Day 2 at the Geneva Motor Show

Good morning from a very chilly but pleasant Geneva.

I’ve just shot an iQon video with Christopher McKinnon and I think you will like what you hear about the iQon system. It’s very exciting indeed. I’m processing that now and will have it up on Youtube and here at SU as soon as possible.

RedJ is getting detailed shots of the Saab 9-5 SportCombi and will bring you all those details later on today. I’ll be working on the Independence Edition 9-3 Convertible.

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The Saab stand had a distinguished visitor here first thing this morning. “Radical” was his description, and he meant that in a very good way.

For those who are more recent arrivals to Saabs United, that’s Christian Von Koenigsegg taking a look at the PhoeniX Concept. The Koenigsegg Group were the first to negotiate a purchase of Saab from General Motors before the deal was cancelled in November 2009.

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More to come later today.

Christian von Koenigsegg buys Saab (9-5)

Here’s a feel-good story for you.

Christian von Koenigsegg was one of the first, if not the first person to put an order in for a Saab 9-5. I haven’t gone back through the archives, but I think his order was made public just after the Koenigsegg Group pulled out of the Saab sale back in November 2009.

It’s taken a while, but CvK finally took deliver of his Saab 9-5 yesterday and Magnus Nordberg from TTELA was there to capture the moment.

CvK Saab 9-5

– You were the first in Sweden to order the car, said Ana Trollhättan CEO Joachim Lind, at the premises of Koenigsegg in Angelholm, yesterday morning.

Whereupon a smiling Christian von Koenigsegg countered with lightning speed:

– But I was not the first to have it delivered …

In the absence of a full Saab factory you have to settle with a new Saab 9-5. “I do not see it as plaster on the wound. I bought it because it’s a good car and it feels good to run the Swedish” said Christian von Koenigsegg, while receiving instructions from Ana Trollhättan Peter Utter.

Then he took a closer look at their purchase and it was noticeable immediately that sports car maker has an eye for detail. The comments were many. Sometimes there were questions about why it was not possible to combine with it, but most of all, it was praise for the car.

– Really comfortable chairs. And certainly gives it an extra spice to the wing in the back, said Koenigsegg among other things.

When ANA’s Peter Utter showed him the built-in video-
screens in the back seat he revealed what they would be used for.

– First, get the kids excited, but I also thought of using them to show Koenigsegg movies when we drive our customers.

I visited CvK when I was in Sweden for the Saab festival in July and he was excited back then at the prospect of getting this car. He actually wanted the 2.0T at first because it was a lighter car, but then bought the V6 Aero because he wanted the Hi-PerStrut suspension system.

I know he’s going to have some fun with it and whilst I know he wouldn’t want to ruin his warranty, it might be fun to see what sort of quarter mile time CvK’s 9-5 can pull in a few years from now 🙂

Thanks to “Me” and Tobias A!

An exceptional day

Last night I was staying in Malmo and I mentioned here on site that I was going to do something very exciting today. Much speculation ensued, however none of it was on the money.

Truth be told, I did a few nice things in Malmo this morning. I woke up. I went for a walk with my wife and then caught up with Dave R from England, who was on his way to Trolllhattan for the festival. That was it for Malmo, however.

The excitement happened a little further north.

If I show this picture, locals in Sweden might guess where I’ve been…..

OK, so the locals should know.

For the rest of you, have a look at the picture after the jump……

Read moreAn exceptional day

AMS speak with Christian von Koenigsegg

The guys from Auto Motor and Sport recently sat down with Christian von Koenigsegg to talk about the Saab deal, what went wrong and what Koenigsegg are doing now.
I think it’s OK for me to say now that I shared a number of emails back and forth with CvK over several months after they pulled out of the Saab deal and I’m really pleased that a little of their story is coming out now. These guys did a monumental amount of work to put Saab in a good position and in my estimation, they weren’t taken seriously enough by a number of key players in the Saab sale drama.
Well done to AMS on the interview and my gratitude to Martin S for this fantastic translation.

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He layed the foundation
Fredrik Huldt had a talk with Christian von Koenigsegg about the Saab deal, what went wrong and why he is still the man who saved Saab.
After six months of intense negotiations with GM, the European Investment Bank EIB, the Swedish Government and the Chinese motor company BAIC, Christian von Koenigsegg was forced to give up his efforts to save Saab Automobile from bankrupcy on November 24th last year.
With the worse thriller in Swedish industrial history now seemingly concluded with Dutch Spyker Cars as the owner of Saab, we were, of course, curious as to what Christian had to say about it.
Ams: How does it feel retrospectivly?
Cvk: I’m happy all the energy and work we put into it came to something. Much of what we did layed the foundations for the Spyker deal.
Christian von KoenigseggAms: Do you believe in Saab today?
CvK: There are still very good chances. But the situation is much worse now. Had we been allowed to take over before the end of the year the factory wouldn’t have stopped and been closed down. We had a plan for 60,000 cars this year and this was a plan that was in the danger zone already in October. But the BAIC deal we facilitated had the effect that Saab got 1,4 billion (SEK). Suddenly there were funds. Old parts that they were basically going to throw away that we dug out of the boxes, an engine here, some old chassis stuff there… Maybe there are some Chinese who will want to buy, we thought. And we were right. We can say that we left 1,4 billion after us. That’s how I see it.
Ams: What do you think of Victor Muller as the captain of this damaged old boat?
CvK: In a way I think he’s a good captain. He’s very energetic and convincing. He’s a real PR-person and Spyker has always been a good PR-company. Their production facility is smaller than ours. They are listed in the stock market despite of that. They have produced a few more cars then we have, but to a third of the price. So turnover-wise they have always been below us. Saab has, of course, very good technical competence and a managment who wants to show that they can do the right thing. So maybe it’s great with this PR-aspect.
Ams: Koenigseggs so-called PR-coup and the rumours that you were underfinanced?
CvK: We were accused of a PR-coup but we are the opposite of a PR-carcompany. We focus ALL our time and enegry on technology. Working with free valves, patenting compressor- or catalyst systems, building our own engines, our own electrical systems. Everything is specially built. That’s where we put our money instead of buying parts that are pretty good but not so exciting.
Koenigsegg itself does not have huge financial muscle but B

CvKoenigsegg: We are still interested in Saab

Auto Motor and Sport have conducted an interview with Christian von Koenigsegg about their withdrawal from the Saab purchase and their thoughts on where things stand right now.
All you Swedes should go here to read it in your native tongue. For those English speakers out there, here’s the Googletrans:
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AMS: Why did you skip out of the Saab deal?
Christian: It was not that we do not believe in Saab, but the timing worked against the whole affair. In the business plan we originally counted on a purchase by the end of September. When we at the beginning of November was quite clear that a closure date was impossible to predict, we must think about the whole thing would work. When we are at the end of November, still did not know when the deal could go through the whole thing became untenable.
AMS: How much has the delay worsened the business plan?
Christian: As I see it, it is about approximately one billion in increased costs, because Saab has been unable to ramp up production before 2010 like the business plan advocates. When production was delayed it shifted the entire business plan. We look to the billion must come from somewhere, we might be interested in taking part of it, but also other parties who have an interest in Saab’s survival must also help.
AMS: How willing are Koenigsegg Group to take a financial risk?

Read moreCvKoenigsegg: We are still interested in Saab

DI.se not doing themselves favours in the credibility stakes

Generally speaking, I find Dagens Industry to be OK when it comes to Saab stories. They sensationalise a bit every now and then, but they’ve got good resources and they use them to get a lot of information.
I read through a couple of stories there this morning, though, and I’ve got to express some concern over their willingness to beat a dead horse for the sake of getting a headline.
The first story I turned to today was at the top of their website. It was a critical piece on Christian von Koenigsegg, with DI.se’s expert saying he just didn’t believe CvK’s explanation about why the deal failed (i.e. they ran out of time and the risks became unacceptable).
Now, I can understand his reasoning here, because I’ve said myself that there must have been more to it.
But then they drag up “other instances where Christian von Koenigsegg has had problems with credibility” (via Googletrans). Their indictment is this – Koenigsegg set a speed record of 388 km/h that was not verified by FIA.
Big deal!!
Their critique of the Saab affair is OK with me, but if you’re going to put a guy up on your front page and discredit him, then please have something more in your armory than an unacknowledged speed record.
Puh-lease.
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The other bit of inaccurate writing today on DI.se is their contention that Saab will likely be declared bankrupt at GM’s instruction next week.
Again, a googletrans:

Saab owner General Motors will not drive car builder further on their own, said sources in Dagens Industri. It increases the risk that Saab is declared bankrupt in the next week.

Saab might be closed on GM’s decision next week, but it won’t be because of bankruptcy. It’s my understanding the Saab has sufficient cash to keep operating for some time yet. Not a long time, but they can keep producing.
And lest they forget that Saab just went through a court process to reconstruct their business and their debt structure.
My Googletrans might be inaccurate in translating to ‘bankruptcy’, but if not then I just understand why they’ve used this terminology.

Thursday Snippets – Lost edition

I really don’t know where to begin today.
So many opinions, so many headlines. Most of them have been covered in comments already, but I suppose my task is to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Armchair quaterbacks
There’s a bucketload of these going around at the moment. Automotive ‘analysts’ who most likely don’t even think about Saab until a journo rings them up and asks for an opinion. Most of them will be quite dismissive and give a summary comment like “GM will shut down Saab. It’s just not worth them thinking about”.
I’m happy to be as dismissive of them as they are of Saab.
It may well turn out that Saab does not survive this episode. That can happen. But having followed this story for almost a full year now, I know from various contacts inside and outside of Saab that work is going on in the background at a furious pace. They are not lying down.
If Saab is closed, it won’t be because of a lack of work in Sweden and won’t be because there’s no potential there to build something.
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Problem Mathematics
I still can’t get the collapse of the Koenigsegg deal to add up.
fabela.JPG Fabela says it was a complicated deal involving a lot of parties and they weren’t able to get all the parties moving at a quick enough pace. See the interview here.
But the money was just days away. This has been confirmed by Joran Hagglund and the Swedish Debt Office. They would have been up and running an just a few weeks.
Were their margins for time so incredibly fine tuned that 10-14 days is the killer difference?
He says they no longer believed that the business plan they’d developed could be delivered because of the delays. Again, this is the business plan that was reviewed by so many different bodies and approved, yet it was not robust enough to last a few more weeks?
I just doesn’t add up.
And in the next sentence he says the plan was strong and viable.
The money was just a few weeks away. So a strong and viable plan should have been able to be implemented. Didn’t this strong and viable plan go up to December 31st, the date GM had set for Saab?
I just does. not. add. up.
There must have been something else at play here. There is an unseen hand at work with one of these players that has folded this thing up. There’s no other explanation.
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A gutsy appearance
CvKfactory.jpg You’ve got to tip your hat to CvK and Eker for visiting the Saab factory today to try and give some account of what went wrong. By all accounts they were shown some support by the people there, which is the right thing.
Things have gone wrong here, but CvK & co have had a genuine crack at this. The bigger fault here may lie with GM and Deutsche for selecting them in the first place. But I digress…..
CvK said to TTELA that “It was important to come here and tell us more about why we pulled ourselves out” but from the Googletrans that I can see, there doesn’t seem to be too much more of an explanation that we’d already heard.
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It’s a Maud, Maud world
If there’s one thing that’s really annoying in all this, its the point scoring exercise going on between politicians in the Swedish media.
Thankfully, in between volleys, Maud Olofsson did have a few things that were notable and sensible to say:

  • A new buyer coming in is going to have to be able to get the deal tied up quickly. They will need to be well backed and well resourced.
  • The government will work with whoever it is to do what they can to get things done, but they won’t take a stake in the company (which we all know)
  • The EIB loan process that’s been undertaken so far was tied to Koenigsegg’s plan. Any new potential owner requiring and EIB loan would have to start the process over again.

That last one’s in bold because it’s pretty important.
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A final clip, from Automotive News:

A Swedish government official said today that General Motors Co. appeared to still have hopes of being able to sell its Saab unit after the wheels came off of a planned divestment this week. “I talked to GM last night and my impression is that they have not given up hope,” Joran Hagglund, state secretary at Sweden’s Industry Ministry, told reporters.

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And for those of you thinking that GM might still retain Saab, you’d best bear in mind the news from Germany:

General Motors Co. expects to cut around 9,000 jobs at Adam Opel GmbH, or nearly 20 percent of the ailing German carmaker’s work force, as part of a $5 billion restructuring, a top executive said Wednesday.
Nick Reilly, the head of GM’s international operations and interim CEO of Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall, outlined the planned cuts, which were slightly fewer than anticipated, but said no decisions had been reached regarding plant closures.

Cutting 9,000 jobs in Germany and then finding a viable excuse to keep 4,000 in Sweden?
Good luck selling that one to the German government just before asking for aid.
Saab need to be sold. It’s the only viable way to survive.

Koenigsegg documentary now on Youtube

UPDATE:
The SVT website intitially would not show the program to web viewers outside of Sweden. An email from Jorgen bringing this to their attention has seen them take a look at things, and the error corrected.
You should now be able to view the program uninterrupted from the SVT website.
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The documentary about Christian von Koenigsegg can now be seen on Youtube.
Unfortunately, there’s no subtitles so it’s still only for the Swedish-speakers. But there’s some good imagery in there and I’m going to watch it all and just see what I can pick up from it.
Thanks to Dippen for the tip-off.
The documentary is in six parts, at the following URL’s……
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UADbc7d-Y48&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2vheh40TRE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mL2cLg6AZw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06u_tdgvTmI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCmHL6CeMRQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g25eS8sGn4M&feature=related

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