Welt.de interview with Jan-Ake Jonsson

This is a Google-trans of an article that’s just gone online at Welt-de. I’ve now edited it slightly for readability where I could do so.
It’s fantastic to hear something from Jan-Ake Jonsson again. I know they’re crazy busy right now with Koenigsegg’s due diligence and deadlines, but it’s very important to get this information out there so that stakeholders can have some confidence in the future.
Jan-Ake Jonsson is the perfect man for the job.
My thanks to Radulf for the link.
What Saab leaves at Koenigsegg
As a subsidiary of U.S. car giant GM, the Swedish car manufacturer Saab [had] no luck. In February, Saab had to file for bankruptcy. Now CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson [leads them] to independence – [with] the assistance of a small sports car maker, as well as American-Norwegian investors.
WELT ONLINE: Mr. Jonsson, you are pleased that Saab’s former parent General Motors is going on?
Jan-Åke Jonsson: We have long worked. Meanwhile, we are finally, after lengthy preparations also very much on the way [to being] an independent entity that can control themselves. With Koenigsegg Saab has a good partner [that] is found to be independently successful.
WELT ONLINE: Is this business safe or can [the sale] to the consortium to Koenigsegg still fail?
Jonsson: So far we have only signed a Memorandum of Understanding signed, but it is always the first step. There are still many details to be clarified. But until now there are no open questions, based on a failure of the talks could help.
WELT ONLINE: At the rehabilitation Saab GM has already tried unsuccessfully. How should a tiny sports car manufacturers such as the Koenigsegg succeed where what was once the world’s largest automotive group has failed?

Jonsson: It is not that the sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg Saab over, but a consortium around the Koenigsegg Holding, the Norwegian entrepreneur Bard Ekers, the U.S. investor, and Alan Bishop, the entrepreneur Augie Fabela. That is a separate organization. These people are interested in cars and have great industry experience. Together with our experience in the automotive industry may be a promising path.
WELT ONLINE: But an industrial partner would not have been better?
Jonsson: Obviously, you can choose different paths. Saab combined with a major manufacturer would have been a possibility. Saab into a smaller organization to develop, but it is the way that we ourselves have chosen. Saab sold 100,000 cars would be seen as part of a large group of five or six million cars per year sold only one brand of many and have fewer opportunities, to develop. Therefore, it is better to big in a small organization [than] to be considered small in a big group.
WELT ONLINE: So Saab is shrinking? This means less staff and fewer cars sold?
Jonsson: On the contrary. Saab will again grow. Development, production and other tasks are returned to Sweden zurückverlegt. This Saab is stronger than ever as an independent brand.
WELT ONLINE: And you’ll finally sell more cars?
Jonsson: In recent years, at least we have an average of 100,000 to 130,000 cars sold.
WELT ONLINE: [Which] in the opinion of experts [is] too little to survive.
Jonsson: But we are still there. And I think that Saab in the coming years this magnitude will reach. I do not think we in the future from 200,000 to 300,000 cars sold. In good times it will be a maximum of 150,000 vehicles.
WELT ONLINE: If you look at your sales figures, your predictions seem optimistic arg. Sales in the past year decreased by 60%
Jonsson: Since several factors play a role: One is the overall difficult situation of the automotive industry, the manufacturer must take all and thereby also us. It is our biggest volume model, the Saab 9-5, in twelve years on the market. The model is in years, although it is still sold quite well. And last but not least, the situation of our potential buyers insolvency insecure. 2009 is therefore a year of transition.
WELT ONLINE: And how do you want the paragraph to improve the current goal?
Jonsson: In the next 18 months, four new models come onto the market. These include the new Saab 9-5, the Saab 9-4X and the Saab 9-3X. The new vehicles will be decisive. To revert to the trust in our brand back.
WELT ONLINE: Koenigsegg wants Saab rather small and exclusive position. Who gives the Saab strategy before?
Jonsson, Saab is using his business partners agree, the existing business plan which we have developed with General Motors have continued. It is particularly important, [to get] new cars to market fast. Certainly, the business must also figures in a reasonable time to improve.
WELT ONLINE: “Better” is finally black? When is the prefix?
Jonsson: We want as quickly as possible with our cars to earn money. A positive cash flow, we expect according to our plans already in 2011, so that we at least from then on investments in new products from its own finance. When we return a net profit or operating black figures is another matter. However, I am hopeful that soon we can earn money because the income threshold at low sales figures can be achieved.
WELT ONLINE: Even if you earn money, press Saab debt. What are the really?
Jonsson: We currently have debt of around 920 million euros. This sum, however, we can greatly reduce, if our creditors as scheduled on 75 percent of their claims.
WELT ONLINE: How much money does Saab [need??] today, in order to cope with the crisis?
Jonsson: Overall, we need one billion U.S. dollars – and this means we have the prospect of getting. 600 million U.S. dollars we receive as a loan from the European Investment Bank, another 400 million U.S. dollars grant us General Motors. With this money we can achieve positive cash flow.
WELT ONLINE: Is Saab open for further cooperation partners?
Jonsson: If you are self-made, one needs during the transition period of very much help – as in this case Saab – from its previous parent company General Motors. Some of the supply of gearboxes, motors, and the provision of platforms. Medium and long term, however, I see the opportunity to collaborate with new partners. We can now cooperate with each. This is a great advantage.
WELT ONLINE: What advantage Koenigsegg Saab in the future?
Jonsson, Saab has long experience in the production and development of vehicles. Koenigsegg however has other qualities, such as alternative propulsion systems or the performance of vehicles. And from the right premium, the Koenigsegg with its 700,000-euro cars, and the joy of driving, the Koenigsegg radiates, Saab can certainly learn.
WELT ONLINE: In Germany, Saab Saab 900 with the cult for years. Then the image has been neglected. How do you want the brand to new life?
Jonsson: In Germany, Saab in the past not been consistent in building the dealer network. At the same time the mark was not consistently established and developed. Ultimately, prices will not fit on the equipment. In Britain, the United States or Sweden, on the other hand was much more stable on the Saab. From the mistakes we need to learn and they stop.
WELT ONLINE: What [other] mistakes have been made worldwide?
Jonsson: The Saab whole organization must be stabilized. It starts with the communication of the brand and its values, but also for the dealers. Moreover, our products are not fast enough on the market. It may not last for twelve years until the entry of a new Saab 9-5, in competition with the Audi A6, the BMW 5-or Volvo stands. Saab must be much faster and a wider product portfolio will receive.
Jonsson: The Saab 9-4X is our entry into the crossover segment. It will not stay. Saab has more niches with good gasoline and diesel four-wheel vehicles or occupy.
WELT ONLINE: Counting also new areas such as small cars?
Jonsson: We are missing a vehicle safely below the Saab 9-3. However, it is not yet decided how we are approaching this issue.
WELT ONLINE: What about alternative propulsion systems from?
Jonsson: Short term, our strategy on smaller engines with turbo-charge to bring meaningful. Saab has 30 years experience. However, we have hybrid cars or electric cars in the future planning. As Saab is able to deal with these issues, however, certainly depends also on the business development.

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