Victor Muller interview – ‘Agenda’

Following is the video from the Swedish current affairs program, Agenda. Victor Muller was a guest on the show Sunday, January 23.

Some thoughts to follow….

It’s slightly frustrating to watch someone asking questions that are so obviously based on worst-case scenarios. The sales numbers they picked – worst case from the ranges given. Attitude towards Vladimir Antonov – worst case after he’s been cleared.

What’s even harder is watching an interviewer bust in for the next question without giving VM adequate time to explain a situation that the interviewer clearly didn’t understand, or want to understand.

e.g. the sales situation.

Saab – the car building company in Trollhattan – has dealers for its customers. What finances the Saab car building operation is the number of cars it sells to its dealers, who then retail those cars on to their customers.

When we report sales, we frequently refer to deliveries made to customers. That’s the glamour stat: how many end up in customers’ hands. That’s a very important number because dealers have to sell the cars in order to buy more from Saab, but still, it’s not the stat that finances Saab’s operations so directly.

Before VM could fully explain the difference, the interviewer was off asking about the next issue.

As to Prof Karlsson’s bit about having to build new cars in the future? Well, he was kind of right and kind of wrong. VM managed to address his point very effectively in talking about the replacement for the Saab 9-3. But of course, Prof Karlsson was right in that Saab will always need to plan and build future models to replace the current lineup. That particular mission is constant and Saab will always have to rise to meet it.

It was a good performance by VM in what I would call circumstances that lacked a proper measure of cordiality and respect. Saab should expect hard questions, but I think the Agenda people could have allocated a bit more time to the interview so that those questions could be properly addressed.


Thanks to ARUK for the video link

79 thoughts on “Victor Muller interview – ‘Agenda’”

  1. Don’t miss the small glimpse of the face lift front facia of the red 9-3 from the excellent clip from the factory 🙂

  2. Well… I have to admit that VM is a patient guy, otherwise he would have gone mad with an interviewer trying so badly to paint things black.
    Won’t rant too much as it doesn’t help but I think VM made a good impression given the surrounding.

    • +1 I viewed the clip with my wife and she was even upset at the rudeness displayed. Of course my wife asked ” who is he?”

  3. This woman really doesn’t get it and doesn’t really seem to care. Instead of lauding VM for bringing a car company back from the dead, she acts as though Saab simply changed hands from GM to Spyker with no interruption in daily business dealings at all. Kudos to VM for standing his ground and defending his turf.

    I’m just guessing she doesn’t have a Saab as her DD.

  4. Very well spoken man Victor Muller is.. disappointing the host of Agenda didn’t let him get his point across on the sales base. I admire his tolerance to her 🙂

    • Yes, Jan-Åke Jonsson definately seems to be a nice guy.
      Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation to score an empty-netter here.

  5. I was impressed by Victors “way” to handle the media. He didn’t get too hung up on details about the sales figures too much and everybody got the message that the reporter didn’t know anything about the auto industry.

    He didn’t try to say that the so called “expert” was wrong which was a good thing, turning the negative view’s of the expert to an actual positive confirmation of what SAAB actually is doing is the right thing to do…

    But of course like always the reporters didn’t want to hear about the good things, they only wanted to confirm what they wanted the interview to be about: that SAAB will go bankrupt and that everyone will lose their jobs etc etc etc… I can tell you that thanks to the great man called Victor Muller, the reporter didn’t get her story tonight… Great Work by Victor Muller =D

  6. I think that Victor Muller performed very very well! Very good responses both to the reporter and to Christer Karlsson’s (the auto industry analyst) comments. 🙂

  7. I must say that woman is a terrible interviewer. Seems fitting the show’s called “Agenda,” since she or the network clearly has one to push. There are reporters who do not have agendas to push.

    Muller is a great interviewee though and I think he came off pretty well in this one. But I can’t wait for the new 9-3, if only to silence critics like this woman.

    • The media is a lot of things in Sweden, but that’s quite off topic.
      Muller did a good job and with all the details provided – the future looks bright.

  8. VM did a very good and convincing job, but I think most of you are too hard on the reporter. It is her job to be tough and test the steel of the guest. I did not think she crossed the line.

    • @ bjorn…. You may be right about being too harsh. However we all know Saab is backed into the corner and perhaps we took her confrontational a little too personal.

      I for one, would not want to come home late at night if she was my mother.

    • +1. This is a program of critical view and that’s how you should view it. Victor knew this before signing up, Saab knew this. It’s their call to participate or not.

      The show would be useless if it weren’t hard on its guests.

    • Yes, it is a reporters job, but it should also be based on facts. Not a 1 minute DI article speculation surf.

  9. Shoudnt this show have the word HIDDEN in its title? Victor handled himself well showing that he is a consummate professional when it comes to PR and Saab. Regarding that red 9-3, are we sure it was a 2011.5? Of course it wont drastically different but I could see no difference at all except it looked GREAT in red.

    Go Victor!!!! 🙂

    • This Dudenhoeffer guy has been even more harsh against Saab, I remember him saying a year ago something like “they are boys who want´s to play car-factory but it will not happen”. And not so long ago he was saying that Saab exagerated the BMW-engine deal.

  10. Victor handled media very well , Go Victor GO!:)

    When it come to swedish media..i lost my confidence for SVT long time ago and still i have to pay the tv-license . So now i will figure out a plan how to get rid of the tv-license.

    on the other hand..thanks to SVT for showing us the 2011.5 9-3 facelift:)

  11. I wish these home market media outlets would give SAAB a chance. Its still all about gloom and doom, and not the fact that SAAB wouldn’t even be here today if not for Victor. I’m glad Victor is a consummate professional when it comes to media interviews, he still gets his point across even though he gets interrupted.

    • Not the right format for a non-critical acclaim of everything done. Agenda is not that show, and should never be. Then it would loose its purpose.

  12. “so why should we believe you this time?”

    Clearly agitated (and I don’t blame him) he responds with the best possible answer.

    “well you dont have to believe me”

    Well done to VM, such a confident guy especially in front of the media! This lady needs to be sent the housekeeping rules of SaabsUnited 🙂

    • Actually, IMHO this was handled pretty poorly by VM, he was very much losing his composure at that point (the unprofessional behaviour on Anna’s part notwithstanding). He said that Saab customers believe him, but offered no proof, having just admitted he sold less cars than expected (you need to be very focused to make out VM’s points about dealer sales and supply chain, the common man possibly stayed unconvinced).

      I believe thanks to the poor preparation on the research side by the SVT team, the entire interview only serves to show the very worst of both SVT and VM. It is my understanding it went live, but otherwise, I believe it should never have been aired.

  13. I am curious as to how this played in Sweden. If my job depended on Saab being successful I would have been impressed with VM’s performance. He was assertive and confident, just what you need in a leader taking over in troubled times. Alan Mullaly is the same way. I remember him getting hammered when he first mortgaged everything to raise capitol for Ford’s restructuring. 3 years later the same folks are calling him a visionary.

  14. And when she says “And he (Antonov) wouldn´t hurt Saab?”.
    We all know that no one can ever hurt Saab as much as many of Swedish media and reporters like her self have been doing over the last year with this negative approach. That´s sad.
    And pity he didn´t get time to explain about the unexpected upstart issues with the sub-tractors. Issues that made the production halt for a couple of months and forced Saab to revise the expected sales numbers.
    Good work by VM.
    BTW. VM in Swedish is short for “VärldsMästare” equals “Welt Meister” equals “World Masters” as in World Cup winner. 🙂

    • She should have asked him :
      “And he (Antonov) wouldn´t hurt Saab, as much as Swedish media have already done?”
      VM´s answer would have been :
      “No. No one else can………”

    • OK. I revise my own comment. 🙂
      He did get the chance to explain the unexpected upstart issues with the sub-tractors.
      Sorry. Did the same mistake as a lot of journalists. I didn´t go through the entire material….

  15. I didn’t catch this particular show so can’t really comment on the alleged harshness of the interviewer, but with that said: Agenda and every other show of that kind airing on Swedish television very often make me feel like I’m witnessing an accident. It’s gruesome and horrific and I know I shouldn’t really be standing there eyeballing other people’s misfortune, still there’s an element of allure to it that’s hard to resist. When they let their so-called ‘experts’ in on the fun, it gets even worse. For some reason, Swedish networks tend to use ‘experts’ that clearly don’t possess but a tiny fraction of a clue regarding the subject at hand. I don’t know if the guy on tonight’s show was of that variety, but they often are. In Sweden, you only have to have been seen once or twice in the correct context to henceforth and for ever labeled ‘expert’.

    Yes, interviewers are supposed to be harsh and ask tough questions in shows like this, but the programme planners seem to believe it’s enough that the question is asked – they care less about whether or not it’s answered. Like I said, I didn’t catch the show tonight, but let me ask those who did: did the interviewer quickly move on to new subjects after letting VM speak for the obligatory 5 seconds per question? If so, all is fine. It doesn’t matter if she understood the answers, but I’d be willing to bet a small fortune that IF she’d understood an answer, and if that answer had made her smell an opportunity for slamming her guest hard, then she’d undoubtedly stick to the subject for slightly longer…

    Swedes are all about trashing others, it seems. If there’s a chance to make someone else look bad, especially when that someone is a public figure, we take it. Come to think of it, Swedes in general and Swedish media in particular can be quite aptly described by a Morrissey song title: “We hate it when our friends become successful” 😀

    • I don’t think that is true. Most Swedes I know are happy when their friends become successful and I am sure that it is so for a majority of the population. The problem is that Swedish media seem to front those who are negative because that will boost the show.

  16. Journalists in this program are telling guests that seek bi-directional conversation in order to describe the bigger picture that they are the ones asking questions. This madame in particular has a habit of interrupting others concluding others explanations as not relevant. On to reading the next prepared question – disconnected from the previous one.

  17. Imho she asked the right questions. Saab is funded with European tax money, so citizens have the right to know where it’s used for. It’s a lot of dough, so she has the right to be bitchy.

    And yes, I am a true Saab-fan… wanting to know the ins and outs of it.

    • db – Saab is funded with a loan, which is covered by guarantees secured against real property. It’s not as if the EIB just threw money at them without conditions.

      As to her right to be bitchy? Whether she has the right or not is unimportant. She’s there to do a TV interview and I’d question whether the way to get full answers is to cut them off part way through. Be as tough as you like, but at least give the person a chance to answer.

      FWIW – I also think she had the right to answer questions. I just wonder whether they packed too many into a short space of time, and whether the manner they used was actually conducive to getting the answers.

      • Hm, I thought that the EIB loan was just for innovation (i.e. electrics and so on) and not to fund Saab?
        You’re spot on with the time issue. instead of giving VM and the interviewer a chance of a real discussion they decided to give much more time to Professor LemonHead.

      • Ok, correct me if I’m wrong as I put it frankly: without the European money Saab would be dead.

        And do you think VM has come this far by acting friendly all the time? :p During the interview the journalist did her job, and VM did his job.

        We Saab-drivers love to call ourselves independent thinkers, so criticism is a part of that. Enthousiasm is another part.

        • “During the interview the journalist did her job,”

          Poor interview technique – too angry. One should not look like one is trying to pick a fight. She should smile more.

          I think that the only way to fix this for Agenda is to fly Swade to Sweden and let him finish the interview.

          Just a thought.

        • No, the interviewer did not do her job well.

          The first question was fair, concerning how many cars Saab sold. Then she proceeds to argue with him the question of # of cars sold to dealers vs # of cars sold retail. Saab has always published numbers concerning dealers — why is she suddenly mixing in that other number?

          VM still answers her, and when he finally ‘admits’ that they sold less than they would have preferred, she is finally happy and says “exactly!”.

          She is out to get him, but we never get a clear understanding as to ‘why’ this is the case. Swedish national TV is trying to bury Saab as a company, because…?

        • db: With the EIB loan, it is true that SAAB would not be here today. However let’s get things into perspective; the EIB loan is for developing environmentally responsible systems and not pay wages. €400 Million is not a lot of money when you compare the the USA bailed GM out with $40 Billon. The €400 Million has had zero impact on the Swedish public as it is funds already paid but not just buy Sweden but (if you wish) made up of equal contributions from over 50 EU-Countries which makes a total Swedish contribution of less than €8 Million to be. Now think how much it with really cost the Swedish tax-payer if SAAB had indeed not been sold to Spyker and 3,400 people claiming unemployment benefit? One can easily see a far greater burden on Sweden if the outcome was different. Of course this doesn’t include the approximate 25,000 other jobs that were at risk as a knock on effect of SAAB going bankrupt.

          The Interviewer asked some valid questions but as they say in some countries it’s the tone that makes the music and the tone of this interview was very negative. They say a man can be judged by the way he admits his mistakes. As the interviewer was not I man maybe she felt she not need to admit that SVT’s figures were wrong, that her quip answer of “Well you know what I mean” was read as “I’m not interested in your answer as to why.”

          To everyone else

          Hindsight is a wonderful thing there was point that Victor Muller could have really stuck the knife and that was to the question of whether VA would hurt SAAB.

          VM’s answer could have been “Compared to what; the Swedish media? No; Mr Antonov actually wants SAAB to be a success.”

          • You know I think I’m loosing my grasp of the english language???

            It could be a lot worse… I could lose my faith in SAAB, now that would be something to get worried about.

            I really wish the media could get behind SAAB a bit, instead of this stupid Tax-payer rubbish.

  18. I am an expat swede, haven’t lived in Sweden for 2 decades now. What appals me is the negative angle and jante on everything. Even the eiry music contributed to a mood of imminent drowning. Why is Swedish media so negatively opinionated??? I just don’t get it.
    If it was not for VM and JAJ, Saab (cars) would be history, a couple of thousand employees unemployed in THN, living on unemplyment benefits, nobody would be better off. Still, swedish media implies, on and on again and again, Saab is not selling enough cars, antonov is mafia, the products are subpar, etc. We all know the opposite is true. It p’ss me off and drives me nuts…. [scream!!!] /frustration/!!!… Ok, feeling better know, I think I will just leave it and see this thing as yet another proof of how poor the journalistic “profession” work in Sweden… Yes, there are tough questions to be answered, but let the responsible person(s) answer and explain then! No need to be a [email protected]
    “Auto Industry Experts”, my [email protected]@, have yet to see one in sweden…

    • Hi Sandy.

      If you just put everybody else in a worse situation than yours this will make you stand out as the more successful person than all the others.
      Thats why poeple seems to get heavily annoyed when someone from an other country comes to Sweden trying to create somthing. This will require “Jante” to either also push this down the mud or make him self acheive something better. Both ideas would require “Jante” to perform something and that is uncomfortable, it´s so much better just laying on the sofa pushing everybody else down.

  19. Eh, a bit of an aggressive interviewer with questions to match, but nothing Victor Muller hasn’t heard or dealt with before. I can only imagine how frustrating it is to make the news show circuits (in various countries), having to answer the same questions asked in such a way (sometimes). So far, I haven’t seen him lose his cool or his dignity.

    One thing I don’t think he hears enough is that he is Saab’s champion, as has been noted all over this blog in articles and in comments. He’s had a lot of help, obviously–and he intends to make money off of it, I’m sure–but it’s hard for me to think this undertaking wasn’t motivated by his passion for the brand. He doesn’t have to be the one in front of the camera fighting for Saab’s reputation (though I’ll admit it looks better that he does). I was always surprised how young he looked before, but he seems to be showing his age more and more. Victor Up! 😀

  20. The questions of the interviewer just hit at weak or perceived weak points -missed sales estimates, Antonov. Clearly biased, not balanced. For me – did I understand that correctly? – the news out of VM’s anwer is, that GM will decide over approval over Antonov as a shareholder or financier, and that this decision directly impacts the capacity to launch a project for a 9-2 entry level Saab.
    Just some thoughts: What are GM’s proper interests and behavior towards Saab today? Do they consider Saab as a big and potentially growing client, or a potential competitior or simply negligible? Could the Antonov thing not just serve them as a pretext to prevent the launch of a project, which they do not necessarily like?
    Other thoughts: VM’s responses were brilliant. The only thing I personally missed, is more of a committment to lead the immediately planned production offering to a success: Refresh of the 9-3 in spring, new launches like the 9-5 combi, 9-4x. Talking too much about completely new projects like a 9-2 potentially gives the impression, that the current offering is not satisfactory.

  21. The next time Victor gets asked is Antonov’s reputation will hurt Saab, all he has to say is, “Well that depends, since the Swedish media is principally responsible for tarnishing his reputation and Saab’s sales forecasts, I’m much less worried about having a solid businessman and loyal friend on board than I am about the Swedish media’s constant naysaying.” Or something to that effect 😉

    And to those who thought she had every right to ask the questions, sure, I’ll agree. What I don’t think is right was her pace and worse, her tone. Watch it again and skip to around 1:50, the “ehh you know what I mean…” I’ve never witnessed a journalist go from such a mega serious tone to a conversational and almost antagonistic casual banter that one takes when bashing a sports team. Well done Victor. Nice scarf too 😉

    For those who want a better rear shot of the 2011.5 refresh (with wheel!) here you go.

    • From this image, it appears as if the “hockey stick” was sharpened and is now in chrome, like on the 9-5. Certainly an improvement, as I didn’t like the shape of the C column before.

      Sad that this version that finally looks good and not boring is only to stay for 18 months.

      • I don’t see any chrome on the hockey stick at all. Just the same black rubber which happens to be reflecting a little light at a certain angle.

  22. Like all af you guys, I´m terribly dissapointed in the interviewers attitude and, how the interview is performed.
    The interuptions with new questions makes it all feel rather stressed and you get the feeling that she might have been “coached” in not giving VM a fiar chance to respond to the questions being asked.
    I am a bit surprised that SVT ( the Swedish TV-network owned by the state) is doing this interview so poorly.
    For some reason I get the feeling that it might be better to have these discussions in TV4´sw nyhetsmorgon or similar when the interview may take i bit more time and the TV-hosts are a bit more relaxed.
    Anyway. VM you did a great job as ever!


  23. Personally I am not so surprised!
    The format of the television program Agenda unfortunately looks like this. When I found out that VM would be interviewed on Agenda I think me and most Swedes who have seen the program before slightly understood how it would look like. It is a bit like being thrown among wolves. We have seen many people sitting and sweating, unable to answer the questions. I think VM made a good impression and I am totally convinced that he knew what he was getting into when he sat down in the studio.
    Sure you can discuss how well the format of the Agenda is really …not one of my favorites!

    • Exactly, it seems to be the format of things at the show “Agenda”. Hard hitting (???) questionsprimarily, answers… well who cares, we got the head line questions asked, we are sooo goood… Personal boycott, no more (on my) Agenda…
      Still, normally SVT and its’ SVT play is a noce way of having some information from Sweden as an expat. Will watch the other news programs and shows…

  24. Victor Muller has such a genuine charisma that from an advertiser’s point of view it wouldn’t be a bad idea to incorporate him in the SAAB advertising campaigns.
    He has all the right stuff, he’s good looking, educated, outspoken and builds super-cars wouldn’t you like to buy a car from him.

  25. Didn’t anyone see the smiles at the end? looks like Anna ( which is a very good interviewer by the way ) respected him on the interview as they exchanged smiles at the end.

    I think most people commenting here don’t understand the program and the format. Anna often interview Swedish politicians, and she is a darned tough interviewer with them too. She would press on their weak side and don’t take up any positives.

    • Yes, the interviewer is a very good one. And she always has a very critical viewpoint in this show, as it is supposed to be a rather hard program for the ones who are interviewed.

      And VM did well in answering on the questions. So all in all.. a very good interview.

    • I didn’t see any smile of joy perhaps other reasons. She don’t respect or listen to the answers and doesn’t place any interresting follow up questions. For that simple reason that she has no knowledge about the auto industry what so ever. There are far better journalists that could be hard but also make it an interresting interview. But they are not many.

  26. Looking at this, the lady was biassed and I have a deep respect for VM that he remained calm and tried to answer these questions cordially. I do not understand the Swedish media. 3,500 jobs were saved by the acquisition and the only thing the Swedish, and for that matter media in other countries as well (the Dutch!!!) are focussing on lower sales levels than expected, and questioning whether it is going to work. It shows that the average journalist do not understand entrepreneurs.

  27. What an disrepectful interviewer. And she didn’t even seem to know there was a new 93 coming up… You CAN ask hard questions if you know what you’re talking about, but she obviously didn’t. And in all the interviews i’ve seen, interviewers are more positive if they really know the full story. Anyway, Victor did well, as expected! I truely hope he can sit there again next year with the sales figures of 2011 and make her blush!

  28. Typical attitude of most of the journalists nowadays.
    There are just very few exceptions around.
    If you need to present something you do not understand; it is easier to be blunt in asking general questions with a negative undertone while that is what the general public understands; negativism.

  29. Yeah, that is indeed a poorly prepared and talentless interviewer. She obviously dosen’t have a clue about the subject, everything she does in the interview is based on a one minute reading in the paper version of DI.SE in her last bathroom visit right before the show. I cannot write here what she propably did with that paper before she left the bathroom……..

    Interviewers are mostly the same here in Norway as well. It seems that only bad news are good news, and the interviewers really go for it.

    Nevertheless, I think VM did a good job in the interview, as he always does.

    Cheers from Norway
    Always on the longest road home when out there with my SAAB. Always!

  30. She think she is one of those heavy digging journalists but she is very lousy at her job. You can hear that she is really not interresting in VM’s answers she just want to hit the punch line with her questions. And it is not only becuase this VM interview. I’ve watched her shows several times and other shows as well and she is always like this. Annoying person and not very good at her job.

  31. If we look away from that she missed that Saab will come with a new model in 2012. I think it was a good interview. She asked the questions that Swedish media have claimed over and over again. Viktor finally got a chance to correct the question marks, and he made it brilliant. I have seen her much tougher, and when you see the video you will see that they smile at each other ……. and it’s not often you see her do it.


  32. Need for some balance in the discussion……
    Why was VM not talking more of the great lineup SAAB has now 9-5 sedan and SC coming around the corner, order-books open in 2 months time. Great improved 9-3 with low emissions.
    Instead talking talking about a model coming in october 2012….. Unbelievable!!!
    If VM had been a department head at SAAB in the 70ies he would have most certainly been fired by Sten Wennlo.
    N E V E R E V E R T A L K A B O U T F U T U R E C A R S !!!!
    But please talk about the present line of cars that people can buy T O D A Y !

    • You could tell all these stories if they give you the time. so it was good to talk about the 93 NG because the ” Expert” doesn´t believe saab is able to develop a new model on their own.

      of course it would be ok if he talks about the actual lineup – but you can´t do that in an interview with questions like that.

  33. I just viewed the interview and I didn’t see much wrong with it. She spoke really fast, cynical, almost aggressive, but at least VM had the chance to explain what he wanted to explain.
    Good story about dealer stock.

    Good end result I’d guess.

Comments are closed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.