"They Cannot Pay Their Bills." Saab Stops Production Yet Again

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday, Spyker CEO Muller said everything is peachy. Saab “is not on the verge of collapse,” Muller said to a rapt audience of reporters, while, as Reuters snidely remarked, “Saab was presenting new vehicles already shown at the Geneva auto show.” Muller promised that “a small glitch does not change the fact that cars are being made,” and that Saab would have the widest and newest range in its history next year. This year? No problem at all. Just that output would be more weighted towards the second half of the year. Which in itself would be a miracle, and outpacing the competition, because in Europe, auto sales are more weighted towards the first half of the year. This was yesterday. Now is today.

Today, the production lines at Saab ground to a halt again. No parts. Nobody was quick-witted enough to blame Japan. “Saab halted production anew on Tuesday due to parts shortages after failing to pay suppliers,” says Reuters. A day after the glowing presentation, Victor Muller told Reuters that Saab expects to have more production line interruptions: “This is an ongoing thing. It will take some time to get everyone back in line properly. We will get it under control.”

Meanwhile Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told the wire service that they “are working intensively to make sure the flow gets going again. We are having discussions with suppliers and doing our best to come to mutual agreements.”

Saab’s part suppliers are less optimistic.

“They cannot pay their bills,” Svenake Berglie, chief executive of the FKG suppliers’ sector organisation, told Reuters. FKG said four or five of the biggest suppliers stopped deliveries because of unpaid invoices.

Everybody is now waiting for Russian sugar daddy Vladimir Antonov to come out of exile.

Maybe, we aren’t the only ones who had received threats for previous reporting. Reuters writes very cautiously: “Antonov, who owns banks in Lithuania and Latvia, used to have a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker but had to sell it, at GM’s insistence, before Spyker could buy Saab. Media reported at the time that Antonov had links to organized crime.”

No need to hold back. Meanwhile, even Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti writes: ”Antonov was a key shareholder in Spyker, but he was forced out shortly before the Saab sale deal as GM reportedly suspected the Russian businessman of links to organized crime.” If RIA-Novosti says so, who are we to argue with them.

Antonov has applied to the Swedish Debt Office to take a below 30 percent stake in Saab. The BBC called the Debt Office and was told that “a formal request to clear Mr Antonov is currently under consideration, although it will take weeks rather than days before a decision is made.”

Meanwhile, even over at the Saabsunited cheering section, the mood turns from ebullient to guarded. Good advice is being dispensed: “Saab cannot afford big mistakes, hardly small. How should it proceed? With sincerity, honesty and humility.“

Or not, as the saying went here in years behind.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Sam P Sam P on Apr 06, 2011

    Pity. Well, I guess Volvo's still around for those who would like a Swedish car, quirks and all.

  • Paul W Paul W on Apr 06, 2011

    Saab has decided to shut down production for a week, until April 12:th. And Bertel, you're underestimating the Saab enthusiasts ability to come up with excuses, they've already started blaming it on the Japanese earthquake.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.
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