GM decision: Trollhättan loses out to Germany

The chairman of General Motors Europe announced on Friday morning that the prized contract to build a new range of 'mid-class' Saab and Opel vehicles has been awarded to the Rüsselheim plant in Germany.

The decision brings to an end months of speculation and uncertainty around the future of Sweden’s Trollhättan factory, which, with government backing, had fought hard to win the contract.

“Both plants presented compelling business cases but, in the end, the scale for this particular allocation tipped in favor of Rüsselsheim,” said Fritz Henderson, chairman of General Motors Europe.

GM said that the decision to build the new Saab and Opel models was based upon extensive analysis of numerous factors including capacity requirements, labour costs, plant efficiency and flexibility, working-hour models and currency issues.

The company believes that the Rüsselsheim plant will be able to substantially improve its productivity.

However, the announcement also contained good news for the Swedish facility as GM committed to build selected Saab cars there until 2010.

“We are committed to the Saab brand and a competitive operation in Sweden,” said Carl-Peter Forster, president of General Motors Europe.

“The 9-3 and 9-5 will continue to be core products for the Saab brand, and will be renewed. Furthermore, we will make every attempt to allocate additional future products to this facility.”

Earlier this week GM revealed that the new Cadillac BLS is to be built in Trollhättan.

The chairman of the Saab chapter of the Metall union, Paul Åkerlund, told Svenska Dagbladet that this was a positive decision.

“We’re keeping the operation in Sweden and we’re going to be increasing production,” he said.

“For the next five years we’re pretty certain about what’s going to happen. Most car manufacturers don’t know how things are going to be in three years’ time.”

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter


Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.