Saab production lines roll again

Saab production lines roll again
At exactly 9.17am on Monday, Saab Automobile's production director Gunnar Brunius cut the yellow ribbon to restart the production lines at the firm's Trollhättan factory.

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.

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.

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