Hey, Saab nuts – keep your chins up!

I’d just like to take a few moments before the new 9-5 information comes out, to encourage people to keep their chins up and believe.
I’m not asking you believe without questioning what’s going on and even criticising things where it’s warranted. I’m not going to make many friends in high places by writing this, but like many of you, I think the Koenigsegg Group has actually managed to disprove the saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression”.
KG enjoyed plenty of goodwill when the announcement was made that they were the preferred bidder for Saab and they’ve systematically, almost deliberately, managed to flush that goodwill down the crapper. I don’t know who’s advising the upper echelon of KG with regards to public relations, but I personally feel like they’re not earning their pay.
That aside, there is plenty of negativity surrounding the bid at the moment without people who love the brand adding to it, often needlessly. The Swedish press are doing enough of that already. Whilst the international media are giving this deal some time to come together, the Swedish press are digging through every nuance of every word and playing this story like a cheap violin.
I think Blogo’s analysis of the situation, which I published yesterday, was a pretty well put together piece. But whilst it does contain a lot of references about certain amounts that may be contributed and required to get this done, it was also based in reasonable amounts on considered assumptions about several things (vehicle timeframes, various amounts and costs, etc).
There was a lot of truth in Blogo’s article, but the truest of all words were these:

Different media refer to different numbers and we can never be quite sure that the reporter in question actually has got the facts right. I have tried to check various sources against each other and this is my summary and MY conclusions

The fact is, we’re all relying on imperfect information and we all care about the outcome of this situation so much that we’re willing to form conclusions and sometimes we even convince ourselves that they’re right.
So here are the things that I know……things that have been made public and stated by KG and Saab. Not numbers, just things.

Koenigsegg Group have a business plan for Saab that they say will see Saab reach profitability based on a certain number of sales (around 100,000 units) and contingent upon the EIB loan and other sources of funding.
This plan involves bringing the Saab 9-3 convertible’s production back home to Trollhattan, as well as producing the 9-5 in Trollhattan. The Saab 9-4x will be produced in Mexico (see footnote, below).
It is evident that KG still need some funding to bring that business plan to life, reported to be in the order of 3billion SEK.
In what I believe to be a boneheaded play, they tried to play poker with the government and force thier hand in providing support. The government have said no before (and they’ve said no again just today).
So that’s where we’re at.
They have a plan. That plan still needs some money. They need to find the money.
That’s a problem, but here’s my thoughts on it:
I cannot believe that these people – CvK, Eker, Fabela and Schwartz (especially the last two) – would go to the stage of signing a share purchase agreement without having some funding options in their back pocket. They might be poor at PR, but a bit of a look at Fabela and Schwartz’s history shows that they know how to build and operate businesses that are complex in nature and in difficult environments.
I remain (annoyed but) confident that this deal can and will get done.
There’s a lot of negative stuff in the press, but there’s some positive news coming in to my inbox, most of which I’ve chosen not to share here due to the nature of the sources.
Here’s a little of it, though.

I understand that it is sometimes frustrating to look up the newspaper in the morning and that motivation could be a blow. It happens even to me, but you should know that I am confident of our ability. With our expertise we can play an important role in Swedish business in the future. Let us continue to stick together and moving your business forward, towards a successful Saab. On August 27 we will release the first official pictures of the all-new Saab 9-5, which received very positive reviews of selected journalists who got to test drive it. View pictures as a reminder of why we are here and what we should be focusing on. You should know that I appreciate your effort very much. We have a fantastic chance and let us not be affected by media coverage.

That’s Jan-Ake Jonsson in a memo to Saab people, just yesterday (Googletrans). There was plenty more in that memo that I won’t share here, but it was heartening for me to read what JAJ had to say, and to see that fighting spirit willing people to stay the course.
I’ve had emails from other Saab people who don’t want their names or positions to be publicised (for obvious reasons) but they’re all telling me that spirits are high within the company, despite the uncertainty and the negativity in the media. These are people who know what’s coming in the product pipeline for Saab because that’s their job.
And hopefully, there should also be some press interviews with CvK in the coming days. I’ve heard from at least one press source that this will be the case.
The final thing to feel good about is this…..
In less that 24 hours you’re going to see all of Saab’s information about the all-new 2010 Saab 9-5.
That sounds like welcome news to me.
A brief footnote on the Saab 9-4x
Some people have expressed in comments at this site an opinion that the Saab 9-4x will not be built.
Saab have said quite clearly that their plans for new models include four new vehicles in the near term. Those vehicles have been identified, by Saab, as including the 9-3x, the new 9-5 and the 9-4x (whether the final one is the 9-5 Sportcombi or an all-new 9-3 is up for some debate, but I’d got with the 9-5SC).
If you have some hard evidence from either Saab or an extremely reliable media source, evidence that flies in the face of what Saab themselves have stated quite clearly, then I’m all ears.
Whilst it was one voice in the distance, I was OK with it being aired. I’m wary of getting into a groupthink situation here, however, based only on supposition and flying in the face of corporate statements.

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