Saab News Germany: Frank Jaenicke talks about the future of Saab

The times are turbulent and exciting. Frank Jaenicke, chairman of the association of Saab contract partners in Germany, gave the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung an interview on the future of Saab in his view.

Frank Jaenicke has been a car dealer for 20 years. So his job is to sell cars. But for at least two years, Jaenicke must also be professional optimist. Because the Halle is Saab dealer. And not only that: He is also CEO of the Association of Saab Contracting Partners Germany. The top German Saab seller said a good two years ago: "I believe in a future for Saab." This was shortly after the troubled Swedish carmaker, which at the time still belonged to the US car maker General Motors (GM), applied for bankruptcy protection. Today the sentence sounds a little different: "If I don't believe in Saab's future, who will?"

Jaenicke owns a neat car shop in Halle-Ost. Sunbeams fall through large windows onto white tiles. Next to a shiny black Saab model is a black leather couch. "Saab still stands for elegance that does not look pretentious," says the dealership boss. The vehicle was also called “Architect Ferrari” in the old Federal Republic of Germany in the 80s. The Saab 900, which is still driven by many enthusiasts today, is legendary. Saab was at the forefront of technology at the time. The car manufacturer was the first to use the turbo, which is standard in many vehicles today. Above all, the Swedes achieved something early on that is important for all successful manufacturers today: an emotional bond between drivers and the brand. “Driving a Saab is also an attitude towards life that expresses freedom and independence,” says Jaenicke. “We have incredibly loyal customers.” Without them, the brand would probably no longer exist today.

Frank Jaenicke, (PHOTO: ARCHIVE / STEDLER)
Frank Jaenicke, (PHOTO: ARCHIVE / STEDLER)

Saab has not been financially successful for a long time. Even the parent company GM, the second largest car maker in the world, suffered losses for years. In early 2010, the Dutch company Spyker - one of the smallest car manufacturers in the world - bought Saab. A good 32 vehicles were manufactured in 000. But again and again the tapes rest in Trollhättan, Sweden. The entry of the Chinese car dealer Pangda apparently does not change this, which now makes millions available again.

For the German Saab sellers, the uncertainty is poison. Around 1 Saab were sold in Germany last year. According to Jaenicke, there are still 700 authorized dealers. Two years ago it was around 80. The sales figures are poor. Jaenicke sold 100 Saab at two locations last year. “In good years we sold 20 Saab.” Without the sale of cars from other brands, the business would hardly be possible any more. The downward trend is still down to the substance. Jaenicke sold his Magdeburg dealership in March. “We have to stay financially liquid. I concentrate on Halle. "

The car dealer has high hopes for new models. The Saab 9-5 station wagon will be launched in the fall. "The testers gave the vehicle very good marks," explains Jaenicke. Saab is also entering the sporty off-road vehicle segment with the new 9-4X. Both vehicles were developed under the aegis of GM. But is that enough to make the Swedish manufacturer strong again?

Renowned German automotive experts are skeptical. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, professor of automotive economics at the Center Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, says: "Saab has no chance in its current form." With a total of 30 vehicles per year, the cost structures are so miserable that production does not pay off. Even a larger investor does not change that. Competitor BMW produces almost 000 million vehicles a year. “The Saab brand is no longer big,” says Stefan Schwarz from the Center for Automobile Management. The reputation suffered as a result.

Saab dealer Jaenicke knows all of these negative assessments. And yet he and many other German dealerships are not giving up. They hope that Saab can survive well in the niche in cooperation with large manufacturers such as BMW. "Few other car brands would have survived the turbulence like in the past two years," says Jaenicke. “Now things are looking up again. The sales figures are increasing, ”says the car dealer. Or is this the job optimist speaking?

Source: Central German newspaper