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 GP.se.
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.
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.
President of the Association of University Graduates / Graduate Engineers Saab Automobile
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.