Press Release: Saab Automobile Signs Innovative Supply Agreement with ZF Chassis Systems

  • ZF to set up sub-assembly plant close to Saab Automobile factory for supply of advanced front sub-frames and complete rear axles
  • Greater quality control, reduced transportation and inventory costs
  • Operations start with launch of all-new successor to Saab 9-3 next year

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is advancing its entrepreneurial business strategy by initiating the establishment of a sub-assembly plant in co-operation with ZF Chassis Systems, a leading international supplier of driveline and chassis systems.

Located in Halvorstorp, just three kilometers from Saab Automobile’s state-of-the-art production facilities at Trollhättan, the plant will be operated on just-in-time, lean production principles and supply front sub-frames and complete rear axle assemblies for installation in the next generation of Saab cars.

Under the agreement, the plant will be run by ZF as a subsidiary company, ZF Sverige AB, and is expected to employ about 50 people. Large sub-frame pressings will be stamped out at the Saab press shop and taken to the ZF Sverige plant where they will be welded together and fitted with chassis mountings. Suspension and brake components will also be fitted to the rear sub-frames to form complete rear axle assemblies. All units will then be shuttled back to the factory for vehicle installation on the production line.

The operation of a satellite plant on the doorstep of the factory will bring ZF and Saab Automobile organizations closer together, facilitating the joint development of components and enabling close quality control processes. Transportation costs will also be reduced and there will be no need to carry large component inventories at the Trollhättan factory.

The Halvorstorp facility utilizes part of premises already leased by Saab Automobile and signifies the company’s new, entrepreneurial way of working with key suppliers. It will commence operations with the introduction of the all-new successor to the Saab 9-3 next year and carry out similar procedures for future Saab models, which will share Saab Automobile’s newly-developed modular vehicle architecture. It is the first time a chassis supplier has set up shop on the doorstep of Saab Automobile’s factory and the first time ZF has operated a facility in Scandinavia.

“This is a significant step in the development of our engineering capabilities,” said Mats Fägerhag, Saab Automobile’s Vice President Vehicle Product Development. “It gives us close access to ZF’s world-class engineering expertise, which will become an integral part of our product development program. It is a win/win situation for us from both a business and an engineering perspective.”

Going forward, the ZF Sverige facility also has the potential to supply components for other Swedish manufacturers. “We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Saab Automobile which will align two world-class businesses,” said Dr. Peter Holdmann, Head of ZF Business Unit Chassis Systems. “We look forward to working closely with Saab Automobile and supporting its growth as an independent premium carmaker.”

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RedJ here:
This is fantastic news!!!
Saab is choosing its partners very well. It looks like in the NG-Saab cars only the best and finest will be used, which can only make great cars even better.
And not to forget those 50 new jobs in the region due to Saab. Maybe we should send a SaabsUnited mortar to a certain Swedish politician. 😉

46 thoughts on “Press Release: Saab Automobile Signs Innovative Supply Agreement with ZF Chassis Systems”

  1. With every press statement Saab issues, my impression is cemented, that in a couple of years Saab will be presented as a prime example of how to re-organize and run a company.

  2. This is great news! It’s great to see Saab calling the shots on chassis development again. Some great products will be coming out of Trollhattan!

  3. Great news! ….it’s really amazing how far they have come. I am starting to see how they’ll bring the break-even point down to around 80 000 cars.

    I’m really interested in how SAAB is dealing with information systems and what efficiency gains the hope to get in that department? Does anybody know anything about that??

  4. Not that I ever doubted it, but this really shows that Saab means buisness in a very serious way.
    I belive this is another step towards actually beeing “premium” without having to talk about it.

    Btw, NG SaabsUnited staff; You are all doing a great job. You are posting with such frenezy I barely can ceep up:)

  5. Quite in line with VM’s strategic statement to make as much cost flexible as possible. From the description, it may well be that the same work was so far done in-house, maybe even by the same 50 workers that will now work for ZF.

    So, Saab has gotten rid of them, and doesn’t need to pay them any longer in bad times.

    I winder why they had to keep a distance? From my understanding, it seem tgat the Trollhättan assembly would have had empty space as well?!

  6. Outstanding announcement. Great company, great tech and a great development for Saab. Beats the daylights out making windmills, doesn’t it?

    I took a quick trip to the media site a few hours ago and there are 20 press releases so far this year. And it’s not even the end of Q1 yet. This company is moving, moving, moving and it’s all about the future.

    Kudos to Hilton Holloway from Autocar for breaking this story a few days ago, too. He’s always one to watch – extremely well connected.

    • A Saab windmill… Hmm… Let us have a look at its features:

      1) Low air resistance
      2) Contains spoilers to improve downforce
      3) Looks fantastic in red
      4) Works better in the winter
      5) A big whiper to keep the blades clean

      Most probably not a good idea. 🙂

      • Agreed this is more great news for Saab – it has been such a relatively short time since Saab became independent and these press releases really impress me – I agree that Saab may become THE example of how to turn a company around.

        I also enjoyed Rune’s comments about a Saab windmill. That made me smile. 🙂

  7. As an answer to the sceptics, great to see ZF having confidence in the business plan and potential of an independent Saab.

    Gosh, roughly another 24 months wait for my next car, i guess 🙂

  8. So the picture I have in my mind for the new car is :

    Hi-per strut up front with 5-link suspension rear.
    up to, a 275hp Hirsch Tuned, Direct Injected, 1.6 e85 Turbo Hybrid
    matted to a 7-speed Dual-clutch gearbox also supplied by ZF,
    sporting torque vectoring XWD?

    Man; who wouldn’t want to drive that car?

    • I’ve been hoping for a long time that Saab would bring in a dubbel-clutch transmission. Now I hope the contract with ZF goes a little further than chassis…
      A good (well tuned) dubbel-clutch gearbox is currently the missing link. It would drasticly improve fuel economy, emissions, fleasure and most likely performance.
      … and I think ZF can currently handle about 550Nm with it’s 7-speed and 450 with the 6-speed. That would give a lot more room for Hirsch… and launch-control…

      • The ng-93 DCG is coming from another supplier; Vicura, that is the former Saab Transmission operation that for instance worked on a DCG for Corvette ………,

      • DSG’s are unreliable, expensive to maintain on the long run and feel annoying… Even there is some environmental aspect to them, eXWD should help to offset the problems with conventional automatic transmissions. In my opinion, the right gearbox for the new 9-3 would be the upcoming ZF 9HP…

        • Lamborghini builds the new Aventador with a single clutch transmission which – as they say – does everything 99% as good as a DCT but is significantly lighter.

    • Sounds great, but I’m still a little disappointed that they aren’t going double wishbone up front. I think the hi-per strut adds a little too much unsprung weight. Still though, very exciting.

      • Id love a double-wishbone set up up-front too like the old 900’s had but Im just happy Saab is still around and has a seemingly bright future.

  9. ……….. the car will be a “killer”, I heard things about the chassis performance on a mule with the eXWD and this will re-define the expression handling. The performance is said to be beyond belief!

    Not to shabby for a recently considered “dead” company ……….

  10. I must say Saab Automobile is exceeding my expectations on almost daily basic. If this is the way forward and there is need for cash to offset slower sales this year, heck just list the company in Stockholm this year with a few hundred million shares to keep the pedal to the metal.

  11. JC 9-3 is going to be a masterpiece. Slick Castriota designs, frugal yet powerful engines, eXWD innovations, groundbreaking infotainment, nimble chassis. I’m sure the BMW 3 team are keeping their eyes open.

  12. Terrific! I just love saying the name……Zedeff. Thanks, NGSU, for bring all of this to us.
    I am a bit put off that the dealer body doesn’t hear ANY of all this exciting news unless they are readers of SU or other news or blog pages. I open IRIS every day to see what SCNA has for us, and the silence on all the recent happenings is deafening. Nothing about this. Nothing about anything that happened in Geneva. Not PhoeniX. Not iQon. Not the 9-5 SC. Nothing. Some of my compatriots browse these sites, but most don’t have time, and I would encourage Saab to communicate its news to the dealerbody through IRIS “What’s New” so that, if nothing else, dealer employees, who are on IRIS every day, can be as up to date as our more informed clients. I think I feel a blog post comig on…..

    • Now that would be a nice first effort for Swade to put his teeth into: a good interactive info stream to dealers.

      Ivo

    • I am a bit put off that the dealer body doesn’t hear ANY of all this exciting news

      Pierre, you took the words right out of my keyboard… It is very frustrating. Jason and I read this many times daily and discuss the current happenings so when customers show up wanting to chat or what have you, we at least have the latest news, info and rumors to follow along!

      By the way, I have been reading your blog as well. Keep up the great work there. Interesting stories! Beats mine hands-down!

      Cheers,
      Rob
      Springman’s Saab

    • I am a bit put off that the dealer body doesn’t hear ANY of all this exciting news

      Pierre, I agree completely. It is very frustrating as we don’t get ANY of this from Saab. Jason and I read this several times a day and discuss the latest and greatest so when those very informed customer turn up to chat, we’re not left behind trying to figure out what they are talking about. Being in the dark is not the way to instill confidence in your customers.

      On a side note, Pierre…

      Your blog is a great read and I pop in from time to time to read that one too. Perspective from a long-time Saab store is always interesting! Better than my blog by far!

  13. This is just awesome news! ZF also show their believe in SAAB Automobile when they do this. This was good news to bring along in to the weekend!

    Have a nice weekend, all!

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

  14. This is what I have been commenting on most of the week, including to The Local’s doom-sayers. Just yesterday I mentioned the ever increasing quality, especially in the JD Powers Survey blog.

    I you receive one of these surveys FILL IT OUT. This is how Saab will grow and thrive on its reputation. The average car buyer thinks that a car brand is in general wholly made within the factory walls and is not a design that acquires parts from suppliers. Now if Saab seeks the best quality parts, like ZF, then the quality will rise with the reputation.

    This is why all of us have to advocate, because of the perceived, previous reputation. Great news. We’ve landed on the beach and advancing forward!

  15. Brilliant news!!!
    It warms my heart to see that Saab is not just trying to compete: they are making what for many would be simply the best car in class!!

  16. Pierre,
    Totally agree with you on this point as I too find out way more info here than on Iris. A long time ago, not sure if it was an email or through Iris, but we as dealers were directed to this link http://autonewsupdate.com/saab2/ but all the info there I have seen here anyways. I think we as dealers need to be here on SU rather then anywhere else. Here we can connect with past and present customers all over the world. SU is how I start and finish my day, because its embarrassing to find things out from customers about whats going on and makes you feel like everyone is in the loop but you. Thanks to Swade, RedJ and people like TimR and everyone else that even responds to posts on here, we are better informed then most. Keep up the good work guys. One question though, with this partnership, is it possible for Saab to make some money on the future selling of such frames?

  17. As a manufacturing engineer and a lean six sigma black belt, I hope everyone understands how exciting this is. The production process has already been integrated, having the 9-5 and 9-3 assembled on the same line. Add to that now a just-in-time delivery of chasis parts. Saab is poised to blow other “lean” corporations (like Toyota) out of the water. This means less capital tied up into inventory and a much faster response to customer demand. I would love to eventually see the whole production system.

  18. The final shock would be Saab announcing they are going to assemble BMW Mini’s and Saab 9-2’s in Trolhättan

  19. Hugely fantastic news. Is there any word down the pipeline or rumor floating around that ZF might be supplying transmissions too?

  20. This is extremely good news! 😀
    ZF Friedrichshafen AG seems to be a very respectable company and that they open their first Scandinavian production plant in Trollhättan in cooperation with Saab indicates that they have a strong belief in Saab’s business plan. This press release has been picked up by many motoring magazines’ websites and it is great for Saab to get free advertising and at the same time be associated with ZF! 😀

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