Autogazette: Interview with Victor Muller

Mounting Saab 9-5 in TrollhattanThe Swedish car brand Saab is to be profitable again in the year 2012. Spyker boss Victor Muller talks about sales targets, new models and China's booming market in an interview with the car gazette. The interview is end of year 2010, yet interesting.

The Swedish traditional brand Saab is already in the year 2012 back in the black. "I continue from the year 2012 out, then we want to sell annually 120.000 units," said Spyker boss Victor Muller in an interview with the car galette. The Dutch sports car maker had Saab in February 2010 taken over by the US company GM.

The fact that Saab is far behind sales expectations this year is not causing Muller any worries on the road to brand profitability. "Even if we miss our 50.000 car target this year, we are still in our business plan." As 51 year-old Muller said, he expects sales of at least 30.000 units this year, ideally even 35.000 cars , Already for the coming year Muller expects due to the introduction of the two new model 9-5 Sport Combi and the crossover 9-4X with an upswing for the brand.

«Enjoy that Saab is a part of Spyker»

Auto Gazette: Mr. Muller, have you regretted that Spyker Cars acquired the Saab brand in February of this year?

Victor Muller: No, why should I? I enjoy it every day anew that this traditional brand is now part of Spyker Cars.

Auto Gazette: To what extent can you enjoy being the owner of a brand that misses sales expectations like Saab? Originally you wanted to sell 60.000 cars this year, now it will probably only 27.000 cars.

Muller: How do you get on the numbers? Our business plan provided 2010 with worldwide sales of 50.000 units. The reason we could not achieve these numbers was because GM stopped production at the beginning of January, so we were not able to resolve the issues with our suppliers as quickly as we had planned.

«We expect at least 30.000 units»

Auto Gazette: Which paragraph do you expect for 2010? In September, it was just around 18.000 sales.

Muller: We expect at least 30.000 units, ideally even with 35.000 cars.

Auto Gazette: With this number, Saab is far from a reasonable profitability. How long are the financial reserves enough to keep Saab alive?

Muller: Do not worry. Sufficient cash and cash equivalents are available to bring the Saab brand back to profitability.

Auto Gazette: When should Saab be back in the black?

Muller: I'm still counting on the year 2012, then we want to sell 120.000 units every year. Even if we miss our target of 50.000 cars this year, we are still fully in our business plan. In addition, many things will be much better for Saab from next year.

Two novelties in 2011

The new Saab 9-4XAuto Gazette: Because with the new 9-5 Sport Combi and the Crossover 9-4X you will bring two new products onto the market…

Muller: …exactly. These two cars will give us a significant boost and move the brand forward. For the 9-4X, I expect sales of 9000 cars in 2011 and 9 units of the new 5-17.000 Sport Combi.

Auto Gazette: They launched the new 9-5 limousine this year. Why does not the car arrive at the customer so far?

Muller: The 9-5er has been very well received by customers, but unfortunately, this car has suffered particularly as a result of the production shutdown in January, February and March.

Auto Gazette: How many units of the 9-5er do you want to sell this year?

Muller: Originally it was supposed to be 17.000 9-5er, but due to production issues, it will probably be 8000 this year.

Auto Gazette: In Germany, 9 new registrations were made from the 5-49 in November. So the car is practically non-existent ...

Muller: ... of course we are not satisfied with these numbers. The German market is a market in which we first have to breathe new life into the brand. With Matthias Seidl we brought a new sales director on board ...

Auto Gazette:... and the managing director position will also be filled.

Muller: ... yes, there is also a change at the top. Germany is an important market for us, but not the most important. The most important sales markets for us are Sweden, England and the USA. Here we make two thirds of our sales.

«Only small quantities to start in China»

Auto Gazette: You have just announced that from the middle of next year, together with the state-owned CATC company, you would like to distribute the Saab brand in China as well? How many cars should be sold there in 2011?

Muller: To begin with, we calculate in China with very small numbers, after all, the sales structure must first be built. That's why we probably will not sell more than 2011 to 2000 units at the start in the middle of 3000. From 2012 we plan to use 5000.

Auto Gazette: And what is the sales perspective in China?

Muller: We want to get on 10.000 units quickly. From this quantity it will be interesting for us to build cars in China by a partner. But that will be the case from 2013 at the earliest.

Auto Gazette: Which car would you like to produce in China?

Muller:We would first like to produce the new 9-3er in China.

Auto Gazette: From 2012, BMW Saab will supply modern four-cylinder engines. In which series are these engines to be used, exclusively in the new 9-3, which is to come in the same year?

Muller: Initially, these engines will only be used in the 9-3er.

Auto Gazette: You said that Saab would also lack a small car 9-2. When should there be Him?

Muller: Whether this car is coming, has not yet decided, it is also not part of our business plan. One thing is clear: if there should be a decision for this car, it can only be implemented with a partner. There are already talks with a potential partner. But such a car would be brought only after the market launch of the new 9-3er on the market, so only from 2013.

Auto Gazette: Is Saab able to offer its customers an electric car as well, thanks to its know-how and financial resources?

Muller: For the first time we will offer our customers a hybrid in the new 9-3er. In addition, we presented at the Paris Motor Show in October, the purely electrically powered 9-3 ePower, of which we build for the test operation 70 cars. After evaluating the test results, we will see if such a car will also be in production.

The interview with Victor Muller was conducted by Frank Mertens

Source: car Gazette

Pictures: Saab