Engineers: ‘merge Volvo and Saab’

Representatives for thousands of engineers at Saab Automobile and Volvo Cars have proposed that the only way to save Sweden’s auto industry is to merge both companies into one single car manufacturer.

Saab and Volvo still have “complete development organizations” which can conceive, manufacture, and sell cars on the global market, write Magnus Sundemo and Håkan Danielsson in an article in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Sundemo and Danielsson both hold leadership positions within chapters of the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers (Sveriges Ingenjörer) at Volvo and Saab, respectively.

They claim that together, the companies have sufficient “scale for basically all components which go into determining a competitive manufacturing price”.

At the same time Sundemo and Danielsson reject the scale advantages promised by Saab’s and Volvo’s large foreign owners. According to the two, the potential gains were grossly exaggerated.

Sundemo and Danielsson instead suggest a common development organization for the entire Swedish vehicle industry – an organization which can protect against the loss of industrial competence, they hope.

They add that there are already a model programmes on the drawing board which Volvo and Saab could begin to manufacture relatively quickly.

“The search for a future owner must be directed toward a solution by which industrial know-how and capital generated in the Nordic region and where both brands are retained in a new, common company,” write Sundemo and Danielsson, adding they envisage several owners for such a company.


Sweden’s Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group was hit by a sharp drop in earnings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but business rebounded at the end of the year.

Sweden's Volvo regains strength after pandemic puts brakes on earnings
Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In 2020, the group saw “dramatic fluctuations in demand” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

For 2021, Volvo raised its sales forecasts in its trucks division – its core business – in Europe, North America and Brazil.

However, it said it also expected “production disturbances and increased costs” due to a “strained” supply chain, noting a global shortage of semiconductors across industries.

The truck making sector is particularly sensitive to the global economic situation and is usually hard hit during crises.

In March, as the pandemic took hold around the world, Volvo suspended operations at most of its sites in 18 countries and halted production at Renault Trucks, which it owns, in Belgium and France.

Operations gradually resumed mid-year, but not enough to compensate for the drop in earnings.

With annual sales down 22 percent to 338 billion kronor (33.4 billion euros, $40 billion), the group posted a 46 percent plunge in net profit to 19.3 billion kronor (1.9 billion euros).

Operating margin fell from 11.5 to 8.1 percent.

However, the group did manage to cut costs by 20 percent.

“We have significantly improved our volume and cost flexibility, which were crucial factors behind our earnings resilience in 2020,” the group said.

Volvo's business regained strength in the second half of the year.

“Customer usage of trucks and machines increased when the Covid-19 restrictions were eased during the summer and this development continued during both the third and fourth quarters,” it said.

“Both the transport activity and the construction business are back at levels on par with the prior year in most markets.”

For the fourth quarter alone, the company reported a 38-percent rise in net profit from a year earlier.