By on May 26, 2011


“Based on the information we have, it looks like we will start up production tomorrow,” Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told Reuters today. That’s called a double hedge in the propaganda business.

But based on the information TTAC has, it looks like production will indeed take place on Friday. On Friday, an important visitor will come to Trollhättan: Pangda Chief Executive Pang Qinghua, with entourage. Today, Pang is in Stockholm for a chit-chat with Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson and the Swedish debt office. Their goodwill is needed to admit Pangda as an investor in Saab. And the Minister has a busy schedule …

On Tuesday, Minister Olofsson gave an audience to Vladimir Antonov. He might as well have stayed at home. According to The Local, Olofsson was noncommittal to the max after the meeting. “It was a good meeting. Always good to meet people about which so much has been written,” Maud Olofsson said, perfecting the art of false praise.

In the end, she told Antonov that as much as she would want to help him, her hands are tied, “we are waiting on GM and EIB.” That earned Olofsson the title “Ms. Awfulson” and “unable to organise a p*ss-up in a brewery” in The Local’s comment section.

Let’s see what gems will emerge from today’s meeting with Pangda. Ms Awfulson’s representative Hakan Lindberg already downplayed the meeting as “kind of courtesy call. It will probably be a fairly short meeting.” Olofsson’s press secretary Johanna Martin reiterated the “courtesy call. ”

Tomorrow, Saab’s new Chinese partners will be in Trollhättan, and it will be important that the lines are running – if only for a day. Don’t want to leave a bad first impression.

Speaking of first impressions: An advance team of Pangda already descended on Saab today, under the vigilant eyes of the press. ttela reports that unidentified Chinese arrived in a grey Saab 9-5. Even the flags were counted: One of Saab, one of Sweden, two of China.

While there is no shortage of Chinese flags, parts supply still is a problem. Saab ran out of money to pay suppliers in April, and lines stood idle ever since. There have been heavy-duty discussions with suppliers for the last few days. Spokesperson Gustavs told Reuters that by now, Saab has achieved “a critical mass to get production started.”

As we have learned in Japan, the car business is no nuclear device where production numbers suddenly explode in chain reaction fashion once critical mass has been reached. It takes just one missing part to ruin the day. As long as Saab doesn’t have all suppliers lined up, cars may be made for Chinese consumption, but they will not leave the factory.

Based on a chat with Gunnar Brunius, Saab’s vice-president of purchasing and manufacturing, Dagens Industri writes today that the plan is to roll out 100 cars on Friday instead of the usual 230 to 240 per day. Let’s see what happens next week when the Chinese are back on the plane to Beijing.

But wait, what did Pang say in the interview a week ago?

As soon as production starts, Pangda will create a team to carry out checks … The next round of investment for this project relies on the report from our team, if it is not up to expectations then Pangda has the right to terminate further investment plans.”

If Pang leaves that team behind in Trollhättan, then those lines better don’t stop in the weeks to come. Or someone will be walking.


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9 Comments on “Tomorrow, Pangda Will Walk The Line In Trollhättan...”

  • avatar

    Well, it is somehow touching to watch the perseverance Mr. Schmitt displays in his dedication to the SAAB case. As a dedicated SAAB fan, I can’t imagine a better way of keeping the brand in the focus in times like these.
    Somehow, there must be some emotion involved – otherwise, how would you explain the fact that there have been more postings on SAAB on TTAC than on most other single brands – especially if you take into consideration how many cars SAAB built in – say – the last three years.
    So thank you, Mr. Schmitt, and carry on keeping SAAB in the talk – the SAABistas really appreciate it!

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      You’re going to count posts relative to car sales?

      I think one-offs like the Ariel Atom or X-Bow have Saab beat.

    • 0 avatar

      He must still be sore about the Nicht German ad….

    • 0 avatar

      He probably has to keep Saab in th elights.
      Vertical Scope who owns TTAC also owns 3 Saab sites.

      • 0 avatar

        CW: TTAC’s editorial decisions are made 100% by its editorial staff. VerticalScope has no influence of any kind on our content.

        Furthermore, speculation in this thread about why TTAC chooses to cover Saab is completely off-base. The newsworthiness of an automaker’s situation has nothing to do with their sales volume, else no media outlet in the world would cover Saab. The slow-motion collapse of any auto brand would fall directly in TTAC’s editorial purview… automotive end-of-life stories are a fundamental part of this site’s brand/heritage/DNA (see our extensive “Deathwatch” archive). Sorry Saabophiles, there is absolutely no special “dedication” being shown to Saab here… not covering the story would be the more significant deviation from our editorial focus.

        Since I’m having to hold a “TTAC 101” seminar anyway, I’ll continue by explaining that TTAC’s comment sections are for on-topic discussion of the story presented in the original post. It is NOT a forum for discussing TTAC’s editorial policies (such discussion should be directed to our contact form, where they will reach editors directly). We can handle all the criticism anyone can dish out and we appreciate the opportunity to learn from constructive criticism, but not when they are presented in a forum for on-topic discussion of a specific story where they create a distraction.

        Meanwhile, the argument that this site has an “emotional” or “personal” stake in Saab’s failure continues to come up in every story we run about Saab (and even others), while my solicitation of a rebuttal explaining why Saab can/will survive has received not a single response. Once again, accusations of bias serve only to conceal an intellectual bankruptcy, a disdain for open, honest discussion and a bunker mentality that does neither Saab, nor the public any favors. Want TTAC to present an alternative perspective on Saab? Stop whining and start writing a coherent, convincing piece that explains why we should adopt your seemingly blind faith in Saab’s survival.

      • 0 avatar

        Wait a second? VerticalScope owns SAABcentral now too?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        @Ed: Can you formally start the Saab deathwatch?

  • avatar

    It will be the same car coming down the line 100 times which Saab had previously secretly take all the parts off it to feed it down the line again and again. Once the Pangda Chinese realise this they will probably run away screaming from Trollhatten as quickly as Hawtai did as even Antonov’s money can’t fix this money hole.

  • avatar

    “Once again, accusations of bias serve only to conceal an intellectual bankruptcy, a disdain for open, honest discussion and a bunker mentality that does neither Saab, nor the public any favors”

    Can I quote you on that in relation to your story about the ownership of SaabsUnited?
    Nice formulation of what you tried to do in that piece ;-)

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