Sweden is on the brink of a wave of layoffs and bankruptcies. Every day, companies say goodbye to their employees, go bankrupt or rebuild. It's not just small, barely known companies. The franchisor of the electronics chain Expert has made a crashing bankruptcy with many closed branches, competitor Media Markt will handle its head office. SCA wants to save costs and do without 1.500 employees, the plant in Trollhattan's neighboring town of Lila Edet could be affected.
Volvo Trucks cut 260 employees, Atlas Copco is cutting jobs, Husqvarna is laying off 600, Ericsson 1.550 and the list is getting longer every day. A little over a year ago, in the summer of 2011, things looked even better in Sweden. The economy was in full swing, house prices went up, and the Reinfeldt government dreamed of a Sweden "of the minds", where nobody should get their hands dirty with hard work.
His “dream” could come true, as new economic data show. Sweden will lose 2012% of its jobs in 2. In numbers, there are 6.000 jobs that will be lost, especially in industry, where people get their hands dirty. It will get tougher in 2013, when 4% or 12.000 jobs will be lost, and it will affect not only production but also administration, research and development. The number 18.000 doesn't sound that dramatic to our ears, but Sweden is a sparsely populated country. 6% of jobs in two years, that sounds threatening.
The way Sweden dealt with one of its pearls - I'm now talking about Saab - this development is not surprising. Saab was a leader in fuel-efficient engines. Even with the greatest difficulty and with the limited resources of a small company, they were able to present environmentally friendly power diesels in the Saab 9-3. The new Saab 9-5 sports suit, with a length of over 5 meters and not an environmentally friendly car, but at home in the luxury class, would have set standards with 128 grams of CO2 / kilometer.
The government could have taken Saab under government custody and could look for an investor for this gem. Much know-how and even more jobs would have been received. Saab was a leader in certain areas. For example, with multi-fuel engines that could be used with E85 or gasoline engines. Or in the research on electric four-wheel drive in conjunction with electric or hybrid technology.
We would have been able to expect many thrifty vehicles from Trollhättan in the future, as well as other exciting innovations. Now we have to wait and see what the future holds. The fuel-efficient Saab 9-5 sports car did not go into production, but rolled directly into the museum.
2013 will be crucial for the Saab brand. Smoking chimneys in the summer or not? The fate of investor NEVS depends on it. If you do not bring together a supply chain that makes 2013 the production of the Saab 9-3 possible, then you will also fail 2014 with the electric car and many identical components. Because why should 2014 work something 2013 was not able to do? The truth can be that simple.
It was not just Saab who could not be successful with good ideas and economical cars. The Japanese small car manufacturer Suzuki has filed for bankruptcy for its US business. Fuel-saving small cars are not in demand, the Americans are still on ancient technology and large, fossil energy-destroying vehicles. The completed marriage to GM in US sales and the debt of the US company of 346 million US dollars do the rest. The adventure America is over for Suzuki's car division, but motorcycles and quads will continue to exist.
GM is still building the same cars for years, still under state custody. Average in design, average in driving behavior, average in consumption. Not very good, not too bad. Everything as usual. Also a bad development.
What is the other Swedish brand doing? Another quick look at Gothenburg where the sales figures were a little better than expected. Management is preparing extensive cuts. Fewer employees in production, new models are brought onto the market late and - but only maybe - the abandonment of one of the two new plants in China, where sales development for the brand was particularly negative.
The crisis has caught Sweden completely. Crises are also always opportunities to countercyclical invest. NEVS could use these possibilities. And how did a big Swedish business paper write about the 9-3 a few days ago? He was the Saab with the 10 life. We will see.