“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.
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.”