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.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New York International Auto Show - Victor Muller Edition

As I wrote in the previous blog post, for Saab the NYIAS has mostly been about the financial state of the company. Not your ideal topic when you are there to present your cars, but then again it can not have come as a surprise to anyone.

To the front line Saab sent Victor Muller, Mattias Seidl and Jason Castriota. As far as I have noticed, Jan Åke Jonsson was not there. And we haven't seen much of him since he announced his retirement. He came to Saab's Spring Exhibition in Stockholm and seemed very uncomfortable with the whole situation and since he has been off the radar. Maybe he's home in Sweden trying to work out the financial situation, but for the outside world he seems to  already have resigned.

Here's Saab's executive team at the NYIAS:

Matthias Seidl, Victor Muller and Jason Castriota. Photo from Motortrend

Worth noting from the numerous news pieces about Saab's financial challenges, is Victor Muller's comparison of the events at Saab and the Fukushima disaster:
“This is like a small Fukushima,” he said after the press conference. “You start out with a small problem and it gets bigger.”

One small setback after another has hit Saab the past months and suddenly everyone thinks that Saab is on the verge of bankruptcy. But to The Detroit News Victor Muller insists that Saab will stay afloat and introduce the new models as planned:
"A company that has just found its new independence is like a child that starts to crawl and wants to learn to walk and drops on its face every once in a while before it can start to run"
Victor Muller. Photo from Motortrend
And he continued by saying that the cash flow problems have not hurt the development of the next Saab 9-3. To New York Times Wheels blog he even showed a picture of a "toned down" PhoeniX, maybe the next 9-3?
On one of his mobile phones, he displayed a toned-down version of the PhoeniX that could go into production. 

To Automobile Magazine Victor Muller confirmed that Saab is looking for a partner in China:
Muller also stated that Saab is looking to partner with an automaker in China to help them with their financial issues and to provide a stronger voice to the Chinese market. He didn’t name specific partners, but described them as “niche players and big boys.”
He also could reveal that Saab soon will start a huge marketing offensive in the US:
Additionally, Muller hopes to quell concerned Saab dealers in the United States by announcing a “huge marketing offensive.”
“We’re basically throwing the kitchen sink at our marketing efforts in the United States to get the company back on track here,” Muller said. The U.S. continues to be the largest market for Saab.

That's a wrap up of the news pieces from the NYIAS. Now let's hope even the media will take an Easter break.