Press Release: Saab Automobile Launches New Engineering Structure

• Shaping highly efficient and capable engineering organization
• New organization gears up for developing competitive future vehicle program

Trollhättan, Sweden: As it continues to establish itself as a successful independent premium car manufacturer, Saab Automobile today announced a new organizational structure for its engineering department. The new structure will optimize Saab Automobile’s ability to build competitive premium cars for the 21st century and allow the company to realize its ambition of creating one of the most efficient engineering organizations in the automotive industry.

Since becoming an independent company on February 23, 2010, Saab Automobile has worked intensively to revitalize its engineering department which until then was integrated in the General Motors structure. The new engineering organization is now well-equipped to support Saab Automobile’s extensive development program and current product offensive, with vehicle electrification and the successor to the current Saab 9-3 being two major focal points.

Announcing the new structure, Saab Automobile’s Executive Director Product Development Vehicle Mats Fägerhag said: “The car industry has changed immensely in recent years, as flexibility and sharing know-how have become keys to success. Virtual tools such as CAD and computer simulations have changed the way we work and have led to increased efficiencies and class-leading development times for new vehicles, as well as the need for a new mix of skills and competences within Engineering.

“The new engineering organization embodies the new way of working at Saab Automobile, for instance in the new highly advanced vehicle architecture we have developed for future Saab models. This architecture, on which the successor to the current 9-3 will be built, is based on a modular approach with a set of components and systems, as well as a bandwidth flexibility allowing it to serve multiple vehicle needs.”

The fresh approach within Engineering is also reflected in several strategic technology partnerships with parties such as BMW, Boston Power, American Axle Manufacturing and VICURA, while Saab Automobile is also sharing its engineering know-how with third parties.

In order to facilitate all this, Engineering is creating the right balance of skills and competences for the future through retraining, new hirings, internal redeployments, voluntary separation packages, specialist consultants and other ways. Going forward, the department will continue to improve this balance by hiring highly-skilled people and experts in key areas, which will be instrumental in developing and meeting customer demand for highly-competitive premium vehicles.

Red J here:

It seems like Saab is slowly throwing away all those GM structures that a small company like Saab doesn’t need, and is getting ready to play the game of the future, which means: No more isolated OEM’s, a OEM can also e a supplier or even a consultant, and sharing is the word of the game.
I think it is a bet against the point of view of those that think that only bigger is better.
GM failed, Toyota failed, Mercedes failed even trying, why should someone else succeed???

UPDATE: has an interview with Mr. Fägerhag on that.

20 thoughts on “Press Release: Saab Automobile Launches New Engineering Structure”

  1. Good news! 🙂
    However, I think you should add “Press Release:” to the blog entry title just like Swade does (check the related articles).

    Also, I have translated the TTELA article and sent it in to Swade, but he is probably asleep right now.

  2. Great news !

    Things are moving along just fine I see. This is an extremely important step in vehicle dynamics and efficiency. So we will have one of the most advanced and efficient vehicle development teams, vehicle production facilities, and now alls we need is a dynamic sales force, and the good times will roll !

    So proud of Saab.

  3. Good news? What news? This is the vaguest press release i’ve ever witnessed. And you guys immediately step in to share your excitement. What does this say? Absolutely nothing!

    • Maybe I shouldn’t even answer this comment….

      However; just in case others can’t see the wood for the trees.

      This press release is about SAAB becoming even more leaner. SAAB was and still is regarded as the leanest mass production car manufacturer and this news is about letting people know the gap has just got wider. Although not in black and white it means that SAAB’s break-even level has just be lowered. That their next vehicle will be on a SAAB architecture unlike any of their cars from the past 18 years. They with use unique propulsion systems that will be in any combination of IC, Hybrid or full electric. That they will license this IP out to others to generate income so they can develop new and better product for the future.

    • This is really something to build on, love it! Saab soul in its best!

      small and effective, cheers to the future!

  4. There is also an article in today’s GP (Gothenburg newspaper). There are no references on the GP website which I could find. I have made a simple compilation of the article below:

    Saab restructures and releases a large part of the Powertrain division into an independent company. This company is called is called Vicura and will offer consultancy services to different clients. Vicura will be owned by a government venture capital company, called Fouriertransform. 47 engineers specialized in gearbox design will be affected. Fouriertransform was started as a part of the so called “vehicle package” aimed to support the Swedish automotive industry. Kjell AC Bergström, manager at Saab Powertrain says that there will be 260 employees left out of 320 at Saab. Vicura will reside just outside the Saab gates and will have a special entrance to the Saab area. Dieder Schreiber at Fouriertransfor explains that Saab had overcapacity in this field and that the thought is to preserve and develop the competence available in the automotive industrial cluster. The company has only been around for three weeks and has already customers. There are also some other owners in the picture and even more on the way in. The ownership structure will be clearer in the next six months.

  5. All these restructuring tasks make more and more sense to me. Many press and automotive guys (think FIAT boss) claim that Saab can not survive. OF COURSE Saab can not survive if they continue like they did before under GM. But that’s what they knew in advance and I think tasks like this is exactly what they planned in their business plan. Old-fashion “experts” like mr. Christer Karlsson have the big argument that Saab doesn’t have the money for a new platform after the new 9-3. What they don’t seem to get is that the next gen. 9-5 and 9-4x will not need a whole new platform but a modification of the present one. Making smaller departments, focussing on technology of the future and focussing on sharing with others. That’s the way to go. Selling your brilliant engineering work to others and implement it at the same time in your own “baby”, a new Saab model. Good work Saab!

    • and what the so called experts have not thought about is a Russian investor funding future projects or maybe BAIC paying SAAB to develop a new architecture that both companies would benefit from.

    • And there’s another thing to this…

      It’s ALOT ! cheaper and faster making a platform for 100.000 vechicles than one that has to cater to millions of vehicles across several brands

      • I do believe your statement to be true. On the other hand, lower development costs will mean higher manufacturing costs. I am pretty sure that Most of the development costs go into manufacturing cost optimisations.

        E.g., an egineer knows that if using a stainless steel screw at a particular conection, there will be no problem. When however using a cheaper screw, or a plastic clip, it might well take 1000s of dollars/Euros to find out whether or not this replacement will withstand time and wear.

  6. Saab is continuously making several internal assessments and restructuring their resources in a very intelligent way. All parts of the organization that are seen as “non-core” or “excessive” on the basis of utilization, for the size of company they are, are brought out of the Saab structured, and put on the market where they can reach a cost-sharing with other OEMs that find the competence of value. Through this Saab “can have the cake and eat it” = they get their own job done at an equal cost or less – even partly paid through external customers financing the personel cost – and they are also adding a opportunity for further earnings.

    e-AAM, ViCURA are jsut the more obvious sections where this is performed, in other areas the cost sharing is less “public”.

    Saab is understanding its vulnerable position, acting accordingly outsourcing areas of their operation where they have exceptional expertize that is attractive to others and through this building a lower cost base to secure the survival at the same time that the ensure they keep their competitive advantage parallel to cutting the fixed operating cost and cost for new vehicle development. I´d say, the ones that do not appreciate this are probably not operating in any higher level in their day-to-day work either …………

    Fägerhag/JAJ/VM vs. Dudenhoeffer/Carlsson/Collin/Mattsson/DI/general media/………
    6-0/6-0/6-0 game set & match!

    This restructuring is so far more intelligent than any one of them ever would be able to concieve in their wildest fantasy! If they had any beyond making up headlines based on what “know-it-all-experts” and the competitors top executives have convinced them to believe in order to kill of the competition. Do not believe that a person like Dudenhoeffer does not have a personal agenda paid by some lobbyist! The unfortunate thing is that naive Swedish media is jumping on the band wagon in belief based on their sales pitch! Something that is far easier than doing research and understanding the real mechanics ………….

  7. This is FANTASTIC news and just goes to show you what a little (okay alot) of hard work and determination can achieve in the short time since Saab became independent.

    Im so proud of everyone at Saab. From the guys and gals that build our cars, to the people who market them, the folks that sell them and Victor, Jan-Ake and Swade for keeping the dream alive. Things are starting to happen at Saab and I am so proud to own one of these fanastic cars and to be associated with each and every one of you.

  8. Great to see how determined the Saab leadership now is. They have concepts and than,they execute them!!

    And a chance to express my sorrow that Saab had to give up full-fledged engine development and in particular, engine manufacturing. Just a couple of days ago, BMW finally confirmed Saab’s concept by introducing a 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol engine with all the niceties assembled, twin scroll, direct injection, direct ignition, camshaft control, valve control etc. Power output is 180 kW, which equals what Saab’s B235 had 10 years ago (well, at 2.3 litres, but still). What a pity.

    I do hope that this engine is included in the Saab/BMW deal, and was not pulished due to the engine not having been officially presented back then.

  9. Already back in 1989 Saab started work with a business koncept based on “Multiple-niche-architecture”. ovloV now has a similar koncept called “Scalable platform architecture”.

    Saabs new organization is a copy of Scania´s modular system, without double work.

    An idea was to make Saab into a Porsche style engineering company after the division from GM. Guess Saab had high hopes on getting BAIC as a big customer but that has from what I have heard failed because of to high costs for the chinese company. Could anyone fill in on this???

  10. Frankly, I am quite disappointed in this very GM-like, vague press release. I have no idea what actually happened, is happening and is supposed to happen at Saab, and thus have no opinion on THAT, but the sole fact that I don’t know makes me a bit discontented.

    I would rather Saab stepped ahead and said:
    * we fired this and this many people
    * those people go to a separate company that will provide us services on a case-by-case basis
    * we will no longer develop this or that internally
    * we will no longer have a xxx engineering capacity and rely on suppliers for that

    This would still make perfect sense to me, and pour a bit of cold water on those who say Saab doesn’t have the scale required to run a full-fledged automaker. But I’d rather have a clear picture and direct communications from Saab. This is one area where Saab could make a difference, as most automakers (save for Fiatsler perhaps) are very secretive regarding their internal operations, much of which ends up leaked out or speculated about widely anyway.

    • I came back to this post in mid-February and noted the same vagueness. It says they are doing something but doesn’t give an indication of the actual new structure or what was being changed aside from the fact that people are impacted. Perhaps they wanted to explain why people were moving and being offered retirement without giving out internal proprietary information.

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