With €30m from PangDa and €30m from Gemini Investments, Saab restarted production today at its Trollhättan factory. According to SaabsUnited, the line will run at 80% speed today and Monday, before moving to 100% (over 200 cars per day) by the middle of next week. Speaking at a press conference, CEO Victor Muller reflected:
It’s been an interesting lesson. A company like Saab, that lives in a glass house, should never be caught in a situation where there is not enough cash to withstand the storm as the one we have seen now. What happened seemed like a very insignificant situation became a very significant situation, and next thing you know, you are losing six weeks of production… it was very, very tough and we’ve had some very adverse circumstances that we’ve had to live with, but we got out of it. I think that if you got through 2009-2010 as Saab has been, anything else is relatively easy. We will definitely ensure that this will not happen again. This means that we will be on a quest to ensure that we have sufficient funds at all times to overcome adveersities like this because we can’t afford to have another production stoppage with all the relating downsides, such as disappointed customers, upset suppliers and media attention… that is definitely not in our interests.
Muller went on to say that he had expected orders to drop off during the interruption, but that they had continued… albeit at only 40 percent of their previous levels. The FT reports
The production hiatus has left Saab with a sizeable order backlog. The total of around 8,100 cars includes 6,500 outstanding orders for markets worldwide and an additional 1,300 cars ordered by Pang Da as part of its rescue package. Saab said that €30m in respect of the latter was paid up front.
Muller said that he anticipates a two-to-three-month wait for Chinese government approval of a further tie-up with PangDa, and insists that Saab has the cash to get through that period. But with Vladimir Antonov’s share purchase still pending approval and Chinese approval of the PangDa deal far from certain, the WSJ notes that “Saab’s long-term prospects remain uncertain.” Despite Muller’s insistence that the production shutdown had taught him to keep enough cash on hand, his “quest for sufficient funds” clearly continues. Though it’s hurdled a significant obstacle, the battle for Saab’s survival continues…