By on December 24, 2009

At least now we know how Saab will die. But Spyker CEO Victor Muller’s unfortunate choice of metaphors isn’t the only indication in his interview with the WSJ Deal Journal that Saab will die on the operating table. Take, for example, his answer to the question “Why does Spyker want to buy Saab?”

Saab has 1,100 dealers world-wide. If we sold Spykers in just 5% of those dealers, we would be tripling our distribution base. Saab also has access to technologies that would be ideal for Spyker, such as an all-wheel drive system. Also, a company that should sell 100,000 cars a year has very high purchasing power and get parts cheaper than a company that wants to make 100 cars a year.

Emphasis on wants to make 100 cars per year (they sold fewer than 50 last year). And yet, somehow Muller “hopes to model a Saab acquisition after Audi’s successful take over of Lamborghini in 1997.” Except that Saab ain’t Lambo and Spyker ain’t exactly Audi. Meanwhile, Muller also seems to think that Saab can survive on “quirk” alone, and he does some confused back-pedaling on his racially-charged statements about Saab and Spyker. The saga continues.

When Deal Journal asks how Spyker could improve Saab, Muller’s answer shows the yawning divide between the ultra-limited-production boutique automaker mindset, and the realities of the (even niche) mass-market business.

Saab is being carved out of GM and will have to stand on its own legs. In order to do that, it will require a completely different state of mind in terms of entrepreneurship. We are very entrepreneurial company. We manage to create Spyker out of nothing. The company hadn’t been active for 75 years when we started in 2000. We bring experience and branding and sales. I design all of my cars. Saabs would benefit from design input to make Saabs more “Saabish.” You buy a Saab for a reason. It is quirky. It is different. If you wanted a car that looked like everyone else you would buy a Volkswagen.

Yes, but Volkswagen also has Seat and Skoda. Meanwhile, what economies of scale would Spyker-Saab enjoy? If Muller were buying Saab from a bunch of well-moneyed fanboys, he’d be set. Unfortunately, “difference” and “quirk” don’t sell cars on their own, let alone build up the volume needed to compete in the market. But no matter. “I’ve read that you want to save Saab out of a feeling of kinship to Sweden,” suggests Deal Journal.

The Swedes and Dutch are very small nations. I have always admired the Swedes for their entrepreneurial ways. They have been able to thrive in a hostile environment. Go to Stockholm now and your toes freeze off. They have made very strong brands in Volvo and Saab. We have something similar in Holland. We are used to dealing with the climate. When I heard that Saab, an iconic brand was in trouble, I felt very strongly that we should help them out.

Climate? Charity? Can we just pronounce Saab dead before Muller starts waving a shiny balloon in its face and swearing that it sees signs of life?

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8 Comments on “Muller: Saab Bid “Serious As A Heart Attack”...”


  • avatar
    lw

    Saab died the day that Geely decided to buy Volvo and NOT buy Saab.  The Chinese only need one Swedish brand.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Like I said in a previous post, LET SAAB DIE. It is dead and gone and the market doesn’t need them anymore. We just need to move on.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Wow, still mentioning the alledged racial slurs…
    You see, I’m from the Netherlands and I see what he’s on about. The Netherlands and Sweden, as well as Norway and Denmark have a lot in common if you look at how society is organized (welfare state and all that, I don’t personally think it’s an undivided success but anyway) and maybe some general physical/character traits.
    Don’t get me wrong though, I think this Muller is a total tool (no really, I’ve seen more interviews, I watched the Spyker F1 debacle unfold…) who keeps trying to punch above his weight, but you’re being oversensitive here calling him a racist.
    On Topic; let’s just hope it doesn’t happen cause nothing good will come from it. I personally think though that GM doesn’t want to sell Saab at all unless they’re sure Saab will die regardless.
     
     

  • avatar
    wmba

    Well, with bright ideas and daydreams like this, we can at least strike Mr. Muller off the list of potential GM CEOs. Yes, Virginia, there are people around in the car biz even less capable than Red Ink Rick. I wonder what he’s up to these days, anyway?

  • avatar
    Bocatrip

    Saab still seems to have a pilot light flickering.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    The Chinese are pretty practical people when it comes to mercy killing and capital punishment etc,
    Now they have ‘saved’ Volvo how about they do the honorable thing and pay for the bullet to end Saab.
    Saab shouldn’t have survived into this century and this is just prolonging a painful death.
    You’d shoot a dying horse wouldn’t you.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Racially charged?  Lighten up.  Got an idea, let’s all get together and hold hands, then select a “We Are The World” committee to design a car.  It would have to be green, eco powered (whatever that means) have absolutely no character, but be heavily subsidized by the government.  Except for insecure liberals who see “racism” and global doom and gloom  everywhere, especially when they look in the mirror, who would want it?  I’m sure you’d be first in line at the dealership?  Not!

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Put a Saab badge on all the Spykers and send them out to all the dealers. Problem solved.


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