EnG Snippets with a heavy dose of igbok

igbok slant.jpg
I don’t know if you have a proliferation of these bumper stickers where you live, but where I am there is a fair number of them. Finally, while driving to our Thanksgiving destination, I found the time to Google it to find out what in the heck this means. (My wife was driving at the time, so I wasn’t driving and Googling.)
igbok is an anagram for “It’s gonna be OK.” Embracing this sentiment now is a bit difficult, but I encourage you to do so. Let’s do it for nothing else but to keep our heads straight and focused on the things that we can do to bring Saab into the future. Let’s take this opportunity to solidify the brand.
You may order your own copy of the sticker for free if you would like here.
The Truth About Cars has a nice summary article worth reading.
It quotes Bård Eker saying that the failed attempt to buy Saab “was like a planecrash, you know? When 58 things go wrong simultaneously.”
Fair enough.
What a roller coaster this week has been for me personally with the whole Saab saga.
I visited my local Saab dealer (Crest Cadillac/Hummer/Saab in Nashville, Tennessee) to get a new key for my 1999 Saab 9-5. I can’t tell you how annoyed I am that there are thieves that will do virtually anything to steal an automobile. These jerks are the ones that drive OEMs like Saab to create keys that require a technician to specially program the car to accept something as conceptually simple as a new key. But I digress.
I found that Saab had notified Crest that they would not be a Saab dealer when the sale went through. In fact, the sales manager informed me that Saab was actively shopping for a stand-alone dealer in this market — a store that sold and serviced only Saab. That set my head spinning. I figured that was a great opportunity for some Saab aficionado like me to get involved as a dealership owner/part owner/employee. Really. I have as many connections in the community and knowledge of automobiles as the next guy, so why not? I’d need tons of help with the business portion (read: most) of the operations, but I have ideas about the people who have that knowledge.
Before I could even work all of this through in my mind, I found myself the very next day phoning Swade with the breaking news that Saab/KG was off. Kaput.
igbok. Just different.
Note to Saab: I’m here, on the ground in Nashville, Tennessee ready to help. Just ask.
What follows here is strictly editorial. That is, it’s my own opinion. Really, more a group of questions.
There were rumors about Koenigsegg Group balking at “flaws” with the new Saab 9-5. I’m not 100% where this rumor originated, but I’ll surprise you all with the following statement: there may be truth in that.
Before you get unhinged, let me tell you that I’m not talking about the automobile itself. Car technology has improved so much over the last several years that I can’t imagine any company bringing a lackluster design to market. I’m confident that Saab and GM Europe have designed and tooled up a winner with the 2010 Saab 9-5.
The “flaws” in any program can come in many facets. There may be technical issues, there may be cost issues, there may be commercial/legal issues.
There are so many believable directions that this discussion can take when you broaden the scope of the discussion to include things like costs, labor and contracts. Remember, Saab created the car as a division of the world’s largest automaker (well, they were the largest during the development). Who’s to say that the suppliers all embraced Koenigsegg Group on equal footing? We all know that KG was thinly capitalized, so I’m sure that the credit terms extended to them were different. I’m also sure that many of the suppliers had some concerns about Chinese ownership. They have technologies that could be copied, too. Remember that at least some of the components of the car are shared with other General Motors cars. What are the terms of that relationship? How will 9-5 costs be affected by General Motors changes? How will availability of those parts be affected if Opel is or is not sold? What if labor contracts to produce these parts don’t allow the flexibility to source them in more competitive markets?
If you are looking at the big picture, I can see many potential flaws with the 2010 Saab 9-5, especially for a novice to volume manufacturing such as the Koenigsegg Group. Again, they have nothing to do with the automobile, but plenty to do with the situation, especially with the financial plan.
The 2010 9-5 is the plan to save Saab. If it can’t make money, Saab can’t make money. Perhaps the economics and commercial terms simply didn’t add up for KG. That would make the whole 9-5 plan defective. And that has nothing to do with the automobile and its technology.
The point: If there are “flaws” in the way, they can be removed with the right expertise. Expertise that the KG seems to lack. Let’s press on.

And, in your Saab moment of Zen, this short article from the Wall Street Journal about the organized labor reaction to the failed Saab/KG transaction comes this quote from Annette Hellgren, head of Unionen, which represents white-collar workers at Saab:

“We built the first new 9-5 sedan in our factory yesterday, which was launched in Frankfurt in September.”

igbok. It’s gonna be OK.

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