Dark Days In Trollhttan: Foreign Suppliers Ready To Pull The Plug On Saab

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Foreign suppliers could produce the final nail in the coffin of struggling Saab, the head of a European supplier association fears. “I think that the patience has more or less run out,” Lars Holmqvist, CEO of CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, said to Swedish news agency TT [via The Local]

Foreign suppliers “probably have less feeling for Saab than many Swedish companies which have grown up with Saab in a different way. Many also have a personal connection to Saab because they might have driven one at some point in their life. But the foreign suppliers are tougher,” Holmqvist, himself a Swede, told TT.

Except for a few days when the lines were moving, impressing foreign dignitaries, production at Trollhättan has been at a still stand for ten weeks. Victor Muller’s pledge that “we will definitely ensure that [a production stop] will not happen again” was good for two weeks. Then it happened again.

It is easy for foreign suppliers to drop the ball on Saab. Most of them are swamped with orders and have a hard time making their largest customers happy. Even if Saab would run at planned production volumes, Saab’s orders would not create rapid eye movement in the best of times.

According to Holmqvist, patience of foreign suppliers is running out. Says Holmqvist:

“This is partly due to a lot of empty promises that have turned to nothing and partly due to lack of information. No consideration has been taken of these suppliers, they feel duped and therefore Saab is now standing there with a factory at a standstill.”

Holmqvist’s prognosis for Saab is damning:

“I am surprised that they have managed this far. I don’t think Saab will make it.”

Meanwhile, over at Sobsunited, it’s already news that Saab paid its taxes on time. Not that Saab has to pay any taxes on any profits. However, there were some $5.5 million in payroll taxes and deductions due (which gives you an idea of the cost of letting the workforce sit idle.) Somehow someone at the Swedish tax office had leaked to the press that Saab hadn’t paid the taxman. On Friday afternoon, the money hit the government’s account. As long as prompt payment of withholdings is news in Sweden, we shall continue our coverage of the sobstory. If Holmqvist is right, it won’t be long.

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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4 of 23 comments
  • George B George B on Jun 19, 2011

    The core Saab cars, 9-3 and 9-5, are overpriced GM Epsilon cars. Not horrible, but also not special enough to justify their high price. What's sad is the Opel designed Epsilon cars like the 2008 to present Malibu are so much better than the N platform 1997-2003 Malibu and the J platform Cavalier. When GM cars loose the effects of Opel and Saab, will they be as bland as the GM cars designed in the US in the 80s and 90s? I won't miss the Saab brand, but I may miss the ways platform sharing with Saab forced Chevrolet to improve.

  • Saabista63 Saabista63 on Jun 19, 2011

    What SAAB has successfully built on GM platforms were - and are - cars that have been attempting to make the best of limitations that were not the fault of the engineers who designed them. In all cases, these cars were off mainstream and had a number of qualities that were hard to beat - at the cost of weaknesses resulting mostly from cost cutting and synergies. Usually, in the course of their exceptionally long model cycles many of these weaknesses could be straightened out and the cars have achieved a sort of maturity much appreciated by the people who actually drove them - but unfortunately hardly perceived by the large majority of those who never did. There you have all of SAAB's troubles. But except for the 9-7 and the 9-2, SAABs have never been rebadged, and they were designed by people who knew - and still know - their jobs. Otherwise, explain how the SAAB 9-3 Sedan could be - according to a new study by the IIHS recently presented here on TTAC - the safest in the class of 4-door midsize cars - in real life, not only in crash tests. Now, at a moment when many of these rather unlucky circumstances could be changed to the better, the aftermath of a troubled takeover is hitting home.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mhadi Mhadi on Jun 19, 2011

      @John Horner Neither the parent company SAAB-Scania, nor that of Volvo AB wanted to keep their car divisions - hence they sold them off. The original SAAB and Volvo parent companies are highly profitable. One wonders that if the foolish Americans had not bought SAAB or Volvo and no buyer could be found, whether the Swedes would have simply shut down their unprofitable car divisions and continue to focus on where the real money was: Aerospace, Trucks, Heavy machinery, and Marine. Unlike Daimler-Benz or Volkswagen for example, both SAAB and Volvo are not originally car companies; producing cars is not their main business, and never was.

  • 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.