Saab and Trollhättan are closely linked. The Saab plant is something of Trollhättan's economic heart. If it fails, then the city is fine too. If it gets out of step or if it stops, the warning lights go on in Trollhättan. In the summer of 2010, during the Saab Festival, I was at work with friend Marco, and we saw a new Saab 9-5 leave the factory after another. The factory growled dully, like a mighty, big organism.
Still the future seemed in the friendly light. But that should change soon. On my next visit, it was 2011 in October, was already stoppage in the stallbacka.
No production, but still activity. The flags with the griffin blew in the wind, a welcome greeting for the visitors. The staff parking lot had largely emptied, but behind the facades was still working. There was light in the offices, in the design studio and the experimental departments was hustle and bustle.
Again and again, a test vehicle left the factory, and in the background a permanent noise was heard. The large organism, a year ago still dominant growling like a being from a distant galaxy, had arrived in stand-by mode. Trollhättan had already sounded the alarm bells at this time.
The situation in April 2012 is completely changed. Above the Saab area in the Stallbacka is a ghostly silence. The flagpoles, stripped of their proud Saab flags, stretch like an accusing memorial into the sky. The parking lots around the factory premises are deserted. At the main entrance is a Securitas vehicle, a lonely guard holds the position.
He is not interested in us yet. But that will change in the next 30 minutes.
No light in the offices, no movement on the premises. The stock of new cars is close to zero. In the parking lot is a collection of former works cars. Few new Saab 9-3 sportswear, mostly in a linear design, in white or red, maybe the Denmark Edition, stand around as the last leftovers.
On the whole area we find two or three forgotten Griffin models. A solitary Jubilee Cabriolet is waiting for its new owner.
In the middle of the big terrain is a collection of former test cars and disguised vehicles. The two Saab 9-5 limousines in the Tarn-Trim, two years ago in the opposite car park at home, still exist. Several Cadillac BLS, also this part of the history, plus a taped Saab 9-4x test car.
A little further away are covered vehicles with tarpaulins. What is hidden under it?
The tour around the plant is bleak. The temperature on this Swedish morning is around 4 degrees, and there will be a rain shower from time to time. The weather is compatible with our mood. At the north gate is the entrance for the press.
Blogger is the press, right? Nevertheless, no one is there, not even a security guard.
Only the Securitas man is getting nervous. Two strange guys in black jackets with a camera and a telephoto lens. One of them with short hair. In the Skoda Yeti he circles around us like a sputnik around the earth. We break off, do not want to alarm the security guard.
Come back in the evening. Run our last route from the north gate along the airfield. See some bodies, a few Cadillac BLS station wagons. On the parking lots first green comes through the brittle asphalt. We ask ourselves what will become of this huge complex. Press shop, paint shops, assembly lines. What should you do here except build cars?
Every auto supplier would get lost in the huge area. A technology park? How come ? Many buildings can only be used for car production. An expensive demolition makes things uninteresting. Trollhättan and the real estate investor have a huge problem if it does not go on.
It is Saturday evening. Now the silence around the work is palpable. Only a few wild geese take their train, settle down in the meadow at the factory. Nature is in harmony with the huge complex. Seagulls sit on the surveillance cameras and look at us suspiciously. The big organism, two years ago still buzzing dominant, he is now quite calm.
As a farewell, the last question arises: Does he only sleep or is he dead? We'll be back, that's promised. We will be back by the autumn at the latest. Then we will find the answer.