IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saab asks for reduced weight and more innovation

The car industry's search for weight reduction and more innovation should be no surprise for anyone who has followed the automobile industry the past years. Less weight means less fuel and less emission in a market where fuel and emisson have become two of the most important criteria when buying a new car.

Innovation has always been important, especially for the premium market. Just look at Audi's slogan: "Vorsprung Durch Technik". Getting a reputation for being innovative can sell cars. Prior to the GM era, Saab was known for being innovative, and now Saab needs to get back on that track.

Easier said than done you might say. And I'm sure it's not easy, but one step can be to look for innovative subcontractors. 

Below is a article from Aluminium Scandinavia reporting from a conference November last year, where Saab's Purchasing Manager told the subcontractors to aim for lighter and more innovative components.

Saab and Volvo reduces weight
Lighter components is one strategy that can make your business a supplier to Saab and Volvo. That was one conclusion of the two car companies purchasing managers at the Elmia Subcontractor conference that was held in November 2010.

Many in the audience listened to the Elmia Subcontractors scene when it was occupied by two key people within the Swedish automotive industry: Saab Automobile Purchasing Manager Kjell-Åke Eriksson, and Volvo Cars Purchasing Manager of production materials, Anders Nyström. The latter was asked what the positioning in China will mean for Swedish subcontractors.

- Only opportunities. Automobile Manufacturing in China do not compete with the automobile production in Europe as I see it, and as we grow in China, there is the possibility to grow with us.

Many listeners were curious about how, as a subcontractor to differentiate themselves to win the purchasing organization's interest
- We are on the look out for lightweight solutions. In the future, several hundred kilos must be taken out of a car if you're going to continue to be competitive, so we need to save weight on all components, said Anders Nyström.

Kjell-Åke Eriksson also said that weight loss always is high on the agenda. On the question of what a supplier should consider aside from weight, Eriksson took the customer's perspective.

- A customer is interested in innovation and to have an experience when driving. As a supplier, you must be able to say: "I can deliver anything that you do not have today."