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Saab production lines roll again

AFP/The Local · 22 Mar 2010, 11:32

Published: 22 Mar 2010 11:32 GMT+01:00

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The body of a new Saab 9-5 began the slow process towards the end of the line bearing the text Saab 001 to symbolise the new start after the recent takeover by Dutch Spyker Cars.

Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller was on hand to receive a standing ovation among Saab staff.

Saab's new dawn created a buzz of media interest and Victor Muller and Saab CEO Jan Åke Jonsson were obliged to repeat their obligatory handshake over the bonnet of the new 9-5.

Jessica Karlsson, one of the fitters assigned to the first vehicle, has worked for Saab since 1996 and there were times that she thought she had built her last car.

"Yes, everybody thought so the way the situation was looking. But this is a moment we have really been waiting for and look forward to. It will be fun to get going again," she said.

Many of the Saab employees bore a badge with the simple message "I love Saab."

"All the assembly line employees have returned to work," Peter Backström said from Saab's plant in Trollhättan, which employs about 3,400 people.

Production had been suspended since the end of January on orders from General Motors (GM), which started to wind-down its loss-making Swedish brand in December after failing to find a suitable buyer.

But a last-minute deal was clinched on January 26th between GM and Spyker, a minnow in the car industry, rescuing the Swedish brand from closure.

Production consists mostly of the Saab 9-3 model, and of a few cars of the 9-5 model, a new higher-range model the carmaker is currently launching, Backström said.

Spyker said it hoped to produce 50,000 to 60,000 cars this year, but production of 100 vehicles per day would yield only 36,500 cars.

Story continues below…

The new owner hopes Saab will eventually return to its former production volume of between 100,000 and 125,000 vehicules per year and be profitable by 2012.

During the 20 years it was owned by GM, Saab never turned a profit.

Last year, the Trollhättan plant rolled out 38,756 vehicules, against around 93,000 in 2008, according to company figures.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:53 March 22, 2010 by freddiedave
very pleased with the news.I have just bought my first saab a secondhand 2004 9-5 and i have to say its the best car i have driven.

Many of my friends have really been surprised at the comfort and looks of a saab.

good luck to you all at trollhatan and the new 95 looks great too.
13:03 March 22, 2010 by xavidx
Cool. Im gonna have to take one for a test drive one day.

Honestly I never drove a SAAB before.
13:24 March 22, 2010 by Nemesis
This is brilliant news.

Long may it continue.

Good luck to the people of Trollhättan.
13:41 March 22, 2010 by Scotsaab
Excellent - just what we were all waiting for. Perhaps the doubters will now desist and let Saab get on with its new life.
13:50 March 22, 2010 by Twiceshy
Scotsaab unless the doubters were doubting that production would resume, I don't see how this news would make them "desist".
16:19 March 22, 2010 by GLO
Let me desist.. The root problems still matter. Mfg costs are too high, Market share wont grow on Hope.. Saab must!!! build a car New people DESIRE... Sorry,I dont see a new path...Leadership must bring a confident New Direction to the World.. The meter is running now..
20:21 March 22, 2010 by Marvino
A warm embrace to all SAAB workers and management on the occasion of the production restart. I bought my third SAAB in September 2000, and my daughter is happily driving it now. I will buy the new 9-5 as soon as I can test drive it and if the the price is right. Thanks God, SAAB is no longer in the GM club!!!
23:07 March 22, 2010 by Alma
The car I bought a couple a years ago was VW. I did not go for SAAB because it was in GM's hands. The next time I go shopping for the new car, SAAB will definitly be the car to check out.
23:21 March 22, 2010 by Scotsaab

Well it certainly didn't make you desist - you are still up to your usual game. What would make you happy? The failure of the new Saab?


I'm sure all at Saab will be deeply concerned by your observations, but would be wise to ignore them. Leave Saab's new management people to get on with what they do best, rebuilding a great marque. They have a difficult enough job on their hands without constant sniping. Creating a car "new people desire" can't happen overnight. Give them a chance and stop your rambling.

@Marvino and Alma

Thanks for a breath of support and sense. I'm with you and I'm sure all fair-minded Saab enthusiasts will be too.
23:31 March 22, 2010 by repat_xpat
Good news, I hope it lasts. The 9-5 will sell. Lets see what Spyker can pull off for the new SAAB. Good luck.
05:13 March 23, 2010 by mannorun
Now, they are happy, i wonder what will befall them in the nearest future when the financial reports are in red (as usual).
10:37 March 23, 2010 by Twiceshy
@Scotsaab: What do you mean my usual game? Did I say anything other than replying to your attack on the "doubters"?

But to answer your question, what would make me happy is for Saab to be profitable and successful. That's the complete opposite of what I expect to happen though.
17:48 March 23, 2010 by GREG FOLSE
@ Twiceshy: Go away already. You have no idea what you

are talking about. You are not an Automotive Analyst or some sort of card reader. The SAAB managment is the best in the world and dont you forget that.
01:56 March 24, 2010 by repat_xpat

I do wish the best for SAAB, but I can tell you the truth, their management is terrible. I truly hope that Spyker cleans house on the leadership side of SAAB so that the workers and engineers have a chance to succeed.
09:32 March 24, 2010 by Twiceshy
> The SAAB managment is the best in the world and dont you forget that.

Yeah that's why Saab got bought by another company, didn't make a profit for years and now got saved at the very last minute by a company which has a terrible credit rating and a reputation for being unreliable at paying bills.

It sounds like great management to me :P
12:43 March 24, 2010 by Tiddler
I give Saab two years at most before they run out of borrowed money.

Then the Swedish taxpayer will have to backstop the 4bn SEK losses.
15:05 March 24, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ Tiddler

No they won't - if that happens the EU will. In any event what's your evidence for the "two year" survival? I'd like to know more.

I can't believe the accusations of "terrible Saab management" from some bloggers. How on earth can you tell these things?

My experience is that they are every bit as good as the rest of this massive industry. Well qualified, very experienced and well-motivated now they are free froim GM.

Come on chaps, give them a chance.

The new 9-5 can be ordered today in the UK from under £27,000. That's keen pricing. Let's hope it translates into the sales they so riuchly deserve. In that way more funding can be directed to developing smaller cars. It's not going to happen quickly - but the intention is there.
09:49 March 25, 2010 by Tiddler

4bn sek gives two years of cash flow at the previous rate of sales.

A European bank gave the loan only on condition of a guarantee by Sweden in the event of losses.

It's not about bad management or even bad cars, it's about mathematics, there is a global glut of cars, and during the greatest boom ever Saab still couldn't break even, it's sales were at least 50% below break even.

I doubt that they will even achieve the previous level of sales, so the timeframe to another cash crisis could be shorter than 2 years.
10:02 March 25, 2010 by irishmark
I too really hope (and wish) for Saab to be successful under their new stewardship. BUT I agree that the clock is ticking quite loudly and the new management has only a relatively short period of time to return the business to profit. 2 years isn't much time at all in an industry where it takes longer than that to develop the next new product!

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got..."
10:35 March 25, 2010 by Twiceshy
Let me put this simply for the optimists to answer... In your opinion, what are the factors that will make Saab profitable in a suffering car market, even though they weren't profitable even in the good times?

I have asked this question a few times before and never got a real answer. It's always about "hoping" and "believing", businesses don't run on hope, they run on money.
23:25 March 25, 2010 by repat_xpat
The biggest risk to SAAB is if Spyker takes on the attitude of Greg and ScottSAAB: that SAAB's management is great and all of SAABs problems are the result of GM. Just as GM's leadership is being cleansed, SAAB's leadership needs to be cleansed so that its engineers and blue collar workers can have some hope. Irishmark's last line is right on the money.
21:47 March 26, 2010 by spy

Frankly over the last 18 months we have seen unbelievers like you eat their words and skulk away looking stupid. So fill your boots and wait for the 2012 profit when you will look like the illinformed fool I know you are.


In this case you may very well be partially right.
23:57 March 26, 2010 by bira
Build the Aero X and I'll buy it. Otherwise your cars have become boring.
10:10 March 28, 2010 by Twiceshy
@spy: I like it how you call people "unbelievers", it effectively underlines the religious tone of your belief in Saab.

As for your claim that I've been eating my words, that's not true since there has been no evidence or even indication that Saab is about to become profitable under Spyker's management.

By the way, did you see the report on Spyker's loss? How can one have faith in Saab's profitability if the only company interested in buying it is a company which has expenses 4-5 times as big as their revenue?
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