I used to work for Saab and I’m already missing the company and the people terribly. Like many of them, I’d love to work for Saab again if the conditions were right. But like many of them, I’d also need to know that the conditions were right.
I was only there for a short time and it was an absolute pleasure. I didn’t have the stress that others had because I had a job to come back to if things went awry. Other employees at Saab had their eggs all in the Saab basket. What’s more, they’d been living on the edge for two or three years by the time the company declared bankruptcy. Some of them have now gone elsewhere, whilst others are still looking. While everyone I know loves the company to bits, I’m pretty sure they’d want to feel some security before taking a decision to return.
If Saab is bought and returns to the automotive market, it will need to change. That much is a given. But change in what ways?
If I could sit down with each of the prospective buyers and have a chat with them, here’s what I’d want to know based on my own personal needs and interests…..
What I’d like to know: Nothing. There’s nothing you can say to convince me that you’d be a good or competent owner for Saab Automobile, or that you’d be even slightly interested in preserving any of the Saab company that I know and love. Thanks for coming.
What I’d like to know: As you’ve been the most vocal, I’m going to ask you the most questions. All in the interests of getting to know you better, of course.
Who are you, exactly? And what do you plan to do with our car company?
I ask this because so far, you’re making all the right noises, but that’s not so hard to do if you’re just a little bit studious. If you’ve got any notion of the public sentiment around Saab, then you’ll know that talking about production in Sweden and retaining key staff (engineering, design, etc) is key to retaining any brand equity that you might be buying. But what are your plans, really?
What do you know about the car business? Because to me you smell a little like Cerberus, the group that took over Chrysler and nearly run it into the ground a few years ago. If you are indeed a holding company like that, then what are your long term plans for Saab, and who will you install in place at the company to execute those plans?
Who you put in place is important. One thing that came up time and again when I spoke to colleagues at Saab is that we carried on too much like the GM days after we had been sold. It was like very little had changed, except the logistical changes that were forced upon us. None of the key senior staff changed, for example, and that was probably a big mistake.
So what are you going to do, and who are you going to put in place to do it?
And finally, who’s behind you and how deep are your pockets? Can Saab be assured of a period where they can talk about their cars and their brand without having to worry about diversionary stories from the press? Are you going to list Saab on a stock exchange, or maintain life as a privately held company?
Thanks for being interested in Saab. I know some of your people attended the We Are Many, We Are Saab event in Holland a few weeks ago and hopefully you got a taste for the passion that exists for this company. All we need is something/someone to believe in.
What I’d like to know: What’s your angle? Are you in or out? Are you interested in building Saab cars, or not? And as with Brightwell, what sort of model would you put in place for managing the company?
You’re an interesting case. A lot of us have stars in our eyes when it comes to you, probably because of the relationship between Tata and Jaguar LandRover. We want to believe that you could do the same for Saab.
But why do you want Saab? There’s a wonderful ownership community and probably even a fair portion of the motoring press that would love to jump behind you if you would only come out and engage the public a little.
See MAHINDRA, above. I understand there are comercial confidentiality requirements, but it’d be great to know who you are and what your interest is in this wonderful brand.
Swade now writes mostly about cars at Swadeology.