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Spyker chief promises new life for Saab

AFP · 2 Jun 2010, 13:04

Published: 02 Jun 2010 13:04 GMT+02:00

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"The most important change is now that Saab is an independent company," Victor Muller told AFP from Saab's plant in Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden.

Muller's Spyker bought the Swedish brand in January from US auto giant General Motors, which in nearly 20 years barely saw a profit from Saab.

One of the main problems in the past, Muller said, was that "Saab lost its Saabishness, its Saab-DNA, over the time of GM ownership. And that caused some of its loyal customers to walk away."

Under the US company, Saab "was a very small fish in a very large pond, so it didn't get [much] attention from GM, which definitely it required, and that's what changing now," he said.

Another problem the Swedish carmaker had faced, was that "GM waited too long to introduce new products," Muller said, pointing out that when production shut down before the sale in January, Saab was still producing a model that was 13 years old.

"That's about twice the normal life cycle," he said, insisting the brand, which is currently launching its new 9-5 luxury sedan, will need to renew its identity to win back customers.

"It's Saab that decides what's best for its future. What engine, what chassis, which parts, which components, which suppliers," Muller stressed, saying the new 9-5 is definitely a step in the right direction.

"It's what I call a Saab-Saab, a Saab that has the Saab DNA all over it," he said.

The Spyker chief has said in the past he hopes to see Saab's production, which last year fell to just 39,000 cars, soar to 120,000 by 2012 and hopes to bring the company back to profit within two years.

"The only thing that potentially stands in the way of achieving that business plan is a W-shaped recession," he said on Tuesday.

"We don't see it happening but that could be something that would put us off course," Muller said.

Story continues below…

Asked what he would do if his plan to reach profitability failed, Muller pointed out, "I started Spyker from scratch ... in 2000. We're in 2010 and Spyker is still to make money. Did I continue with Spyker? of course."

That, he said, is "because I feel Spyker, as Saab, will become profitable. If Saab for whatever reason was not profitable in 2012, I will continue in 2013.

"Will we continue? ... There is no way we wouldn't."

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Your comments about this article

03:38 June 3, 2010 by repat_xpat
What a freaking liar/hypocrite! The new 9-5 is a GM car, with great GM technology. How can he claim that the old problem was that GM did not let SAAB be SAAB, but the new 9-5 is truly SAAB DNA? In four months he has developed and manufactured a new car? He is not ingornat, he is intentionally miss-leading.

BTW: I had some time to evaluate the new 9-5 today. I was all excited when I read the reviews, but seeing the real thing is a little disappointing. I'm not sure what you get for the extra 10K EUR you pay for the 9-5 over the Opel Insignia (they are the same car, but with different "DNA"). I continue to be worried about SAAB's future.
06:09 June 3, 2010 by sweco1
A new great new life for SAAB in Russia?
01:58 June 4, 2010 by Scotsaab
I'm just back from driving the 9-5. It is superb. Insignia? Yes. But with many Saab elements that justify its badge. I can't wait to take delivery

Remember this is a halfway house car for the new Saab company. Don't judge them harshly. Give them a chance.

Technology for new follow-on models needs to be developed, and it will.

Some blog correspondents will never be satisfied. I am - and so are thousands like me.

The Press were impressed. Unlike some bloggers they've properly assessed the car, driven it over long distances and will shortly be driving them for longer periods on their home territory.

This is a good car. It has GM technology, but it's European GM technology and that's not bad at all. Professional road testers and commentators with thousands of miles behind them in many different cars around the world like it.

Saab GB has just been bought by Spyker. The empire grows - that's good news.

To the bloggers who "worry" about Saab's future - stop worrying. Apart from anything else there are far more able than you who can worry, and progress the company, on your behalf.
04:30 June 6, 2010 by repat_xpat
Scott, How much did you pay for your 9-5?
16:46 June 6, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ repat_expact

I have only driven the launch cars in Sweden - but will be ordering a 217bhp 2.0T on July 8 as a company car at just over £28,000 Vector SE with extras. Delivery September I hope.

So, do you have a Saab? How much did you pay for it? How did it perform in service?

The new 9-5 will be my 15th Saab since 1970 - I have driven them by choice and, despite owning Mercedes and Audi from time to time, found them all pretty reliable, although trim and finish jave suffered in recent years under GM.
03:31 June 7, 2010 by repat_xpat
@scotsaab, I had two 9-5's while I worked at SAAB in Trollhattan. I didn't pay anything for them, but I know the comparable US car was very expensive for what I got. Other than bad tires, the car's preformed well. However, I'm not convinced I couldn't get the same level of comfort and performance for a lot less. My 9-5 was a step down from my Pontiac Montana, and it was much more expensive. Both my Mercedes and Audi's were junk, especially WRT price. The SAAB was much better than either of those cars.

Are you a native Swede at SAAB? Why do you frequent English language sites?
18:41 June 7, 2010 by Scotsaab

Respect your opinion regarding the Pontiac, but my experience of US cars are not as good as yours - especially if you drive in Europe as I do. I have owned Mercedes 190E, 230CE, and SL280 (W129) and found quality only reasonable, but hardly junk. Saab ownership has included 96 two-stroke, V4, 99, 900 and 9-5 - all have been as reliable as the Mercs but with differens characters and driving feedback. I like both.

I'm Scottish by birth - not a native Swede but spend a lot o time there on businss as an automotive industry consultant.

Looking forward taking delivery. It's very like the Inignia in technology, but the Euro Insignia s not a bad car.

What I am really looking forward to is the new Saab'first "new" Saab - but that' stll some time away.
14:16 June 8, 2010 by spy

I very much doubt that you got to evaluate the new 9-5 'today' as the world's top media have only just started driving it in Trollhattan. Is this another exapmle of you being a fantasist, hell bent on bashing Saab?
01:47 June 9, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ spy

Sorry Spy, to whom were you directing your reply?
21:56 June 13, 2010 by spy
@ scotsaab

I was querying the first post in this chain where repat_xpat said:

'I had some time to evaluate the new 9-5 today. I was all excited when I read the reviews, but seeing the real thing is a little disappointing.'

I think his story is rather unlikely.....
00:03 June 14, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ spy

Thanks for that, but don't be too judgmental on repat_expat. He could have seen the new 9-5 at some of the clinics that Saab staged late last year. I doubt he would have had a chance to drive the car, but that opportunity will be coming soon - depending on which market he's in.

As someone who has been lucky enough to get behind the wheel during the press introduction, please be assured that while the 9-5 is not perfect, it is an exceptionally fine mid-range saloon. I felt some trim and plastics on these early cars were slightly disappointing but the car's dynamics, comfort and use of space were good. Crucially it also "felt" like a Saab.

There is much more to come from Saab. The 9-5 is something of a halfway house, but it's a viable new car that should satisfy selective buyers in Europe. Let's hope the next model will be purer still.
18:32 June 14, 2010 by spy
@ Scotsaab

If you read his quote it said 'evaluate the new 9-5 today', as we know clincs are taken well in advance of production of customer vehicles and also media drive events. I find it hard not to be judgemental of this guy as he has provided many questionable posts... And it could even be argued that he shows signs of being a fantasist.

Glad to hear your comments on the 9-5.
19:57 June 14, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ spy

Yes, I take your point - but we're surrounded by fantasists. Why give him the oxygen?

Like you I believe Saab deserves this chance: the car is good, better than many in its sector. Hopefully even better will follow.
03:33 June 16, 2010 by repat_xpat
You are silly Spy. The 9-5 is a great car. It is great GM technology! Perhaps I know more about SAAB than you could comprehend. You call me a fantasists, but maybe I do have access to the inside scoop. I have indeed seen the new 9-5, I know the car, I know the source code, I have written patents on some of the algos that it uses. But none of that matters to you, you refuse to believe truth, even when it spits in your face. The new 9-5 isn't worth the 10K EUR premium over the Opel Insignia. Its a great car, but there may not be enough people so stupid to pay 10K for a name plate to save SAAB. I guess we will see. To quote you " no go play in traffic".
14:30 June 17, 2010 by spy

You are hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
02:40 June 19, 2010 by repat_xpat
I'm glad you think so spy. That's what I'm here for: to entertain you and to provide you with great GM technology for your SAAB cars.
00:23 June 20, 2010 by Scotsaab
New 9-5 SportWagon later this year or early next; a 9-4X to follow then the first real "new Saab" in 2012 with the new 9-3. That'll be followed by Saab's first new small car - the 9-1 or whatever they decide to call it.

It's looking very positive.

All we need now is for bloggers to stop bitching and try and be a little more interesting.
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