Ex. Saab designers to Geely/Volvo – Who designs Saab?

Designer Simon Padian who was with Saab Automobile from 1998 to 2012 has moved to Geely Design in Göteborg/Gothenburg where he will be the Interior Design Director. At the same time Simon Lamarre takes the helm at Geely as the Exterior Design Director. Lamarre has according to his LinkedIn account been with Saab Automobile as well. My sources in the automobile design world where hoping that NEVS would hire Simon Padian but since he is now with Geely that is not possible. But there are some other guys near Trollhättan who are more then qualified to run the future design department at NEVS.

My personal short-list  of names to run the NEVS/SAAB design department would be: (in no ranking order)

– Eduard Gray at GrayDesign in Vargön who has proven his talent to design not only cars but super-yachts and motorcycles. Now also with LeanNova as a consultant. We have seen some of Eduards stunning 9-5 generation III designs here at SaabsUnited last year.

– Victor Holmquist at Volvo Construction Equipment is a hard core gear-head with the right mindset and radical ideas on car design. I have seen the designs he sent to Saab when he applied for a job some years ago. His design of an  upgraded 9-3 and fighterjet inspired racer Sonett where mindblowing. Victor had his AlfaRomeo GTV “Modifcatizione” in my carage in Stockholm for some years before moving to Göteborg. That car has so much carbonfiber stuff made by Viktor.

– Ola Granlund, he runs his own design studio in Göteborg. Long time with Saab and according to ex. design chief at Saab Björn Envall, one of the most talented “young” designers he has seen at Saab. His name Granlund is of the Saab family in Trollhättan, his dad Olle was product manager. I met Ola in the military way back in the 1985.

Design is I would say and stick out my chin, is the most important asset for a smaller or boutique car manufacturer. Design must take the lead in front of the mechanical engineering (sorry boys and girls in that engineering field). The competition is so hard today so why not make a design that stands out. Give You a fresh exampel. Mercedes is about to launch new vehicles with “older” design chassis components. The mechanical engineers grinds their teeth, but carry on the new order. Most cars are good on the road and the average buyer does not crawl around on the showroom marbelfloor to inspect if the car has a 3-4-5-6 link rear axle. But the design of the car body, lines and curves is crucial. And just not to mention how the buyers are greeted and taken care of by the sales staff, but that is another write-up here at SU.

Around Saab Snippets

Things are still quiet from Saab, but there are a few things out there that are worth mentioning, even if they are not directly Saab related.

I think all of us remember that Geely had again after 2009 shown interest in taking over Saab (or just the best pieces, who knows) just a few weeks ago. WantChinaTimes report now that they are facing financial troubles:

The Chinese-language Capital Week, however, reported that Li and Geely Group have been stuck in a financial rut. Geely has reportedly started to contact private domestic and overseas equity funds, such as Carlyle and TPG, for fresh funding, in order to repay Goldman Sachs for high-yield bonds. Most of these private equity funds are cautious about the request, due to their concern over Geely’s ability to repay.

Read more

Thursday Snippets: Geely Wants Saab Now?

Geely Wants to Acquire Saab?

This story has been coming at us for the past 24 hours now and while I’ve been reluctant to cover it since everyone in front of and behind the scenes is denying it, but Dagens Nyheter is reporting on their website that Geely wants to buy Saab. According to their source, a representative from Geely approached Guy Lofalk, the court appointed administrator for Saab, to negotiate a deal. Today, Geely has emphatically denied these rumors.

Interestingly, Eric Geers fanned the flames a little bit though when he said in a telephone interview which Bloomberg reported on, ““Several companies are showing interest in Saab right now…We of course have a binding agreement with Pangda and Youngman.” Why would he want to do that?  Well, Youngman’s money still hasn’t been transferred even though it was promised to come through over a week ago. Which leads us to the second story…

Read more

Monday Night Snippets

BIG thanks to Jeff P for the LA Auto Show banner featuring at the top of the website all this week!

Outstanding stuff. I know a few people have commented on it already, so Jeff – it’s put smiles on people’s faces already……. job done!

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This might be the final entry on SU before I hit LA, so there’s a bit of stuff to cover.

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People and cars.

That’s what this stuff is all about. People and cars.

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One of Finland’s former parliamentarians, Riitta Uosukainen, is doing some free promotional work for Saab after she and her husband had a collision with a moose on the weekend:

“We were driving with my husband at 17.00 (this time of the year it’s really dark outside in Finland at five O’clock), when suddenly a giant moose jumped out from the dark straight on to our car.”

The impact was so severe that Mrs. Uosukainen thanks the rugged build of the car, and thanks to that nothing bad happened to the people inside it:
“The car was totaled. If it hadn’t been a Saab we both (She and Her husband) would of been dead.”

Then she thanks all the officials who arrived to the scene and gives compliments to the Police, ambulance staff, tow-car company and the hospital. Everything worked flawlessly. “I think it’s good for everybody to know”.

The she gives a warning to all drivers out there: “It’s unbelievable how this situation could surprise us all. The way it came (the moose, translators clarification), there are no words to describe it. It’s such a noise that it felt as if it fell from the sky.”

Thanks to Pekko for the translation.

Assuming they’ll order a new 9-5 to replace the one the moose just totalled, perhaps VM could deliver it personally to keep the story rolling?

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I had a great catch-up dinner with a couple of Sydney Saab friends this evening. OK, Richo’s moved over to the dark side, but I still sense good in him, as does Princess Lea [sic]. Brendan B was there with his Viggen convertible, too.

The other members of the Sydney Saab clan that I usually catch up with were probably sick of seeing each other’s faces as they had what looks like a great meet-and-drive event on the weekend.

I had to put two shots of the Viggen in there – because it used to be mine! It’s now owned by a guy named Wayne G, who tells me it’s purring like a cat.

Great job, NSW Saab nuts!

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The Guardian had a short review of the Saab 9-5 over the weekend.

No urgency. Not much of huge interest there.

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It’s interesting that Volvo’s new Chinese owners want to move into places Volvo hadn’t planned on going….

…. and then their main product development guy leaves.

Saab might be struggling onwards, but I still think we got the better deal.

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LA – here we come!

The Local: Swedes start lamenting the possible demise of their auto industry

The Local is reporting about Swedes starting to feel a bit sad now that a Volvo sale has been agreed with a Chinese buyer, and that Saab is a chance to be ‘closed’. It seems closure rather than sale is still the Swedish media mindset for Saab.

The Volvo news, coming as uncertainty looms about General Motor’s decision to shut down Saab, also raised questions as to the future of Sweden’s auto industry.
Some of Sweden’s major newspapers wondered if Chinese ownership would weaken the Volvo brand. “Volvo: Money can’t buy everything,” read an editorial in Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “In mass-production China, there is a risk that the trademark will hollow out.”…..
……Dagens Nyheter’s auto industry reporter wrote in an analysis piece this week that Geely’s takeover was “a journey into the unknown.”

It’s not all just about Volvo, however.

Others speculated about the demise of the Swedish auto industry in light of the Volvo sale and the Saab closure. “Both Swedish carmakers Saab and Volvo are on their way out of Sweden. Saab risks being shut down and everything points to Volvo becoming Chinese,” public radio reporter Tommy Fredriksson said earlier.
“What’s going to happen to Swedes’ self-image?” he asked, calling Volvo and Saab modern-day examples of traditional “Swedish value.”

Tommy, don’t count Saab out yet.
If you and the Swedish media put some pressure on GM rather than just accept what you’re (IMHO, incorrectly) told is Saab’s fate, then maybe GM will feel a bit more pressure to make a sale go through.
Whilst Saab are working with GM on a plan for closure of the brand, this work is happening in parallel with negotiations for the sale of Saab to either Spyker or Merbanco/SwedishConstorium.
Saab can still live, and they can still operate in Sweden.
This isn’t the time to feel sorry for the loss of an industry, it’s the time to make some noise and do what you can to try and influence the decision makers. Here’s one way you can help, the other is to write/call the local media and get them to put some heat on GM.
Whilst the negotiations go on, there is still hope for Saab.

Tuesday morning snippets – Vale Jan-Willem Vester

My thanks to Eggs for the timely reportage of the passing of Jan-Willem Vester, the former PR and Communications guru at SaabUSA. I’ve added my thoughts on his passing to that entry.
Saab History has an excellent compilation of his career.
Saab’s had a difficult enough 18 months as a company as it is, but the passing of people like Rolf Jensen, Pat Moss, Bob Sinclair and now Jan-Willem Vester put a very fine point on the fact that like all organisations, Saab is a company that’s only ever as good as its people.
Jan-Willem was another one of those fine people and he will be missed deeply.
JWVandGripen.jpg
L-to-R: Jan-Willem Vester, Steve Shannon and occasional TS scribe, 1985Gripen
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GM’s new Chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre, is starting to come under scrutiny.
AutoExtremist Peter De Lorenzo is no fan, and CNN Money are asking why Mr Whitacre absented himself from answering legitimate questions that should be taken by a corporate CEO, especially when that CEO runs a company that’s majority owned by taxpayers.
Addendum – Interesting…… since that CNN MOney story appeared, an entry has been posted on GM’s Fastlane blog stating that Whitacre will do a webchat on Tuesday. Result for CNN!
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The latest story with Geely is yet another example of how news can spread in the automotive media.
The Geely guy is asked a question as whether he’ll talk to GM about Saab – note: not about whether he has talked to GM, but whether he intends to – and he gives the vaguest, most non-committal answer ever in the form of “Who knows?” and then all of a sudden every news service in town is reporting that Geely might buy Saab.
it started with DI.se (and don’t they love a good adaption-to-bad-news story) and went to Reuters, Autoblog, Automotive News, Autocar (where “Who knows” equals “admits Saab interest”) and a heap more.
The guy said “Who knows”. He didn’t even indicate that he was really thinking about it, never mind whether he’s actually spoken to someone.
It’s almost time for me to bring out the nudie-run promise again. The SU assessment is that there’s nothing to see here. And may the good Lord help us all if there is something to it.
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And finally some good and bad reporting:
Automobile do a good job of covering the Spyker interest in Saab.
Some site called Ridelust does one of the most appalling and factually inaccurate jobs I’ve seen recently, covering the Saab 9-5 at the LA Auto Show.

Thursday Snippets – I’d rather be at Saab than at Volvo edition

After looooooooooooooooooooooooooong negotiations, talks and interest from various groups in the US and Sweden, Ford have finally picked a suitor for Volvo.
The winning bidder is Geely.

Ford Motor Co., the number-two US automaker, said Wednesday it had tapped Chinese peer Geely as preferred bidder for Volvo Cars, its premium Swedish nameplate.
Ford, which announced last December it wanted to sell the loss-making unit, said that it would step up negotiations with a consortium led by Zheijang Geely Group Holding, but stressed “no final decisions have been made.”
The possible sale to Geely, one of the largest privately owned Chinese carmakers, comes as Ford struggles to restructure amid an ailing US auto sector that was eclipsed as the world’s largest by China in January…..
….The Hangzhou-based Geely said that under its bid, supported by Chinese banks, Volvo’s existing production and research and development facilities, union agreements and dealer networks would be maintained.
“Should a final agreement be reached, Geely will safeguard and strengthen Volvo’s world-renowned brand heritage, ensuring its continued leadership as a premium car company with a global reputation for safety and environmental technologies,” said Li Shufu, Geely chairman, in a separate statement.
“This is an important strategic step for Geely, signaling our commitment to Volvo’s presence in more than 100 markets around the world and building on our strengths in the Chinese car industry.”

As you may know, Geely were interested in Saab when they were up for sale, too. There may have been more interest from China, but the only two I definitely heard about were BAIC and Geely.
Let’s just say one group were listening a lot and one group were talking a lot. You can figure out which was which and you can decide for yourself which one you’d rather have as a corporate parent.
Maud Olofsson must be a Volvo woman as she said nothing about windmills in response to the news.

Swedish Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson said the news was “good, because the uncertainty has not been good for Volvo.”
“And we have told Geely and everyone else that we have been in talks with that we want production to stay in Sweden,” she added.

More power to ya, Maud. Literally.
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Saab seats are renowned as some of the best in the car industry, so you can imagine my surprise when I read this morning that a Saab had killed an ass (or a near relative of one, at least).

A celebrity mule which starred in a Hollywood film with Keira Knightley has been killed in a car crash.
Napoleon was with three donkeys that had escaped from their farm field in Mursley, Buckinghamshire in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Darn skylarking donkeys. Probably out looking for trouble, or a poker game at the very least.

The mule and two of the donkeys were injured when a car collided with them on Whaddon Road at around 6am.

Maybe the car was a test mule and got excited to see one of it’s own?
No.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said the driver of the grey Saab convertible that collided with the donkeys was not injured in the crash

A convertible? Lucky Saab do lots of moose testing as well as mule testing.
Rumours that Napoleon’s last utterance was “not tonight, Josephine – hee-haw” are yet to be confirmed.
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Former Saab factory driver and soon-to-be Saab 99T driver (again) – Stig Blomqvist – is currently south of the border driving in the 2009 La Carrera Panamericana.
Unfortunately he’s not driving a Saab, but a Studebaker. He’s driving it well, too. From what I can tell, Stig and his Venezualen navigator were placed in fourth position after 5 days of driving, and he was previously in first position after two of those days.
StigsStudebakerPanamerica.jpg They only have small shots of the cars on the website, but I found this small one on the Mexsports website.

There are a few other interesting cars there as well. I’ve procured a few photos from the event’s own website.
According to the results table, there IS one solitary Saab in the field though it doesn’t say what model it is and I haven’t been able to find a photo of it as yet. My guess would be a V4 Saab 96.
La Carrera Panamericana
La Carrera Panamericana
La Carrera Panamericana
There are also competitor photos at the site, though if I were this guy I’d opt for a more casual photo instead of sending in what looks like a police mugshot 🙂
La Carrera Panamericana

Swedes: how would it feel if Geely buys Volvo?

There are reports coming out of China today stating that Geely have signed a preliminary agreement with Ford to purchase Volvo.
From Auto Motor and Sport:

It is the English-language newspaper Shanghai Daily, which writes that Geely will buy Volvo. A delegation from Geely have visited Volvo’s headquarters in Gothenburg, and a preliminary agreement should be clear.
Shanghai Daily writes that Geely has plans to move production of the next generation XC90 to a factory in the city of Dongguan, Guangzhou Province, and refers to data from the National Business Daily.

A little more from The Local:

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Jia Xinguang, an analyst with the Chinese National Automotive Industry Consulting and Development Corporation reckons that Volvo would not be sold for less than $3 billion, the Shanghai Daily reports.
Ford purchased Volvo Cars in 1999 for around $6.5 billion.

For their part, Volvo are playing dumb on the whole issue:

A Volvo spokesperson told the TT news agency on Thursday that the company had no knowledge of any agreement to sell the Swedish automaker to Geely.
“Ford is in charge of the sale. We don’t know anything here,” said Volvo’s Maria Bohlin.

I know, as a Saab enthusiast, that I’m particularly pleased that they’re staying in primarily Swedish hands. I can only imagine there’s a bit of dread around right now at the thought of an even larger Swedish icon passing into Chinese hands.
So how’s the reaction over there?

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