GM Europe’s Nick Reilly speaks about Saab

Don’t say I never write good stories from the Swedish press πŸ™‚
SVT have spoken with GM Europe’s Nick Reilly at the Geneva Motor Show and he had some very frank words to say about GM and their handling of Saab over the years.
A translation, from Jan….
GM chief admits: We didn’t try enough with Saab
The head of General Motors Europe, Nick Reilly, recognizes that GM did not do enough to make Saab profitable. Now he believes that there is potential for Saab to succeed. And thus a chance for GM to get back some of the billions it costs to get the deal through.
At the Geneva Motor Show, which secretly started on Monday when many manufacturers took the opportunity to rehearse before Tuesday’s press conferences, the former GM siblings Saab and Opel are side by side. But the formal ties are cut.
Spyker more focused
Now that the ink has dried on the contract of sale of Spyker Cars, Nick Reilly talks about GM’s shortcomings.
“I think that Saab is more suited for a company that can focus one hundred percent of their time on a smaller brand, compared with GM, which typically had a volume label. We could not devote enough time, resources and commitment from management to get Saab successfully. But Saab Spyker will be focused on all this a hundred percent.
TT: Did it take you 20 years to figure it out?
-No, not really. It took quite a long time, especially given that we lost money for several years, so it should have gone faster, but it is what it is.
TT: Do you think that Saab could be profitable?
-Yes, I think. You have to have control over the cost structure. Now Saab is an easier business than when it was in GM, which will help. It starts with a clean slate and with a good product so I do not see why Saab would not be profitable. It has an outstanding legacy of aviation and an extremely loyal customer base.
A Saab that makes money would give GM back some of the costs it has incurred in the deal because GM has received preference shares in Saab Spyker as part of the settlement.
Billion loss
Saab’s loss last year was four billion, according to a provisional balance sheet. GM has continued to pay all suppliers.
In an arrangement in summer Saab had debts of more than SEK 10 billion, which GM has taken over almost everything and been forgiven 75 percent.
GM has also promised to bear the cost of the tooling for the new Saab 9-5.
According to Nick Reilly, they are worth over 200 million euros (about 2 billion). The total for the sale of Saab landing at several billion.
“It costs us a lot, but we prefer much rather use our money that way than to spend money on a shut-down”, said Nick Reilly.

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