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 the chief executive of the Association of Saab Contractual 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 ailing Swedish carmaker, which at that time still belonged to the US carmaker General Motors (GM), applied for bankruptcy protection. Today the sentence sounds a little different: "If I don't believe in a future for Saab, who will?"

Jaenicke owns an attractive car building in Halle-Ost. Sunbeams fall through large windows onto white tiles. In addition to a shiny black Saab model, there is a black leather couch. "Saab still stands for elegance that does not look showy," says the car dealership boss. The car was also called “Architect Ferrari” in the 80s in the old Federal Republic. The Saab 900 is legendary and is still driven by many enthusiasts today. At the time, Saab was at the forefront of technology. The carmaker 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 the drivers and the brand. "Driving Saab is also a way of life that expresses freedom and independence," says Jaenicke. "We have incredibly loyal customers." Without these, 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.

Uncertainty is poison for German Saab sellers. Around 1 Saab were sold in Germany last year. According to Jaenicke, there are still 700 authorized dealers. It was around 80 two years ago. The sales figures are bad. Jaenicke sold 100 Saab at two locations last year. “In good years we sold 20 Saab.” Without the sale of cars of other brands, the business would hardly be able to operate. The downward slide nevertheless goes to the substance. Jaenicke sold his Magdeburg car dealership in March. “We have to stay financially liquid. I concentrate on Halle. ”

The car dealer is placing hopes in new models. This is how the combi model of the Saab 9-5 comes onto the market in autumn. “The vehicle received very good marks from the testers,” 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 this enough to make the Swedish manufacturer strong again?

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

Saab dealer Jaenicke knows all these negative assessments. And yet he and many other German dealers don't give 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 such turbulence as in the past two years," says Jaenicke. “Now things are looking up again. Sales are increasing, ”says the car dealer. Or is the professional optimist talking?

Source: Central German newspaper