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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Swedish Government Circus

Last week it was made known by the European Investment Bank (EIB) that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov will never be approved as part owner of Saab as long as the EIB provides Saab with loans. This was a decision the EIB made back in 2009 and they will not reconsider. This decision was communicated to both the Swedish Government and Saab. So far so good. One would maybe expect to get an explanation why he will never be approved, but I guess that is to much to ask from a self-righteous organization like the EIB.

For some reason, neither Saab nor the Swedish government interpreted this rejection as a permanent decision. And therefore Saab applied to both the Swedish National Debt Office, the Government and the EIB earlier this year for Vladimir Antonov to be approved. The NDO put down a lot of work in examining Vladimir Antonov's life and business. And they found that there were no reasons that he should not be allowed to be part owner of Saab.

The Swedish Government's answer to the decision of the NDO was that the Government would allow Antonov if General Motors (who also has to approve new owners) and the EIB did so too.

General Motors had no objections as long as some conditions were fulfilled.

And weeks passed by. Months passed by. Still no decision from the EIB.

Then all of a sudden the EIB tells us that their are not looking into the application to approve Antonov. Reason being that he was rejected in 2009 and the EIB will not reconsider.

This surprises Saab. And the Swedish Government. But how can the Swedish Government be surprised? After all, Sweden's Minister of Finance is on the Board of Governors of the EIB! And Director General at the Ministry, Kurt A. Hall, is member of the Board of Directors of the EIB.  And Sweden is shareholder of the EIB.

Robert Collin of Swedish Aftonbladet called the Ministry to ask how the Minister has used his board position, he reached the press secretary of the Minister:

How has Anders Borg used his position on the board of the EIB to influence the Saab affair?
There is silence on the phone: "What kind of Board?"
- Of the EIB.
- But does he have a position on the board ... of the EIB?
The answer is that Sweden's Minster of Finance has been on the Board of the EIB since 2006. And should of course have first hand knowledge of why the EIB decided that Antonov would not be approved and that they refuse to reconsider. But the Swedish Government only seem to be a circus filled with clowns.

On the bright side, DI reports today that the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise says that it will contact the EIB and ask for an explanation of what's going on. According to the Ministry of Enterprise, it was under the impression that the EIB was examining Antonov and his business to see if the decision could be revised.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Antonov rejected by EIB, working on new plan

According to it has now been confirmed even by the European Investment Bank (EIB) that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov will never be given the approval to become part owner of Saab as long as the EIB provides loans to Saab. This was communicated to Sweden's Government already back in 2009.

"The European Investment Bank confirms that the loan to Saab's research and development program requires that Vladimir Antonov is not given the opportunity to take ownership of Saab," says Pär Isaksson, spokesman for the EIB, to TT. He continued saying: "This was made clear by ​​the EIB to the Swedish authorities at the beginning of the project evaluation in 2009." 

But despite this, Sweden's Government has time after time said that they will wait for the decision of the EIB. And all the time they knew that the decision was taken in 2009.
Saab has according to DI been hoping that the EIB would change it's mind. To make matters worse, the EIB refuses to tell both Saab and Vladimir Antonov himself why he can not become part owner.

"We can not understand why he can't come in [as part owner].  If they could tell us or him then it would be very helpful," Eric Geers, Saab's Executive Director of Communication, told DI.

Now Vladimir Antonov is working on a plan to pay back the EIB loans and instead take loans from commercial banks.

"We are working on a way to be rid of the EIB loan," Lars Carlstrom told Reuters. "We hope to present a solution in the near future."

At the same time the Chinese companies Youngman and Pang Da are getting close to submit their case to save and turn Saab around to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). According to China Car Times, the submission is expected within the next 30 days. It is of course very important to convince the NDRC that their investments in Saab will be profitable and beneficial for China in the long run.

But first the most important task is of course to save Saab in the short run. Without cash to pay it's employees, Saab can be bankrupt within weeks. 

Fox Saab of Grand Rapids is standing by Saab

Here's an encouraging story from The Grand Rapids Press. We all can only imagine how hard the last two years must have been for Saab dealers all over the world. But most of them are holding out, supporting their brand and believing in a great future for Saab. One of these dealers are Fox Saab.

“It’s been an interesting road with Saab over the past two years. Getting the public through the jitters of what the corporation is going through is hard, but we’ll make it through in the long run,” Fox Motors division director Pete Ricards tells The Grand Rapids Press.

Kudos to all dealers out there! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The hunt for short-term funding is on

Saab's and Swedish Automobile's management and friends are working hard to fix the latest credit squeeze which yesterday forced Saab to delay the payment of wages to its white-collar workers.

On one front, Russian banker and Saab friend Vladimir Antonov is working hard to find a solution. Spokesman of Antonov in Sweden, Lars Carlström, tells that they are helping Saab establishing contacts that could lead to a solution. Carlström tells the newspaper that he believes in a solution within a few days.

At the same time reports that Saab's CEO Victor Muller will travel to China to meet the companies Pang Da and Youngman which intend to invest EUR 245 million in Saab. Investments that first require an approval from Chinese authorities. According to E24, Youngman is now considering investing additional money in Saab, and presumably investments that do not require an approval and which can strengthen Saab's financial state immediately. It is also reported that Youngman is the undisclosed company that bought 582 Saab cars in the end of June and paid in advance.

Carlström: Antonov will not be allowed as part owner of Saab

According to the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov's Swedish spokesman, Lars Carlström, the Swedish Government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have decided that Antonov will not be allowed to become part owner of Saab. So far neither the Government nor the EIB have made any statements about not approving Antonov. But Carlström tells Swedish that both himself and the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) have been told by reputable sources that Antonov will not be approved.

So far neither the Swedish Government nor the EIB have made any statements and thus are more or less stringing both Saab, Antonov and the Swedish people along. As reported earlier, an increasing number of people demand that the Government and the EIB tell us why they will not approve Antonov. But everybody who ask questions are met with a wall of silence. A silence that can be interpreted as a disrespect of Saab, willing investors, the Swedish people and Saab owners, enthusiasts and fans all over the world.

To repeat myself: Sweden, do the right thing and give your people an answer! 

Gemini not given Saab the promised EUR 25 million loan?

Yesterday we got the news that Saab delayed payment of wages to white-collar workers due to delayed payments from investors. Today Swedish reports that it's the Bahama's based fund Gemini Investment Fund Limited that has not carried through it's payment of the EUR 25 million convertible loan. The reason is said to be disagreement around legal issues and the question of security for the loan.

It has been reported earlier that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov is believed to be behind Gemini Investment Fund Limited. 

According to Expressen, Saab was counting on this EUR 25 million convertible loan and has therefore used all it's remaining money on paying suppliers in an attempt to restart production. This would also include SEK 25 million additionally received in the property sale, which would mean that Saab so far has received SEK 230 million for 50.1 percent of the company Saab Automobile Property AB, and with a remaining SEK 25 million to be received as soon as a suitable last estate investor is found.

On the bright side, also reports that Saab's CEO Victor Muller, yesterday was in the US trying to securing new funding to Saab.

Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. Ltd, the Chinese vehicle manufacturer which wants to take a 29.9 percent ownership in Saab, is also considering helping Saab. Youngman is still waiting for the approval of Chinese authorities to make its planned investment in Saab, but as the situation at Saab is getting more and more serious, the Chinese company is now according to the Middle East North Africa Financial Network considering making an additional and lifesaving investment in Saab. Youngman will meet the other Chinese partner Pang Da and Saab this week to discuss the options.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saab delays white-collar employees' wage payment

Saab has just issued a press release stating that the payment of the wages to 1,600 white-collar workers have been delayed due to payments from investors have been not received in time. Here's the press release:

Zeewolde, The Netherlands, 26 July 2011 – Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announces that Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) has delayed payment of the wages to its white-collar employees as some of the funds that were committed by investors were not paid in time to effect such salary payments. Saab Automobile is taking all necessary actions to collect these funds and continues discussions with various parties to obtain additional short-term funding so that the payments can be made.

Swan will update the market of any new developments.

This is not looking good at the moment. 

Eight suppliers asked debt enforcement agency to take action

For several weeks now it's been known that an increasing number of suppliers with financial claims on Saab Automobile have been reporting their claims to Sweden's debt enforcement agency, Kronofogden. A total of 104 debts have been registered with the collection agency. Of these, 41 have now been examined by the agency, which yesterday said that eight companies had decided to proceed to the next level with their claims. Three of these are direct suppliers, and the rest are consultants and other companies. The three suppliers are part of the Norwegian Kongsberg Automotive Group.

The eight companies can now ask the debt enforcement agency to look into Saab's bank accounts to see if there is any money to be found. If there is no money, or there is not enough money in the accounts, then the debt enforcement agency can start looking for other assets. But it is still the eight companies which decide whether the debt enforcement agency should proceed or not.

The remaining of the 41 companies initially examined, may also decide to go to the next level if they please, but at the moment they have decided to wait and see what happens.

The biggest of the 41 claims has been reported by SvD to be SEK 4.3 million, and the others are of lesser amounts. If one looks at all of the 104 debts, the biggest is SEK 44 million (supplier International Automotive Components).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bankruptcy filing concerning Saab Tools withdrawn

According to Swedish media, the backruptcy filing on Saab Automobile Tools AB handed in by SwePart Verktyg AB to the Vänersborg District Court concerning unpaid bills, has now been withdrawn.

"We have agreed on a payment plan and we have withdrawn the bankruptcy filing," Lars Thunberg, owner of SweParts, told TTELA.

According to, Vänersborg District Court says that no further bankruptcy filings have been received concerning Saab.

Also some other good news today. The wages for July for  employees organized in unions which has entered collective agreements, have been paid. The wages for the remaining employees have a later payment date and I assume that the wages for these employees will be paid one of the coming days.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How will a bankruptcy in Saab Tools affect Saab?

Friday's bankruptcy threat against Saab Automobile Tools AB shows us that not only the manufacturing company Saab Automobile AB is in trouble, but also the subsidiaries. And the question we have to ask ourselves is how a bankruptcy in Saab Automobile Tools AB (Saab Tools) can affect Saab Automobile AB (Saab), which is the company that produces the Saab cars.

From reports last week we know that Saab Tools has given a loan of around SEK 500 million to Saab. In addition, Saab Tools owns all the tools and machinery that are used to produce the Saab cars. Saab Parts is responsible for and has the commercial rights to produce and sell original Saab spare parts.

So let's consider a scenario where Saab Tools goes bankrupt, then what will happen to Saab?

The text below is of course only my own speculation based on assumptions and some info from the media.

From my understanding, when a Swedish company goes bankrupt, the control of the company is handed over to a bankruptcy administrator. In other words, Saab loses control of its subsidiary. The task of the administrator is to secure assets and funds in the bankrupt company, and to turn these into money to pay the creditors.

Then what will happen to the tools and machinery needed to develop and produce cars? Will Saab have access to these tools and machinery? And what about the loan given from Saab Tools to Saab? Will the administrator try to collect this loan, and in doing so filing for a bankruptcy in Saab?

The answer is probably that a bankruptcy in Saab Tools will remove all chance of a restart of the factory and in a short time lead to a bankruptcy in Saab.

EIB loans to be transferred to commercial banks?

Swedish Radio reports today that according to Vladimir Antonov's spokesman in Sweden, Lars Carlström, commercial banks have now given positive signals on taking over the European Investment Bank (EIB) loans. If commercial banks take over the loan from the EIB, the Russian banker and eager Saab investor Vladimir Antonov can probably come in as part owner of Saab.

"We have received new indications now that has changed the picture, and we have a good chance of finding a solution," Carlström tells Swedish Radio.

After Vladimir Antonov has for several months been trying to get the approval of the EIB to become part owner of Saab, the hope that the EIB will give its approval is now more or less gone. Instead the strategy has become to transfer the loans from the EIB to commercial banks which do not put the same restrains on Saab.

On the question how far the discussions have come and when we can expect a solution, Carlstöm said that they have come a long way and have reached a certain agreement and that he hopes that a solution can be reached within reasonable time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bankruptcy threat resolved

As Mailr writes in comments in the entry below, the bankruptcy threat against Saab Automobile Tools AB has been resolved.

According to TTELA, Saab's Executive Director of Communication Eric Geers says that Saab and SwePart has agreed on a payment plan and SwePart will thus withdrawn the bankruptcy filing.

"We have agreed on a payment plan," Eric Geers says to TTELA. 

Formally, however, the bankruptcy filing still remains with the District Court.
"If they do not want to continue with the bankruptcy, they must withdraw the filing," says Mona-Lisa Jahansson who is handling the case at the Vänersborg  District Court.

Here's a press release from Saab:

Zeewolde, The Netherlands, 22 July 2011 - Swedish Automobile N.V. confirms that Saab Automobile Tools AB reached agreement on payment terms with the supplier that filed for bankruptcy, thereby resolving the issue.

Supplier files for Saab Automobile Tools AB bankruptcy

Updated with press release from Saab

According to Reuters, the supplier SwePart Verktyg AB has applied to the Vänersborg District Court for Saab Automobile Tools AB to be declared bankrupt. The application was handed in to the District Court today Friday.

The debt in question is said to be SEK 5 million, that's about EUR 560,000.

Saab Automobile Tools AB is a fully owned subsidiary of Saab Automobile AB. According to the Vänersborg District Court , this is the first application it has received for a Saab company to be declared bankrupt.  

Saab issued a press release this afternoon where it is confirmed that a supplier has filed for bankruptcy in Saab Automobile Tools AB. Here's what the press release says:

"Swedish Automobile N.V. confirms that one of the suppliers of Saab Automobile Tools AB (Saab Tools) filed for bankruptcy of Saab Tools, a subsidiary of Saab Automobile AB. The District Court has received the filing, but has not yet rendered a judgement which is expected in a few weeks. Saab Tools is currently assessing the issue and aims to resolve the issue as soon as possible."

The question now is if this will be the start of a series of applications or if Saab will be able to come to terms with this supplier and avoid a bankruptcy preceding in Saab Automobile Tools AB.

Earlier today it was also reported by TTELA that the two subsidiaries Saab Automobile Tools AB and Saab Automobile Parts AB have given large loans to their parent company Saab Automobile AB. The total amount is said to be at least SEK 800 million. The auditors warn that this can jeopardize the existence of the two companies if Saab Automobile AB goes bankrupt. But now it seems that at least one of these subsidiaries already has problems of its own.

For a long time now the hope has been that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov will be allowed to be part owner of Saab and thus make much needed investments in the company. Today Lars Holmqvist who is the CEO of Clepa, the  European association of automotive suppliers, says to Swedish Radio that he believes that the European Investment Bank (EIB) will not allow Antonov to become part owner, and that they will not reconsider. He also says that Saab needs SEK 4 to 5 billion to repay the EIB loans and pay the suppliers, and another SEK 5 billion to secure the existence of Saab in the longer run.

On this day which looks to be a bad day for Saab, I will remind my readers that Saab has gone through many bad days lately but has always found a solution and is still here. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Electric Saabs en route

Despite the production at Saab being down since April, the production of the 70 electric Saab 9-3 test fleet is en route.

Around 50 engineers are involved in the electric car project. Now the battery to the first of the 70 test cars has been installed. The calculated distance the cars can be driven between each charge is 200 km. The battery is air cooled and is mounted between the four seats in the car and under the car in a T-shape. This gives the car a luggage space similar to the regular Saab 9-3 SportCombi.

"Everything is standard. Tires, suspension and the car is only slightly heavier than the heaviest standard model," Peter Zienau who is responsible for Saab's electric cars tells TTELA while he drives the TTELA journalists to Saab's test track in one out of the five prototypes of the electric car that are ready.

"At the end of the year, the cars will be sent out to get feedback from customers," says Thomas Ahlqvist, who is technical project manager.

Despite being an electric car, it does have the performance of a gasoline car with 0 to 100 km/h in 9.1 seconds and 150 km/h in top speed.

The batteries have a total capacity of 35 kilowatt hours. A full charge by regular electrical outlet takes about four hours. At a quick charge station, it takes between 30 and 40 minutes.

The production at Saab in Trollhättan has been down since April, but that has not affected the electric car project.

"We are independent of the regular production. The cars are built on a prototype line where we built them in a series," says Peter Zienau.
But when Saab's car production gets under way in August, even the electric cars will be built on the regular line.

Saab: Production restart 29 August at earliest

According to TTELA, the management of Saab says that the production restart will be 29 August at the earliest. This means that the date has been pushed back three weeks.

In a press release just issued by Saab, the say that "As delivery of all parts needed to secure a production start is not yet agreed production will not resume on August 9 as intended and will be postponed until a full commitment on delivery plans can be secured."

Gunnar Brunius, Vice President of Production and Purchasing says the following: "I am positive about the progress we made on the payment terms with our suppliers and it is good to see that we all want to make it work. What we need now is a full commitment on supply of parts into our factory to be able to restart production and secure a stable manufacturing operation. We are now working hard with our suppliers to nail down these plans, commit to a delivery schedule and start building the close to 11,000 cars that we currently have in our order books. The industry-wide summer break at our suppliers caused certain key suppliers not to be able to supply us in time. Saab Automobile hopes to restart production earliest in week 35 provided that it is able to commit to a delivery schedule with its suppliers." 

Production restart probably delayed at least one week

TTELA reports that the production restart at Saab in Trollhättan will probably be delayed to week 33. This is based on information that the supplier Trollhättans terminal AB has told its employees that their work will be resumed at earliest in week 33. It is assumed that this also means that the production at Saab will not restart on 9 August as planned, but at the earliest one week later on 15 August.

Gunilla Gustavs, spokesperson at Saab, tells news agency TT that the ambition was to restart production 9 August, but that everything depends on agreements being reached with the suppliers.
Every delay and every postponement is of course bad news in the given circumstances.

The Saab employees wages is however expected be paid on Monday without any delay. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday notes from the media

Lately the Saab 9-4X has gotten much attention in the media with the top score in the IIHS' crash test, the first cars arriving at the dealers and even the first car going out to a lucky new 9-4X owner in Ohio. So first let's continue the 9-4X news with a note from Dutch Autokopen which tells us that production of the 9-4X destined for Europe will start in August and the first cars will reach European dealers in October. I assume this means that model year 2012 production will start in August. As reported earlier, all production for the model year 2011 has already been spoken for.
Dutch prices are EUR 74,995 for the  Vector 3.0 V6 with 265 horsepower and EUR 89,920 for the Aero 300 bhp 2.8 turbo.

And let's stay in the Netherlands for the second note. Autozine tells us that the Saab 9-5 SportCombi will hit the showrooms in October. This assuming of course that the production in Trollhättan is restarted in August as planner.

Third and final note so far this day, is from Swedish media. Swedish media has had a talk with the FKG which is the trade association representing Scandinavian suppliers to the automotive industry. Svenåke Berglie, the CEO  of FKG, demands that the different players in the process of approving Vladimir Antonov as part owner of Saab, shows their cards. He is obviously, like the rest of us, sick and tired of the games the European Investment Bank and the Swedish Government are playing. 

"It's not fair what they are doing. Now is the time for those who say no to Antonov to show their cards. Neither the government or the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been able to say why they reject him," Svenåke Berglie said to Swedish Dagens Nyheter.

Anontov is scheduled to participate on a seminar held by the FKG in September, where he will be interviewed by Swedish TV4's reporter Lennart Ekdahl. Behind the initiative is Svenåke Berglie, who says that Saab must "bring in more resourceful ownership".

"It can be the Antonov," Svenåke Berglie says. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Have you wondered why there's not been any big Saab news the latest days? I think we can "blame" it on summer. Many people in Sweden, including journalists, suppliers and Saab employees, have summer vacation. But even if there isn't much news coming out of Trollhättan, I am sure that the there are teams at Saab working hard to prepare for a production restart in August.

My approach is that no news means that everything is going more or less as planned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The early days of Saab

Lately I have found myself more and more interested in the early days of Saab. The two-stroke engine, the tear drop design and the whole early history of Saab.

So lately I have been searching for reviews of the early cars and other interesting and enjoyable writings about the early years. Last week I came across a little summary on how Saab came to the US. It's short, but very enjoyable for someone who is starved of information  like me. You should check it out at

As mentioned, I have also searched for read tests of the early Saab. And I've found a few. Reproduced below is a 1962 British road test of the Saab 96. There is not doubt that the early Saabs were very unique back in the 1950s and 1960s with its aerodynamic design, two-stroke engine, freewheel, front wheel drive and coil spring and telescopic dampers on all four wheels.

ROAD TESTING THE SAAB 96 1962 (found on flickr)


THE SAAB 96 is a car which has been proved and is being sold almost as a result of the car’s tremendous rally successes over the past two years. Any car that can win the Monte Carlo Rally must be a very fine performer, but when a car with an engine capacity of something less than a British Mini can do this and outstrip cars of four or five times its capacity, then it must be a phenomenal vehicle.

It is very difficult to liken the Saab 96 to any other car on the road. To be brief, it is a three cylinder two-stroke engine, with a front wheel drive. It is manufactured in Sweden by the Saab Company, who, of course, are world famous aircraft manufacturers. When studying the overall design of the Saab, it is not difficult to see that much of the company’s experience in the aircraft field has been successfully introduced into the design of this car. The line has to grow on one, but after a very short time it invariably does, and whether one likes it or not one has to admit that it is extremely aerodynamically styled, rising in a gentle sweep from the front, and falling to a gentle curve from the roof line directly down to the rear bumper.
Upon further study, one cannot help but be impressed by the sturdiness of the body of the Saab. The thickness of the metal is greater than any car made in Great Britain at the present time, and the vehicle has an aura of being built to last.

This is,of course, no doubt on account of the fact that if a car can stand up to Swedish road and weather conditions, it is pretty well equipped for use in all parts of the world. It is easy to get into the Saab. The large doors open to a maximum width, giving complete accessibility. Once seated one studies the interior of the car. The trim and seating is adequate, sturdy and certainly not ostentatious.
The dashboard facia is simple but completely functional. The main instruments are grouped together immediately in front of the driver, with the ancillary controls immediately by his left hand. Whilst on the subject of controls, I would like to pay tribute to the car’s heating and ventilating system, this is extremely good, even if the booster motor is exceptionally noisy.

The Saab tested was fitted with a three-speed gearbox, and I must say, to my mind, this is certainly the worst thing about the car. The column change cannot be faulted to any large extent, for it is quick and decisive in its control. My main criticism with the Saab box is in its gear ratios. The first gear is only capable of moving the car up to approximately 14 m.p.h. This could be fair enough if you had four gears, but, to my mind, it is certainly not enough with a three-speed gearbox. A more serious point, however, I would say is the fact that the second gear can only take you up to 46 m.p.h., before the engine begins to scream.

This means that even at this very modest speed one has to put the car into top gear, which must obviously adversely affect its acceleration and general performance figures. For all this, however, I must say that quite reasonable acceleration times can be achieved and on the test 0-50 m.p.h. was obtained in as little as 16 seconds.

The top speed on the test was 83 m.p.h. The car took some considerable time to build up to this speed, but is at its happiest when moving along at a good pace in top gear. Cruising speed in the Saab could be said to be from 65-75 m.p.h., and the car could certainly maintain this type of average for long periods without any strain or effort, as has been well proved.

Petrol consumption on the Saab could vary tremendously according to the driver. However, a rough estimate would be between 28 and 34 m.p.g., although this can be greatly affected by a small and unusual gadget known as the free wheel. I found that the car was rather easier to drive with this applied rather than in the normal fashion, for when lifting one’s toe from the accelerator, a three cylinder engine is rather inclined to pull the car down quicker than is comfortable.

However, there is a snag to the free wheel, and that is, of course, that one has little control over the engine when stopping, and the whole mechanics of pulling up the car must be placed firmly on the shoulders of the brakes.

One of the most likeable assets the Saab possesses is its stability on the road and ability to go round corners at high speeds. This is no doubt entirely due to the suspension which is of the coil type on all four wheels. Being a front wheel drive, a certain technique must most certainly be developed when cornering quickly, but Carlsson, the driver of the Saab that won this year’s Monte Carlo Rally, has more than proved that this is possible.

To sum up the Saab, it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It comes in a class completely of its own, and is a four or five seater family saloon. It will possibly appeal to the man who wants comfort for his family and who can still get pleasure from the car’s performance. It is a car that will need very little maintenance, and should last for a long time, being very well finished indeed.

Specification Engine: 3 cylinder, 2 stroke Capacity: 841 c.c. Body: Length 13’ 2” Width: 5’ 1” Price: £826 including tax.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

EDP: Saab’s new soft-roader option

This is something I never expected. A British review of the Saab 9-4X that is actually very positive. And that's despite the fact that the car doesn't come with a diesel engine and a star, four rings or a blue and white propeller in the grille.

Here's some of what they say about the 9-4X: 

First a few words about Saab:

Saab is a combination of Swedish origins and a reluctance to follow the crowd – products that don’t slavishly follow the fickle finger of fashion hold a certain appeal.

And some about how the brand DNA is evident in the design:

Unlike some rivals the 9-4X successfully transplants the family DNA on to the sport utility vehicle template.

And the well designed cabin:

A modest climb into the cabin reveals a layout that follows a sound mix of prac`icality and style.

Performance as expected: 
The V6 turbo gives the kind of performance expected of a 300bhp powerplant.

And it's a nice ride:

There’s a good balance between comfort and handling, helped by the Drive Sense system which electronically adjusts damper settings to the driver’s needs.

So if you have a few spare minutes this Sunday, then check out the Eastern Daily Press' review of the Saa 9-4X.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

How men and women look differently at (Saab) ads

Seems like someone has done a little survey on how men and women look at ads of nice looking women (a Saab is also a nice looking woman, right?) differently. This is what they say about the little survey:
How do men and women look at advertisements differently?
Research firm EyeTrackShop recently surveyed 50 men and 50 women to find out.
It showed them three ads -- two pretty sexual in nature, and one that was not.
How did the different genders look at each ad? Read on to find out ... 

Here is the Saab ad (the one that was not sexual in nature (what???)) they looked at:

And here is the result:

So men looks more at the car and women on the logotype.

Check out the rest of the research here. It's very interesting.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Writers of AutoWeek give their opinion of the new Saab 9-5 Aero

AutoWeek has an article where six of their editors give their opinion of the Saab 9-5 Aero. And most of them seem to like the car. Here's one quote from each of them:

EDITOR WES RAYNAL:  The car is roomy and tight, the turbocharged six-cylinder has more than enough power and the ride is smooth.
INTERACTIVE ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The Harmon-Kardon stereo system booms and the iPod input worked great.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Saab seats are, hands down, the best in the business.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR--AUTOWEEK.COM BOB GRITZINGER: I find the car's styling is attractive in a classic sense. I suspect it will still look good once the last payment is made.
MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: The ride is comfortable, the handling not watered down to benign characteristics and quite surefooted, and I found the steering gave me enough feel and feedback to guide the Saab along smoothly and quickly with little effort.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: This is the best Saab I've driven.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pang Da confident to get permission from the Chinese government to invest in Saab

According to Dutch business news site, a top official of Pang Da said today Thursday to Dow Jones Newswires  that Pang Da Trade Co. is likely to get permission from the Chinese government to make the planned EUR 109 million investment in Swedish Automobile NV, the parent company Saab. An investment that would see the Chinese company gain a 24 percent stake in Saab.

"Saab needs a "significant" extra cash injection to remain viable in the long run," said Wang Yin, secretary of the Board of Pang Da.

"We are very optimistic about obtaining the approval of the government," Wang said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

"Saab is an established European brand, and we want a large stake in the company, which we believe fits in the Chinese policy that encourages companies to invest abroad."

Beijing-based Pang Da wants together with Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., a Chinese car and bus manufacturer, to invest EUR 245 million in Swedish Automobile and thereby get a majority stake of 53.9 percent.

This EUR 245 million investment would secure Saab "one and a half year" of uninterrupted operations, Wang said. Pang Da was "looking for other financial partners" for the additional investment necessary.

Foreign investment by Chinese companies usually have to be approved by the Chinese Department of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Council (NDRC).

 "It is our experience that it takes at least a half year to get all permits from the government. We will obviously do our best to expedite this, but we can not control it," said Wang.

Muller and Antonov not to participate in Midnight Sun Rally

Last week I reported that Swedish media claimed that both Saab's CEO Victor Muller and the Russian banker and friend of Muller, Vladimir Antonov, would participate in the Midnight Sun Rally. When I wrote the blog post I was a bit cautious as I was doubting that both would participate. And today we get the notice that none of the two will participate.

According to TTELA, Vladimir Antonov will not participate due to the continued uncertainty about his involvement in Saab. It is unknown why Muller will not participate. But I would think that he has more important issues to handle than a Saab rally car. 

Antonov dismisses latest allegations

TTELA reports that Vladimir Antonov has issued a press release where he dismisses the latest allegations concerning the Lithuanian central bank and its criticism against Antonov's Snoras bank of Luthuania.

Mr. Antonov is not happy with the latest reports about the allegations as they have caused both shareholders and management in the Convers Group great harm. Mr. Antonov suspects that there may be some form of extortion behind the reports.

"We are compelled to say that the information on Snoras unstable financial situation does not represent the reality, and also contains an element of extortion", Mr. Antonov writes in the press release. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saab 9-4X arriving at dealers

Saab's all new 9-4X crossover is now arriving at dealers. Here's the proof:

"Our first vehicles are just hitting retailers and our first customer sale took place last weekend at Saab North Olmstead in Cleveland, Ohio," Tim Colbeck, President and COO SCNA said. "This is an exciting product, with a true Saab crossover that gives us entry into a new segment." 

PS: You can now build your Saab at 

Lithuanian allegations against Antonov's Snoras bank

Today Swedish Radio reports that the central bank of Lithuania allege that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov's bank Snoras has broken the law in security trading and misconduct when lending out money. It is however not known exactly what the central bank means by saying that Snoras has broken the law.

According to Swedish radio, the criticism concerning the lending of money can be connected to a large loan given to Russian company. A company which had not been able to get loans from other banks. A loan that can have led to large losses for Snoras in 2010. Furthermore, this could be the reason why the European Investment Bank (EIB) is reluctant to allowing Antonov to become part owner of Saab.

In April this year Mr. Antonov was approved to become part owner of Saab by the Swedish National Debt Office (NDO). When the head of the NDO, Bo Lundgren, was asked about the accusations from the Lithuanian central bank, Mr. Lundgren told E24 that he did not know about the allegations. But he added that these allegations would probably not lead to a different conclusion and the NDO would probably still approve Mr. Antonov. According to Lundgren, the reports of allegations can not be very seriously as the central bank has allowed Antonov to stay as owner of Snoras.

Spokesman of Antonov in Sweden, Lars Carlström, dismissed the reports that the Lithuanian central bank's criticism against Snoras is the reason why the EIB is blocking Antonov from becoming part owner of Saab.

 "If that was the case, it would have been easy for the EIB just to refer to that," Carlström said and continued saying that there had been no clear explanation why Antonov was not getting approval. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saab nominated four new legal representatives

Due to CEO Victor Muller extensive traveling around the world, Saab has now nominated four new legal representative to act on behalf of the company. In addition to Muller, six people can now make deals on behalf of Saab.

"It is purely for reasons of practicality, as Victor Muller is traveling so much," Gunilla Gustavs, spokeswomen of Saab told

Two of the new legal representatives are already part of the management group, and the remaining two is working in the finance department.

So it looks like Saab expects Muller to continue traveling around the world to make deals and raise funds for Saab. The latest deal, the property sale, saw Saab receive SEK 205 million yesterday. One of the buyers of the property, Construction and property contractor Erik Paulsson of Peab and Brinova, tells that he believes in Muller and that they bought the property believing that Saab will survive. 

"He's an entrepreneur, an enthusiast who does not quit. He was here at the tennis tournament last year and gave a presentation," Paulsson, who lives in Båstad - the town which hosts the Swedish Open, said about Muller.
Muller even managed to convince Paulsson to buy a Saab.

"You're going to buy one he said, and I did. I traded in my other car. I'm happy I did." 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saab reached deals with many suppliers

Updated with new info from Dutch suppliers

Today the Swedish Automobile stock has fallen over 15 percent due to fear in the market that Saab won't be able to restart production in August as planned. A fear that is understandable taking in account the recent problems and postponements in the restart. But this afternoon Reuters reports that Saab has reached deals with many suppliers who have held back parts until it pays its debts.

"We have reached agreement with a large part of our suppliers," Gunilla Gustavs of Saab told Reuters. But she stressed that that discussions with remaining suppliers continue.

The aim to restart production in August remains Gustavs said.

"We aim for Aug. 9 - it's an ambition, so that we can at least get everyone to work towards one date."

Dutch Automobiel Management reports that Saab's three Dutch suppliers have so far not reach agreements with Saab.

"As long as the outstanding bills are not paid, we do not supply. We're not blue eyed," said chief operating officer Jan Rietdijk of Nedschroef Helmond, a supplier of bolts and nuts.

Body parts supplier Voestalpine Polynorm has not delivered to Saab the latest months said CEO Peter Bernscher. "We still have some, but not unexpected, claims on Saab. Right now we are in discussions with Saab on how we can contribute to the restart of the production in August. Voestalpine Polynorm will do anything in its power to support Saab in this process."

Venrayse Inalfa, a producer of sunroofs, also said it would support Saab. But the Swedish company must meet its financial obligations, said CEO Marcel Schabos.

None of the three companies have large sums outstanding. "But the outstanding amount is worth a thorough discussion," said Jan Rietdijk. He hopes that the parties will come to an agreement: "We all benefit from a solution".

Time to test drive the Saab 9-4X?

The Saab 9-4Xs are arriving at the dealer. The car has been awarded the Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. And this weekend there was even reports that the first buyers got their brand new 9-4Xs!

So what's better than checking out two more great 9-4X reviews?

First one's from Msn Autos Canada:
It's definitely a sportier package than, say, Lexus's RX, and it'll hold its own just fine against German rivals.

Second one's from Swedish car magazine Vi Bilägare:
Is the 9-4X a real Saab? Yes, there's no doubt that it feels like a Saab to drive. The driving position provides clear Saab vibes, with easy to read instruments and - of course, start button near the gear lever. Saab has a reputation of making good seats and the 9-4X is no exception. The driver sits comfortably and it's easy to find a good driving position.
The steering is precise and the road handling secure.

So if you are living in the US, maybe it's time to visit your locale dealer? If not for buy a car, at least to test drive a 9-4X. And of course let us know how you liked it :) 

Saab lesson four: If your car is smoking, then stop!

I found this video of a smoking Saab on Youtube.

I hope the Saab owner gets his car checked by a mechanic!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

UK buyers not troubled by Saab problems

Are you just like me getting tired of the same news reports over and over again about Saab's problems and shady future? Then you should check out the analysis from British FleetNews. They have made an analysis which is surprisingly positive on both the development the latest two weeks concerning Saab's funding and also about Saab situation in the UK. Just by reading the head line you understand that this is a good article not tainted by the usual clichés and easy conclusions.

Some points from the article that is worth highlighting:
  • Saab GB is now in the top third on the dealer satisfaction league table. 
  • Saab GB were on track to sell 10,000 cars before the Trollhättan manufacturing plant was shut down.
  • The order bank for Saab GB is now over 1,000 cars.
  • The possibility of Saab shutting down has not yet troubled UK buyers. Contract hire deals are unchanged. No increase for the fleets in contract hire deposits.
  • Leasing firms appear happy to continue supporting Saab despite the latest problems; "This is nowhere near as bad as it got in 2009. We have no problem supporting Saab and are confident they will secure the necessary funds." 
So if you want to read a positive and thorough analysis without the usual easy conclusions, then visit FleetNews.

JoeR's Saab 9-5 Aero review

JoeR from Australia posted the following Saab 9-5 Aero review in the comments section earlier this week. In this driver focused review JoeR manages to put his impressions of the car into words in a very enjoyable way. And to me, a review done by an "ordinary" guy is ten times more interesting than the reviews in car magazines.

 So here it is, JoeR's review. Have a great Saab Saturday!

JoeR's review
Day 1 driving the Aero, a real Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde car and everything in-between. My Toy is a Tarmac VK Commodore that’s makes 230kw and only weights 1275kg. The 9-5 Aero drives like a limo going to a funeral, the outside is like watching the TV in your lounge but flip the gear shift over to tiptronic and use the paddle shifters with the heads up display (that shows the gear position) and the Aero turns into a rocket. The 4 wheel drive allows you to pick a gear lower than you think you need and suddenly that 30km round about in 1st makes the car sling shot out (meanwhile pedestrians continue to not notice you) the car tyres do not squeal and there is no loud exhaust. Best still I can give the car to my wife who will happily pot away with the Grand parents in the back. Better still my 186cm 15 year can fit into the back.

Did I mention the electric hand brake, so easy to use and no lever to clutter the centre console? The heads up display is adjustable so if you lower the seat you can lower the display, cool. Great for school zones, eyes never having to leave the screen. Aero seats are great, firm but when things get busy you are held comfortable in place. The torque of the GM V6 twin-scroll turbo is good, feels like an Ls2. They should put one of these into the VE Commodore. The leather in the car is superb, every time I got back into the car and put my hand on the wheel I would stop and appreciate how it felt.

Saab 9-5 Aero bathing in the Australian winter sun

Day 2 driving the Aero. Trip up the M4 to Penrith, right to Richmond, Kurrajong, Bells Line Rd to Bell, took Darling Causeway to Mount Victoria, Wentworth Falls (short stop) back to Sydney via M4. The M4 the Aero cruised at 1650rpm @ 110kmh. Very comfortable the sun roof open at 7c with seat warmers on and temp set to 24c. All the BMW drivers would have a sticky beak at the Aero as I edged pass. The sun visor can pivot to the side window and extend to completely block out the low rising winter sun, very handy.

The suspension was set to intelligent mode. The road to Penrith had a mixed road surface, the ride was always controlled and you were always aware that the Aero was in control of any bumps or broken road surface. Into Richmond was selecting gears by the gear shifter (+ or -) and using the normal speedo as your hands were more busy and your eyes glancing at sat nav, signs and controls. You could select 6th gear any time over 80kmh. Up the Bells Line Rd following slower than the speed limit traffic as the road narrowed, the other cars ahead seemed to have trouble holding their lane, and often crossing the inside marked lines or travelling over the cat eyes. Strange as the wide 2 ton Saab Aero start to drive like a small car as it was so precise and cut through the road like a knife through butter with no effort at all and always within the lane.

The twin-scroll turbo six was quiet and you were never aware of it, was driving with the paddles and using the heads up display now as the focus was purely on the road and traffic. It was great to have the choice in speedo. On the overtaking lanes, especially the ones on hills, the torque easily kept the car at the speed limit and would easily dispatch the slower traffic. The AWD always presented a neutral attitude into corners even if you happen to go faster then the recommended corner speed because you were scanning another radio station eg 50km into 25km bend, no drama no tyre squeal, just smooth cornering.

 At Wentworth Falls stop for a drink and continued the journey, now following the wife in the V70 2.4T. Set the suspension to comfort and listen to Elton John, Bruce Springsteen. The car rode softer but still you had the reassuring connection to the road. Cruised at 100kmh with 1550rpm, the middle gauge now set to instant fuel consumption. On the flats was slipping into the 6l per 100km. For a 2.8l and car weighting 2 tonne was quiet good, the V70 with a 2.4l was doing better but with only 1500kg weight. As the traffic built on the M4 the speed dropped to 90kmh and now the fuel consumption on the flats was into the 5's.

The seats were still comfortable after spending 4 hours in the car. Back in Sydney, BMW drivers still having a peek at the Aero, even the Porsche drivers gave the car a glance. Off course other SAAB drivers paid attention as well but the award for car envy (never though I see this) when to the Audi driver who stuck his head out the window to get a better look. The car had dropped the fuel consumption from delivered 12.2l per 100 to 11.5 (distance travelled 3500km) so the average for the trip would of been under 10. Maybe not diesel type fuel consumption but very good for a large car with AWD and power of 220kw.

Later that night, picked up 3 adults, two over 182cm, and everybody was commenting on the comfort and leg room, even my Wife (a Volvo tragic) liked the ride but not as cushy as her V70 (is anything?). Unfortunately, I needed to drop of the Aero and transferred to a 2003 9-3 SS. We all fitted (just and it was a short trip) and the willing 2l turbo impressed with its eager turbo but we all missed the comfort of the Aero.

Now would I give the Aero to my teenage daughter (19) to drive, even though it has easily enough performance to get you into an accident if you drove crazy? I would let her drive it as the car is so accomplished in everything it does I know it would protect her, passively and physically! Best of all I could take it on trips, my wife would steal it for the city work, and all of us would fit and perhaps for that odd track day....

Friday, July 8, 2011

COO of North America believes in quick profitability

COO of Saab Cars of North America, Tim Colbeck, told journalists at a recent press briefing that he believes that Saab can turn the negative trend of lately quickly into profitability.

"I think we're in a position where we can have strong cash flow and reach profitability pretty quickly," Colbeck said and continued "Remember we have a very low break-even."

This low break even point should be around 80,000 cars. Last year Saab sold about 30,000 cars. This year the goal was to sell 80,000, but with the manufacturing plant stopped for three months so far and no restart before August, reaching 80,000 this year will be impossible.

But Colbeck still has a strong belief in Saab. "I'm more convinced now than ever the brand will survive," Tim Colbeck said.

The troubles in Sweden of lately have also affected the US with delayed deliveries of the 9-5 and 9-3. But according to Colbeck, sales are expected to increase now that dealers are taking delivery of the new Mexico built Saab 9-4X.

Colbeck forecasted that US sales could easily jump to 30,000 units in the next couple years.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"It depends on the Chinese"

Earlier today the Swedish Government approved the sale of 50.1 percent of Saab's property. The money from this sale will be very important to run Saab in the short term. But to secure operations for the long term, all depends on the deal with the Chinese companies Pang Da and Youngman. Sweden's Minister of Enterprise, Maud Olofsson, held a press conference earlier this evening in Visby on Gotland where this whole week has been dedicated to politics and seminars.

One week ago the Minister met China's National Development and Reform Council (NDRC), which is China's top economic planning body, to discuss the Saab deal. And when talking with Svenska Dagbladet earlier today, the Minister showed a slight optimism that the deal would be approved by the NDRC.

"If a partnership with these Chinese companies can be achieved and if they have the financial muscles - then this can be what's needed," Olofsson told and continued saying that there are some steps that needs to be taken first.

Olofsson described the meeting with the NDRC as a good discussion where she tried to explain the advantages of Saab.

"I made comparisons with the Volvo - Geely deal, a deal they are very happy with, and it gives us a good track record, but also in that deal a strong financing was required before they would give their approval."

To me this sounds good. Reminding the Chinese of the Volvo deal is a smart strategy. Volvo is doing better than ever after they got married to Geely. If the Chinese believe that a Saab deal can be just as advantageous as the Volvo deal seems to be for Geely, then maybe Saab's deal will have a chance of getting the necessary approval!

Sweden approves property sale, but production won't restart before August

Updated with Saab confirmation and press release

TTELA reports that Sweden's Minister for Enterprise has confirmed in a radio interview this morning that the Goverment will approve Saab's sale of 50.1 percent of the shares in the Saab property company that owns among other things the Saab Trollhattan manufacturing plant.

This means that Saab and the consortium of buyers, with Hemfose Fastigheter in the lead, can finalize the deal and Saab will get SEK 255 fresh millions.

Another important step towards restarting production has been reached!

Update: Saab has now issued a press release confirming that all relevant stakeholders have approved the sale and lease back deal concerning Saab property. In the press release it is also said that the goal now is to resume production in Trollhättan by 9 August.

Below is the press release:

Both Vladimir Antonov and Victor Muller to drive the Midnight Sun Rally?

Swedish site reports that both Vladimir Antonov and Victor Muller will drive the Midnight Sun Rally which starts in Jönköping on Wednesday next week. Both will of course drive veteran Saab cars.

The rally, which was originally called Rally to the Midnight Sun, was first arranged in 1950 and the last time in 1964. From 1965 the rally changed to a winter rally and turned into Rally Sweden (Svenska Rallyt) which is the WRC rally we know today. In 2006 the Midnight Sun Rally was resumed, but this time as a vintage rally for veteran cars.

Vladimir Antonov drove the Midnight Sun Rally last year, and evidently liked it so much that he returns this year and brings lots of friends with him.

"He got a taste for it last year, and have brought lots of friends with him. Now it's seven Russians participating," Per Carlsson, who is the organizer of the Midnight Sun Rally for the Royal Automobile Club, told

Vladimir Antonov from last years Midnight Sun Rally

If both Muller and Antonov end up participating like Swedish media claims, then we can probably look forward to pictures and maybe even interviews in Swedish news media next week.