Exactly 5 years ago today was the darkest day in Saab history. The first clues reached Mark and I shortly before 9 a.m., a little later it was certain. Victor Muller made his way to Vänersborg to bankruptcy petition for the Saab Automobile AB.
If I review this day, 5 years later, then a few things have particularly stuck in my mind. There was the last conference call with Victor Muller. At this point - at the height of the crisis - the Saab blogs were very closely involved in what was happening. It was about avoiding misinformation and providing first-hand facts.
In the afternoon of the 19. In December, Muller held his last international conference call. The Saab leadership team and he was visibly battered and at the end of their strength arrived. Nevertheless, at the end there were words that should provide comfort and hope.
Swedish bankruptcy law, according to VM, allows companies to come back to the market after the procedure. There was hope among the staff. There had been Christmas crises again and again in Saab's recent history. The employees left their offices intending to return to work in January.
At the Saab branch in Frankfurt, the Saab Germany team had set up provisional offices on the first floor. A makeshift temporary solution after leaving Rüsselsheim, with far too little space. Until the last day, the plans for the future ran in close coordination with Trollhättan. The end was also a shock in Frankfurt, because only a few days earlier, the plan had been approved to build a strong, German sales organization.
The coordination between Saab Germany boss Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher and the bloggers was particularly close these days. The main focus was on damage limitation and support for dealers and Saab drivers. Don't leave the Saab drivers alone, take care - that was the watchword. The situation of Saab and the spare parts supply were explained in interviews. Frankfurt immediately started planning for the future. The focus was on securing jobs and maintaining the brand in Germany.
Today, 5 years later, Orio Germany has more employees at its Eschborn site than Saab Germany in 2011. A provisional branch has become an ultra-modern logistician with a national central warehouse. Orio is a German - Swedish success story that emerged from the most difficult of circumstances. Managing director Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher continues to guarantee continuity and reliability.
Somewhere in Germany
After December 19, 2011, many people made their way to Trollhättan. It was about securing the Saab leftovers as quickly as possible. There were visitors from China, Turkey and also from Germany. One day after the bankruptcy, the CFO of a German manufacturer flew with the last Lufthansa plane to Gothenburg and then on to Trollhättan. A model of a new, compact Saab was in a design studio of his company, which was to roll off the production lines in the Stallbacka together with cars of a second brand.
The platforms would have been identical, the engine was a well-known 1.6 liter 4 cylinder with turbo charging. The plans to take over Saab had been in the drawers for a while, and yet they fell apart. The board had a rationalization plan in their luggage. Both the traditional summer holidays and the complete break in production would have been canceled. That met with rejection in Sweden, and the Germans were already out of the race in January.
Trollhättan 5 years later.
In Trollhättan, the situation is estimated positively, 5 years later. The city on the Göta Älv has remained an automotive development location and is better and stronger in this regard than ever before. Many new small and medium-sized enterprises have emerged, the structure in the region has changed and dependency on big employers has fallen. The expansion of the connection to Gothenburg has provided further positive impulses. Everywhere in the municipality, construction cranes are turning.
Only among the workers is unemployment above average. Some have been able to stay in Hisingen near Volvo, but many still have no job prospects. If cars are built again in the Stallbacka around the year 2020, then under the NEVS brand name, it will be too late for many former Saab workers.