Swadetorial: Frustrations

From today’s online DI.se (Googletrans):

“Saab lowers forecast again”

It seems that Saab needs to lower its sales forecast again. According to the German magazine Focus, Saab will not sell more than 25,000 cars in 2010.

Should it prove true, it is more than a halving of the original target of 60,000 cars which the company went out with last spring, writes Bloomberg.

But in August reduced the forecast to 45,000 cars and trucks in October 30000-35000. ‘

For the Saab would not comment on the new German data.

“We stick to the previously announced targets,” says Saab’s CIO Eric Geers to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

This isn’t a DI.se rant. I could have picked out a piece from SVD a few days ago that was IMHO very close to being defamatory towards Victor Muller, but this article is fresh from today’s news so it’ll do.

All I want to know is why?

This DI story is nothing more than some magazine in another country stating it’s opinion that Saab may have to lower its sales forecast for 2010 (a year with just one month remaining). Yet according to the headline, it’s reported that Saab are lowering their forecast again. Even if Eric Geers from Saab denies it, they go ahead with that headline.

The fact that it’s played out like that is strange in itself. But what I’d like an explanation to is the question why?

If it’s merely because bad news sells, it’s really disappointing. If it’s something more, then it’s almost scary.

Saab are indeed selling less vehicles than they’d like to and that is a cause for concern. No-one would be more concerned about it than the executive team at Saab and I know they’re working their tails off to make things better.

They’re building the most advanced Saab that’s ever been made in the new Saab 9-5. The car has been well received in the vast majority of road tests it has featured in and more importantly, the people who own this new car absolutely love it. It has a great lineup of engines – the largest Saab have ever offered with the launch of a new vehicle. It looks fantastic. It has Saab’s usual safety excellence built in.

They’ve just launched a new range of innovative diesels in the 9-3 Sport Sedan range that will save buyers real money.

e-AAM, the 9-4x, the BMW deal. There’s so much good stuff that people could be talking about with regard to Saab right now but if there’s even the whiff of a negative story, the press seem to be all over it like the proverbial flies on poop.

Saab are fighting for their lives and they’re doing it well, but a lot of the Swedish press corps seem to enjoy watching them bleed.

Maybe they should consider the alternative?

If Saab hadn’t survived, the city of Trollhattan and the Swedish government would likely be dealing with 3,000-6,000 (or more) unemployed people. Saab have around 3,000 employees but who knows how many satellite businesses rely on them being there. Technology companies, suppliers, small businesses of all sorts.

Swedish industry would have lost one of its key pillars and don’t think that Saab’s demise wouldn’t have hurt Volvo, with whom they share a number of Swedish suppliers.

From an outsider’s point of view, there are even wider ramifications than that. If the Swedish press don’t value Saab as an industrial player, perhaps they should think of them as both an economic and cultural export.

The average Swede might not realise it, but Saab and Volvo are both incredibly effective ambassadors for their country of origin. I absolutely love the place and with apologies to the statuesque feminine members of the citizenry, sugary musicians and intelligent designers, I’ve really only given Sweden the attention that I have because of the existence of Saab Automobile. What an absolutely wonderful place and people I would missed out on if it weren’t for Saab.

And I know I’m not the only one.

The question as to why more Swedes and the press in that country don’t take more of a positive interest in their industry is beyond me. I’m not talking about giving them a free ride here. Just a fair one.

Someone remarked here a few weeks ago that it’s because people fear losing the government money that’s tied up in Saab.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but right now there is either very little, or perhaps no government money at all tied up in Saab. What little there is would be due to normal grants given for research and development purposes.

Saab received a loan from the European Investment Bank. Whilst this loan is guaranteed by the Swedish government, that guarantee is backed by a security over Saab’s assets, which were assessed at being well beyond the value of the guarantee.

The Swedish public has very little, if anything, at risk in financial terms (save for the cost of feeding, re-training and perhaps housing the unemployed if Saab is to fail, which they won’t). The Swedish public has so much more to gain when Saab are successful, because this company and its employees pay taxes, buy goods and services and make a product that showcases Sweden all around the world.

No-one’s asking for favouritism. In Australia, we call it giving someone a fair go.

Saab are building great cars that promise only to get better. It’d be a refreshing change to see more reporting of this (thanks Robert Collin and a few others) and less of the speculative, fear-mongering drivel that’s come from several other publications in recent times.

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