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Saab owner Spyker cuts Saab 2010 sales forecast

Saab automobile owner Spyker Cars announced on Friday that it expects to sell 30,000 to 35,000 Saab cars this year, about 10,000 less than initially forecast.

Saab owner Spyker cuts Saab 2010 sales forecast
Spyker CEO Victor Muller and Saab CEO Jan Åke Jonsson at the Paris Motor Show

This reflected the impact of Saab’s previous owner, General Motors (GM), imposing a production shutdown in the first part of 2010 that was “not fully recoverable,” the company said in a statement.

Spyker has never made a profit since it was created in 2000. It reported a €39.6 million (371.2 million kronor) net loss in the third quarter, nearly 10 times larger than its loss in the same period last year.

Based in Zeewolde in the central Netherlands and listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange, Spyker bought Saab in January from GM, which was in severe trouble during the financial crisis, with the aim of relaunching the Swedish car brand.

“Saab has made significant progress since we acquired the business. We have forged important strategic relationships with BMW and American Axle & Manufacturing and re-established our global sales organisation, laying the foundation for an independent and profitable global premium auto brand,” Spyker CEO Victor R. Muller said in a statement.

Spyker said it sold 8,540 Saab vehicles in the third quarter, seven percent more than the previous quarter and 59 percent more than the 5,371 in the same period last year.

“Saab continues to see growing sales momentum, especially in our key markets, and the interest in our brand is growing steadily,” said Saab Automobile President and CEO Jan Åke Jonsson.

“The all new 9-5 has been particularly well received in markets around the world and we have now a full engine range available, while we introduced new diesel engines for the 9-3 range, delivering class-leading low-CO2 levels for model year 2011,” he added.

Spyker said it expected to continue to post losses for 2010 and 2011, but hoped to bounce back and be in the black in 2012, when it expects to sell 120,000 cars.

Jonsson said Saab will focus on much shorter product life cycles. In the next year, it will focus on two new market products: the 9-4X, which is expected to give Saab access to the growing cross-over segment, and the 9-5 SportCombi.

In addition, the company will launch the successor to the current 9-3 in 2012 so that two years from now, the new 9-5 will be the oldest model in what will then be the newest and widest ever product range in Saab’s history, Jonsson said.

The company’s priority for the fourth quarter and first quarter next month was “market expansion,” the company said in a statement.

“The target is to have agreements in place for China and Russia by the end of the year,” the company said.

GM owned Saab for 20 years, but the Swedish brand was never profitable during this period. In 2009, output plunged to 38,756 vehicles from 93,000 in 2008. Spyker bought Saab for $400 million (2.71 billion kronor).

Last month, Spyker signed a deal with German car maker BMW for the supply of 4-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged gasoline engines for Saab cars starting in 2012.

Spyker shares fell 24 percent to €3 in early Amsterdam trading.

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CARS

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
 
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
 
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
 
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
 
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.
 

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
 
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
 
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
  
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
 
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
 
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
 
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.