Victor Muller: Saab finances better than first thought

Victor Muller did an interview on Dutch Business News Radio (BNR) today. It’s a brief piece, but in it he expresses some measure of pleasant surprise at the financial health of the company.
Thanks to Tim for the translated transcript:
Introduction: Saab recovers faster than expected, says Spyker’s CEO Victor Muller, which took over the Swedish car manufacturer in February. Critics said it was impossible what Muller did when he took Saab over from General Motors, but the CEO of the combined Saab Spyker company said after three months the company is performing better than expected.
VM: We see a clear increase in order intake. We see confidence in Saab increasing after a rather dramatic eighteen months. People are ordering Saab again, dealers have ordered in large numbers. And they do so because they expect that they can sell again. So we see a clear recovery of the business.
BNR: Following the takeover have you encountered any financial setbacks?
VM: No, we haven’t encountered any setbacks. The remarkable thing about this transaction is that you usually anticipate some setbacks but at Saab we have seen the opposite. So far we have actually only found that things were better than we thought.
BNR: Like what?
VM: Improved cash position for example. Less cost of warranty than we thought. There are quite a number of things that were better and together those count for substantial amounts of money which we can keep in our pocket. So we see a better Saab than we thought.
BNR: Saab itself as a car, has somewhat gone to the middle. You said during the acquisition Saab should be more Saab-Saab, an almost new brand. What’s Saab-Saab after three months?
VM: Well, I’ve said that before, we are extremely lucky GM realized in 2005 Saab went the wrong way. It allowed Saab to develop a completely new brand DNA, which we have seen as the Saab Aero-X. In March 2006 this car was shown to the public. That car is the Saab DNA. The real Saab DNA, what I mean by Saab Saab. That car has been reflected in the new Saab 9-5, which now runs on the production lines. So we do not need three or four years between when we took over the company to build Saab-Saabs, we already do it. And for the new 9-4x which is on the market in April 2011 we will see the same. Fully developed and modeled on the Saab brand DNA.
BNR: Saab should be more exclusive.
VM: It should definitely be more premium and I think that Spyker has so much to add. The gap between Saab and Audi and BMW must be reduced quickly and that is already done with the 9-5 and that happens especially with the 9-4X, the crossover model like the Audi Q5. And in 2012 we see the new Saab 9-3 which will go one notch further as far as DNA is concerned so people will say it’s unmistakably a Saab.

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