Friday Night Snippets

It’s almost Geneva time!!!!

I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but RedJ did eventually get accreditation and will be joining me at the show. We’re going to cover every darn square inch of the Saab stand 🙂 . I’m also going to do my best to empty Switzerland of its renowned chocolate, too.

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Spyker Cars NV has performed a revaluation of Saab’s assets, an expected move that will actually improve their bottom line for 2010.

AMSTERDAM, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Spyker Cars (SPYKR.AS), the loss-making Dutch sports car maker which acquired much larger Saab last year, on Friday said it had revised the value of its Saab assets to 132.3 million euros ($182.9 million), from 54.4 million euros.

It’d be interesting to know what assets are included in this valuation, given that Saab’s assets were used as a security for the Swedish government guaranteeing the EIB loan.

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Video from Teknikens Varld, featuring an interview with VM on Independence Day.

Hopefully it works (it took so long buffering here that I haven’t actually seen it yet).

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Volvo are dropping station wagons from their US sales range. Other European importers are doing the same. Saab will release their all new 9-5 wagon in a few months from now, which seems like serendipitous timing.

Edmunds.com, the online-car buying site, lists 115 kinds of SUVs and 92 types of crossovers but only 31 varieties of station wagon. Even that count is suspect. It includes a Ford Flex, which is a minivan in disguise, and the bizarre Dodge Caliber.

That quote is from a Yahoo Autos article talking about the demise of the wagon in the US.

I’m a firm believer that a good wagon, like a good car, can find an appreciative audience.

Thanks Peter G!

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Earlier this month I featured a glowing report about the new Saab 9-5 from a Canadian website called Cardriven.

The same site has now had some time behind the wheel of a Saab 9-3 fitted with XWD. And the review is just as glowing, even if it’s slightly perplexing.

The review seems to be of a 9-3 V6 with XWD, which hasn’t been for sale in Canada for a couple of years now. Yet the headline says 2011 Saab 9-3. Maybe Canada are getting something the US aren’t!

It’s confusing. But still a decent read. (The photos aren’t showing up at all for me)

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Speaking of OK reading, Paul Eisenstein has an overview piece on Saab’s situation over at MSNBC.

It looks like he’s been to Kiruna to have a drive on the ice, though he doesn’t talk about that much (might be saving it for another report.

It’s worth 5 minutes of your time.

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Independence Day coming in Trollhattan

It’s just a few hours away from being February 23 here in Australia, but over in Trollhattan they’ve still got a bit of time to get their Independence Day celebrations ready.

Saabs United has a man on the ground in Trollhattan – my good mate Dave R from England was heading there anyway so he’s got the invitation I couldn’t fill myself, and will be emailing the occasional update as time progresses.

What can Dave expect to see?

TTELA have a quick rundown:

  • Music and events, including presentations from Saab’s senior executives
  • 300 special car-inspired cakes (I hope Dave gets one)
  • Saab 9-3 Independence Edition Convertible
  • Saab 9-3 Griffin
  • Saab 9-3 SportCombi TTiD under 120g/km
  • ……plus, a little Djup Strupe has mentioned that there may be a sneak peek of the Saab 9-5 SportCombi at around 1830. Wait and see. Might be for attendees only.

    An Independence Day letter to all the Saab Employees out there – from one of your customers

    I’ve been busy finishing off a presentation I have to give to Saab dealers here in Australia on Wednesday at a function to celebrate Saab’s independence. That’s why there’s been no fresh articles from me tonight.

    Instead, I’d like to share a letter I got from Till72, a Saab 9-3x owner and good friend from Germany. He sent it to me with the express purpose of having it shared on site and I think it sums up how we all feel this week – happy and grateful to all those who have stood by Saab.

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    Bad news seems to burn into your memory much more than good news. I can still remember what I was doing as the wind down of Saab was announced, yet I can’t really say what I did when the contracts between Spyker and GM were finally signed.

    What I can still remember, though, is the big relief I felt as the message came through. After those weeks of ups and downs the deal was finally sealed and Saab could step into the future as an independent car maker. One big party around the world started.

    We were celebrating Victor, a guy we didn’t know anything about just a few weeks before, and one who had deeply impressed us with his tenacity. We were celebrating our efforts as the community played quite a role in the whole game. And we were of course celebrating the fact that Saab was still around.

    After the parties were cleaned up there were those questions: how big is the damage for the brand, what do Saab have up their sleeve for the future? We knew about the 9-5 and the 9-4x but it was also quite clear that there was quite a lot of work to do to bring Saab back on track.

    During such a rollacoaster of a sales process Saab could easily have bled out regarding manpower and knowledge. I don’t have exact numbers of how many employees left Saab during those months and I won’t blame anyone who had a good offer from elsewhere for leaving. We might have lost our favourite car maker, but the employees might have lost their livelihood. However, I got the impression that most stayed.

    So today I’d like to give a big, prolonged applause to the Saab employees. You’re truly one of Saab’s biggest assets, if not the biggest. In fact, you are Saab. You kept working hard through turbulent times to make sure Saab could start right through into the new future. And now that the future is there you pull even more rabbits out of the hat.

    Thanks for that.

    During the last year we have learned about of many great things Saab had/has in development even beyond those new models. Sub 120g CO2 TTiD, eAAM and a new 9-3 by 2012 to name just a few. It makes me quite confident that Saab has the capability to survive in today’s automotive landscape. That again made clear how much creative engineering energy there is at Trollhättan.

    Thanks for that.

    You gave me a lot of great Saabs over the years. Some gave me special memories, some of them got me out of tricky situations but all of them gave me a great ride and a lot of fun.

    Thanks for that.

    Every time I got to meet Saab employees in person or virtually, with the latest example being the Arctic Experience, you made me feel like I belong to a family. The Saab family. It’s more than just being kind to a customer, there is more warmth in the relationship.

    Thanks for that.

    So have a great party this week and celebrate yourself. You truly deserve it.

    Interview: Nils-Johan Andersson – Saab’s new finance chief

    It’s always encouraging to see good people willing to get on board at Saab. Yesterday, Saab announced the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer, being Nils-Johan Andersson.

    Swedish newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad has had a chat with Andersson, and Arild has been kind enough to provide a transcript for us.

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    Lindab Manager chooses Saab

    Lindab CFO Nils-Johan Andersson is the new vice president and CFO at Saab Automobile.

    Nils-Johan Andersson, 48 years old, will leave the Lindab Group after twelve years and become vice president and CFO at Saab Automobile. He describes it as a very difficult decision but it is a challenge that he just could not turn down.

    – When this issue arose, it seemed so exciting that I wanted to give it a proper chance, says Nils-Johan Andersson.

    – It is an exciting company with of course huge challenges ahead.

    He took the decision after having gone through Saab’s and the owner Spyker’s business plan. He believes there’s a future for the Swedish car classic.

    – Of course that’s my belief. They have reduced the costs to a level which makes it possible to make money when they sell around 80 000 cars per year. I consider the project as entirely feasible.

    Otherwise, you would not have taken this job?

    – No of course not. I had a fantastic time at Lindab which has a stable and international business. But this feels like a big challenge.

    He has his roots in SmĂĄland and says that the family moved down from Stockholm to Ă„ngelholm when he began as CFO at Lindab in 1999. Since then he has been involved in both delisting and relisting Lindab on the stock exchange.

    – We ran the company as private equity firm until 2006 when we relisted the company and have since built up a good confidence in the stock market.

    He has also served on the board of the ice-hockey club Rögle for seven or eight years, but he intends on leaving that position at the next annual meeting.

    – It’s been an amazing journey with Rögle and the new arena. It is of course hard to leave the board.

    When do you start in Trollhättan?

    – We have not set any date. First I must see to it that the transition is working well here at Lindab.

    The recruitment process to find his successor has already begun.

    Saab to introduce modular R&D and engineering systems similar to Scania

    A little more information is trickling out about the reorganisation of Saab’s engineering resources.

    This was first announced last month and yesterday we heard that staff are already being redeployed, with a number close to retirement taking severance packages.

    Today, a newpapers called DagensPS.se tells a little more, and the story leans heavily on one of Saab’s former siblings – Scania.

    The Googletrans

    The quest for profitability has intensified at Saab Automobile in Trollhättan. Now the company is investing everything into a new system – and the key figure is a real R & D legend.

    People Dagens Industri have met the men behind Saab’s new venture. The car manufacturer is now introducing Scania’s world famous modular system to which the magazine notes, “reduce costs, minimize development time and give customers more [vehicle varations]”.

    All to create a profit-making enterprises, despite small volumes.

    Truck legend Hasse Johansson, who after 10 years as development manager for Scania retired in 2010, is now working with Saab’s Mats Fägerhag to install new practices and systems at Saab in Trollhattan.

    It Spykerägda company is left alone in the car world to work in this way.

    “Saab Automobile can lower their development costs by half, and halve the product development cycle times,” said 60-year-old Johansson told the newspaper.

    During his time at Scania, Hasse led the development of Scania’s production system, which has become a world leader in the industry. If work at Saab succeeds, the costs of developing a new model reduced from 3-4 to 1.5-2 billion dollars. Much of the production of prototypes will disappear as more and more of the development is done using computer simulation and virtual tools.

    “It is more risky than working with prototypes, but we have become quite good at it,” said Mats Fägerhag to DI.

    Work is conducted in Saab’s most secret facilities. Fägerhag see no risk at all of Saab Automobile is going to get stuck in an “excessive fixation technology” which lead to increased costs.

    “No, I do not think. We will create the same balance between technology and economy Scania,” he says in the interview.

    Tuesday Night Snippets

    Another piece of small market sales data…..

    I’ve just heard there were 11 Saabs sold in Singapore in January 2011. Small numbers, sure, but considering they only sold 13 all year in 2010, it’s a very encouraging start.

    The Saab 9-5 was launched in Singapore on January 5 (and check out the interior panel!)

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    RedJ has made contact and is working on a story about this….. which should be quite interesting

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    Speaking of engineering, TTELA report that Saab’s engineering reorganisation continues. This was first reported via press release last month.

    According to TTELA, around two thirds of the 200 employees have been re-deployed to other areas within Saab. There are negotiations with employees for supported severance packages, which are mainly being taken up by those closer to retirement age.

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    It was nice to see the Playsam Saab model included in a WSJ toys article over the weekend…..

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    A red Saab 9-3x – otherwise known as my current dreamSaab.

    Owned by Stefan, who’s loving the XWD system in the Swedish winter.

    click.

    Saab Independence Day in THN – who’s going?

    Saab have announced a celebration event happening in Trollhattan to commemorate one year since being bought by Spyker Cars.

    The Saab media page…..

    Exactly one year after the sale of Saab Automobile was completed, employees will celebrate Saab’s first year of independence with an afternoon of presentations, awards and entertainment.

    ….and the Facebook page both give the smallest insight as to what’s happening:

    On the 23rd of February we celebrate Saab’s one year anniversary as an independent car manufacturer. Want to join in on the virtual celebration? Just click attend the event, and stay posted here on the Page. Exciting things to come.

    Click here to stay updated on the Facebook page.

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    Exactly what this event will entail is still shrouded in mystery, however we have received some clues already.

    Saab’s Geneva preview site indicates that there will be two premieres on the 23rd of February:

    • The Independence Edition Saab 9-3 Convertible
    • The Saab 9-3 Griffin range

    So that’s something to look forward to. I’m not sure where those premieres will take place, but the Saab Museum might be a good bet.

    Which leads us to ask the question – who’s going to be there?

    I’ll bet all the Trollhattan locals who tune in here will be on site and I’ve got at least one mate from England who’s going to make his annual pilgrimage for this event. Anyone else heading along?

    I wish I could make it there myself, but I’ve been commandeered by Saab Oz to do a presentation for their new dealer body as to what happened a year ago and the role that you all played in it 🙂

    Saab PR win European Excellence Award

    Sometimes you just don’t appreciate how much work someone’s doing until someone points it out to you.

    Like Saab PR.

    Many companies farm out their PR to agencies, or at least have huge amounts of agency advice guiding their way. I’m on the record here at SU saying that Koenigsegg’s PR agency got money for nothing during the Saab sale because they absically advised Koenigsegg Group to do nothing, say nothing, all whilst the press in Sweden beat them around the ears on a daily basis.

    Such is the importance of the PR team and the way they keep corporate communications on message.

    At Saab, their efforts during the sale process were super-human, all the more because it was essentially a very small team from within the company doing all the work. I was bugging these folks several times a week and they were always happy to talk, confirm, deny, enlighten or straighten out a story.

    Their ability to keep the right story in focus and get the right people in front of the press at the right time has now been rewarded. From the Trollhattan blog at Saab Media:

    Our coordinated efforts to maintain an open, proactive approach to public relations, without agency support, during what turned out to be a protracted period of uncertainty, have now been recognized by the communications industry in the 2010 European Excellence Awards. We’ve received the award for outstanding achievement in the Crisis Communications category.

    It’s always satisfying to win awards, but it’s even more rewarding to know we’re keeping our media colleagues in the loop.

    Here’s an insight into how much of a family Saab is.

    My first contact with Saab PR was with a brilliant guy named Christer Nilsson. He retired around three years ago.

    Anyway, during the sale process, I remember there was one particular day when something huge happened. There were so many huge events that year that I can’t remember exactly which one it was. Saab knew it was going to be huge, though, so they had to have some phones ready with experienced people on the other end.

    I called to get some details on whatever-the-story-was and who did I get on the phone? None other than Christer himself, who came into the office in order to help meet the demand for information.

    Congratulations to Saab’s PR team for winning this award. It’s well deserved and shows what a tight, dedicated team can achieve.

    And I hope Joe Oliver is raising a glass there in England, too. He left Saab a few months ago to form his own consultancy back home but was a huge part of Saab’s journey in 2009.

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