Friday Night Snippets

Time to quickly cover a few of the recent news articles that I’ve missed in order to give coverage of the convoys.

——

Autocar have brought some resolution to the story about 9-5 tooling that remains in Germany being shipped off to China on the 15th.

After that story broke, I fully expect that that shipping date was either cancelled or postponed by GM because of the attention it brought to them, but the Autocar story quotes GM Europe’s Nick Reilly as saying that the car could be completely scrapped if Saab isn’t sold.

Again, I’m extremely confident of my source on this story, as were Dagens Industri and Autocar themselves when it first broke.

The estimated charge GM would take in scrapping the 9-5 is between 100 and 150 million Euros.

Why take that charge when you could make money off it?

——

In a story from yesterday, unions at Trollhattan are encouraged by the fact that the liquidator at Saab hasn’t called them in yet.

From Swedish Radio, via Googletrans

– This could mean that GM does not speed up the closure process while you evaluate the bids of Saab, said Paul Åkerlund.

Take your time, Mr Liquidator. Take your time.

——

Maud Olofsson had an approval rating of just 3.1% in a recent poll at GT.se

I guess going on holiday to Africa whilst a major chunk of your auto industry is in danger of being snuffed out wasn’t such a good idea after all.

——

If Saab are closed down, one of the parts that will continue on is Powertrain. I imagine they will most likely continue to do work for GM, but one thing they’ll definitely be doing is continuing work for Beijing Automotive.

From TTELA:

While the issue of Saab’s future remains up for grabs, has some 90 engineers and technicians at Saab’s technical department and GM Powertrain mission to help Chinese BAIC.

– This work will continue regardless of what happens with Saab, “says Mats Fägerhag, director of technology development at Saab.

——

Andy Rupert, long-time friend of SU, blogger, Release Me remixer, Volvo sales guy and attendee at the Detroit Saab gathering earlier this month, recently picked up a little momento to show his support for a new Saab owner:

IMAGE_019.jpg

My dad ordered a Spyker patch for me as a Christmas gift. It just arrived today. Where would you put it?

I decided to affix it to my leather jacket. I really like the look.

So, please pass along the request to GM. It just wouldn’t be right if they lose the bid, ya know?

Sunday night snippets – Clarkson edition

Finally, just as the future of Saab seems incredibly black, Jeremy Clarkson gets to drive another Saab.
It’s a bit of a non-event, actually. Clarkson drives the Saab 9-3x and finds that it calms him down. He actually suggests that the British government buy the company so as to make British roads safer.
I think he found it a bit dull, actually but that’s Mr Powaaaaaah for you. Entertaining.
You can read it all at that link.
——
Is anyone else over the particularly American penchant for calling this a ‘saab story’, i.e. sob story? It’s an accent thing.
For me, it ranks up there with use of the word ‘quirky’ (it’s a long time bugbear of mine).
Fortunately, the Saab Stories going around at the moment are a nice rallying point in these times of need, and here’s another one from Minnesota.
——
The Stockholm News has a look at the political side of this whole story, and the threat it represents to the sitting government.

Minister for Enterprise, Maud Olofsson, chose to be present when the closing announcement was published on Friday. She has a difficult uphill battle after having spoken of Saab´s future in negative terms in the beginning of the crisis.

The fat lady hasn’t sung just yet, which means Mrs Olofsson and her crew still have a chance to look half-decent by assisting a new buyer if and when they come.
Those government meetings this weekend are pretty important in that process and I hope she’s had her thinking cap on.
——
I know I sound like an endless optimist and a broken record sometimes, but hold on to your hats people – this ain’t over and soon, you may be required to play a part.
DamagedSaabBadge.jpg
Saab is damaged, but it’s not dead.
Photo from Flickr.

The good Saab news from the Olofsson/Hagglund tour of Trollhattan

Maud Olofsson visited Trollhattan yesterday and it seems there’s a number of things to be pleased about as a result of that visit.

The Saab Czar

Firstly, there’s the unofficial appointment of Joran Hagglund as the officer within the Enterprise (Industry) ministry who’ll be spending just about all of his time as the government liaison in the Saab affair. Hagglund has been one of the main players in this already, being the government representative flown to Detroit earlier this month for GM’s board meeting.

This appointment clears his schedule of non-Saaby things, but otherwise acknowledges most of what he’s been doing to a fair while now anyway.

$85 million = more (electric) POWAH!!!!!

The Swedish government will inject singnificant cash into a project to further develop work being done by ElectroEngine, Innovatum and Saab.

The ElectroEngine Saab 9-3 convertible, running on electricity only, was shown to various agencies earlier this year and really does look to be some very promising technology. You can read more about the electric Saab here.

Shiny happy Swedish people

But perhaps the best news is the new spirit of motivation and co-operation that’s arisen from the meetings. There’s an article in the Goteborrg Posten that spells out some of the new developments. Hagglund’s new designation is part of this, but possible concessions on finance and some productive talks with the unions at Saab makes for some potentially brighter times ahead.

Börjesson provided a translation of the GP.se article for us, which I’ve reproduced here (thanks again, B!!)

——

The government may soften Saab’s loan conditions

– We’ll do whatever we can to bring about a sale of Saab, Maud Olofsson assures.

There is a possibility that the government may soften the conditions for a rescue loan.
But that presupposes that there is a prospective Saab buyer who asks.

– These are really tough times, and I understand that there is great concern. But today I’ve met with an incredible drive and will, and I think that could prove decisive for if this will succeed. We in the government are doing the best we can to bring about a sale of Saab.

So said Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson yesterday in Trollhättan after having met the management of Saab Automobile, IF Metall [a union], Unionen [another union], Sveriges Ingenjörer [yet another union], municipal leaders and the government coordinators.

No detailed information was given on how the sales process is doing. According to various sources, there are a number of serious bidders. At the same time, the government has given GM a clear message.

– What’s important is that GM hurries up to choose one of the bidders for final negotiations, so we can help in the process. GM can’t expect us and the EU to manage to analyse different bidders, said Jöran Hägglund.

He assumes that all the important negotiation work must be completed by the 30th of December, when the GM board are expected to make a decision about Saab’s future.

Jöran Hägglund says that no prospective Saab buyer has so far asked for a share of the government’s emergency loan, which is to help vehicle companies in urgent crisis. Five billion [SEK] have been set aside for emergency loans.

One reason that no one has asked for that kind of support, but only for loans from the European Investment Bank, may be the harshly critized requirement that the emergency loans be repaid within six months.

At several of yesterday’s meetings, demands were made for a change in the conditions of the emergency loans. The City of Trollhättan said that the government should grant Saab an emergency loan with “realistic conditions”. The government coordinators suggested possibilities for “a more active use of the resources set aside for the emergency loans”.

The government didn’t want to speak openly about the possibilities of a change in the conditions, especially since no bidder had made any such request.
But most of those involved interpreted the government’s reasoning about the emergency loans as if there is a possibility that the conditions can be changed if the need arises.

The unions stated that the loan conditions should be changed, since it isn’t possible to change Saab’s losses into profits overnight.
Saab’s business plan is based on a production of 60-65 000 cars next year. Towards the end of 2010, the yearly pace may increase to about 80 000 cars, but it’s only in 2011-2012 that Saab are expected to turn a profit. If the plan is followed, there will be a need for recruiting additional workers in about a year.

The union trio that met Maud Olofsson yesterday all had positive things to say after the meeting.
– The government’s change of attitude, the will to help, is the most positive outcome. All are now pulling in the same direction, said Paul Åkerlund, chairman of IF Metall.

Maud Olofsson arrives in Trollhattan

UPDATE BELOW

I’ve received a few holiday snaps of Maud Olofsson’s vacation in Trollhattan today. Here’s hoping she has a wonderful time there and leaves full of joy and optimism 🙂

It’s my understanding that after a morning full of meetings and lunch with various representatives that Mrs Olofsson will be holding a press conference at 2pm local time.

DSC_0051.jpg

DSC_0035.jpg

DSC_0034.jpg

——

UPDATE

I’m not sure what’s been said at the press conference with Maud olofsson, but there’s some good news out of TTELA, with the government appointing Joran Hagglund as their “Saab Czar”

The Googletrans:

A good discussion in which the government showed more desire. I think IF Metall Paul Akerlund on meeting Saab unions had with government representatives in Trollhättan, Sweden on Tuesday.

The compartments were including the promise of a contact person within the government.

IF Metall Club chairman Paul Akerlund was satisfied after around an hour long meeting, he and three other club chairmen had with the ministers.

– I felt that we had a good, hearty debate where the government showed a better, more positive attitude than before, “he says.

– The government now says it will contribute in every way to find a solution to this. It is a good message.

Concerns about the government people in place in Trollhättan think Paul Akerlund that he had some sympathy for.

– We should at least have the secretary of state Joran Hagglund as direct contact. And he will work with it day and night was their message. It sounds good because the most important thing is that there is someone that we and others in this process can quickly get in contact with to hear the Government’s view, “he says.

Some discussions of policy loans was not evident during the meeting with unions.

– We need to wait until we know who will buy us and what a new owner would like before we can talk about such things.

Paul Akerlund, who also is a social democratic politician, could be new president of the local municipality of Trollhättan next year.

– We’ll see what happens. Otherwise, I’m working on the Saab. It is a company with a prosperous future, “he says.

Swedes: if you want to have your say….

I’ve always been resistant to public campaigning because if it’s not done with the correct tone, you can actually bring some harm to the cause you’re trying to advocate. If it’s done correctly, though, you can bring awareness and even some amount of change to an issue.
Yesterday, I received a copy of a letter, in Swedish, that a Saab fan named Anders had sent to both the Swedish Prime Minister’s office and the Enterprise Ministry. I won’t reproduce that here (the Googletrans likely wouldn’t do it justice) but perhaps this is an appropriate time for those offices to hear some balance from Saab fans to counterbalance the poor eastern newspaper polls they might be paying too much attention to.
So…..
To the Swedes in particular – these are your elected leaders and the supposition there is that they are supposed to care about what you think as a Swedish citizen. They are supposed to listen.
Time is short for Saab to get a buyer on board and the Swedish government will most likely have a part to play in this transaction.
Therefore, i’d like to suggest you contact the Enterprise Ministry, which is headed by Maud Olofsson, and respectfully request that Mrs Olofsson ensure that everything that can be done to assist in a Saab sale, will be done.
They represent you. They need to know what you think. A large number of well-worded, polite emails may go some way to showing the Enterprise Ministry how much people care about this issue.
Click this link to contact Maud Olofsson via the Swedish government website.
——
Also, please pass this request on to others. If you’re a Saab fan and concerned for the company then there’s every chance that you know others who feel the same. Why not ask them to send a message as well?
Again, a polite and well worded message asking the Enterprise Ministry to re-consider the full range of things they can do for Saab, and the implications if this sale isn’t done, could go some way in helping.

Bard Eker appears on Norwegian Swedish TV

An interview with Bard Eker has just been shown on Swedish television program Skavlan. You can see the interview here (in some freaking language I don’t understand). Naturally, the conversation turned to Saab at one point.
Peter has been kind enough to provide a translation of one particular exchange (and thanks to several others who emailed me about it, too)
——
BarDekerSkevlan.jpg – Is there a (measuring with fingers) tiny chance that you will try again? Saab is not sold yet…
Eker – (smiling) Let’s see… maybe.
*cheering crowd*
Eker – Honestly, we haven’t been thinking about it, but we’ll see. Maybe there is a chance, maybe we will get a phonecall.
– So it really isn’t sure that you will not be trying to take the chance again?
Eker – Ehh… (laughing)… how long time is it left of the show? Could I use the phone? (more laughing from Eker, and sheering from the audience)
——
It’s interesting now that the Koenigsegg deal has fallen over that the Swedish government now appear to be pulling out all the stops to try and help with a Saab sale.
Maud Olofsson herself met with EU representatives today to press home the urgency of getting a final decision from them quickly on the satisfactory nature of the loan guarantees offered by the Swedes (this is a necessary part of the EIB loan process).
If Maud had done that three weeks ago, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now.
I retain my hope that Koenigsegg Group can come back to the table.

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.
——
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.
——
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.
——
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.
——
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.

——
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.

Wednesday Short Snippets

Quick photo-snippets to put you me in a happier state of mind…..
——
“Me” has written in noting the precedent for the Saab 9-4x grille bulging up into the front hood.
The Saab 9-4x:
Saab9-4xFront.jpg
The precedent:
Saab96front.jpg
I’m amazed this hasn’t been written about before, but I’m sure it hasn’t.
Thanks to “Me” (sounds very vain whe I write that) for the pics and pointers.
——
Sweden’s Minister-for-pessimism-and-spanking-bad-companies, Maud Olofsson, has stated that indeed there are a number of firms interested in acquiring Saab.

“There are a number of interested parties,” Olofsson told reporters.

But just in case this was mistaken for being good news, she also added:

“There are many who go to apartment viewings, but not everyone is there to buy.”

I’m not sure that it’s an applicable metaphor. Is she suggesting that some of these interested companies are just having a peek to see how Saab furnished the place? What they did with the bathrooms? The landscaping?
——
A guy named Martiini has a great little set of photos on Flickr from his visit to the Saab Museum over the weekend.
ErikCarlssonSml.jpg
——
And our very own Rune went to the museum on the weekend too, and was quite fascinated with the Paddan (the Toad).
This was a Saab 96, widened and fitted on the frame of a Saab 99 so that Saab could do some vehicle testing without people noticing it was a new car.
SaabPaddan.JPG
——
When you feel grumpy – LOLcats to the rescue:
DancingCat.JPG

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close