Swedish news services hit Saab (again)

There’s been a little bit of discussion in comments about an article in the Swedish news today. It was written by the central TT news service and most of the big newspapers there have picked it up (like here).

Jörgen provided a google translation in comments….

Saab’s future questioned
Published: January 6, 2011, 17:05. Last Modified: January 6, 2011, 17:17

Saab Automobile reached its sales target last year. However, over time the race is run for the automaker, consider a heavy automobile expert.

Beginning of 2010, Saab management with a sales forecast of 60 000 cars. Reality looked different. Two hefty downward revisions followed. From 45 000 in August to 30000-35000 in October. The final figure was 32 048 cars.

According to Spyker CEO Victor Muller, was one of last year’s biggest challenges to replenish stocks at retailers around the world. Another reason for the low sales considered that the supplies did not arrive in time as desired until the third quarter.

TT: When you can see on the Saab is a survivor in the long run or not?

– You can not say without being able to see into the Saab’s business plan. But it is not no sustainable sales in the long run. You can not live at these levels, and Saab has not even reached the targets, responding Christer Karlsson, professor of industrial production at the Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen.

– Saab can do right now, thanks to sales tools and such, but the current structure, they have no chance to live into the next generation of cars.

TT: So when will the moment of truth?

– At best, it may take up to three years. But maybe two years. Saab has no resources to develop a new product generation, it costs several billion dollars.


So…. what do I think of this? I think it should have ended here:

TT: When you can see on the Saab is a survivor in the long run or not?

– You can not say without being able to see into the Saab’s business plan.

If you can’t authoritatively say anything without the appropriate insight into the business plan, then why say anything further? Of course, TT wouldn’t have let him stop there, though. Everything else in the short article is occasionially logical, but mostly incomplete.

No, the company can’t live on sales of 30,000 cars a year. They don’t plan to. They plan to sell plenty more than that and have publicly said so. Suggesting they can’t sustain the business at 30,000 sales is stating the obvious, as well as completely irrelevant.

“The next generation of cars” is the key statement in this article and the one of most relevance. Yes, it’s going to be an extraordinary challenge for Saab to develop cars into the future. They were gifted a new range of cars to kick things off, but replacing them with newer vehicles in the future will be the big challenge confronting the Saab management team.

What Prof Carlsson doesn’t talk about (and what TT conveniently don’t ask him about) is the possible solution(s) to this problem – technology sharing and efficiency.

Saab are developing technologies that they’ll be able to sell to other companies, thereby generating revenues that they can put towards development. They’re co-operating with other companies in the purchasing of technology, too, for things they won’t have the resources to develop themselves.

I think we’ll find that they look to develop some things on a more evolutionary level instead of starting everything from scratch, too. Think “Phoenix”.

Three years? Two years?

It’s my belief that Saab will be around a lot longer than that, Prof. A lot longer. Perhaps they will be challenged in around five years from now, when the current new 9-5 starts to look a bit older. But a challenge is not a death sentence, not by any means.

I can’t wait for Saab to have some good consecutive sales months so we can perhaps get away from the beat-ups for a little while. It’s tiring, as well as boring.

52 thoughts on “Swedish news services hit Saab (again)”

  1. This prof. is not what you´d call “solution oriented”, i snapped this from the comments section at DI.se 🙂

    Here are some statements about Saab and Volvo from Christer Karlsson (CBS) in recent years.

    2007 Volvo and Saab will not meet clean vehicle requirements by 2012 to 130 g / km

    09/13/2008 Judging out the Volvo and Saab’s chances of survival

    12/02/2008 Track bleak future for Saab

    12/03/2008 Track closure

    12/06/2009 Koenigsegg can not save Saab

    20/08/2009 Track bankruptcy for Saab

    24/11/2009 Saab should be put out of business

    21/12/2009 condemns Spyker as buyers of Saab

    24/11/2010 Judging out the Saab and BMW cooperation

    They have a guy like this too when they want to write about the “real estate boubble”, they call him every now and then, every time he says that house-prices will drop 20-40% in the imediate future, when I just had bought my house in 2003 I got a little scared. But now it´s worth two times the price I paid.

    • I noted this in the comments of the Taiwan story but missed some of his judgings…can that guy honestly call himself an expert after those statements? 🙂

      I’ve also taken time and emailed the guy, will post his reply here if I get one.

      • I´d say it´s an direct answer to the fact that Saab achieved their revised sale-goal, someone wanted to be sure they weren´t celebrating. As we can see this prof. says the same things over and over, so each time someone calls him they´d get a story like this.

        He thinks that Saab (and Volvo) won´t be able to compete because they won´t be able to develop an 130 gram co2 car back in 2007. Today Volvo has one 105 g co2 and Saab has one 119 g co2 with 180hp which is best performance of them all!! 🙂
        Nutty Professor

    • He wants saab to fail, so he can say “I was right.” otherwise he will look like an idiot.

      • After being wrong so many times he’s already got a big fat idiot-stamp in his forehead, at least in my book.

  2. It is just another one of the doom and gloom stories that prevail in the Swedish media – based on the so deeply rooted “don’t believe that you are special…” i.e keep the news negative, and play down any signs of positiveness, invention, initiative, etc. Just be drab and mediocre.
    How can I say this? I grew up there… Sad.
    Saab is almost like a new venture, a new player on the field – they will have to prove themselves all over again and THAT TAKES TIME as any entrepreneur who has had the guts to bring something new to the markets know. They -will- get there. I have faith. But then again, I am not a “heavy” so called expert.

  3. I still think SAAB sales represent insufficient inventories, and as such they are not bad at all. With the sportcombi and 9-4x there should be at least another 6-7K cars/quarter. A 9-3 refresh can increase sales by at least 25% there as well. With an alliance with BMW, SAAB has a lot of potential. BMW is very nervous about Audi now, so it is possible they may eventually buy SAAB as a complimentary brand, I think the alliance is an audition of sorts.

  4. So the Swedish ‘media’ want to see Saab’s business plan. Why? So they can tear that to pieces as well!? I suspect the lack of sunlight during long Swedish winters is making them all depressed and negative.

    • Calm down. Swedish media mat want to see the business plan, but the statement about the businessplan comes from the guy they interview. A difference.

      Can at least we be objective?

    • And this week there was a solar eclipse and a snow storm as well so maybe we are extra depressed today…

  5. Mark: BMW is to a large extent owned by a single family, the Quandts. While a zillion share holders may have a short term memory, the Quandts will not forget the Rover debacle. I don’t think that BMW will buy any car manufacturer for any foreseeable future.

    It’s only about cooperation

    As we have seen with Jaguar, a single hit can turn around a company.

    • Rover was a debacle except for Mini which is doing great and really delivering. If they spend the alliance time to get to know SAAB and integrate BMW tech into SAABs then they can buy them with little risk. The beauty of it is SAAB owners are very different from BMW owners although they are both premium products.

  6. I agree with Swade.
    There so many SAAB-haters out there, they just want the company to fail.
    Have many friends that say, 2013 will be the last year for SAAB.
    But I think that with the new sportscombi, 9-4x and then a new 9-3, and also perhaps a 9-2, saab is ready to fight.
    I have never driven a car that have giving me a smile on my face so many times. And I can allways trust on the safety and durability.

    Looking forward to see all saab haters shut up in 2 years when saab is making money!
    They have built 130,000 cars, was it 2006? So why wouldnt them do that again?

  7. I too think it would be worrying if SAAB were bought by BMW,as soon as they realised there were problems they dropped poor old rover into the nearest gutter if you take my meaning.cooperation yes,ownership no thanks.

    • In my opinion the Rover issue was mainly a labour-unions issue. When BMW tried to reorganize the business and old fashioned manufacturing (which was spread all over the country in smaller factories), unions put on strikes. So, no optimizing was possible and the strikes even put down productions.
      We’ve seen the the unions at Saab are cooperating, manufacturing is centralized, the production plant is leading class. Saab vs Rover is really comparing apples and pears.

      • I take your point Robert and true the unions caused many problems but it still worries me that bmw might not be prepared to ride out a possible prolonged rough patch.

    • But the photo heading the article is really nice, I think!

      And if You go to their article “Stockholm-syndromet”, You have a overwelmingly positive article.
      “Konklusjonen blir dermed følgende: Saab 9-5 er en super bil.”
      “Conclusion as follows : Saab 9-5 is a supercar”.

  8. What experts and journalist do in articles like that is in fact to condemn visionary thinking, viability and the courage to be different.
    With their lack of fantasy they talk only about numbers and what they have seen as “normal”.
    Why don’t they ever talk about spirit, visions, steadiness, creativity, courage?
    To difficult to understand?
    Different and therefore something to be picked upon?

    Maybe this danish expert should re-read the adventure of the ugly duckling?

  9. Saab needs to sell cars to survive. But AFAIK, the fully business plan includes the development and preparation of the production line for the next gen 9-3. By then, Saab will have a really competitive product line.

    Doom and gloom by business and economics professors and journalists are far too common. Remember a few years ago they believed that mega-mergers was the only solution in the Automotive industry. We have seen how that failed. For mass production you need economies of scale. But for agile development and innovation you need smaller teams that can take decisions and move fast, without excessive bureaucracy. Remember that it is all about the product! Keep the best of the current 9-3, let the powertrain evolve step by step and give it a real Saab aerodynamic bodyshell, and customers will be there!

  10. Even if Saab doesn´t reach their goal in 2012 I think that Saab making money in other areas like selling tecnology. The phoenix platform and other solutions. Thats the key to survive and if I´m not wrong I think a read it somewhere on this site aswell.

    So if Saab can marketing their tecnology and sell it to others I think the future is looking good. If not their volume in car sales is to low to survive in the long run.

    PS: I hate journalists and their gloating shortsightedness specially those from Sweden they stink and they allways get away with it.

  11. Actually! We have to wait and see how the respond will be on the new cars this year. Almost everyting depend on that. Hopefully the press doesn´t destroy it for us.

    First (I think) is the 9-3 MY11,5 hopefully it get the right boost even to support 9-5 sedan.
    Then the 9-5SC witch compleat the 9-5 range and makes it fly in sales.
    al last the 9-4X in the US (Europe is lost to this model).

    That´s not a bad lineup I think, but it´s important that Saab can afford to marketing the modells.
    Actually all modells are “new” in the states then, 4 different cars will help our American dealer friends to grow in sales.

  12. In Holland broadcast was roughly quite positive, while based on the same facts. I really do not see the point for the Prof to be overly loud and being quoted in Scandanavian media. The company isn’t even listed overthere. I think the Prof likes to be heard. At the cost of a self fullfilling proficy? Job losses, burn of Swedish government support, deminish of a Swedish icon and so on – I only see bad things. If he is a decent man he takes a few steps back.

    Of course I do take his expertise serious, but a Prof is no entrepeneur and a entrepeneur is no Prof. Victor can evoke sparkels with good people with his enthousiasm. Maybe that is a competence the Prof overlooked a bit. Victor turned around many companies succesfully, while relatively spoken a Prof is sitting in warm protective cocoon for his live. You do not need that abilitys.

    In Holland legislation is created to prevent individual people cause a bankrun. This after a small bank collapsed unnessary through a call by a pseudo expert. I could imagine they should look after similar legislation for expensive consumer durables.

    Enough ratio.

    Where can I send my hatemail to?

  13. Article on todays AMS Sweden :

    “Dessutom hoppas man kapa åt sig fler viktiga tjänstebilskunder under början av året då också 9-3 SportCombi kommer i ett miljöklassat utförande med snåldiesel på 130-180 hk.”

    “Also there is hope to attract more of the important business fleet customers in 2011 as the 9-3 SportCombi arrives environmentally classed with the mingydiesel at 130-180hp.”

    We knew it should come………:)

    • Yummy!!! Can’t wait for that one. It will sure be an important boost in sales in Sweden. I guess/hope/think they will launch it when the facelift, and I do wish the sooner the better.. 🙂

    • “Mingydiesel”? That’s a new one! Googletrans? 🙂

      Great news about the 9-3 Combi! That is one model that is really going to sell!

    • If they do a good job with the interior update the 9-3 SC TTiD Griffin is going to be a hit.
      Maybe that’s why they (the competition?) had to drag out this professor again? I don’t like this kind of business tactics one bit.

  14. This so called “professor” and expert in car manufacturing works and lives(?) in Copenhagen, Denmark – a country without a car industry!!! (but with many other good things, though)! Can this be because neither SAAB or Volvo want to have this man on their payrolls…


    • If that’s true, it’s the biggest mistake by the independent Saab so far. The interior is what’s stopping people from ‘flocking’ into dealers. It’s been around for so long. The 9-3 does not get into tests unless it’s visibly upgraded. Who cares for an exterior change, its fine as it is. You can’t call it Griffin if the interior isn’t touched.
      Does Saab have an interior department? If so, what are they doing? There was zero work with the 9-4X. (sorry)

      • To me, the current 9-3 interiour is great. It would just be great if they could water down or remove the chrome strip on the dashboard and the chrome ring around the speedometer. Otherwise, it is a classy Saab cockpit interiour with great ergonomics. Especially with the sports seats.

        People have different taste. The exteriour is not bad either, although the SS is less Saabish than most other models. But changing body parts is expensive and anyway to reach out to more people they need a hatch. I hope they stay pragmatic on this and make an attractive Griffin end of the line model with only minor changes, but with nice interiour colour combinations and plenty of equipment to attract customers.

        • Of course we love our 9-3 cabins, but I’d dare to say it’s because of the excellent ergonomics, seats and driving position.
          I’m looking to get people to buy new Saabs. If you have the same dash for years (it’s not much more premium than a MY11 Corolla anymore) then you’re simply going to struggle to steal customers from other brands. A downscale of the NG 9-5 interior is what the 9-3 imho now needs. I have a really hard time getting into the same interior for an other stint.
          Actually I calculated today we’ve been driving these 9-3s 80k km/year on average for the past six years and the OG interior still feels more premium, although the SS upgraded seat and green monochrome screen is better.

          • Refreshments are always welcome, but that being said, I believe that it is mostly “old” 9-3 drivers who long for them (and they are of course important too). To somebody who has not seen the interior before, it will still be news. I had a Dutch collegue in my 9-3 some time ago, who sat for the first time in a 9-3, and he spontaneously remarked that the interior looked “nice and clean”. He really liked it! So yes, a refreshment would be great, but hopefully it will not be necessary. Scarce resources and a million important things to do set limits. I believe that SAAB have to take tough and difficult decisions with a frequency that surpasses that of most or almost all other companies and that they are working their b-tts off to do as many as possible of the things they want to do!

          • JL, trust me I don’t want to argue, but you have to remember those tens of thousands of people who owned the first 9-3 sport sedans and left disappointed (mostly business people and especially reps who literally work on the road).
            If we want to have an other shot at them the interior (car) imho can’t look almost identical to what it was 7-8 years ago. Many of those who the bought a Saab for the first time liked the car and the handling very much but certain unfortunate low quality parts and base options made them leave the brand for ‘a more premium feel’ and that’s what their now used to.
            The 9-3 interior would be on top of my list-to-do at Trollhättan. I honestly think Saab must cut the culture of downplaying their products. It’s so much more difficult to sell premium handling cars that don’t look flashy, than car that aren’t really any good but look premium.

          • Definitely put me in the camp that thinks refreshing the 9-3 interior is important. I have an 08 and the interior is so drab I can’t wait to get rid of it (my lease is up in 2 mos, and I cannot wait). Yes, the ergonomics are nice, but the inside just seems so cheap – maybe I just hate the GM radio that is in every GM rental car…

          • Hi RS,
            I think that you make good points – even though I happen to like the interior of my 9-3 (which I´ve only had for about a year and I have the SatNav and no GM radio) 🙂 It´s just that in a world of compromises I can see why SAAB would prioritize the exterior: It will be exposed to “everyone” and thus more effectively lure new customers into 9-3. It will likewise more efficiently demonstrate progress/development to the market. From reading SU it seems like many of the present 9-3 drivers are determined to wait for the new 9-3 anyway. It must be a tough call though, making these compromises. As I understand it there will be a minor upgrade to the interior too. Let us just hope that the SAAB 2011 9-3 compromise will be a successfull one!

  15. That does not suprise me the press often qoute out of context to make things appear in the way they want it to.

    • If I was an analyst/professor of some kind, I would make shure to demand that, TT in this case, add a webblink/address in their article, to my own webbsite/forum where I present my analysis in full. To secure my own credibility.

    • Yes, reiteration and distortion of old views, is what it is, not news. Soon to be forgotten. It cannot be considered good journalism, even among journalists, to dig out one year old views, distort them and then present them as sensational news. This must be embarrassing to TT. Shame on them.

  16. Hold your horses, people!

    I have been in contact with the Prof. Christer Karlsson.
    TT did a long interview but cut it down. He says he never told them that Saab will not survive in 2-3 years time. But that Saab will need capital to develop new product generations.
    He tells me that the bottom line issues to be addressed are:
    – narrow product portfolio
    – present products have GM background
    – finding new partners
    – competition from mostly Audi with new models and good technology
    – keeping the prices of Saab vehicles on the markets
    – global distribution

    Karlsson says he stands up for his analysis as a reputable researcher. And his business is to do critical analysis. Also he mentions that the journalists most often do not mention that he for sure wants SAAB to make it and survive in the future.

    • Thank you so very much Jörgen to contact Prof. Karlsson and get his points. As I understood it was the TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå) news agency that thought they had a “scoop” and cut it down to what it became. So very sad when they do that. Prof. is not the one to blame but TT – and also Swedish press that just publish news like this without checking the facts.

      And when you Jörgen list what Prof. Karlsson is saying he is indeed right. And the good thing is that Saab is working with all these points, and might I say that they have done alot of things in 2010, so it will interesting to follow Saab in 2011. 🙂

    • Anybody who would like to complain at TT for them doing this obvious negative story about Saab when it in fact wasn’t so negative at all can just send an e-mail to TT at: [email protected]

      Cheers! 😉

  17. All info’s as like as it has been mentioned in this article confirm then the Saab took good way. They are really very nervous they don’t see businness plan. We have to be patient. It will be come the time, as Saab will be full independent from GM, no sharing technologies, no sharing other resources etc…. and next it would come. Saab does declare then it’s capable to cover all costs. I trust it. At least don’t forget Saab has a “Joker”: Mr Antonov 🙂

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