Right now I’d rate Inside Line’s accuracy when it comes to Saab stories as “questionable”. We all remember the Michelle Krebs story from a month or so ago, right? Auto Observer is Inside Line’s cousin so we have to wonder if the family gene for accuracy has been carried on or skipped.
Inside Line are running a story today that makes one or two interesting claims.
Swedish automaker Saab is considering expanding in Russia and China in the near future, through the establishment of its own production facilities as well as resumption of distribution in both countries.
In the case of Russia, according to Jan-Ake Johnson, managing director of Saab, the new plant might be established in the Far East. Earlier this year, Russian media also reported about the plans of Spyker, new owner of Saab, to build a plant in the Kaliningrad region for the production of Saab models with a total capacity of 10,000 cars per year.
According to some Russian analysts, the new plant may specialize in the production of new Saab models including the 9-3 sedan for the Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakh markets, priced no higher than $12,000.
To put these reports into perspective, I’ll have to take you back in time a little.
The young Russian banker, Vladimir Antonov, was officially excluded from the Saab purchase by decree of General Motors, but it’s fair to say that unofficially, he has fingers in various pies.
Earlier this year, Antonov spoke to several publications about Saab, talking about his plans to build Saabs in Kaliningrad – cars that were based on some of Saabs older technology that hadn’t been sold to BAIC.
Inside Line manage to include Jan-Ake Jonsson in their article, above, however there’s no direct quote from him about production in Russia, just an invocation about producing them in “the Far East” (which is a long way away if you’re talking about Russia’s far east. I wonder if Sarah Palin will be able to see the factory 🙂 – sorry.).
The only quote I’ve seen from Jan-Ake Jonsson about Antonov’s plans for Russian production played the plans down a little.
Of course, Russia is an emerging market which is interesting for Saab. But I can not comment on the substance of what he has said. I have just read what he said and has not spoken to him myself, “said Jan-Ake Jonsson.
Bear in mind, that was back in April and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Inside Line could have spoken to the man himself but just not included a direct quote.
Cranking out some older-architecture Saabs for Russia and “the Stans” might well be a good little earner. As long as it doesn’t hurt the prospects of Saab selling their new models to Russia’s nouveau riche.
For the moment, I’ll place this in the wait and see basket.
And in the same article, about China:
At the same time in China, Saab is planning to open 10 to 15 dealerships, under a single network, which is expected to allow it to sell up to 5,000 cars in the country a year. In addition, there is also a possibility of launching the production of a new generation of 9-3 sedan in this country in 2012.
Can’t come soon enough.
And completely unrelated, but whilst we’re talking Antonov……
His Snoras Bank are sponsoring the Lotus Renault F1 team next year, which are part-owned by Genii Capital (who were one of the contenders looking to buy Saab).