TV4 about Saab (feel free to skip this one)

TV4 Nyhetsmorgon this morning commented yesterday’s developments in Saab. The clip has now been made available on their website.

They start the segment by interviewing Håkan Skött who represents one of the labor unions at Saab, followed up with commentary by Jens B Nordström and Robert Collin.

Robert Collin mentions that when the financial crisis hit Europe, other governments worked very hard to find ways to keep the automobile industry alive, but not so in Sweden. A bit further out in this segment he mentions that “Saab have never made the best cars(…)they are no better now than ten-twenty years ago”. He then turns a bit Saab-friendly again and points out the paradox that the Swedes are very sceptical when someone shows up with a bag of money willing to save their automobile industry.

Jens B Nordström sums the whole thing up with “not even the richest man in the world can sustain the kind of losses Saab is making now. Vladimir is rich, but not the richest.”.

I must say, the whole thing looks like the most confused analysis of the current situation that you can possibly get. On one hand they talk down the value of the cars (without touching on specifics of course — I guess even Robert got tired of his old complaint that the 9-5 is “too long”), and on the other they point out that Saab have too few customers (could it be because car reviews are generally vague and unhelpful to people who require a safe winter car?).

It is worth asking why they chose to not invite Håkan Skött properly. Why are nobody from Saab allowed to answer the allegations made by these two “impartial” observers? Is this TV4’s idea of good journalism?

35 thoughts on “TV4 about Saab (feel free to skip this one)”

  1. The Swedish jounalism as a bit strange.. They just love to bring up the Saab-subject when its not going so well.. but when saab do some really good stuff, I have hard to find these news at the topline in there website etc…
    If everone could work together in this case, Saab wouldnt have to take so much shit…

    Dont they know that Saab represents Sweden????!!!

  2. And he point of the interview was? Wouldnt it have been better to just interview a few chimaonzees atthe zoo. They would have probably made mores sense.

  3. I cannot follow TV4 other than the selected programming over the webz, but at least they made the live program from the Saab factory floor before the stopped production. I enjoyed that….

  4. I do think Victor, Swade and others should give an I’m Sorry to the SAAB Nation, who rallied in SAAB’s defense a year ago.

    Credibility is crucial in people putting down $50K for a car, that many will be paying on for 4-5 years. Will SAAB exist then? Parts?

    Unless Victor is a bad business man, how could he not know this was coming? I’m not sure will get another chance.

    Sounds like a Chinese Auto Company will pick it up on the cheap.

    Sad.

    How can we trust again?

    • bramfoto,

      Why do you think parts will run out if the worst happens?

      Are Saab still producing parts for the 900? Is there a shortage for parts for the 900?

      As for Victor’s ability at predicting the future, I would like to point out that few people really know what events transpired leading up to the halt in production last week. One of the possible (and more likely IMO) scenarios is that a couple of suppliers suddenly decided on cash on delivery. The negotiated terms up to that point dictated 90 days payment. Now… Do you have any idea of how much money 90 days represents? How many businesses keep that kind of cash on hand in case their suppliers suddenly decides to run amok?

      VM has done a lot to ensure that Saab has remained afloat for the past 14 months. Do tell me bramfoto: What have you done? Did you participate in the convoys? I did, but my award for that is that I got the chance to buy the best car ever made: The 2011 Saab 9-5. I do not expect anything from VM, but I sure hope we get to see the next generation 9-3.

      • First, I work for a SAAB Sales and Repair Company in San Francisco called Embarcadero Automotive. The company has been in business for 30 years. The San Francisco area has one of the highest concentrations of SAABs in the world.

        Yes, we organized convoys circling S.F. City Hall. Look at the photos on the front page of our web site, http://www.embarcaderoauto.com.

        I love SAAB. Responsible for many others buying them. My English Bulldog Winston participated in the convoys, which can be viewed on You Tube. he stops in front of SAABs when we walk. Loves his back seat.

        I don’t agree that Victor did not know, unless he really thought that he could take a brand that sold 30K SAABs and the next year sell 100K SAABs based on practically the same product portfolio.

        Winston the Bulldog’s mother, who had 2 900SE SAABs just bought a BMW 328i for $45K. I drive it. I have driven the modern SAABs and it is no contest. The BMW drive’s better, has more modern equipment and is cheaper.

        I support SAAB, but it may not be around after this incident.

        I will continue to drive my 900S and love it.

        My hope is that they can hit a home run with the new 9-3. Only way SAAB makes it.

        See the Mini and Apple iPhone as examples of products that people were willing to buy, without any prior experience.

        SAAB can’t just trade on its past.

        Apple tried that and it did not work. When they came out with compelling products, people flocked to them.

        Sad, but hopeful concerning SAAB.

        Will continue to be a SAAB UNITED fan, and post many articles via our facebook page, embarcadero auto.

        • While I echo your reception of VM (either way, he has lost a lot of his credibility), but I must say that I drove the modern Saabs and the BMW 3er and bought the 9-3 TTiD. The Saab just drives much better, has more modern equipment for the price, and is cheaper anyway.

          Apple and MINI are like BMW to me – bought on hype, but impractical in everyday use (we do get snow where I live…) It just occurred to me that MINI is actually BMW, but whatever. I also have an iPhone and an Android-powered HTC. The HTC is less flashy, indeed it’s older (I got one of the very first Android ones) etc., but if I had to choose one, I’d keep the HTC. The iPhone might give me a bit of “street cred”, but it’s a nightmare to use.

          I do agree VM should apologize and explain what’s going on. He’s in there for the money, as is VA, there’s no question about it. Saab is a business, not a charity. But it’s how you try to make the money. If there were steps that could have been taken in the bad direction, they almost all have been taken. It’s time to REALLY turn this story around.

        • Thanks for clearing the air bramfoto. I apologize for replying a bit too harshly.

          I don’t agree that Victor did not know, unless he really thought that he could take a brand that sold 30K SAABs and the next year sell 100K SAABs based on practically the same product portfolio.

          But the product portfolio is not the same. NG 9-5 appeared in the second half of 2010. A few months from now we will see the 9-4X + the combi version of the 9-5.

          The sales numbers back in 2007 were much bigger than 30K. Half of 2010 was amputated, and they still managed 30K. There is lots of potential.

          The business plan made a few assumptions I’m sure. If I am correct that some suppliers suddenly asked for cash on delivery, how much capital do you feel VM should have kept ready for that event? Never mind the unforseen 120 million SEK kept locked up in case Saab looses the current litigation between them and the Swedish tax authorities.

          Ironically, had they sold more, they would have owed more money to the suppliers now and be in even greater troubles… The numbers do not readily add up.

          I think it is much too early to blame VM for all of this. In any case, after the sale of Saab, there have been noticable progress in quite a few areas. Besides, would we be better off had VM been more pessimistic? I guess GM could have picked someone else to buy Saab. Oh wait… They did! And then the Swedish government screwed up by sitting on their hands all year.

          Both Mini and Apple have been mentioned around this site for a long time. Heck, Saab’s own people have been quoted as saying they want Saab to become the Apple of the automobile world. New technology is part of that I suppose. Being able to innovate more now than under GM is an important piece of the puzzle.

          But yes, a lot is riding on the new 9-3.

          • Couldn´t we kill off that Mini and Apple comparison:
            I get nervous around those products.
            They may be succesfull, but to me they are the ultimate representatives of Form over function and Überhype
            Maybe I should add that I really like and use Linux. And Android.
            And that I have owned a original Mini. You know..the ones that were mini.

            This was NOT to start a flame war over OS and very popular cars, but I think that there are very different opinions on what Saab is, both DNA and all

            That could maybe be an interresting discussion as opposed to the wish to be like some other product

        • “I have driven the modern SAABs and it is no contest.”

          That’s BS. You’re saying you’ve compared a new 9-5 and it’s “no contest?” I have also, and while you may prefer the BMW, suggesting it’s no contest is more an expression of your own resentment towards Saab for having “let you down” given the time you’ve spent supporting it. I think there may be alot of such petty backlash.

      • Rune,
        calm down. We are still in turbulent waters, and people are still insecure. Don’t question the fears of people but let us keep on bringing enough information in order to make those fears vanish.

    • Why should any of those folks give an “I’m sorry to the Saab nation?” Miscalculations were perhaps made and sales were slower than expected. Antonov was forced out of the original deal and it’s clear his money was crucial for a rainy day. How is this the “fault” of anyone you mentioned? Let’s recall that had it not been for VM’s extraordinary efforts and VA acquiescing to withdrawing from Spyker last year, there would be no Saab today.

  5. Keep Calm and Carry On.

    I do not feel anyone owes me a apology for having bought a Saab or my current plans to buy another. I understood the risk when I bought my first Saab, the day Saab declared bankruptcy. I understand now as we shop to add another Saab, that there may be issues in the future. It’s not being blind, its having faith in Saab and taking a risk I am more than willing to live with.

    We all need to be a grownup and hold yourself to account for the decisions you make concerning Saab. I sure do not blame others for alleged false hope. Information provided by Swade and now by the new SUCrew is given in good faith to be honest and truthful.

        • lala,
          such kind of announcement about Saab is good, and worth talking about, but otoh, they are talking about the cars ANA Specialbilar has been converting last year, so I don’t know what is so new about it.
          Maybe the car will now be available in any Saab dealer n Sweden?
          I don’t know.

          • ‘This car has already been out there in a small serie but now Saab has done a magnified testpilot of 400 cars, and from now on you can order one at your dealer.’

            There is a photo of the trunk as well

  6. Robert Collin actually sounds quite Saab-friendly to me throughout the segment. Yes, he says Saab has never been the best car, and it’s his opinion. He doesn’t say it’s been the worst one either. I suppose – depending on how you weigh different characteristics – you’re able to find a better car any year from 1950 to 2011. The point he’s trying to make (I believe) is that there’s still always been people who were willing to buy Saabs. And he believes those customers have not gone anywhere – when the factory starts again they will still be around. Encouraging words!

    Also, the critique he made towards the government on a) not wanting to have automotive industry in the country and b) making things so difficult for someone who’s willing to invest was very welcome indeed.

    What comes to Jens B Nordström’s commentary, I agree with you completely. Only confusing, no real analysis.

    • Yes, he says Saab has never been the best car, and it’s his opinion. He doesn’t say it’s been the worst one either. I suppose – depending on how you weigh different characteristics

      Yes and no. 🙂 He makes a series of comments that tries to explain why not more people are buying Saabs.

      Of course Saab is not “the best car”, but which car is? AFAICT it is completely meaningless to even mention it (so why did he?). Then he states that Saabs on sale now are no different from the Saabs sold ten years ago. Which is an odd statement to make.

      Last time Robert Collin was on that show he said that Saab customers are like members of a cult. We will apparently buy Saabs no matter what…

      I do not mind Robert Collin criticizing the cars Saab makes. That is, after all, his job. But I do mind when his only objective critique is “the new 9-5 is too big for what the market wants”. How does it drive? How much abuse can it take? Can it handle half a meter of snow? Those are the questions I want answered in a review. I do not want to read Robert’s thoughts on what fashions he thinks the current market is into. For a market analysis I suspect others are more qualified.

      A car journalist should stick to the nuts and bolts. If the 9-5’s length hinders the car in any way, then yes, say so with big letters! But the length is not felt in a 9-5 (except when parallell parking in extremely tight spots, but the 20 cm extra you have on a 9-3 is not really that big of a difference). And if that wasn’t the case, then I am sure Robert would have pointed out so already. Instead he simply states that the car is too big for the Swedish market… (so Saab should make exactly the same cars Volvo makes? How long would that brilliant strategy work?)

      But fair enough, I’ll retire my soap box for now. I will focus on the nuts and bolts instead. 🙂

  7. I’m not sure I like this style of reporting. This site should be about interpreting the situation of SAAB, providing facts. That’s what I enjoyed in the last two years.

    This article, however, complains about some tv company in Sweden in just the same way as a kid would do about somebody that doesn’t like its favourite toy.

    Ok, tv4 is not friendly towards SAAB. But look at the facts that one can see from the outside. Its hard to take a different view. We gather here to develop that different view. That’s much better than complaining about not beeing loved.

    That’s my two cents.

    • I don’t really see the shift in reporting attitude here. Hard working authors of SU report facts and provide their thoughts as Saab fans. And a certain degree of frustration about all that is happening around the company is understandable. But that’s the current reality.

      Obviusly the situation is far more complex than many of us would have imagined perhaps just a month ago – financially and otherwise. Perhaps VM should have provided clearer message to the public on this matter, perhaps he cannot, perhaps doing that would only result in further entanglements for the company. Hard to tell.

      But one thing is clear enough. Press generally in not playing it fair when it comes to Saab. They are taking full advantage of the fact that it is easy to bash a small guy, who’s struggling. They are making a mantra of “Saab will fail” and while this kind of journalism sells well (people love to hear doom and gloom stories – that’s just how human psychology works, I guess), they are doing great damage to the company and that bothers me too. Should they try and write similar stories about Audi and BMW, everyone would laugh at them and they would lose credibility.

      I don’t want to get into business matters to much, because I don’t understand them well and I think many journalists are also just guessing. All I know is that when I sit in a BMW or an Audi, the seats are no better than in a Saab. They actually tend to be worse. Also the plastic in german cars is really not noticably better if at all. I don’t think a 9-3 looks more aged on the outside than a 3-series and yes, germans too come with all-black dashes, and higher prices…

      …but I do agree with Robert Collin on his point that 9-5 is to big. Not as a car as such, but as a Saab. The bigger the vehicle the bigger the reputation required to sell it as a premium car. That in my oppinion is exactlly why 9-3 sells better. Should a new gen. 9-3 prove to be a success, people will rediscover it.

  8. Considering saab was being wound down and closed, I think they have done a remarkable job of starting it back up again. Yes, VM could have done better for damage control when the stoppage was announced; And I agree with the sentiment that cash is king and for suppliers to ask for payment upon receipt, it makes it tough for a company to operate, but it is not insurmountable. 60,000 cars a year should be obtainable; they just need time to reestablish the saab brand in the market place.

    Anyone interested in hearing some interesting stories on advertising and marketing that have worked for companies in the past, should listen to the podcasts at http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/index.html?arts#aop
    Terry O’Reilly – Age of Persuation

    • Agreed they need time until the NG 9-3 arrives, but time = money and payment upon receipt in an industrial company means a much longer cash cycle, which means the company will have to restructure its capital structure to lean pretty much in long term financing only. These are very difficult times to do any kind of debt restructuring. The sale and leaseback can work (if Swedish authorities allow it to happen); let’s hope it does.

  9. But is payment upon receipt absolutely necessary when making and selling cars? If I were to buy a new Saab, choosing the right car would be the important issue. If I was offered, say, some small discount or extra accessories if paying when ordering, I would probably consider it to be a great offer. Perhaps more difficult for those who want to leave their old car as part of the payment (as someone suggested before), but for company cars and many others perhaps that could be one way to speed up the production bore than what had been possible otherwise?

    • If the supplier has doubts about SAABs financial condition it might tighten payment terms and try to impose that SAAB pay for the components on the spot instead of 30, or 60, or 90, or whatever days later. SAAB is also a small company that cannot easily negotiate purchasing terms and conditions as it (theoretically) could under GM’s arm.

  10. I actually think Collin was fairly objective and supportive. The comment about SAAB not building the worlds best cars is actually a fair point since SAAB rarely wins tests in comparison to other cars. We like them, we have had SAABs in the family for at least 30 years, for some reason but the great masses often do not to the same extent. He made the comment that despite this, SAAB has a loyal following and that this might work.

    However, the comment, made by Jens, that not even the richest man in the world could sustain the losses SAABs was a truly false claim. There are numerous examples within Sweden alone, the Wallenbergs, the Perssons…, that could easily sustain losses many times those of SAAB just by dividends from their companies. That types of comments from a reporter that specializes in economics is just weird.

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