Saab CEO Jan-Ake Jonsson appeared on the Swedish talk show “Sverker rakt på” last night. The show is reputed to be a straight/hard talking interview show.
Henrik, Perry and others (noted below) were kind enough to leave notes in comments as the show progressed. I’ve copied and edited those notes below….
First, the host, Sverker Olofsson, posted this on his website in prelude to the show:
We have all followed the Saab’s fight for survival. I’m certainly not alone in being impressed by the Saab Employee loyalty to the company and their belief that Saab really has a future.
One of the staff is managing director Jan Ake Jonsson. He is the one we’ve seen most, and hearing the most. I wonder if he is equally convinced that Saab’s future as he seems? I also wonder if it is the employees who gave him the conviction or whether it is the opposite. They appear in all cases, get along well, despite all setbacks.
Setbacks also continues. It has not sold so many cars that Saab had expected so far this year. How is this going, I wonder?
On “Straight” on Tuesday, I hope a lot of question marks straightened. Then, Saab’s Managing Director Jan Ake Jonsson told the program. I have never met him, but he gives the impression of trying to give clear answers. It bodes well I think.
And now to some of the questions and answers:
-Sverker asks: how are you supposed to survive?
– J-Å: answers that they have first now started the new company
– S: why prognoses has failed
– J-Å: answers that production, the start with supplyers etc was harder than excpected
– S: did you not know this when prognose was made?
– J-Å: it was harder than expected
They then took a look back over the story around the sale of Saab.
– S: how did it feel to be on stage with Victor?
– J-Å: it was very emotional and non-swedish
– S: how can you keep optimism?
– J-Å: I´m just born that way
– S: how big is the chance that all employees is still there in years to come?
– J-Å: very likely, but nobody can promise
Swedishnes is important, where premium cars are being made is important for brand (not russelsheim for example)
– S: why expensive cars and SUVs?
– J-Å: we can never be a cheap car maker
– S: why big and not enviromental?
– J-Å: we are known for small engines with turbos, E85 and the new diesel engines. The hard part is knowing what is a enviromental car in future.
– S: Which fuel is the future?
– J-Å: short term petrol and diesel, but less consuming, down to 0,20
– S: I saw you made an electric car that reaches 200km
– J-Å: Infrastructure is not ready yet
– S: Spyker is HOT, what can they do for you?
– J-Å: they know premium
– S: Spykers boss is talking about a small Saab, how about that?
– J-Å: Victor is talkning about a car smaller than 9-3, but not retro
– S: Will it be made in sweden?
– J-Å: not certain, depending on collaborations
– S: how long will you stay, it´s been a hard time?
– J-Å: don´t know, I`m getting older so who knows but right now we have to make this work
J-Å mentioned consumption down to 0,2 per 10 km in the future, and when Sverker asked if 92 (new Saab small car) was 8 years down the road, J-Å answered that he hoped it wouldn´t take that long.
Some more notes from Peter, in Sweden:
– In a couple of years JAJ believes gasoline-Saabs are down to 0,2 litres/10km.
– Saab 9-2 doesn’t necessarily have to be built in Sweden.
– JAJ can’t promise that all Saab-workers will be left in two years time. “It’s all about financing, about what we decide to build in-house and about which products we are building ourselves” [something like that].
Notes from JL and Troels:
Some SAAB suppliers had to be restarted from scratch and some were completely out of materials – I think JAJ said there are 850 of them in total, spread around the world? So it was not just SAAB starting up again. Many administrative functions had previosuly not existed at SAAB and had to be created. Etc etc. Everything got delayed, some product development too. It has been a tremendous work to get the whole machine up and running again and the amount of work and time needed to get up to speed was very difficult to estimate beforehand. It is not until now really, that SAAB can work full steam ahead with producing and selling cars (“it starts now”).
Sverker had three crucial questions where he asked JAJ to give the answer on a scale 0-100%. I can only remember two of them:
-What is the likelihood of your sales prognoses for 2011 and 2012 being correct?
JAJ: 70-80% (depending on the world economy etc)
-What is the likelihood of all the people working at SAAB today, still having a job there in 5 years time from now?
JAJ: 70-80% (functions may be outsourced etc)
– How big a part of Saab’s car production will be enviroment-friendly classified cars in xx (5?) years ?
JAJ: around 60%
By all accounts, Jan-Ake Jonsson presented very well (as usual, of course) and it was a good show for Saab.
My thanks once again to all the note-takers.
If you missed the show, you can watch it online at SVT Play (in Swedish, geo-restricted)