Press Release: Saab Automobile and Fouriertransform in transmissions engineering agreement

Hopefully, in addition to driving down break even points and improving efficiencies, this new company will also provide some pretty decent transmissions!


  • Saab Automobile transmissions development divested to new company fully owned by investor consortium and staffed by former Saab Automobile engineers
  • New company called VICURA will focus on transmission technology development for the international vehicle industry
  • Next step in Saab Automobile restructuring secures more efficient operations
  • Agreement allows Fouriertransform to secure strong engineering base and further develop competitive edge for Swedish vehicle industry

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is continuing to streamline its operations by transferring its transmissions development work to a new company wholly owned by a consortium led by the Swedish state-backed venture capital investor Fouriertransform.

The new company, called VICURA and to be formally established on January 1, will be staffed by more than 50 former Saab Automobile Powertrain engineers and will develop transmission systems for the international automotive industry, including Saab Automobile. The company will be headquartered in Trollhättan.

The agreement with Fouriertransform is the next step in Saab Automobile’s restructuring towards becoming a successful, stand-alone company and will make Saab Automobile’s organization operate more efficiently.

Announcing the deal, Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said: “I am delighted to reach this agreement with Fouriertransform. This step, together with other initiatives, will drive down our break-even point and improve operational efficiency as we work towards becoming a profitable, independent company.”

Per Nordberg, CEO at Fouriertransform, said: “The trend of outsourcing of transmission development is definitively increasing. For Sweden and the Swedish automotive industry as a whole, it is vital to maintain and further develop high competence within this field and that is exactly what these skilled former Saab engineers will offer as consultants in this competitive vehicle market.”

37 thoughts on “Press Release: Saab Automobile and Fouriertransform in transmissions engineering agreement”

  1. Swade, would it be possible for you to get some information on Saabs part in this new company? Will it have a share in the company? Will it be able to use new techology ahead of other customers? When are the first results of this company expected? Thx 🙂

    • Yes, please try to get an interview with Mats Fägerhag or someone else who has insight into both new transmission technologies and what Saab’s relationship to the company will be. I know that already in 2007 there were reports that Saab was going to develop a dual clutch transmission for GM. And now with the hybrid cars coming, maybe there’s even other transmission technologies coming?

      • Judging by one or two “Merry Christmas” emails I’ve got in my inbox, I think things may have wound down considerably there. Things are remarkably busy here, too, right now.

        Getting more information will likely have to wait until the new year.

        • After the Christmas last year, both you and the people at Saab deserves a long and peaceful Christmas celebration now. I think next year will be just as exciting and busy as 2010! 🙂

  2. SAAB still had some transmission engineers?

    Now, as long as they don’t make a company out of the guys who make the seats..

    • “Now, as long as they don’t make a company out of the guys who make the seats..”

      Heck, they sure could if they really wanted to. Seriously, IMHO Saab seats are the best in the mass automotive industry, and can certainly teach all other automakers how proper car seats should be designed.

  3. Another highly intelligent move by the Saab people. Think of all the extra parts possible to sell to other car manufacturers. Then comes all the spare parts to the after market. The engineers will be able to broaden their skills by participating in diverse car projects. Vicura , where does the name come from? Sounds like a car model like acura.

  4. It seems like a lot of interesting things are happening at Saab right now! 😀
    However, I wonder if Saab will be a shareholder in this new company and how big share they will have in that case.

    I have also noticed that Saab has recently registered a new subsidiary called Saab Automobile Transmission AB and it probably has something to do with this. The subsidiary is registered on 2010-10-25 and Kjell A.C. Bergström from Saab Automobile Powertrain AB is its chairman. The registered company description says (translated from Swedish):

    “The company will develop, manufacture and sell engines, gearboxes, components and spare parts for these in the automotive field and own and manage the factory premises, office premises and buildings for the said purpose and also engage in related activities.”
    More information is here (in Swedish)

    • Uhm, not really a liability. They were charged with creating an “unbreakable” 4-speed transmission for the 120 hp fuel injected 2.0 to fit inside the existing envelope, a task which they performed with great success. At the time it was called the “King Kong” gearbox. It shifted well and lasts forever given even a moderate maintenance regime. Then came Turbocharging. Then came the demand for a 5th gear. Then came the 16 valve head, and the “Red Box” engine controller. For 10 years the transmission engineers played catch up, while in the mean time designing and manufacturing the 5 speed transverse transmission for the 9000. Finally around 1990 they did catch up, with a design that shifts well (when properly aligned) and stands up, all within the same case.

    • It’s all relative David. Yes, the gearbox was a weak point but this is at around 130,000 miles – a mileage where most other cars had given up completely!

  5. Investor is involved (former Saab owner) that sounds promising to me. Saabs new way of surviving is to sell know how to anyone willing to buy there teknology.

    I think they are going the right way in this. Hope they can sell their new platform (phoenix) to another car manufacture to. Even if Saab dont sell alot of cars they survive on that but to outsorse to much is a risk itselves.

    That´s a thought.

    • I don’t think it says Investor AB, just an investor consortium not mentioned by name.

      By the way, now I remember that Fouriertransform has the policy never to own more than 49% of a company. Maybe Saab owns the rest of Vicura?

      • There you see! A little problem with language, sorry JH! Well hope the 49% theory is right so Saab have the control over it and taking benefits from it.

  6. Finally some of the money the government set aside in december 2008 (when Fouriertransform started) for the automotive industry in Sweden is begin used to help Saab. This company (Vicura) will be located at Stallbacka!

  7. This is really a very intelligent move by Saab.
    And I hope that they will come up with transmissions that are really nice and better than all the ones used so far in Saab cars.

    The gearbox was always the weakest part in Saab cars. Sometimes it was just awful. And this is not only my personal experience. It has been reported numerous times in car reviews.

    Another weak point was the audio system! So many expensive components in there and the result mediocre to poor! A badly designed system from a very bad engineer.

    • I half agree, Chris. Sure, good audio systems help your ownership experience, but when did a poor audio system ever become a deal-breaker when deciding between different cars ? Let alone be picked on solely by the auto press (“stay away from Car ABC, it has crap audio system !!!”).

      Luckily, OEM audio systems are fairly easily replaced by third party systems at relatively little cost.

      • OEM audio systems are not replaceable on any Saab level car, if owner got any kind of interior taste.

        • You are right about the head unit only, you can always swap speakers and add an amplifier, and for about USD 2000-3000 you’ll get much better quality than any OEM parts, in amost any car. Aftermarket head units may be much better sound-wise, but, unfortunately, they are all designed awfully tasteless and are ergonomical nightmare. Seriously, all of them. That’s sad, and you are right on this part. But a good amplifier coupled with good speakers can solve the problem.
          By the way, harman/kardon audio system in my ’98 9-5 looks and sounds pretty good! It’s a pity Saab was forced to use units from GM’s parts bin in 9-3, 9-5 since 2006 and a new 9-5, they don’t even fit to design and look completely inappropriate.
          I haven’t experienced Bose speakers but… I’d still say – bring back harman/kardon, please! 🙂

    • I could write a very long post about the sound systems in Saabs but in a nutshell it comes down to two things.
      a) never ever use 5 buck (yes, $4.99) drivers in a Saab. It only cost about $100 more to get an okay sound if you actually put the money into parts that produce it = speakers.
      There are for instance manufacturers like Seas and Dynaudio just a few hours drive away from Trollättan. Why don’t have them deliver some 2 1/2” and 5 1/2” drivers that can handle some abuse without blowing up the first time someone turns the bass and volume up to 11. It’s also not that difficult to put a distortion sensors in the amp unit either…
      b) if the independent Saab offers / ships the embarrassing GM ‘Premium 70’ (ahem) ever again JÅJ need to have someone shot 😉

      There is an offer for Premium 150 (no cost) for the 9-3 but you still need to tick the box. P70 should not be mentioned ever again on the site. Nothing destroys reputation and resale value than broken speakers when people test drive second hand cars a few years down the road. (sorry, again)

  8. has some more info:

    New company formed in Trollhattan – offshoot of Saab Powertrain
    A new largely state owned company is formed when 50 engineers from Saab Powertrain get a new employer next year.

    – They possess a unique expertise, their services will be sold internationally, says Didier Schreiber from Fouriertransform.

    Saab Powertrain has since the GM time, a special competense in the field of manual transmissions – the next generation manual transmissions, DCT, will reduce the fuel consumption of cars significantly. It is in this area that the 50 engineers from Saab Powertrain have their expertise which can be sold to the rest of the automotive industry.

    – The automotive industry is moving towards more and more of this type of development being done by external actors. There are 3-4 other companies that Vicura will compete with internationally, says Didier Schreiber, who is one of the investment managers at the state venture capital company.

    He sees a substantial market for the engineers’ services.

    – There are 3-4 other companies that Vicura will compete with internationally.

    At this time they will not say how much money Fouriertransform is investing.

    – But it’s a considerable amount, says Didier Schreiber.

    Vicura will have headquarters in Trollhättan, at Stallbacka next to Saab Powertrain and Saab’s technical development department.

  9. Maybe it is time for Saab to look at other swedish world class engineering companies with extreme technology that really could revolutionize the automotive business. If not swedish venture capital or business shows interest it is of course always the chance that Saabs and ovloV´s competitors gets it.

    Is Saab heading in the direct direction with the decisions on drivetrain, chassis, usage of lightweight materials etc? New chief designer is good i guess but that is just the frosting of the cake. What technologies underneath is of interest. Performance is a key issue in the competition between the middle-upper segment. Saabs must perform better or at par with Audi, BMW, Alfa Romeo and similars. It is not just OK if Saab get the good old hatch back and design.

    I want my future TurboX replacement to be an even better performer. It was great to do an 180 degree handbreakturn with full acceleration making maximum usage of the XWD system. My passenger saying “- Do You have to Rally drive? ” Answer “!-Yes I just had to it is so much fun”
    That is what Saab driving is all about.

  10. Double clutch tranny coming up! Joint venture with state owned venture cap Fouriertransform not lacking financial backing to get things going.

  11. The new company will be fully owned by Fouriertransform. And as mentioned in the press-release, focus on “relatively” known technologies. SAAB Powertrain will still have a substantial transmission department for integration, pre-development and advanced engineering.

  12. This is really great news. XWD is the best implementation of Haldex technology, so the new company has some valuable IP that will be of interest to other players in the industry. However. if it could only sell its product to Saab, there would be no economies of scale. This way, the new company can share the cost of the talented engineers who devised XWD to reduce the unit costs for Saab. I would assume that the contract allows for this…

    So the Saab business plan is becoming clearer. Design great Swedish cars using a mixture of off-the-shelf components from leading suppliers (BMW engine, this transmission etc) and assemble these in one of the most advanced manufacturing plants in Europe. Keeps the overheads low and allows huge flexibility in source of components.

  13. So could this mean that work for GM’s DCT is now at final testing phase and Saab engineers are no longer needed in that, so they move to design next generation in Vicura with know&how they have?

    • Where GM’s DCT is presently, only GM knows. But I doubt that. It might have been scrapped just as the 2 prior DCT’s SAAB Powertrain developed…

      • So, Engineer, if I read you correctly then you are saying that Saab Powertrain actually have two ready-to-build DCT’s on the shelf? Or, better put, in their CAD files?


  14. Saab Powertrain and Vicura definately has the know-how (and blue-prints) but history belongs to GM in terms of IP. But these transmissions wasn’t really suitable for Saabs anyway I would say.

    • Engineer, I do not remember having asked you this before: What happened with the E100 V6 engine..?

      I keep drooling over the Aero-X at the museum. (for a multitude of reasons, not just the engine — BTW: has anyone here looked under its hood?)

      • Well, I have seen what the Aero-x has under the hood — you have to realize it is a show car, not a fully developed engineering project. It has a junk yard Opel 3.0 liter v6 (same as the 9-5) but in rear wheel drive front to back format. And no a/c or wipers. Or usable suspension.
        But it is a killer show car, just not as complete as the original Sonett 1 was.

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