Motoring News: Cameron Gibson’s – Keep Calm and Carry on (Saab!)

This article is one which I hoped that I’d never have to write. However, that does not mean that it will be a finger-pointing article about who to blame, and nor will it personal, I shall leave that for a later date. Here at R&CC, we proved the facts.

Saab recently released a press statement; it stated that the company could not pay its workers’ wages. The deal with Pangda and Youngman Lotus failed to free up short-term funding for the day-to-day running of Saab as production stopped again. Saab has entered negotiations with various parties interested in the selling and leaseback of Saab property.

As Saab struggled to pay suppliers for parts, production at Trollhattan halted yet again and is planned not to restart until the 4th of July. The suppliers seem to be willing for Saab to repay 10% of the debt in order to get production running again.

As always, Victor Muller is working extremely hard to find a solution to Saab’s woes and is looking to the US for possible investment. However, the bystanders say that bankruptcy is a possibility.

Like Vultures waiting alongside a dead corpse, the press swooped in mercilessly, ripping Saab to shreds in the process. They blamed almost everything for the demise of Saab –and laughed while doing it. Sure, it is easy to blame someone, but there was some truth in their analysis. 3244 Saabs were UK registered between Jan-May of this year. This was an increase on 2010’s sales figures. During 2010 itself, Saab sold 30,000 cars. Put simply. Saab cannot compete with the Big German three in sales.

Product wise, Saab, again could not compete. In isolation, the 9-3 and 9-5 are great cars. But so often, buyers compare them to their rivals. They read the road tests, and compare prices. Unsurprisingly, the 9-5 loses out. The Aero 2.8t XWD model costs £38,625. A BMW 528i M-sport costs £37,700. If you are not a Saabiti, and you were looking for a fast executive saloon, you’d buy the BMW wouldn’t you? Saab priced themselves out of sales, and if you compare Saabs and BMW’s product line-up, Saab is heavily reliant on three main models –the 9-3, 9-4x and the 9-5- compared to BMW’s niche breaking nine model line-up.

The money from the sale of property –the old 9-5 platform- to BAIC has run out.  The 400 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank which backed Spyker’s bid to buy Saab from General Motors has run out –most of it was earmarked to fund engineering products such as the vitally important new 9-3.

In laymen terms, Saab and Swedish Automotive have no money. And with the production line halted, they cannot produce cars to sell. I said I was not going to point fingers, but when Victor Muller came to the Swedish Government looking for help, he didn’t get any, and Swedish Automotive shareholder, Vladimir Antonov was also firmly rebuffed too.  Does the Swedish Government care for Saab? Does it care that most of Trollhattan will go unemployed? They clearly ignored an industry which in their eyes which was not suited to Sweden’s future. In contrast, Germany helped their automotive industry, and it- as we all know- is very successful. Who knows what will happen, but something must happen, and happen soon. A solution must be found.

As Saab blogger, and enthusiast, Steven Wade once said: “Keep calm and carry on.” This is what Victor Muller is doing in order to find a solution. Can he pull it out the ripped, tired, scruffy bag? The odds are firmly stacked against him.

One last call for Saab?

The Saab 900 next to PhoeniX concept :An concept too far?


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