Rear view mirror: Lotus Youngman and the missed opportunities

The look back: Bloggers rearview mirror
The look back: Bloggers rearview mirror

Dreams have burst for Rachel Pang. The illusion of a global premium brand under Chinese custody is a thing of the past. It was not a surprise! The reputation of Youngman was ruined in Sweden in December, the relationship of trust reached a zero point. How could the strategy of the Chinese fail so grandly?

The start was promising and it seemed like a love wedding. The chemistry between Muller and Rachel Pang seemed to be right. One wrote SMS, was trusting. The NDRC signaled benevolence from the Beijing ivory tower. But Muller spurned the bride and bandaged with new partners. Hawtai was suddenly the favorite, and the Saab CEO had thus found another building block for his final failure.

From now on, the mood was characterized by distrust. At the super bureaucracy in Beijing, the warning lights went on, Saab was considered unreliable. After they had found together again, this time with partner Pang Da, it seemed to go further. But who had hoped for a quick decision, which was increasingly disappointed.

The negotiations were tough, both parties seemed to be looking at. The situation at Saab worsened rapidly, the production was no longer running. With ever new money transfers, the group was once saved from destruction. After the departure of Pang Da Youngman was then the last silk thread, which should turn out to be too little resilient.

In this situation, the weaknesses of a state-controlled economy came to light. Publicly, the NDRC Lotus-Youngman called for caution. The Chinese reacted and transferred only the necessary amounts. Saab was finally on the short lead of the investors, there was no room left. A much needed financial buffer did not exist.

The consequences were fatal. Not just for the image, that in the 2. Half 2011 was more and more battered. The employees also felt the consequences. Due to the bureaucratic process in Beijing all funds arrived late. Salaries could not be paid on time, the company was no longer months out of the negative headlines. In the Saab management frustration and anger grew over the partner. In Sweden Youngman was henceforth considered unreliable. A flaw that still clings to today.

The last transfer before the bankruptcy filing in December was not released by the NDRC because GM finally refused to approve the technology licenses. In a dramatic nighttime session came the end. Thus, the way for Victor Muller to Vänersborg was mandatory. Saab under Spyker's leadership was at the end. At the same time also Youngman.

The reputation in Sweden was ruined and if the Chinese had only halfway understood the European mentality, then any commitment would have expired at this point. Back home, write off losses, heal wounds. Instead, they went on the offensive. Interviews were given at train stations announcing that cheap cars would roll off the production lines in Trollhättan in the future. Every former Saab official, representative of a proud company, heard these words with horror.

Had Pang Quingnian even halfway reflected the pride of the Swedes on their brand, he would never have said those words. He just did not understand. Money is in some people's eyes synonymous with power. Who knows the NDRC behind, has an almost unlimited Dispo. A lot of money, so much power? Everything for sale?

Pang Quingnian and his daughter did not understand the European way of thinking. Neureich meets impoverished nobility. Money is not everything in life, it is mostly just printed paper. The administrators have the ability to listen very well. They took the time to listen to former management and other Saab representatives. They tied and bind Saab officials into the ongoing process, asking for advice. In the end, there was only one decision. The end for Lotus Youngman.

A state-controlled bureaucracy seems to guarantee security. But only at first glance. There is a lot of risk in the case of China. What if the Politburo decides to pull out of the automotive industry and zero all foreign investment? In the case of Youngman it should have been like that. The NDRC is no longer interested in the car industry in Sweden, and more focused on the environmental industry, is heard from Beijing.

A lame excuse for a battle of retreat to save face. Saab, Sweden - Youngman and China don't go together. The final favorite for the Swedes and the community comes from India. It should be a little gracious in some financial details. So you can hear. The administrators are now playing the card of a participating consortium to keep the pressure going. So far they are playing your game quite well. Chapeau!

Text: tom@saabblog.net

13 thoughts on "Rear view mirror: Lotus Youngman and the missed opportunities"

  • blank

    Good article.
    The first interested party is thus out of the race and it will show how it goes on.

  • blank

    Thanks for the summary of the happenings of the past months!

  • blank

    Personally, I think that the thing went long ago.
    Remember, the licenses for the 9-3 II and the 9-5 I have long since been sold to China. Does BAIC really agree that the Indians continue to produce the 9-3 II? For the 9-5 II and the 9-4, the licenses are GM and the right of subcontracting not known.
    The licenses on the Phoenix platform were also hijacked for loans. So what kind of vehicle should be produced?
    The only thing left is that the Indians (or whoever) produce their own model and mount the gripper on the front. But then that is no real SAAB anymore.

    • blank

      I would not see that black. Maybe something is completely new and maybe the new owner has a good hand in the staff. He hires former SAAB engineers and Spirit will live on. In addition Tom then in D embodied as a SAAB representative of the brand. Since nothing can go wrong. 🙂

      • blank

        Yes, maybe that could work. But it takes 3 to 4 years for a new car to be developed and ready for series production.

        • blank

          Even here in our “own ranks” there are always these black painters.

          New developments are definitely faster than in the aforementioned period of 3 - 4 years - especially since the new platform is already in a very advanced stage. So this point would not be a cause for panic.

          Much more important is that now finally the really suitable owner comes to the helm!

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            Yes, and please an exciting, serious concept! Otherwise, SAAB engineers who have migrated to the European automotive industry to secure their livelihood will certainly not be lured back to Trollhättan.

        • blank

          Hello people,

          I am a diligent reader of Tom's blog and can only say that someone has not really listened 😉 because for the Phoenix platform they “only” agreed on a technology sharing and this only for the base, so they have a bunch Paper with no useful value, it takes a few years to bring it to the Sa distance. The rights are still with Saab, the platform is still in Swedish hands. Isn't that right Tom, isn't it?

          Greetings from Switzerland

          Yves

          • blank

            Yves prefers it to be “non-exclusive”. 😉

      • blank

        Hello Frank. So far so good. But we'd rather leave that to the professionals who understand the industry.

    • blank

      Without one or two compromises, it will certainly not work ...

      • blank

        We are used to compromises from the GM era ... 😉

  • blank

    Up and down.
    But summarized by Tom great. Thank you.
    If you did not drive your Saab's every day,
    that would be unbearable for a long time.
    Greetings from Thuringia.

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