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Saab investors line up new meeting - reports

The Local/gm · 6 Aug 2011, 08:56

Published: 06 Aug 2011 08:56 GMT+02:00

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The Chinese firm raised the cash with a new emission of some five million shares, according to Expressen, but in the longer term, unions are hoping to see more concrete survival plans.

Although the company’s long term viability remains under scrutiny the news that the salaries could be paid last month at least was a relief. “No one wants this to happen again,” said press spokesperson Gunilla Gustavs.

“We want to see a plan of action for Saab Automobile can survive in the short term,” said union General Counsel Martin Wästfelt in a statement.

With many workers due to return after the summer break next week, the rumours that Pang Da executives are on their way to Sweden for a further meeting gives more cause for optimism. One report suggests that CEO Pang Qinghua is in Europe already, and is planning to go to Trollhättan for a meeting next week, while others say that meeting could take place as early as this weekend.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile at the plant, production levels are still low as the company gears up for the order from Pang Da of more than 1900 cars from Saab worth over SEK 400 million.

The Local/gm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:29 August 6, 2011 by GlobalDispute
19 days until another 65 mil SEK are due again. 1900 cars at 400 per day is 4.75 days of production. I would like to know the total cost it takes to keep Saab floating per month.
12:41 August 6, 2011 by conboy
This SAAB thing makes no sense they would need to sell a huge volume of cars for three to fout years just to recoup recent losses this has got to be a political pork barrel story but why the Chinese are involved I cannot fathom - the brand name is not any longer so signifigant to justift their involvement or did something get lost in translation?
16:05 August 6, 2011 by repat_xpat
conboy, you are right. A car company must have huge volumes to survive. One report in 2008 claimed that 5M per year was the minimum. I suspect the actual number is less, but it is certainly far above SAAB's best hopes of 100K.

China is really only interested in using SAAB to jump start their own local industry by copying the great GM technology that is in the new 9-5.
16:54 August 6, 2011 by Arcticeric
On the Good Ship Lollipop...

....and dream away on the good ship lollipop...

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19:08 August 6, 2011 by spy

How on earth would you know what these particular Chinese companies are after? And for your information Chinese industry doesn't need a 'jump start' as you suggest - is is already travelling at a greater speed than most other countries globally, including the US.

Perhaps you should show the Chinese nation a little more respect - particularly as they own much of your country....
20:34 August 6, 2011 by GlobalDispute

Well..... We all know deep down what they want. The Chinese need a name that is recognizable. They want to enter the market but have failed with their own brands as of yet. It only takes an IQ above 40 to realize long term that they don't need or want Sweden involved in anything. Please do the math for how much money is needed per month to keep them afloat. The number has so many digits you need a government to fund it. Maybe they could get Obama to come over and lobby for them!
21:34 August 6, 2011 by CurtInFalcon
The meeting could be to discuss the mysterious investor mentioned earlier in the week. A new investor would dilute Pang Da and Youngman's ownership which might require a new agreement. The worst case is that Pang Da wants to back out of the MOU since Saab's condition is so terrible. Whatever the case, we need to wait for an official statement from either Saab or Pang Da.
23:56 August 6, 2011 by conboy
My point is that Chinese manufacturers and designers are well capable at this stage of running and developing their own brands or re branding SAAB through their own financial and technological know how - simple really.
05:57 August 7, 2011 by funktron
Any number of Chinese automobile manufacturers would be well served to buy Saab at a bargain basement price. The Chinese companies want to do business (sell cars) in the U.S. It is very difficult and expensive to build a dealer network here----but if they buy Saab, the dealer network is already in place. Granted, it's not a strong dealer network like Ford, Honda, Toyota, Cheverolet, etc.----but it's a viable group of dealers spread around the U.S.----a very good start to say the least. They could rebadge their own cars as Saabs. In the worst way, the U.S. needs an entry level Saab to bring young people to the brand. Give it retro styling cues from the 1960's Saab 96 and make it basic and reliable----if it's not too late, Saab can still succeed with new models.
18:22 August 7, 2011 by repat_xpat

China's automotive technology must be further along where you are than where I am. What is your favorite Chinese brand? How close is your local Chinese dealership? How are their J.D Power's ratings?
18:31 August 7, 2011 by funktron
Repeat_Xpat: For example, the quality of the Buick products made in China is reported by auto writers to be at least as good, or better than, the Buick's made in the U.S. Better fit and finish, better attention to detail. In fact, the truth is that the U.S. made Buicks have imporved in the last few years to be as good as the Chinese made Buicks----not the other way around. The issue with Chinese manufacturing isn't their ability to produce a fine product----it's their ability to design and engineer. So if a company like Saab co-ops with them for the technical and design aspects, the Chinese can build cars very well. Their reputation for exporting cheap garbage is in the dollar store inventory---but they also make Apple computer products and expensive cars. Their factories are more than capable of quality output----it depends what gets put in.
20:13 August 7, 2011 by repat_xpat
Thanks for the info Funktron, but I was speaking to engineering, not manufacturing. Its refreshing to have a discussion without personal attacks.

The Buick's sold in China are engineered in the U.S. While the brand name is the same, Buick in China is a premium brand, while in the US they are mid-lux. They are not exactly 1:1. GM has been very reluctant to give the Buick engineering technology to SAIC (GM -China). The purchase of SAAB would gain insight into the engineering of Buick's, which are essentially the same as the SAAB 9-5. While Chinese manufacturing has the capability of producing high quality premium cars, they are still 10 years (or more) behind in Engineering. They are seeking to close the gap in less than 10 years by purchasing companies like SAAB and entering into partnerships with other global OEM's.
21:03 August 7, 2011 by spy

Your naive, short-term view and arrogance is why China is kicking your preverbal US arse. As US finances go down the plug-hole China's economy forges ahead. Patronise them at your peril.
23:45 August 7, 2011 by GlobalDispute

You are a tool. Repat did not demean the Chinese. Maybe your understanding of the English language is the cause of your problems.

If the Chinese actually knew what has been going on at Saab for the last 15 years then they probably wouldn't want anything to do with them. There has been no engineering going on there since GM came in. It has all been Opel or global platforms. Saab has designed some sheet metal to fit the global platform and an interior. Both teams heavily loaded with non swedes. Actually the new 9-5 probably had more expats working on it than Swedes. I would love to hear some more bullshit about the 3700 (Opel Insignia) following the 9-5. Completely opposite of the truth. Let's be honest Saab hasn't done any real engineering in 15 years.
00:24 August 8, 2011 by spy

If I was a 'tool' I think I would be a wrench - as I clearly have the ability to wind up nuts like you and repat_xpat.

Your opinion that the Chinese don't conduct thorough due diligence prior to investing millions is naive and laughable. You many not like it but the power is swinging towards the East and China is a major force to be reckoned with.

And FYI there was around 1200 engineers at at GM in Sweden (now Saab) , and a great deal of them worked on the Insignia as well as the 9-5. So to say that there was no engineering capacity makes you look foolish.

Finally you point out that both Opel and Saab have teams made up of foreigners - tell us something we don't know : )
01:13 August 8, 2011 by funktron
The reality is that Saab probably can't survive as a stand alone, independent brand. They tried---fought the good fight---but it's now the eleventh hour and the door is closing quickly. I am a fan----I own a 2004 9-5 wagon purchased new that has been a terrific car. When I was a kid, I loved seeing the old 96 and 95 models on the road in Pennsylvania. Saab can stay on life support a while longer with stock sales, real estate liquidations and anonymous U.S. investors, but there needs to be an end game----a plan to sustain them. To me, the thing that makes the most sense is a partnership with an Chinese automaker who wants to enter other markets like the U.S. It would be a bargain for the Chinese firm to buy into Saab and build an entry level model in China, for export. What would Saab get out of it? Survival as a brand and high end cars still assembled in their home market. It might not be an ideal arrangement, but it's workable and really, what else is there at this point? Who else can buy in?
03:53 August 8, 2011 by repat_xpat
Funktron, you are right on.

spy: Thank you for your entertaining commentary I'm sure you didn't know, the final calibration of the products SAAB (and the 1.4LT) was for was completed in Milford Michigan, not Trollhattan. SAAB couldn't hack it. This is part of the reason we ditched them. There are good engineers at SAAB, but the Swedish work culture has prevented them from being real contributors.

Instead of blaming America and GM, SAAB needs to reconsider its work culture. But I fear its tool late.
09:03 August 8, 2011 by spy

Your ravings over recent years suggest that you will be unmoved in your stance that Detroit is the best place to live and work and that the US are technologically more advanced. You clearly think that the US is superior in every way to the Sweden and China but you seem to forget that your auto industry had to be rescued by the US taxpayer taxpayer because it made crappy cars that people didn't buy.

Also why is it that you continue to visit a blog about Sweden when you don't live here or work for Saab any more? Perhaps you should ask your therapist.
14:19 August 8, 2011 by funktron
Repat-Xpat: I blame GM for not knowing how to market Saab in the U.S. Why did they acquire Saab if they had no plan to build on the brand, offer more models and give them a marketing push in North America? Was it just to offset Ford buying Volvo at the time? I don't know enough about the inner workings to know if your assertions about Saab's engineers and labor are correct----but even if you're right, that wouldn't explain Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn. It appears Saab wasn't the only GM division who "couldn't compete." And at least as of this writing, Saab is clinging to life. In truth, GM should have kept the Saab brand and filled their showrooms with restyled/rebranded Saturns that could be Saabs (i.e. the Sky could become the new Sonnet and the Astra could become a 9-1 or 9-2). The young people I work with in the Washington, DC area would consider a Saab, but no other GM product. I work with a girl who just traded in a VW Jetta for an Audi. She might have been a Saab customer----but you wouldn't see her in a Buick or Chevy.
19:36 August 8, 2011 by Streja
The SAAB factory in Trollhättan was the most effective one in Europe.
01:08 August 13, 2011 by repat_xpat
Funktron. Thanks for the polite and professional dialog. Your ability to disagree without personal insults is refreshing.

I partially agree with you, GM shares the blame with SAAB. GM has done a terrible job managing its brands, including SAAB. There have been several marketing decisions that hurt the purity of the SAAB name and hurt its long term prospects.

One of the reasons GM bought SAAB was for their turbo technology. Their turbos were among the best in the world and GM needed to integrate turbos into its powertrains to enable downsized boosted applications. Ford's purchase of Volvo also had something to do with it.

GM dumped Hummer because of its limited market appeal with high fuel costs, it dumped Saturn, Pontiac and Oldsmobile to reduce duplicate offerings. GM is continuing to streamline its offerings to reduce costs and improve quality and time to market. SAAB was also removed because of its duplication of products with Buick & Opel. Your friend may have bought a SAAB instead of an Audi, but there aren't enough like her. GM's in ability to improve the efficiency at SAAB was also one of the reasons it was cut. People at GM work with folks in Germany, France, Italy, China, Korea, India ... GM people complain the most about GM's inability to get work out of Sweden than any of these countries.


I don't know how to measure effective, but I do know how to measure efficiency. The Trollhattan plant was the least efficient GM plant in the world. This is not because the Swedish people can't do a good job, its because of the culture at SAAB and the work rules.
11:22 August 14, 2011 by spy

It was well known in the 'GM world' that the Trollhattan plant was the most efficient. This was partly to do with lower Swedish salaries in comparison to Germany for example. And also because GM spent vast sums on making the plant one of the most modern in Europe, capable of running multiple bodies on the same line.

Now why don't you write something that you can substantiate for a change, you Saab-hating, disgruntled ex-employee.
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