Chinese Saab Story, Updated

Thor Johnsen
by Thor Johnsen

I’ve been prowling the autoblogosphere today re: the Saab SAIC deal. Besides the obvious concerns about fear of production and technology moving out of Sweden, comments and speculations are mainly positive. The unions are happy, says Chairman of the United Metalworkers, Paul Åkerlund. “Lovely to be done with this discussion, now its time to look forward.” The Chairman of the union, Annette Hellgren, is similarly copacetic. “There are always question around Chinese owners, as with our neighbor in Gothenburg (Volvo), but with this deal, we don’t have to worry – that feels good.” In their opinion, we’re talking Chinese money, access to the Chinese Market, and no Chinese interference with management or product development. (Minor stake in Koenigsegg Group, remember?) As the old Swedish aphorism says, “Döm ej allt du ser, Tro ej allt du hör, Gör ej allt du kan, Säg ej allt du vet, Förtär ej allt du har, Låt ingen veta vad du har i hjärtat eller pungen.” Make the jump for the translation and more news . . .

“Do not judge all you see, do not believe all you hear, do not do all you can, do not say all you know, do not eat all you have, let no one know what you have in your heart or in your wallet.”

Speaking of wallets . . .

In an interview to Aftenposten, investor Bård Eker expressed joy and relief, but also frustration with slow bureaucratic processes. They’re in a hurry alright; “we’re talking hours and days, not weeks and months.”

So the only real concern is whether the deal will go through or not. A Memorandum of Understanding is not a legally binding contract; it isn’t good enough to secure that crucial loan from European Investment Bank (EIB).

According to, if Saab receives EIB loans, the new company will be kept on a tight leash. Research, development and innovation, namely intellectual property rights such as patents, must be owned and conducted by an entity within the EU. In addition, “most [of this work] must be conducted in Europe,” said EIB Vice Manager Eva Srejber.

According to Trollhättan-area’s local news site, Amnesty International stated a cause for concern to Koenigsegg, demanding a similar work force policy in an eventual assembly factory in China as there is in Trollhättan.

“We take no stand for or against Swedish establishments dealing with non-democratic countries. But we think that any business that enters into a partnership with China should be familiar with how things looks like in the Chinese industry,” Amnesty International press secretary Elisabeth Löfgren said. “Companies should not operate with double standards. Compliance with the Swedish labor law in Sweden should not be lower in the foreign operations and by its subcontractors. Saab is in a huge mess. But it is nevertheless important that there are set demands to Koenigsegg in this respect.”

Thor Johnsen
Thor Johnsen

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  • Stuki Stuki on Sep 14, 2009

    Zeke, At or near the top of the list for consumer computers and electronics need not mean good quality in absolute terms. Not saying anything's wrong with Apple's quality, but McDonalds may well be at or near the top of the list for healthiness amongst hawkers of dirt cheap fast food.

  • ZekeToronto ZekeToronto on Sep 14, 2009

    stuki: That may be true, but on a practical level what it means is that you can't buy anything any better. So what's the point of discussing "quality" that doesn't exist or isn't attainable? Don't get me wrong--I'm not one of those Apple fanboys that leaps to their defense whenever the subject comes up, but Charly's statement that Apple isn't know for quality just doesn't jive with the facts. See Consumer Reports for example.

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.