In light of the debate right now about the questioning of Jan-Ake Jonsson and the attitude of the Swedish press towards Saab, I figured I better post this article once again, for a couple of reasons.
A) It’s relevant to the debate as to what Saab has done this year. Sales targets are important (they dictate cashflow) but they’re not the only measure of what the company is doing or whether it’s had a successful year. This has been a year where Saab has had to come back to life.
B) I wanted to provide an easy way for people to look this up. The word ‘achievements’ doesn’t get used too much here, so if you need to look this up, just type ‘achievements‘ into the search bar in the left sidebar and this post should be one of the few that turns up. Remember….. achievements.
……it’s worth taking a moment to look back and observe everything that Saab’s been through – and achieved – so far in 2010.
They imported, installed and tested tooling from Austria and then made their first ever Trollhattan-built Saab convertible in early January.
An agreement was reached to sell Saab to Spyker Cars NV on January 27. Don’t let that short sentence dissuade you from the gravity of that occasion.
They produced the final of the old series Saab 9-5 in February, gearing the plant up for the new series to come. The Saab plant in Trollhattan would now build the full 9-3 range – sedan, SportCombi, Convertible as well as the new Saab 9-5, with the new 9-5 wagon still to come.
The Saab sale to Spyker Cars was finalised on February 23 and I was fortunate enough to be in the room when it happened. That post was one of the happiest I’ve ever written in five+ years.
Victor Muller picked up his Saab 9-5 in late February and drove it home to Holland.
They showed off the production model of the new Saab 9-5 and basically announced “We’re back!” on the Saab stand at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.
Saab secured vehicle financing with GMAC, following months with no finance available during the reconstruction and sale processes.
After weeks of gearing up, Saab resumed production in Trollhattan and Number 001 of the new Saab 9-5 rolled off the line in March.
Saab released a new EcoPower edition of the Saab 9-3 convertible. Emissions and fuel economy were reduced by 7 percent, with no effect on output or acceleration.
All this time, Saab were still racking up test miles on the new Saab 9-5 before it’s commercial release. By April, they’d covered more a distance longer than 12 times around the world on European roads.
Jan-Ake Jonsson received the first of several business awards for the year, from the Western Swedish Chamber of Commerce.
Victor Muller and Jan-Ake Jonsson completed the Mille Miglia historic rally, gathering plenty of PR juice for Saab (and plenty of Italian food for Peter Backstrom) in the process.
In an important post-script to the sale and reconstruction, Saab finalised their composition agreement with creditors, writing down their debts by 75%. They also finalised the acquisition of Saab GB from General Motors in June.
Saab rejigged their TTiD range for the Saab 9-3, introducing new low-emissions TTiD engines that set a new benchmark for power from a sub-120g/gm engine. They also added the TTiD engine to the Saab 9-5 range, making it the first time TTiD would become available in combination with XWD.
At the Paris Auto Show, Saab showed of the Saab 9-3 ePower, their first all-electric concept vehicle. 70 test units will be released for use in Sweden in 2011.
In September, Saab announced the partnership with American Axle to form a new company, e-AAM Driveline Systems, which will develop and produce innovative new hybrid driveline systems. The first use of this new system will be on the replacement for the Saab 9-3 late in 2012.
The same month, Saab also announced an engine supply agreement with BMW to use their 1.6turbo engines in the replacement for the Saab 9-3.
Victor Muller was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Automotive News Europe at a ceremony at the Paris Auto Show.
Saab celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Erik Carlsson’s first RAC rally win with a new edition of the Saab 9-3 Carlsson.
Following a short-lived appointment of Adrian Hallmark and his departure for a position at Jaguar, Saab acted quickly to appoint Matthias Seidl as his replacement as Executive Sales Director.
Saab announced a partnership with CATC to import vehicles and parts into China from 2011. CATC will be an official service provider to Saab China, who will take over sales operations from Shanghai GM. Saab China will oversee around 10 dealers when sales commence in July 2011.
Saab divested the development of transmissions to a new company called VICURA, which will be wholly owned by Fouriertransform, an investment consortium backed by the Swedish government. The company will be staffed by around 50 engineers from Saab and will commence operations on January 1.
Saab saw off the anniversary of December 18, 2009, the day when Saab nearly died at the hands of GM.
Around the same time as this significant anniversary, news reports began to emerge in the Swedish press that Spyker investor, Vladimir Antonov, had been cleared from any wrongdoing in several personal investigations. Antonov had been removed from the Spyker consortium due to a demand from GM arising from concerns about his background. The clearing of his name should hopefully open the door for him to play a larger role in the ongoing development of Saab’s business.
I don’t know about you, but that looks like a stellar year’s work for a car company, especially a car company that was basically dead back in January.
Speaking of January, the Saab Support Convoys are a notable exclusion from this list of 2010 highlights. This list is focusing on what Saab have achieved this year, not what was achieved this year by dedicated fans on their behalf.
As the headline says, the year ain’t over yet. Here’s to a spectacular finish!