a new generation next year.
But the critical question is not 9-5 or 9-4X. It is the business plan that is presented by Saab, should they survive 2-3 years. The big demands are the new models that have to be developed -not at least the successor for the seven year old 9-3.
It is then the buyer’s trustworthiness, finical strengths and respect for Saab will be proven.

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