Rearview mirror. Many questions to Jan Åke Jonsson.

Judicial dates are the time of settlement. The opportunity to find answers to open questions. In Vänersborg there will be a lot of open questions starting in January. The last months of Saab Automobile AB are being worked up. Chief Prosecutor Sahlgren brings via DN in advance heavy artillery in position.

Jan-Åke Jonsson and Saab 9-3. Image: Saab Automobile AB
Jan-Åke Jonsson and Saab 9-3. Image: Saab Automobile AB

4,8 billion € loss over the years 1990 to 2010. That sounds like a lot of money and it is. A headline that is very striking. It sounds at Saab after a company that would never have had the chance of profitability as a hopeless case. But it is not even half the truth.

Saab financed the flops of GM

During GM time, costs were happily socialized in the high-tax country of Sweden. The Cadillac BLS project is a good example of this. The development of the flop paid Saab. Income, however, flowed into US funds. The development costs for other brands in the group, the construction of prototypes - that was booked to Trollhättan. How to successfully save taxes. In 18 of 20 GM years, profits with Saab losses could be expected small.

But the real big drama is the Spyker years. There are unanswered questions here, and most of all they will have to answer Jan Åke Jonsson. Since joining 1973 in various positions at GM, he knew the situation at Saab long before he was appointed CEO. He missed some bitter pills on behalf of GM before his years in Trollhättan, his relationship with Saab was not always relaxed.

Jonsson, an experienced, competent manager, stayed on board when Spyker took over. A buyer, without any financial backup, rushes to a brand with high capital requirements. And he stayed on board after the 1. March. The black day, when GM finally pulled the plug at Saab. No more deliveries without cash, that was the end. Because the allegedly independent Saab Automobile AB was still in complete dependence of the Americans.

Saab in dependence on GM.

The production control in the factory - a license from GM. Saab 9-5 and 9-4x, licensed by GM. Finished products automatically became the property of the GM financial subsidiary. The distribution network depending on GM; Efforts to become independent have stalled at an early stage. A person would have been assumed in this situation bogus self-employment.

The 1. March 2011 was the date of death of Saab. GM had the mark after two previous reconstructions so for the third time and especially finally taken out of the world. The question is why? Why now? 220 million Swedish kroner (23 million €) of liabilities can not have been the reason. What Saab produced went automatically to GM through a blanket assignment. The claims were covered, the least risk was in Detroit.

Bloggers back mirror
The view back. Tom's back mirror

But for Saab the decision was deadly. The dependence on services from the GM / Opel environment was completed by the long affiliation to the group. It was like suddenly turning off the power. Nevertheless, Jonsson stayed until the 19. May 2011 as Saab CEO in office. He, the veteran GM manager, must have known that Saab would not even have a chance in the medium term without a potent partner. That there would be no next month without GM in the background, no next week, no tomorrow.

2010 and 2011 had a rumor that Muller Saab should only have passed through to GM Partner BAIC. With a premium as a commission, of course. The rumor lasted a long time. Jan Åke Jonsson could have played Detroit's guardian on Muller's side.

That's the only explanation that makes sense to me. In January, questions will be asked in Vänersborg. Jonsson's answers are particularly curious.

24 thoughts on "Rearview mirror. Many questions to Jan Åke Jonsson."

  • I think they would be able to build without much development time. I mean the pendants that you hang on the clutch to transport something.

  • There are NEVS followers?

  • I do not believe in the story, but it would be a sensation. It's about vehicles on the CMA platform of Volvo / Geely, in a class where the Saab 9-3 is. All this is extremely speculative ...

  • It would be a sensation if Volvo-Geely helps SAAB back on the road.
    If, as described, new vehicles are to be sold in 2017, production preparations have to be made somewhere and prototypes have to be driven around. So far, the more compact Volvos came from the Ghent plant in Belgium. If the project “L” is to be manufactured in Europe then it will probably come from there. Has a spy hunter seen a prototype so far. Not to my knowledge ...
    Besides - Volvo would probably have to pay royalties for the name SAAB as well as NEVS would have had to pay at SAAB AB. Or is there an agreement between Volvo and SAAB AB and the price was artificially inflated for NEVS so the NEVS had to say no? This is currently not possible.
    If as described project "L" - cars should be more compact models, why should they be called SAAB? SAAB has never been in the compact class. Somehow that does not fit.
    What is actually with the brand name DAF? The Volvo 340 was originally developed as a DAF and sold after the nickname as Volvo.
    All this is too speculative. I think the whole thing is a big air number and there is not much to it. Maybe it's Volvo's mind games to increase production.
    As long as nothing is known, I hope for the rebirth by NEVS even if the old name is not allowed to be used anymore.

  • Since I have been forced to drive Volvo for almost a year, I can well imagine buying a Saab made by Volvo. Rumor has it that the second brand will be positioned below Volvo, but will not become a cheap brand. As in the VW Group, the ratio of Audi to the core VW brand. I think nobody would want to deny a VW a certain quality standard, or even VW as a cheap brand. If one ties in then in quality and above all design to Saabtraditionen, I believe with certainty the comeback of the mark Saab under Volvo and / or. Geely direction would be the better alternative above all after NEVS concerning the continuation of Saab history now finally failed. My Volvo is not a Saab. I would just call him a Conservative Saab, but I got used to him by now and made friends with him. And even at Volvo you can find some practical trifle that you will not find anywhere else. For example, the parking ticket clip on the windshield. I would like that rumor to come true.

  • ... clearly I did not mean that there could be a mass producer, but rather that established from Saab an innovative niche manufacturer who shows the big on some points where the hammer hangs. With CvK, his business acumen and his permission of independent solutions that would have worked well - with VM that was just unlikely but also because GM had built a strong emergency brake. I think GM pulled the plug just because they believe the part of Saab can be covered by Opel - and there would be an existing ex-GM subsidiary with a now mature and evolved 9-5 NG and 9 4 X with efficient turbo diesel certainly disturb. My opinion - especially when I look at the current prototypes with GG number plate here in the Rüsselsheim area so that should rank above the current models ...

  • Li Shufu would do a huge favor to the worldwide SAAB enthusiast if he provided SAAB vehicles worthy of the name.

    He seems to have a good knack and should also be very welcome in terms of naming rights - I'm curious if Geely makes something out of it. Meanwhile, but probably the last NEVS trailer are no longer sure if there really come cars that would be an alternative for SAAB cars!

  • Except for the speculation of a journalist who is very close to Volvo, there was nothing tangible about it. A "secret" presentation for handpicked members of the press was announced in early summer, but you have never heard of it. Geely is very present in Sweden, Li Shufu was in Gothenburg only a few days ago.

  • That would interest me too! Volvo allegedly calls it Project "L". For the Paris Motor Show (01.10.-16.10.) It will give new information. You can be curious.

  • Serious competitor?

    I think that is greatly exaggerated. There was no such fear at GM. I think the cause of the annihilation of SAAB is a much lesser one and is solely in the ego of GM managers. If one declares a brand to be failed, one also wants to be right.

  • These are two very interesting articles.

    SAAB's involvement in Swedish national motorization was a success story. But then?
    SAAB has never made the leap from the smart armaments company that brings to the market painted cars with residual paint after the war, to a car manufacturer.

    It always seems to me whimsical that SAAB automobiles have been around for so long. But nice that it is so. And nice, that was not already concluded with the 9000.

    For today's SAAB AB, however, it probably now looks the same. They had an episode of automotive engineering that ended with the 9000. The fact that you have renamed GM and VM naming rights to NEVS, is certainly perceived as a wrong decision.

  • JAJ as a GM guard dog to control BAIC's scheduled acquisition - that would actually explain a lot. And if only on the whole time at the Mine game in public appearances obviously strained relationship with VM, who had a very different dream with Saab. And: CvK was fully confident that Saab could succeed, knowing its business to date. He only withdrew the offer when he received the exact terms from GM. Unlike Ford, GM obviously wanted to make sure that no viable shell would be passed on, and that in the future, perhaps, a serious competitor would emerge. And so long before the obvious out of the development department moved from Saab to Rüsselsheim ...

  • Really good managers were there for SAAB automobiles throughout unfortunately in hardly a time span.

    These would probably have come only with a suitable investor on board - unfortunately only wrong decisions by GM or insolvency administrator.

    What is the current state of affairs with regard to the so-called secondary brand at VOLVO - should something move in the direction of SAAB?

  • Of course, everything legally, Apple earns in Ireland in the first place so only royalties, and somehow the licenses have just come there. It was already elsewhere (SPON or FAZ) that the Saab GM Group result (of course) was tax-optimized.
    But Tom's article, with the information about all of the license payments to Opel / GM, once again beautifully highlights why GM products have to die while former Ford products (Landrover Jaguar / Volvo), sold almost simultaneously, seem to have a future.
    Maybe you can say it like this: Without GM, the end might have come up probably earlier, with GM sure of that.

  • Of course, everything is absolutely legal. It was about lightening up the background. One always hears Saab would have only incurred losses. Precisely for these reasons.

  • I think GM also wanted to play the Opel game in Sweden. Additional tax savings and / or benefits at the expense of the taxpayer. Shifting costs in global corporations is common practice and (unfortunately?) Not a crime.

  • The information on "Saab funded ..." come, of course, from former employees who come back to the topic again and again. For GM, that was just the way to save taxes and eventually took over Detroit sooner or later, the balance of the accounts.

  • Thanks for the article, Tom! The two DN articles read like a thriller. However, I could read there nothing of what you wrote under "Saab funded ...". May everything be true and must not have been illegal (which you do not claim). Corporations are good at tax avoidance, as there are many examples.

  • After this complete failure team at SAAB Automobile at least the insolvency lawyers would have to deliver good work (the cash without end) - unfortunately, there was nothing with vision! Looking at your own accounts is still in the foreground.

    All actors (including SAAB AB) have left SAAB's global followers behind - but that does not seem to matter to them. But maybe we still have luck and NEVS puts adequate automobiles on the wheels - the other name would be no reason not to buy.

  • More exciting than Schwedenkrimis what was going on at SAAB in recent years.
    Unfortunately, without happy end ....

  • I've always wondered why JAJ does that to himself. His departure was logical and overdue and he was probably late. He also could not have saved SAAB, at most by the entry of BAIC, but in the spring 2011 has smashed. I would like to know the exact timing of things in the background.

  • Exciting ... That SAAB was repeatedly burdened with things that were made for other brands was known. The BLS was not present to me.

    @ Thylmuc: The BLS was foreseeable. Who wanted a compact Ami with Cadi label? No human!

  • That's tough stuff.

    Whereby the BLS was not predictable from the outset. So of course except for Europeans.

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