A year ago, Saab Automobile CEO Victor Muller went his hard way to Vänersborg. The bankruptcy petition was the provisional end for vehicle manufacturing in Trollhättan. 12 months later, it's the opportunity to look for winners and losers in this very Swedish drama. The results are amazing ... it's a long article.
The city on the Göta Älv is at the top of the losers list. The loss of the largest employer was unsustainable and the loss of 3.500 jobs is a bad bloodletting. Young and highly qualified employees are now back on the job. But the older ones, who were busy with assembly, have no perspective. Retraining courses for elderly and nursing staff are currently underway. After 30 years of Saab, with petrol in his blood, as an employee of a proud company with a world-wide reputation as a nurse. We can only guess how man or woman feel about it ...
In 2012, Trollhättan received a “double dip”. The second largest local employer, Volvo Aero, was sold and has been laying off employees on a permanent basis ever since. The new British owner is mercilessly trimming the company for effectiveness, and Trollhättan has the highest unemployment rate in Sweden.
Winner: The Saab riders
There are no new cars, that's right. But that was already the case in the long months before the bankruptcy. Did anyone seriously expect new Saabs for this year? But probably not. If we still see Saab riders on the winning side, then there are two reasons. The spare parts supply has been constantly improving since December and is at a very high level. Insiders talk about availability of 2011%, which is Flurfunk and not an official statement. At the same time, other companies have identified Saab drivers as their target group, so that there will be interesting competition in the aftermarket.
Saab is now iconic, and driving up in a Saab is just cool. The prices for good Saabs from previous ownership are increasing. Well-maintained vehicles with beautiful equipment are wanted. If “Aero”, “Bio Power” or “Turbo X” is still on the vehicle, or if it is a convertible, then the value retention is guaranteed. Saabs are unusually stable in value, which should lead us to a fine smile when the colleague with his new Ingolstadt proudly parks next to us. On the other hand, it is a pure money destruction machine.
Loser: Lotus Youngman
After Trollhättan the loser at all. Invested a lot of money and the prey almost in safe hands. And then this disaster! The Chinese were repeatedly close, but have failed again and again on themselves. Sometimes they could not, sometimes they were not allowed to, because time and again the big brother from Beijing braked behind Rachel Pang and her father.
What has remained? A big loss of image, a nice million amount lost. For this you have received a few parts of the Phoenix platform as a pledge. In addition lost months, which brought a lot of work without result. Now the Lotus Youngman Story continues. With Victor Muller. Everything can only get better.
Winner: Victor Muller
Muller is just amazing. After the bankruptcy filing in December, hardly anyone would have bet on the former Saab CEO. Muller back on the winning side after 12 months? I would have wanted to see the betting odds! At first it was quiet around him, then he brought the Spyker production back to Holland from England. Agreed with his friend Antonov and the bankruptcy trustees.
He is now seen again and again in Trollhättan. What does he want there? We do not know it. He walks through the streets and is greeted with "Hej Victor". Nobody is angry, because Muller - it is believed - tried after all. Is it even possible to be mad at someone like Muller? He's just a totally crazy Dutchman who is now threading his next deal with Lotus Youngman. For actually very little equivalent, he filled his account and that of Spyker with over € 30 million. Muller is the comeback of the year!
Loser: Vladimir Antonov
The Russian started with great ambitions and was working on creating an automotive Disneyland. Spyker, Saab, then the rebirth of Jensen. In addition, a separate racing team and lots of fun. Of course, it also had to be the World Rally Championship. Then the crash. The allegation of money laundering ... it could never be confirmed, but it was never really invalidated.
Antonov is a plant of the new Russia. Not all the money earned there is considered clean by our rules. That was similar in Germany to 1945, only nobody asked. Antonov has this fatality. His banks were nationalized, the Russian a short time behind Swedish curtains. He is free again, but his big dreams have burst.
Winner: Saab Parts AB
The sparkling wine corks will be flying at the historic Saab headquarters in Nyköping at the end of the year. The step into independence is made, the financial bloodletting with loans to the insolvent mother is past. Secured the international sales network, revived the supply chain. The Saab Helpdesk in Trollhättan saved jobs at the former production site. Successful subsidiaries have been established in all major markets. In the minds of the brand fans one has successfully taken the place of the former parent company. This is what a success story looks like!
One is prepared for the future, interesting perspectives are offered. Because as a distribution specialist in the car sector is interesting for other brands. Much is possible if you continue to do everything right. Because the competitor is already in the starting blocks and also wants a piece of the cake.
The Americans are among the losers. Because when it came to licensing the products to possible new owners, they were simply clumsy. With the demise of Saab, they lost an OEM customer and license partner. New products such as the 9-4x and the 9-5 sports suit could not go into production and generate no income. If Saab had been granted a successful future, they would have been rewarded with increasing license fees every year. But as is usual in Detroit: what counts is the quarterly result and not the long-term perspective.
Not to mention the loss of image. But maybe that does not matter if the state is a major shareholder and you're kept on tax money.
Winner: Traditional Saab Partner
One year after the black day they are among the winners. The longtime Saab dealers who have recognized a new business model. Instead of new cars, there are now cult Sweden from previous ownership. These are processed and sold as if they were new cars. Or you can restore Saab young and old timers.
Partners who have recognized this in good time are looking forward to full workshops and order books. The pressure of the new car purchase commitment is gone. The margins for the used people are healthy and guarantee a long-term survival. That Saab becomes a cult, these companies feel at the base. They are among the winners, even though they are tormented by a problem with all the joy: where do we get cars from? Because there are too few good Saabs for too many interested parties.
Loser: GM partner
There are these car dealerships that have never understood Saab. Neither the brand, nor the customers. Well, there are exceptions, but they are rare. Most car dealers with the yellow outfit could not get the Saab-Greif out of the roof fast enough. According to the plan, the Saab customers should change to the Insignia. If not 9-5 II, then the big Opel would be the alternative.
Today, 12 months later, we know that the plan did not work. After the end of the lease, the Saab customers came, kindly gave their keys and their vehicle and changed not only the brand, but also the dealership. Or they bought their Swedes from the leasing company and drive today Saab.
It was not expected that Saab customers would be associated with their brand in this way. In the course of 2012, some premature errors were corrected. A service contract was concluded with Saab Parts and the Saab sign was lifted onto the roof again ...
Winner: Jaguar - Land Rover
Surprise? After the Saab bankruptcy, Saab engineers quickly found new jobs in start-up companies, some of which were backed by the state. These companies are doing well and growing vigorously. Sweden with the regions Gothenburg-Trollhättan and Stockholm has the highest engineering density in the whole of Europe, only the greater Munich area is comparable. Who do the best engineers in Europe work for?
It is not Volvo, it is not the Chinese. The English saved the Swedish auto industry, and depending on the source, between 33% and 50% of Swedish engineering flows to Jaguar - Land Rover. The British are our surprise winners.
Loser (provisional): Anne-Marie Pouteaux and Hans Bergqvist
If you start with high demands, you have to be measured by it. Anne-Marie Pouteaux and Hans Bergqvist were very ambitious to bring Saab out of bankruptcy back to the market. "We want to release Saab into a safe future," they announced. First there were weekly press conferences, then nothing more. Almost all of the auto nobility took control of the blade in Trollhättan.
The result? A lot of work, high costs. Maybe a small quota for the creditors after all. A minimum result with maximum ambitions. Because the actual result is called “NEVS”. The flop of 2012, and until proven otherwise, Anne-Marie Pouteaux and Hans Bergqvist are the 2012 moral losers.
We could go on with the list. But we are the real winners! All those who have remained loyal to Saab and did not sell the cult Swedes in the initial excitement. Or those who were newly infected with the Saab gene. We get into wonderful cars every morning, we are happy about the turbo boost, the great ergonomics and know that our family is safe on the road.
We do not have to write that we have a lot of fun with our understated cars from Sweden. We know that best ourselves. Every day ! With a smile on the face!
Pictures: Delphi (1), Saab Automobile AB (1), Svenska Radio (1), oliver for saabblognet (1), saabblog.net (5), GM