It's been a year. The plant in Trollhättan was at a standstill; GM had commissioned a consulting company to handle Saab. The Saab motor press was written off, obituaries, sometimes malicious, were printed. Victor Muller, the Saab savior who came out of nowhere, seemed to most like a colorful bird of paradise. An ex-fashion man who builds exotic sports cars. Who would have bet on Saab at the time?
A lot going on in year 1 of independence
A lot happened at Saab in the year of independence. Not perceptible to everyone at first glance, but absolutely fundamental. The very opposite leadership duo, the rather calm Swede Jan Åke Jonsson, and the extroverted Viktor Muller have proven to be a stroke of luck. In the first 12 months, the basis for a new, slim, modern Saab automobile was created in an incredible effort.
The IT system in Trollhättan, GM-heavy and supervised by GM partner EDS, has been completely renewed. The supply chain, which no longer exists, has been rebuilt, and sales are underway with new dealer relationships in 52 countries.
At the same time, Saab was slimmed down. Own engine construction? Own gearbox? Not representable, i.e. get the motors and gearboxes from partners in the future. You could have bought cheap engines from French or Korean partners. But you chose one of the best as a partner and got BMW on board. The four-wheel drive and e-mobility development was brought into new partnerships.
A separate engineering company was founded that will also sell Saab know-how to third-party manufacturers. This is reminiscent of Porsche, at a time when Porsche was still slim and extremely successful.
New Saab designer works externally
Saab Design has an external boss who is only a few days a month in Trollhättan. For any other manufacturer unthinkable, the Swedes special ways love tradition again. Sixten Sasson, the famous industry and Saab designer, has worked externally for Saab for many years but has been very successful.
Geneva must have been a shock for the persistent doubters and pessimists at the latest. The Phoenix concept car took the show from all other manufacturers. The ready-to-drive technology of the Saab 9-3 successor is under the sheet. Electric all-wheel drive, double turbo, direct injection, hybrid - everything ready for series production. And that from a company that was almost suffocated under the GM cheese bell a year ago,
More importantly, Saab has been at the forefront for years, the Saab IQon. The Google Android based infotainment is the future in the automotive multimedia sector. Granted, Saab did not put the Anroid in the car first. That's what a Chinese manufacturer did last year. But at Saab IQon already drives in the factory fleet through Västragötland. And Saab is smart, develops IQon with external partners and releases the source code for other external developers who can then develop apps for Saab infotainment systems. That's how success stories begin.
Saab IQon anticipates the future
Imagine this constellation at one of the German manufacturers. External developers who develop apps, users who download these apps to the infotainment of their, let's say Audi, and configure the car individually. Unimaginable.
Saab is more present in the media than ever. The undeniable show talent of Victor Muller, the man who probably never sleeps, who drums somewhere for Saab every day, brings Saab back to the attention of potential buyers. Jan Åke Jonsson takes care of the further development with a sense of proportion and Swedish perseverance behind the stage and keeps Saab moving forward.
The muff of the GM time is gone. Corporate communication is open and friendly, the Saab Newsroom, Saab on Facebook, Saab Blog, all current media are used, Saab is again close to the customer.
The legacy from aviation, the Scandinavian origin, terms used at GM times, which were less and less compatible with the products, are credibly conveyed in the new products and in the Phoenix Concept.
But many open construction sites
So, everything done right? Saab made an incredibly huge step in the first year. Jan Åke Jonsson, Victor Muller and 3800 other Saab people have turned a disused company into a huge effort to create a modern, open company with great products.
And here we come to the Dillema. The Phoenix Concept is so promising that the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi looks like yesterday. And also, because the 9-5 is partly still from the GM era, but must earn money for Saab in the next few years.
Then there are the open construction sites. Serious gaps in the dealer network, especially here in Germany. The financing of a small Saab, which is absolutely necessary for the future of the company in order to get the necessary quantities, must be tackled. The situation with Vladimir Antonov, who causes unrest and wants to join Saab, should be clarified quickly.
Because Saab now needs safe and stable conditions. Saab is on the hopeful and promising path of becoming a small, innovative, individual Scandinavian manufacturer.
The first step has been taken, but the small Swedish company still has a lot of work to do. We wish you luck. Griffin Up, Saab!
Text: svenskatom / saabblog.net
Pictures: Saab Automobile