Saab Engineers believe in the future of Saab

Being an engineer myself, and being quite devoted to what I do, I could not understand some comments here and on the press, telling that Saab engineers should leave the sinking boat and run to Volvo.

If you compare engineers with artists, to leave Saab and start at Volvo would be like stop painting in expressionism style and start painting in cubism style. Some may do it, but not the most.

The engineers association was the only one that never filled Saab for bankruptcy. The engineers believed in the future of Saab, and without knowing the outcome they put a bet on Saab to succeed. This shows their faith in the brand, or maybe, and I know we engineers are sometimes a little bit egocentric, in themselves and their work.

Yes, some critical voices may say, that the engineers are the group of Saab employees with the least worries about finding a new job, Volvo is still searching, and normally their wages are high enough to bridge two or three months without the need of a loan, but still, if you don’t believe in your work, you will always find a reason to change jobs, like an artist, if he doesn’t believe in what he is doing he will try something different.

And why am I telling you this? Well yesterday I found an open letter from the president of the Association of University Graduates / Graduate Engineers Saab Automobile, Per Bränneby and Hakan Danielson, the former president of this association till 2010 at

This open letter increased my trust in Saab Automobile by a big amount, I hope you also look at Saab now with different eyes.

(Sorry for the poor Google translation).

Do not count out Saab

“There are many who prematurely counted out Saab. Our view is that they will be wrong. There are a number of circumstances that Saab in the future will be an attractive brand and car,” writes Per Bränneby and Hakan Danielsson, Swedish engineers.

What is it that allows Saab to re-start by a rescue?

The explanation must be sought in history, which also gives a clue about the future. We engineers have recently completed a very difficult balancing act. Our members, like other employees put on unpaid leave on several occasions. Nevertheless, we have the same number of occasions refrained from completing the process of bankruptcy. Behind this lies a belief in the product we have developed and which in many respects has good technical characteristics.

Separation from GM gave many of us the necessary confidence to complete more of the future-oriented development projects. Our loyalty can be simply explained by the fact that we want to see the car we put so much energy also rolls out on the roads. We want them driving, we have developed will be enjoyed by discerning consumers.

Overlooked values

Many are those who have done analysis of Saab as a company. What these and others who described the outlook overlook is the fact that GM kept the Saab for more than 20 years – despite the fact that, as you describe it, almost always at a loss. What is often overlooked is the values ​​Saab contributed to GM in the vital areas of development for all these years.

Saab is important for the overall automotive cluster in Sweden. It is recognized by both the contractors and the three other major vehicle manufacturers. And the automotive industry is in turn important for Sweden. Its importance is about ten times higher in Sweden compared with the EU average. We have therefore been surprised how quick the consequences of a disappearing Saab have been set aside.

The government’s lack of commitment

The Swedish government’s commitment has been broken and efforts made relatively late. Let us just recall that the Minister in the early stages stated that wind power is an option for Saab. This was, to say the least, not a good signal. And just before Christmas 2009, the government started working on the effects of a closure instead of making the necessary contacts with the U.S. government [in order to save Saab].

All this is thankfully history. Saab’s most important asset is now a devoted staff and a range of products that are perceived as very modern, appealing and attractive. The time reconstruction permits must be used in a very active way so that production can be resumed as soon as ever possible. Capital will now be supplied by Chinese car company.

Why the Chinese are interested in becoming a partner in the Saab? They simply see it as we also look at Saab. A small company with limited resources can produce competitive cars.

Most efficient in Europe

In recent years we have been trained to solve our tasks in all departments with ever-diminishing resources. We have learned what is absolutely necessary to keep and what we can rationalize away. Now we perform a reconstruction in which we tune the organization of the experience. When our new partner comes into the company, we not only have one of Europe’s most efficient production facilities, an innovative technology development department, but also a very competitive administration.

Added to this is now required a full commitment from the authorities, political representatives and other stakeholders to our success. We have everything to gain if Sweden maintains a strong automotive industry.

Per Bränneby

President of the Association of University Graduates / Graduate Engineers Saab Automobile

Hakan Danielsson

Former President Association of University Graduates / Graduate Engineers Saab Automobile 1988 – 2010

All the employees and managers at Saab and all the dealerships world-wide have my support, but the engineers have it twice, once because I’m a Saab enthusiast, and twice because being also an engineer I do appreciate that they are doing miracles compared to the big ones in the global automotive industry.

39 thoughts on “Saab Engineers believe in the future of Saab”

  1. What a great letter of support. It’s great to see that they get it and are standing behind Saab and wanting to just get back to work. Thanks for sharing this RedJ

  2. I very much believe in and fully support Saab. My son is looking at buying his first Saab and it would be our 3rd Saab in less than 3 years. Three years ago I would not have considered such crazy antics of buying a Saab. Now, it’s the first car we’d consider.

      • Thanks Zippy, just been a very hectic summer… been keeping up with the headlines and so glad to see them changing for the better. No more trips to AFG… sadly I am a pencil pushing desk jockey now and no longer in the aircraft maintenance business 🙁

  3. Red, you have a fundamental problem. You need to detatch or unhook your mind from your projects and stop acting so professional. Key word is professional, you profess something, it is something averred each day you start solving problems and doing calculations.

    Stop acting like an engineer.

    You need to start thinking like one of the money grubbing bean counting whores that gut companies.

    Now, I did the same thing with aquaculture, when my company was gutted by the very managers who ran it. My best pal from the Navy was the owner of the consulting firm that “Big Corp” was getting money from the National Science Foundation to run. But, the top managers saw the gold and ran the company to the ground with salary inflation, large purchases (from Sweden), in fish processing equipment, trucks and you name it. Now, my boss and I worked an average day of like 15 hours for years to make this happen. My heart and soul went into it, like I’m sure that Saab to you is like religion. Those whores did it clearly with full intent to make us fail (we were divided into two groups to prevent a power grab), and they made us look so bad on paper that we were sold for pennies on the dollar, bought by the wives of those four managers and then they needed me since the customers loved my stuff (devotion), so they had to spill beans and tried to bring me back in. I freaked and walked off.

    Stop thinking like an engineer who builds Saabs. That is not how “they” think at all.

    Sounds like you have a problem for sure. Based on honesty and dedication. These money mongers er … managers live off the sweat of the rest of us. But they sing so well you believe them well they are getting the tab at lunch. That was actually my first clue. The had us out to announce an “austerity budget strategy” at one of the most expensive Italian restaurants in town. When the pastry cart was rolled over to us I remember thinking “if this is austere living” I’ll die happy. That, is when the light went off for me that something was wrong. Like, did the brass so the Cheetah strategy at some alpine resort in Zermatt?

    • rallyho,
      Your post here has really left me confused and scratching my head. I feel your anger for what happened with the company you were with and understand that. Are you saying though that the management at Saab is like the management that you had that you are calling “whores”? I’m confused because that doesn’t make sense because the management at Saab hasn’t worked so hard to bring the company to be worth pennies on the dollar, which in fairness, most people thought of the purchase of Saab from GM was. The management at Saab continues to work hard to get the company back on track and I think Saab is in a good position to do just that. I like many on here really liked this post from Red because it shows a group of people who are more affected by everything going on than any of us and they are standing tall for Saab. Your situation seems like it was a horrible one, I just don’t think it would be fair to say this is the same. Sorry if I got your post all wrong, that’s why I’m saying it confused me.

  4. .
    Several years ago, I had to do a gasket change on a 2.3 T 9000, with over 212,000 MILES on the clock.

    It’s head had never been off before & the head gasket was stamped 1992.
    It’s pistons & bores were like new with no roof for any oversizing. It’s values & most of the engine’s running gear was perfectly OK.
    A skim & new gasket set [+ a timing chain kit] was all it needed.

    It is now owned by a relative & that 9000, still drives twice a year to Spain & Back, fully loaded & at speed.

    Now that is what you call Engineering. What more can we say….!!.

    PS: It has now covered, just short of 290,000 miles

  5. Another engineer and Saab enthusiast here. Likewise, I believe in what I do and could never think of leaving the company I work for, unless the worst happened, i.e., there was no more company to go to the next morning.

  6. Red J, spot on! Saab engineers have always had innovatve ideas when it comes to design. Its that whole form vs function ethos that Scandinavians are so well known for.

    Saab Up

  7. As one engineer to another, I salute your professionalism, resolve and integrity. Thank you.
    It’s people like you who draws people like me, who prefers sound clever enginering solution to a problem, than fancy marketing shenanigans.

    More engineers, less bean counters, PLEASE.

  8. I’m not sure I share your views Red J.

    Working also in the area of engineering (thou not being one myself!), and have experiences working in ailing companies/units. Regardless of the company, from my personal experience I can say that:

    1. When the boat starts taking in water, the people start jumping the ship. Only when there is nowhere to jump, then you have to go down with the ship.

    2. The best ones are always the first to go. There are just are engineers who are better in their job than others. The people who are really good at their jobs always get a job (and quite often are offered new one when they already have a job). The bad ones are always the one who have to stick around.

    3. You cannot get good people in when there are problems. If you don’t have good people, you are not making good products.

    4. When the mass panic starts, there is no stopping. You might be incredibly loyal, and woe to go down with the ship. However jumping the ship becomes considerably easier when you see people around you jumping. Sometimes the only reason why people are jumping the ship (thou company would be doing ok) is that everyone else is jumping.

    5. At some point everyone realizes that it is a just job. It’s good to have a job which you feel attached to and motivates you. However everyone who has got the project which they loved cut under them (by higher management) knows that it is amazing how fast you deattach yourself from it, and move on.

    It is incredibly naive to think that Saab engineer would be different from the rest of the engineering-race (or to any working man for that matter). Sure there might by higher levels of loyalty than in average company. But if the company does not even pay your salary (this is the last sign to jump the ship!), people will be leaving. Some are surely still there, but the amount of competence Saab has lost, must be enormous!

    • Well.. I am NOT an engineer.

      It is not necessarily true that people jump ship, and it is not always those who has nowhere to jump that stick around.
      Since we are talking personal experiences I can tell you that I have worked for the same person/family/Company in an almost continous period since 1982 with a couple of breaks for studying.
      And through some incredible good and bad times

      That main company was sold in 2005 to a competitor, and the first thing they did was close my department down.
      I did not leave until my entire production line was shipped off to India and my employees had other jobs.

      I was the last rat that was moved out. Or I went down with the ship if you like.

      When the old owner called me and said he was restarting something else I left my new job and came back to him.
      He is now dying and the different companies he owned are up for sale or sold
      I have followed one of them to the new owner, which happens to be one from the same family.

      And since we are having a recession, my new company is having a hard time.
      It will survive because of some very strong alliances, but for the first time I am considering leaving my job.
      Simply because I am getting at an age where I want to change direction in my professional life and make a hobby of mine my work.
      Not because I do not believe in the companys future or what we can do and am scared of unemployment if it goes down.

      If budgets are cut you fix it. You don’t leave

      The best ones don’t go first.
      They stay because they have nothing to fear in case of the ship going down.

      Mass panic is just that. It is a personal judgement if you want to follow that.

      All of the above is not a question of loyalty.
      It has all been a question of me fitting perfectly into a company culture.
      And I have gone through a lot of CEO’s and other management who didn’t.

      • There are highly educated, and extremely competent people who stick around with the same employer for years and years. On the other hand there are people who change jobs on a early basis. Most however are something in between – these are the large masses which make the average, and are make the difference for the company.

        As most of the fields where highly level of education is required, engineering is a good line of business in a sense that most of the time you have intriguing job opportunities available – not just in your native country, but also internationally.

        If you on the other hand have been working on the assembly line (and do not really posses skills to do anything else than the thing that you have been doing on the assembly line) you do not have these kind of options. In this case it easy to be loyal.

        • Correct.

          I my case I used to be part of management and have several higher educations 😉
          Now I am Deep Undercover Backoffice or CHAO, Chief Handling Everything Officer (sans jobtitle that is)
          This means that I am the guy they call when the Engineers fails, our distributors are a pain, our designer has a problem with realising that it is not really possible to produce what he designs or if our production has problems.

          But since my main interest is IT, I am now switching to a job as SysAdmin in a IT-company

      • +1, I don’t think the best ones jump first!
        It depends more on management attitude and devotion. If you are a good engineer, and you’ve got your project, which is your creation and you are attached to it, and you don’t see the managemend give up or cheating you, why go? You’ll have no problem finding a new job, so you do not worry about it, and that’s also a challenge, to make best despite obstacles, and good engineers love challenges!

    • Part of my education was as an engineer, and I believe I understand quite well the sentiment conveyed by RedJ. Systems developers aren’t that different from engineers IMO.

      I once worked for a highly successful (yet small) company with many devoted employees. All it took was one bad boss and we all left more or less simultanously. So yes, of course the best can find other positions fast.

      But I’ve also been in places where we’ve buckled down to get the work done, regardless of the future prospects of the company as a whole. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then there is no point in jumping ship.

      Because… The best can always get a job. Why rush out in the middle of an interesting project? You have no guarantee you’ll be working on something as interesting in the near future, but I’m pretty sure the engineers at Saab will have no problems finding a job in the future as well.

      Walking out ‘in the middle’ means you might end up with nothing to show for several years worth of work. Do not underestimate the feeling of pride and accomplishment the engineers get when they see their finished work rolling around on the streets.

  9. I’m a former Saab engineer for more then 25 years and I choosed to leave the company this spring. It was one of my thoughest decisions I’d ever have made for sure, but afterwords I know I made the right decision for ME and that is what it’s all about. It’s up the erveryone to decide by them selfes what is right for them and my experience is that I feel much more calmer now and also my family see that I have changed in the right direction. All of this is of course due to the situation Saab have been in for more then 6 mounths and that effects everybody in a way or another in wrong direction. My heart is still in Saab and will always be, but try to understand the people that decides to leave the company you are not more then human.

  10. Think you mis-understood something RED J . You are refering to a union with Engineers as its members that did not file for bancruptcy.
    What you failed to mention was that hundreds of ENGINEER members of UNIONEN did support the filing for bancruptcy as the only alternative and as a member of that union AND an Engineer my family comes first and I supported the move.
    Saab has been a great company to work for over the years and as Undertaker says ” My heart is still in Saab and will always be ” ………………I’m still here !

  11. Love this qoute:

    If you compare engineers with artists, to leave Saab and start at Volvo would be like stop painting in expressionism style and start painting in cubism style.

    Even “Undertaker” has a point though:

    but try to understand the people that decides to leave the company you are not more than human.

    Have mercy with those who has to do cubism for a living…

    Hope you will get the chance to get back to expressionism again! 😉

  12. Well, fortunately Volvo is much closer to Saab in terms of architecture and much further from cubism than during the 70s and 80s. 🙂

    I am an engineer myself. I believe in technical solutions and doing the right kind of projects. My engineering (and pilot) mindset are probably reasons why I am a fan of Saab, and like their cars, because of the features (cockpit, seats…) and low key image. I could not care less about marketing and “image” like many BMW/Audi/MB buyers.

    Now those who have worked on recent projects like the 119g CO2 9-3 and the next gen 9-3 surely believe in what they are doing and do not want to leave the ship as long as there is hope. But as an engineer, I would also like to see a management with the right vision, who can fulfill their promises. Thus “undertaker” has my full sympathy. Now let’s cross our fingers and hope the production gets started again soon.

    p.s. Swade, please make sure that the Saab marketing department will supply detailed technical specifications for the future Saab lineup, including stuff like gear ratios and ground clearance. We engineers who are Saab customers like getting these gory details! 😉

  13. I really hope there’s a group of engineers somewhere at Saab that are working on a V6 diesel that can take Quattro. The fact is 3.0 L diesel are going to stay a long time in Premium cars. Offer that engine with eXWD in the 9-5 and 9-4X and we have an instant winner.
    If Saab takes the Skoda route -1.4 L in a Suberb sized car- we’re dead. There is no money to be made in a race to the bottom.

    • In Norway they are now looking at increasing the taxes on diesel.

      Norwegian politicians finally realized that NO2 emissions are more toxic to us humans than a slight increase in CO2…

      It is my understanding that similar thoughts are surfacing in the EU as well, so just how important is that big diesel a few years away from now? (and what happens when you combine the existing 2.0 liter diesel with eXWD?)

      • I think the next 9-3 with the small 1.6l turbo engine from BMW and eXWD will fit perfect into the new norwegian tax system. Espesially if Saab also make a plug in version. 🙂
        I think our 2005 V70 D5 will be our last car with a diesel engine. 🙂

      • The point is I don’t think diesel is going anywhere. The tech is getting better and better (cleaner, more power, less fuel consumption) all the time.
        To me it’s not about the number of cylinders per se. It’s all about how much NM there is to move the heavy vehicle and a 2.0 today already got a lot of power for its size. My concern is reliability as parts need to be made lighter in order to extract more out of the engine.
        Even with eXWD you can’t go much further than 230 hp with 2000 cc? Saabs competitors are making 300 hp (500-600 NM) the premium benchmark. We cannot stand out of the crowed too long, or the next thing we know Skodas and Fords run us over.

        Saab got to make what sells. Not to have enough money to develop is the worst argument in the world IMHO. If they don’t have the cash, get it. BTW I hope they now with the Chinese input have.
        The M5 sells an unbelievable number of base Bimmers just by its existence.

        • I don’t think the world or we can afford to let the hp and Nm skyrocket. 😉
          The next 9-3 is said to be a lighter car than the current, so i don’t think it has to have more than 200hp and something around 300Nm. 😉

          • I agree. A 9-3 or probably even the JC 93 doesn’t need more than that for you to loose your license, but I’ve driven the ‘laziest’ diesel Saabs for years and think 300 Nm is actually the minimum.
            When have you heard people wanting less of anything in the future if they can afford it 😉 (unfortunately)

            Without the bigger cars -9-5, 9-4X and future 9-6, 9-7- Saab probably wouldn’t need a bigger pan, thanks to the competition they however do. If the world wants ban all big diesel be my guest, the important part here is to be competitive.

            Rune, if you see black smoke there is something wrong with the engine and yes it’s unacceptable. Therefor ones the system fails so that too much smoke is generated (the engine measures this constantly) imo the car should go into limp-mode after some time if the problem isn’t fixed. I myself don’t understand those who buy diesel cars for city or short distance driving. The engine is not built for that, but again to look at the bright side give the Saab engineers some time and I believe they will solve the NOx issue.

          • I suspect most car purchases are actually impulse buys, just like we buy most other things.

            Most of us have heard that diesels are cheaper, and when push comes to shove, that is what we’ll buy.

            It is only because I’ve read the comments here that I’m aware that diesels aren’t good for short distances (and cold engine driving), and it was probably one of your earlier comments that taught me that.

            I doubt the average car buyer will put 10% as much effort into his buying decision as you (or me) would.

            But next question: A diesel properly driven (long distances at good speeds), what does its NO2 emissions look like? (The article I quoted below concerns city driving and does not really provide a generic answer, though I note that Steven said yesterday that NOx emissions are what is mostly keeping Saab’s diesels out of the US)

          • I think there are two main culprits.
            By giving environmently friendly tags only based on CO2 levels we’ve got now ALL these diesel cars that are driven around town with cold engines. In fact we could ban the small low power diesels all together as they find their way into the reasonably priced cars that are never used for long commutes as diesels should be.

            The smog you see in the picture is all about this. The fuel consumption is 50-100% higher (emissions likewise) for the first miles if you don’t pre-heat the block. One can only imagine what happens when all these cars are sitting idle in the traffic jams when it’s -20 C outside without ever reaching proper operating temperatures to run clean(er).

            I believe the NOx and NO2 will not be an issue in the future. The tech just hasn’t reached passenger cars yet.
            By adding Urea and Formic Acid into the burning process the emissions go down drastically. I believe it’s going to be like in the old days when we added oil into the 2-stroke engines and it wasn’t a big deal. The AdBlue stuff introduced by Volvo trucks wasn’t really suitable for the Nordic climates due to freezing. Extra cost is also a factor as they try to keep the entry level cars as affordable as possible.

            How about a road-tax for diesel vehicles with high NOx/NO2 levels driven in the city? 😉

          • How about a road-tax for diesel vehicles with high NOx/NO2 levels driven in the city?

            Personally, I do believe that taxes is a good way to protect the environment. It is no secret that NOx (and NO2 in particular) causes many health problems and as such it should be limited.

            Taxing the fuel would be wrong if the additives you mention are effective. In Norway the politicians keep making horrible mistakes, so it comes as no surprise to me that they got it wrong again.

            Saab added a Biopower% meter that shows if the car is filled up with E85. The rationale was that the authorties may want to check this in the future. Would it be possible to have the car monitor the emissions and keep a log of how much NOx and SO2 passes through the particle filter? (and subsequently tax _that_ rather than the fuel)

        • I admit I do not know much about diesels. But I notice that even relatively new cars puff out big clouds of black smoke every now and then. Even with the excellent air filters in my car, I can smell them a mile away. That is unacceptable in my book.

          Articles like this: is not very encouraging either.

          New testing now shows that the particle filters actually increase emissions of the most harmful NOx gas, the NO2.

          Kjell ac Bergström said a few years ago that he believed diesels would get less efficient as new legislation demanding less pollution gets passed. Meanwhile ethanol engines would continue to improve their efficiency (and they are already clean btw).

          It is of course up to the market to decide, but the market is influenced by legislation. The article I quote also mentions air pollution running rampant in the UK as well, so I would be surprised if other European politicians would not jump on the diesel tax as well.

  14. Simple, I was giving Red the highest compliment, He is a true engineer.

    The “bean counters” have wreaked havoc on many fronts from skimping on parts to the worst kind and that is cash stripping companies. It is very common in America and has led to much of the shuttering of American plants.

    It wasn’t just my company, it was many and there are even books written on the golden age. The name Mike Milliken rings a bell. They are Wall Street heros but if you worked there you were on the street.

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