Jan Åke Jonsson supports Nils Liedholm Cup

Feature: Saab Automobile supports 2011 Nils Liedholm Cup

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile will support the Nils Liedholm Cup this year through a personal donation by recently retired CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. The Nils Liedholm Cup is an annual Swedish youth football tournament for boys and girls between 13 and 16 years of age, with this year’s edition starting on June 30. The tournament, named after Swedish football legend Nils Liedholm, is held in Valdemarsvik, a town around 200 km south of Stockholm on the Swedish east coast.

A young Jan Åke Jonsson (second from left) and two friends meet with Swedish football legend Nils Liedholm (right).

Read moreJan Åke Jonsson supports Nils Liedholm Cup

Tuesday Snippets: JÅJ and VM talk product

While we’ve been talking a lot about Jan Åke’s retirement, Vladimir’s intent to invest in the company, and how certain members of the Swedish press feels that Victor is the antichrist, we may have lost sight of what really matters– the cars. Consummate professionals that they are, Victor and Jan Åke continue to talk to the responsible members of the press about the business plan. They confirm things we already know, but also leak new details about the ePower lineup, partnerships, and drivetrains. Also I take a stab at playing angel’s advocate to Robert Collin and Co.’s devil’s advocate and speculate on another outcome that isn’t often discussed here– the ramifications of Saab’s success on production and partnerships (something I hope we’ll be able to do a lot more of soon).

As you can also see, I’m incoporating an introductory graphic as a quick visual representation of what’s covered so you can get an idea what you’re in for…

Read moreTuesday Snippets: JÅJ and VM talk product

Tack Jan Åke


On behalf of the entire SaabsUnited crew and community, we want to thank you for your incredible and tireless work ethic in keeping Saab alive. As CEO, you steered Saab through some dangerous storms but now it’s finally coming through into clearer seas. We couldn’t be more appreciative of your leadership, your strength, but most of all your sincerity.

We wish you the best as you embark on your retirement, and will always remember you as the CEO who saved Saab.


Tuesday Snippets – Saab corporate edition

UPDATE below.

There have been several good stories coming out of Sweden in the last few days. Here’s a round-up.


The Swedish press made a pretty big fuss last November over the fact that Saab had to pass on renewing 200 temporary workers’ employment contracts just before Christmas. Saab were managing their workforce according to their expected production rate, though it was implied to some extent in the press that these people were laid off.

Anyway, DN.se reported today that 55 of those workers will be employed again, and whilst the article doesn’t say when, one could guess that it’ll be pretty quickly. Saab need the extra hands on deck “to cope with production”.

30 of those 55 will be on new temporary contracts and the remainder will be permanently employed.

UPDATE: I received an email from Swedish Radio today, telling me that the employment arrangements were made before Christmas, so these employees are quite possibly already back on the job!

Great news.


I wrote a few days ago about a large Swedish employer, NCC, who had placed Saab back amongst choices on their company car list. This was a great show of faith and a tremendous boost to Saab’s potential corporate sales in Sweden.

Another large employer in Sweden, Alfa Laval, has joined them. From DI.se:

These days, it is [certain] that Alfa Laval make Saab into a selectable [brand] for their 1700 car drivers.

“I forbade employees to buy the Saab when only ethanol car was available, then it would [eventually] not count as a green car,” said Peter Bunke, global manager for Alfa Laval’s official vehicles in 56 countries.

With the new Saab models that [have come to] market, the Trollhätten brand is again an option for employees. The residual value guarantee that Saab dealers exhibited is crucial to Saab being an option for Alfa Laval.

“Of course, it is important, the residual value is the most important parameter, it is much more important than the purchase price, as we look at total cost,” he says.

I think there’s something in that for Saab and a few other markets as well.

1) Supply what the market wants. And 2) Everyone who has some skin in the game should take some measures to support it.


Teknikens Varld conducted an interview with Jan-Ake Jonsson late last year and the resulting article has recently come online.

Swedes can read it here. The rest of can benefit from one particular website that seems to take Googletranslations and pass them off as their own.

It’s a great background piece on a wonderful Saab guy.

Press Release: Saab Automobile and Fouriertransform in transmissions engineering agreement

Hopefully, in addition to driving down break even points and improving efficiencies, this new company will also provide some pretty decent transmissions!


  • Saab Automobile transmissions development divested to new company fully owned by investor consortium and staffed by former Saab Automobile engineers
  • New company called VICURA will focus on transmission technology development for the international vehicle industry
  • Next step in Saab Automobile restructuring secures more efficient operations
  • Agreement allows Fouriertransform to secure strong engineering base and further develop competitive edge for Swedish vehicle industry

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile is continuing to streamline its operations by transferring its transmissions development work to a new company wholly owned by a consortium led by the Swedish state-backed venture capital investor Fouriertransform.

The new company, called VICURA and to be formally established on January 1, will be staffed by more than 50 former Saab Automobile Powertrain engineers and will develop transmission systems for the international automotive industry, including Saab Automobile. The company will be headquartered in Trollhättan.

The agreement with Fouriertransform is the next step in Saab Automobile’s restructuring towards becoming a successful, stand-alone company and will make Saab Automobile’s organization operate more efficiently.

Announcing the deal, Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said: “I am delighted to reach this agreement with Fouriertransform. This step, together with other initiatives, will drive down our break-even point and improve operational efficiency as we work towards becoming a profitable, independent company.”

Per Nordberg, CEO at Fouriertransform, said: “The trend of outsourcing of transmission development is definitively increasing. For Sweden and the Swedish automotive industry as a whole, it is vital to maintain and further develop high competence within this field and that is exactly what these skilled former Saab engineers will offer as consultants in this competitive vehicle market.”

Remembering 18th December, 2009: Dagens Industri

A final entry with regard to remembering December 18. This information was sent through from a friend in Trollhattan.

First, here’s the front page of December 18’s print edition of Dagens Industri. DI’s web page has been particularly critical of Saab over the last 18 months, so it’s great to see them making some amends and giving Saab some of the credit they deserve.

The following is a partial transcript/description of what’s written there at DI.


The article starts with a description of the journalist’s – DI motor correspondent Håkan Mattsson – meeting with VM at the offices of Saab in Trollhättan in Western Sweden. “VM storms in to the room, stamps the snow of his feet and it is hard not to agree with former State Secretary Jöran Hägglund’s description of this mildly eccentric Dutch man: it’s like a kitchen fan entered the room.

Soon after, VM is joined by JÅJ, still CEO of Saab Automobile. He is as sullen and low key as VM is expressive, but what unites them is their stubbornness and determination not to give up. We were many that shook our heads at VM and laughed at JÅJ’s interpretation that every step towards the grave was in fact a victory. Even now, Saab is not permanently saved. Sales are down by 50%, important launches remain and there are question marks about investments.

But the fact remains – December 18 2009 Saab was closed, December 18, 2010 there are still cars being produced in Trollhättan.”

VM is quoted as saying that the company will not fail, even if it does not meet its targets next year.

JÅJ is quoted at length on how the company has been restructured.

The article goes on to the issue about Antonov: “Another person that is waiting for recognition is Vladimir Antonov, that indirectly is behind Spyker’s acquisition of Saab, but that has been barred by GM to be a direct owner in the Swedish company. The reason should be alleged involvement in criminal activities, including money laundering. But as DI showed earlier this week, two investigations show that there are no evidence for the accusations. VA is freed both in the report from US firm Kroll that was ordered by the Swedish government and the one he himself ordered from US firm IPSA.

VA: “I am not surprised, of course I am not involved in criminal activities”, he says on the phone from Vilnius, where his bank is located.

Q: Has the rumours affected you and your companies?

VA: Enormously. Following the publication of an article in your newspaper, our reputation was damaged severely. And once it is damaged, it is difficult to rebuild. I am in fact not sure how it can be done.”

VA wants to return as direct shareholder and is now trying to convince GM that they made a mistake a year ago.

“VA: We deserve to be shareholders in Saab”.

Q: What does Saab need now?

VA: “Dispel all dark clouds around the questions relating to who financed the purchase from GM. For these reasons, Saab is barred from all normal forms of financing in the capital market. But Spyker needs money to develop Saab, or the company will never be profitable. Take the small model, that needs 200 million Euro or it will never be developed.

Q: Are you willing to invest more?

VA: “I do not know. First, I must be freed from al accusations. But I still believe in the brand and the management of Saab.”

The article continues for another 3 pages.

December 18, 2009: the day Saab nearly died

It was exactly a year ago today that I wrote an entry entitled GM will close the Saab brand.

  • Saab Sale Cannot Be Concluded
  • Brand to be Wound Down

Detroit. General Motors announced today that the intended sale of Saab Automobile AB would not be concluded. After the withdrawal of Koenigsegg Group AB last month, GM had been in discussions with Spyker Cars about its interest in acquiring Saab. During the due diligence, certain issues arose that both parties believe could not be resolved. As a result, GM will start an orderly wind-down of Saab operations.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time. In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution,” said GM Europe President Nick Reilly. “We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars. We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner. This is not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process. Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers.”

It was black day and seemed like the end to what had been a 12-month roller-coaster ride.

Of course, it was not to be. Spyker persisted. Saab were sold and here we stand today with Saab designing, producing and selling new cars as an independent company.

I think just this once, on this one-year anniversary, that it’s worth remembering where Saab have come from. Accordingly, I asked a few people what they remember from December 18, 2009.

Their answers are below, as is my own.


Victor Muller – CEO, Spyker Cars, who was trying to buy a car company at the time….

It was hell. I got the message from Scott Mackie (from GM) late on the 17th that the deal was off and on the 18th, we had what looked like a complete collapse. Earlier on the 17th, everything was cruising along OK and we were very close to closing the deal. Then I got the call, with them saying they’d hit a road block and were going to close the company down.

I was livid. I was in total disbelief. I made as many calls as I could just to try and understand what was happening.

The next day, on the 18th, I was at Schipol airport waiting to fly to Stockholm because we were going to close the deal in Stockholm. GM were saying “were going to issue the press release today saying we’re closing things down” and I had to tell them “don’t you dare do anything before I get there.” That flight was the longest two hour flight of my life.

Of course the press release was written. Later that day, Jan-Ake went with the minister back to Trollhattan. I flew to London with Vladimir Antonov and all I remember is being completely and utterly wrecked. We’d had weeks of negotiations and hard work. We hadn’t slept. We just sat in the plane and looked at each other with hollow eyes.

After sleeping on it, I woke up the next morning and made some calls, basically saying that the only way to proceed would be to remove Vladimir from the team and he literally said to me “Whatever it takes”. This guy was a real hero, after going through what he went through that day, he just said “whatever it takes” so that the deal could be done.

That same day we revised our offer, removing all points of contention. It put a lot of pressure back on GM because there was a willing buyer still in the room, putting up everything that they wanted. If we were going to go down, it was only after having thrown absolutely everything at this.

The 17th December to the 7th January was a black time. Except for a small period on Christmas Day where I watched three hours of TV just to escape, I cannot remember a single good memory from that time.

Here we are, a year later. It was worth every sleepless night.

Jan-Ake Jonsson – President and CEO, Saab Automobile

I woke up in Stockholm as my mobile phone rang at 6.45 am. The day before was, as usual, late with work so I ignored the phone. 5 minutes later it rang again and I looked at it and the display said Nick Reilly (from GM Europe).

From there on it was a tough day, where the focus for me was around communication with all the people that had worked so hard for the success of Saab.

A tough day that I would like to forget.

Magnus Hansson – at that time, Global Product Manager, now Regional Director, Nordic.

Dec 18, 2009. A day I will never forget. Started out in eager anticipation as we were all looking forward to the sale of Saab finally being closed in Stockholm later in the afternoon. Exhausted after a long process but looking forward to a celebration, a Xmas break and then ready to go full speed after New Years with all the fun ahead of us.

In fact, we had planned a Friday evening year-end party with the Global Product team I was heading at that time. Little did we know just how much we would be needing the beers that night…..

When the news broke I was sitting together with Knut Simonsson (Director, Marketing) in his room and the two of us were bouncing new 9-5 launch ideas & pricing in great spirits (& creativity I might add). Obviously shock, disbelief, anger and then just an incredible emptiness. I felt the Saab spirit stronger than ever in the friendship we all enjoyed but after calming down, I guess all of us felt anger and a sense of unfair decisions & circumstances pulling the rug from beneath our feet.

It really was a lucky circumstance that we had decided to get together for a party that night as we certainly needed each others company that evening. Sharing with warmth all the fun times we had together and great stories on the brand, fun incidents, persons, cars, happenings and our careers. It really was mentally very final & definitive that night, and more as a very tired man seeing all the newspaper headlines the day after…..

On Sunday Knut called and said Spyker has a plan to get back in business and have not given up and that we have work to do in supporting them with due diligences and preparations. For the first day I was still kind of deflated and in the “Yeah right, this is really going to work….” mode but after another day I pulled myself together.

Seeing the dedication in the Spyker team and their commitment gave me back my energy, fighting spirit and revved me up again to do absolutely everything I could, and everything we as a team could do to support Jan Åke, Victor and Spyker again.

One incredible year later here we are with the first “normal” year since 2007 from start to finish ahead of us, brimming with opportunities to recreate and build up the new Saab!

And me, Swade, your Saab blogger.

I can’t remember much about the actual moment. Whilst it was the 18th in Sweden, it was 2am on the 19th when I covered that press release here, and I remember being pretty groggy at the time, then pretty mad as I listened in on a conference call held by GM.

I actually had a call scheduled with Victor Muller for later in the morning and that’s my enduring memory from this time. Victor was indeed as mad as hell. We spoke for around 40 minutes and the thing I remember about that conversation was the enduring feeling that the fight wasn’t over yet.

I had a four-hour drive later that morning for a family holiday but before I left I wrote the following:

There’s plenty to write about this whole situation, but that’s a long drive away from being done. The one thing I will say is that THE FAT LADY HASN’T SUNG ON THIS COMPANY. She’s in the warm-up room, but she’s not on stage just yet.

What a crazy time. Perhaps I was blessed that it all happened while I was supposed to be sleeping (not that I slept much, but still….)


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