Our man in the Saabs United Historic Rally Team, Jörgen Trued, has spent today reading the two books that have come out this week relating to the sale of Saab Automobile.
His notes are below. Shortly I’ll have some instructions as to how you can get your own copy of the book at a special discounted price.
Thanks to Jörgen for these summaries and thoughts.
As I wrote on SU yesterday I have now read two of the most interesting SAAB books in some time. Both authors have a personal connection to SAAB having owned one or owning one. But there stops the similarities. They cover the same BIG story but from different perspectives.
The Fight for SAAB : Jonas Fröberg
Jonas drives a 900 from 1988. He talks about his sweet memories of a blue 99LE 74 up in northern Sweden as a kid. His book is over 300 pages long and is a great book covering much about Saab history not only the roller coaster of the last 2 years.
That part is very nicely written giving the names we have come to know just by names, much more in detail. Such as that Mark Bishop’s girlfriend is from Trollhättan, information on Scott Mackie, the GM Negotiator and Enrico Digirolamo, the GM Financial Europe officer.
Through the book one can follow the insights of Psychologist Rudiger Hossiep, Ruhr University Germany. He declares that Saab people wants to drive something different and keep together. He says they’re the worlds most emotionally engaged owners. Saab is very much loved, though by very few!
CJ, Christopher Johnston is not portrayed nicely at all in the book, more or less a person with no money that is living on benefits after a personal belly-up. Maybe CJ should give his opinon on the matter. Vladimir Antonov is described for the first time without all sorts of strange rumours.
I believe this book should be translated to English. It is a great story told almost in a fictional way with cliffhangers and parallell stories, interweaving stories. Could serve as a manuscript for a movie.
Some really significant stories are told brilliantly like:
- 4 days after the introduction of Saab 9-3 in 2003 GM Financial director Bill Barclay has a meeting with Saab management. Showing only One slide : No acceptance for losses, delayed introduction of new models. That was a great stabbing in the back.
- Also how a model was scrapped the 441 a Audi TT competitor and 443 a small luxury SUV BMW X3 type.
- 2005 GM wanted to scrap the cabriolet through calculations in a an excel sheet. But the people in trollhättan refused and went ahead anyway!
- Spring 2008 all development centers around the globe in a Video meeting. 850 engineers i Trollhättan sees the map without Trollhättan on it.
The SAAB deal from the inside By Jöran Hägglund
Hägglunds first car was the today super unique SAAB 99 X7 from 1974, which sounds like a secret agent car but it is actually the opposite. It was an extreme budget car only for the Scandinavian markets. Had nothing besides steeringwheel and engine….
His story covers an 18 month period. It begins with his first meeting in Detroit, where he got in a dispute with Hendersson & Forster after GM had tried to make the Swedish Government part owners of Saab. Jöran got really angry. Forster was the Bad-Guy and Hendersson the Good-Guy in the discussions.
He portays the suitors in a dry stiff way, without much emotion etc.
The government made a list and here are some:
- Industral ranking 1. FIAT 2.The Chinese 3. Renco 4. Koeningsegg 5. Merbanco
- Koncept & innovative ranking 1.Koeningsegg 2.FIAT 3. The chinese
- Free handling for SAAB management ranking: 1. Renco
GM liked Koenigsegg because of the engagement in the group, the knowledge in design and sportscars could bring SAAB to its roots. New design, innovations and a niched marketplace.
Hägglunds tells the story when he first met Victor Muller in a Detroit hotel foyer. He mentions Victors ill-fitting suit and typical Dutch-English accent. He spoke non stop and it was clear that the Swedes should take a closer look on this fellow.
Jöran goes about referring to the traditional hearsay and rumors about Vladimir Antonov. Nothing new on Vladimir, nothing at all of any substance positive or negative.
The two books are in some ways very similar. Yes, they both cover the same timeline, but what differs is that Hägglund writes his book from what he has seen and experienced first hand Fröberg is cocking a more novel like tense thriller book.
I had more ”joy” reading Fröberg then Hägglund. Jöran is at times very personal and the stories he serves are not that interersting at times. He could be much more specific on certain people in the business but he does not have interest or dare to. He describes physical issues such as Ed’s etage office in Renaissance Tower in details.
Some stories are to the millimeter the same such as the meeting in Ed’s room with Scott Mackie
Ed Whitacre listened carefully. He described the process within GM. Explained what was of importance to GM, looked at Scott Mackie who was in the room and asked.
“Scott with the jigsaw puzzle bits falling to place, with the information that you now have, what advice will You give in the Saab business. Shall we sell the company or not?
“Well….” began Scott
“No well or buts Scott. I want a straight answer. Yes or no! What is Your advice?”
“Then my advice is to sell SAAB.” said Scott Mackie
Ed Whitacre looked at Hans and me where we sat at the table. “Then we sell SAAB.” Ed explaned short and consice.
We shook hands and ended the meeting by declaring that we from both sides should be quiet about the fact that the meeting had taken place and the contents of the meeting.
Both authors have this story in their books, there are many more similar ones like the one above.
Both books should be translated to English. Maybe we can push the publishers in that direction. It is quite a unique piece of modern day international business history. A story with so many bottoms and intricate finesse.
If you can read Swedish go ahead, first read the book by Jonas then the one by Jöran.
SUHRT gives Fröberg 4 out of 5 Turbos,
Hägglund gets 2 out of 5 Turbos