It’s been a hard few weeks, hasn’t it?
Remember the Geneva Auto Show, when we were all filled with optimism? Promises of a new 9-5 SportCombi and a first for Saab, a real CUV coming out this summer, all very concrete and ready to roll off the production line. Further down the pipe we have eXWD, IQon, and Saabs powered by BMW engines to look forward to. Saab seemed to be on pretty strong footing just a month ago, didn’t it?
Fast forward a few weeks– an annual report, a CEO retirement, supplier work stoppages, cash crunches, and the picture doesn’t seem too pretty anymore. No matter how many ways we report the story, one thing is clear– until production gets rolling along again, there’s a dark cloud hanging over Saab that makes it hard to think about anything else. For those of you who come back day after day looking for news, I understand how hard it is load up the page and see the situation remain unresolved.
A few people have vented in comments that they miss how Swade used to run this place– I’d like to remind you that what made him so valuable was his ability to break through the crap and give his opinion. He also dealt with his share of naysayers and the only other time things were this bad in the press (during the GM crisis), he reminded us to calm down and have some patience. In that same spirit, consider this my own take on Swadeology, you could call it Jeffology.
1. Give Tim a break. He took over for Swade a week before this fire started, and whatever semblance of organization he had regarding features, new content, writer focus, etc. took a back seat to covering the supplier mess. For having zero training in running a blog and having to start in the middle of a storm, I think Tim’s managed pretty well. He certainly cares deeply for the brand, and if he’s guilty of anything it’s caring too much that Saab gets through this mess in as good a shape as it can.
2. The reason there isn’t much new content here is twofold– it’s not helpful and worse it’s unreliable. First, while it’s addictive and feels good to hear any bit of insider news coming from Reuters, Bloomberg, DI, or TTela, if you actually look back at what we’ve learned, we don’t know much more than what we heard two weeks ago. The fact remains, there are no concrete facts coming out of Saab or Spyker right now for good reason, their small market cap means that any statements could manipulate the stock or worse, strain negotiations. While we may want to hear a clear explanation of what’s going on to feel better about everything, it’s best we all wait until the deal is sorted out and there’s real news to report. Second, just because you hear one side of the story doesn’t mean it’s truth, we’re finding that out the hard way as writers. It’s hard to put together a post or article when you have to decide if the person being quoted in the original story is stating fact, interpreting something they overheard, or just trying to play an angle for some other (possibly nefarious) reason. This ain’t easy folks.
3. We’re extremely fortunate to have a reasonable, sensible, and most of all engaged community here– it’s what makes SaabsUnited different than any other Saab blog on earth. Many of us have strong opinions, but that doesn’t always mean they’re right, my own included. I get how passionate you are about this little car company we love, we all feel the same way. And that’s just it, at the core we’re all here for the same reason– try to remember that before you argue with each other in comments. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the comments policy, now would be a great time to read it over. And as Steve said in his points, YOU DON’T NEED TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS!!! That’s what italics were invented for 😉
4. Saab will make it through this, really, they will. With a strong product portfolio, loyal dealers, a lower breakeven, and best of all intelligent customers who know what a good deal Saabs are compared to the competition, it’s only a matter of time before the balance sheet turns around. The fact is, the people working behind the scenes are determined, seasoned executives who will not stop until they sort out what’s going on. They misjudged their hand with suppliers, they didn’t adjust their spending to account for lowered income from sales, and they made mistakes dealing with the press. We get it, they screwed up. I give the management credit for trying to juggle so many sharp objects, and they were bound to drop one eventually. Everyone working at the top of the organization knows how strong and clear their message regarding future funding has to be, and though time is short they are working their asses off to get the deals done.
5. Meanwhile, we’re working on ideas to involve SU members and the Saab community in engaging ways so that you feel more a part of the site, and have your voices heard (in constructive ways). Expect more competitions, more polls, more opportunities to write articles featured on the site, and best of all more opportunities than ever to actually interface and have your voices heard by Saab staff. To kick it off, I’ll be sitting down with the new Director of Sales for North America, James Sweeting. I’m going to set up a live press conference with viewer questions for you to ask whatever you want live on UStream, so you can actually interface in real time. More details about the time, etc will be hammered out soon, but it will happen sometime Wednesday or Thursday during the day (check to see if UStream is blocked at work, people 😉 ) If you have any ideas on things you’d like covered the line is always open at [email protected] We have some seriously cool stuff coming up, and with community involvement we can only get stronger.
Good news is coming soon. Bad news probably is too, or at least news that isn’t easy to swallow. You might not see every single article from DI.se, TTela, or Reuters here (I’ll admit you’ll probably see Bloomberg articles though, Ola K. is on point) but when we see something that is worth reporting, you’ll most definitely hear about it here. This week there have been several false reports circulating, I’m not going to name them, but if you search around you’ll see that there’s a reason so many articles have the word UPDATE written on them– they were reporting on incomplete facts. I’ll be the first to admit, we’re guilty of falling into those traps here, we made mistakes. But remember we were commenters like you 4 weeks ago thrust into the role of editorial bloggers– this has been a serious crash course, and I think the whole crew here will be better writers for it. I can tell you we’re constantly emailing and Skyping behind the scenes, and we know a lot more about the press minefield that surrounds Saab than we ever thought we would. We know you hold us to a high standard, and we’re trying our best to live up to it.
Remember that cheering for the underdog isn’t easy. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself why you love this company in the first place. When you get in your car this morning or drive home from work, take an extra minute to acquaint yourself with your Saab– adjust the seat, turn the radio up, rev the turbo. Then think about how great your next Saab will be.
An interesting fact– we get more visits to this site every day than cars Saab was able to sell all last year, something is wrong with that. Keep supporting your dealers, and if you’re remotely close to being in a position to pull the trigger on a new car purchase, buy a new Saab now. There’s nothing like doomsday scenarios to create great deals.