Our friend DaveR has been assisted at the celebration, and while it was able to send some pictures during the event, it is now that he had some minutes to write down his thoughts about the event today.
Arrived at the factory at 11.00 today on a bright,sunny but cold (minus six) morning. The Press assembled, a bit daunting for me as a complete amateur surrounded by so many seasoned professionals, including regular SaabsUnited visitor Graeme L from AutoExpress.
Jan Ake Jonsson greeted us by outlining where Saab stood at present. He stressed that they were part way through a three year plan, upto 2012.It made me realise that those who want ‘everything now’ ( myself included) should view events and actions with this in mind.
Then Victor Muller spoke. What a truly inspirational bloke! He began by saying what a desperate shape Saab were in just over a year ago. ‘Buried’ as he put it.But now they are ‘alive and kicking’, emphasising how proud he was of everyone involved who had fought to achieve this.Employees, suppliers and ‘most importantly’ the customers.He also said, not all together jokingly, that he was about to collect the bets from all those who last year had said to him that Saab would not last a year. Pointedly, he added that no-one would repeat their bets if he were to offer odds now.
Then we went out into the factory to view the new products.A 9-4X was on display, but under covers were the new Griffin, 9-5 Combi and the Independence convertible. Each was uncovered seperately As he did so , Victor was questioned quite closely, even in some cases aggresively, by some members of the Press. It is truely amazing to see Victor operating in such circumstances. He knows all the relevant facts, politely correcting his questioners ( or even inquisitors) when they try to trip him up .In some ways the style of questions was self defeating – the harder the questioning, the better his responses become.
Interpersed with the new model displays were stands providing food – loads and loads of food and soft drinks.Thousands of hot dogs. Hundreds of ‘ Independence’ cakes .Containers of coffee. Boxes of soft drink cans.There were about sixty Press present, and I thought I would be hard pressed to consume my share , but would do my best.My initial fears for my health were unfounded, as at 12.30 back up, in the form of the four thousand or so Saab employees arrived for their part in the celebrations.
They had their well deserved chance to see what they have been instrumental in achieving so far.Jan Ake gave a speech ( naturally in Swedish) , then Victor Muller introduced Jason Castriota, saying that the ‘concept 9-3’ would be displayed at Geneva in around a weeks time.
But it was not all Saab facts and figures. It is Independence Day, so it is a time for celebration. Those who have worked so hard over the past year, including representives of many suppliers, were entertained by Asha Ali and Tomas Ledin. As a Saab fan I have obviously heard and enjoyed Asha Ali’s music in the past.It was my first acquaintance of hearing Tomas Ledin, but his enthusiastic reception by the assembled Swedes made it obvious I was in a minority of one.
Events at the factory came to a close, and I have returned to my hotel for a brief respite before heading to the Museum for more celebrations (including cake!) and meeting up with Saab owning friends.
What an amazing day I have had so far. I am priveliged to have been able to attend this event, on behalf of all the fantastic Saab supporters who gather together here on SaabsUnited.
My overwhelming feeling is one of great optimism both in the factory and in the town . I was here in Trollhattan last year on February 23rd. The sense then was more just of relief that Saab was not going to be shut down after all. Now the sense is far more positive – the worst is over, and the hard work is begining to bring its just rewards. There is no point looking back any more and dwelling on the past . The future is bright, so let’s just look forward to the suuccesful future of Saab.