By on April 9, 2010

Where to start with Saab-Spyker CEO Victor Muller’s plans for world domination? Why not with the craziest part? Despite declining sales, the boutique supercar arm of Saab-Spyker claims to be developing a “Super Sport Utility Vehicle” in the mold of the D12 Peking-To-Paris showcar. caused quite a stir when it revealed images of both a clay model and a test mule for this allegedly production-bound (yes, again) piece of madness. Moreover, news that Spyker won’t be invited to use Audi engines in forthcoming models caused at least one popular car blog to run the headline “Spyker’s New Ferrari-Powered SUV.” Because apparently Spyker can’t decide if it wants to use an AMG engine or a “supercharged Ferrari V8.” Does this give you a taste of just how goofy things have become ’round Saab-Spyker way? Well, it gets worse.

On to the Saab-flavored crazy. The boutique mainstream-model arm of Saab-Spyker is brimming with big plans, but before we get there, let’s take a moment to acknowledge just how disastrous Saab’s sales have been thus far. In the first quarter of last year (which was by no means the best sales year for Saab, at about 40k units globally), the Swedish brand sold 2,932 units in the United States. In the first quarter of 2010, Saab has sold a grand total of 813 units, with sales in March falling to a paltry 133 units. Yes, way.

But don’t worry, because Muller has the sales thing all planned out. He explains to Forbes:

I’m looking at our sales figure since we did the acquisition. We are looking at more than doubling our sales this year. We went from making 20,000 cars and selling 39,000 cars last year. This year we will be making 50,000 to 60,000 cars and selling all of them. So we are looking at a massive increase compared to last year. And next year, we should be back at the 100,000 car level.

But never mind the facts, this is the car business. Saab is upping production 18 percent, though even the Swedish government won’t buy their cars due to “dubious resale value.” And it’s not just the cars that came already-developed by GM that are grabbing headlines. A “retro-styled,” “teardrop-shaped” baby Saab has been rendered and written about extensively, even though Saab-Spyker’s business plan is about $1b short of making it happen (and that’s assuming an Opel Corsa basis). But hey, at least Victor Muller knows what he would name it.  And since Saab really is a big, grown-up car company, it must also have its own tuning arm, which will definitely be named “Viggen.” Every future Saab will be available in Viggen trim, doncha know?

So where is the money coming for all this? Russia, apparently. The more interesting question is what does Vladimir Antonov think he will get out of dropping $100m or so on a zombie brand, a money-losing supercar maker and their overly ambitious chief executive’s dreams of greatness? An insight into that comes from a translated Moscow Times interview with Antonov, by way of Saabs United. It’s a bit muddled, but apparently Antonov dreams of an auto empire of his own. A Russian unit building cars in Kalningrad that will apparently offer “Mondeo size at Focus prices.” A “Chinese unit” is planned as well, probably through an alliance with BAIC, which owns the IP to expired Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models. And Antonov makes it clear that Saab-Spyker isn’t a vanity project:

In fact, we have today is quite large [exposure] at Spyker. She lives in accordance with the business plan, Spyker, and repayment schedule, which arose long before the Saab on our horizon. Accordingly, these loans must be serviced, loans must be extinguished in accordance with this schedule. This is normal, this relationship “bank-client”. Spyker have always had relationships with the banks under the scheme is built. He was never, as they say, a favorite client, your customers. Just client.

So where is this ship of fools going? Who freaking knows. But it sure will be fun to watch. If nothing else, we have an excellent picture of the best-case scenario.

UPDATE (sort of): The new 9-3 will be built on the same Epsilon platform that has underpinned it since 2003… see what where this is going?

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22 Comments on “Saab-Spyker Is A Hot Mess...”

  • avatar

    “We went from making 20,000 cars and selling 39,000 cars last year.”

    Damn good sales force

  • avatar

    Why don’t you just leave Saab alone!!11


  • avatar

    I like that retro look “9-2”. I’d buy that, especially if it has those retro look steel wheels.

  • avatar

    Here’s another rendered 92 successor, the 92010 Sixten:

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but if anyone ever buys one of those horrible things pictured, they obviously can’t tell good taste from dog sh*t.
    And the interior? I know cars like this are supposed to be as close to ‘art’ as you can get, where the designer has free reign, but honestly every Spyker’s interior looks like a bondage sex boudoir from a 1970’s dutch porno film. All it’s missing are the naked hairy people.

    • 0 avatar

      Hm, I wasn´t aware of your interest of 1970’s dutch porno films with bondage sex.

      Most people think that the interior of Spyker cars are beautiful.
      On the other hand, the exterior usually gets mixed reviews.

      I´m not sure about SAAB:s future, but it will be interesting to watch.

  • avatar

    Aston-Martin should sue. I think Saab/Spyker would do better to produce the mule, it’d sell better than this ecclectic mess of styling metaphors.

  • avatar

    Spyker should have spent their purchase money on a lethal injection for Saab. Oh, wait, maybe this is it.

  • avatar

    “So where is this ship of fools going? Who freaking knows. But it sure will be fun to watch.”

    Amen. Anytime the Russians are involved, there’s an ‘x’ variable tossed into the equation – one that can never be solved.

  • avatar

    Well, I was one of the ones that thought Saab should just be killed, and it looks like that’s going to happen. Unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be a long, horrible death, however.

  • avatar

    I am not a fan of Spyker cars, but they sell (80 a year, 40 last year) so there is some sort of market for them.

    As a SAAB fan, I do worry about Mr. Muller and his:

    1) Obsession with the 92-93-96 models; the biggest export market will always be the US and the iconic SAAB cars in the US are the 900 hatchback and convertible. Were these earlier SAABs ever imported into the US or the UK?

    2) Aero styling; perhaps a hangover from “Born from Jets” days but I prefer SAABS because they are Swedish, not because of the corporate connection to jets. After all, SAABs turbos can from Scania, not from jets.

    3) Excessive corporate muddling around: VM may a dynamic figure, but is he a car designer?

    I said the same thing in 1998 about Steve Jobs and Apple, and so I am more than willing to be wrong. In terms of SAAB sales, since production stopped at midpoint 2009 and essentially no cars have been imported since then, exactly what are the dealers supposed to be selling?

    • 0 avatar

      You call yourself a Saab fan and don’t know that the 93, 95, 96, and 97 (Sonett) where all very much sold in the US? 92s were not, to my knowledge, but relatively few (~20K) of them were built anyway. The early cars are every bit as iconic as the 99/900. If you are going to do a small, boutique retro car to compete with the Mini and Fiat 500, the 92-96 are an excellent place to start.

      But as to the continual doom and gloom as to Saab’s recent sales, give it a rest! Of COURSE Saab didn’t sell many cars in ’09 or Q1 ’10, GM was shouting from the roof tops that they were killing the brand, and they SHUT THE FACTORY DOWN! Darned hard to sell cars that don’t exist. The first shipment of ’10 model year cars only just landed in the port from what I hear. Things are cranking back up, Saab will be just fine.

    • 0 avatar

      92s were never officially imported to the US – though a few are here.

      Official importation began with the 93.

  • avatar

    You people don’t know what your on about. Saab didn’t sell many cars at the end of last year because its future was unclear. Even in 2007 when it had a aged model range it sold 130,000 cars,enough to be profitable. There is nothing wrong with the epsilon 1 platform and Saab have said it will be heavily modified (this car was started under GM). The new 9-5 has recieved good reviews and the new small Saab will still happen even if its not in the business plan. They just need to find the financing that could happen due to profits in 2012 or a partnership with another company. And before you start baggng out the idea of them working with another company may I remind you Lotus do this very well. I also like how you don’t mention Saabs fully funded business plan that includes the 9-5, 9-5X and 9-4X. You are clearly against Saab but at least give them a fair go before you present you bies views

    • 0 avatar

      ^^ This.

      Someone needs to tell TTAC that Saab is no longer Detroit-owned, so the hateage can be reduced a notch. I’m unconvinced about Saab’s future, but am hoping for the best, rather than TTAC’s apparent schadenfreude spool-up.

  • avatar


    the production of Saab just got restarted after several months of halted production (thx GM). How would it be possible to sell Saabs in the US when the cars in question do not exist yet?

    Give them a few months to get back on their feet. The new 9-5 will arrive soon and the 9-4x is set to follow by the end of this year.

    For the car buyers who prefer safe cars that are still fun to drive, there is not much to choose from.

    Thank you Edward for your contribution towards a world where we will all be driving Toyotas. Personally, I hope Saab succeeds.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Rune, the biggest irritation that Saab presents to the TTAC Commentariat is that it still exists.

      Time will tell if all the eventual death of Saab will still come about, conditions are still not conducive to their thriving. But the track record for predictions so far here hasn’t been exactly 100% shall we say?

  • avatar
    kid cassady

    So the purpose of this thread is essentially to vocally lament something interesting and crazy happening in the automobile world. You must be chomping at the bit for everyone to be driving Camrys.

  • avatar

    I just wish more than one car company would use a different headlight design…the cars today all look so totally generic from the front, and back. Only the Land Rover has a distinctive look. I guess the Mini does also. Everything else is probably made in the same factory.

  • avatar

    I really like TTAC, but I have to agree that the “Commentariat” have really got their panties in a knot about Saab. Geez, give it a rest. This is starting to sound like a Microsoft BB trying to convince people iPhones are crap.

    As one of the other commentators said, Saab is providing some drama and entertainment value, unlike the anonymous corporate SOS from most of the rest of the automotive world. They might make it or they might not, but at least they are taking a shot…

    rant, snort, etc…

  • avatar

    The number of Saab dealers in North America have been radically reduced. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that less dealers = less sales especially with non existent marketing.

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