Saab History Year In Review – 2009

Posted on 31. Dec, 2009 by in 2010-2019

Updated:

Saab History marks it’s third full year since its launch in the fall of 2006. This year was quite unlike any that Saab has had over its lifetime including the past twenty years under GM ownership.

I have decided that unlike previous years writing a review about the happenings about Saab History specifically, it seemed more appropriate and timely to cover Saab’s own history over the course of the year.

Below is a month-by-month summary I have provided which will be updated based on the events over the course of the next three days.

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January

At the first of the year we understood that GM was was strategically reviewing the Saab brand and gave Saab 3-months to find a buyer. If no buyer was found and a deal secured, GM would keep Saab running until December 31st, 2009, then wind the company down.

Following this news, speculation grew rapidly on what company could be the new buyer for Saab Automobile ranging from Fiat, TATA, BMW to Porsche, all stating that they are not interested in buying the company.

As dialogue rapidly continued about the sale of Saab, we heard from Saab and representatives from the Swedish Government attending the 2009 North American International Auto Show about the status of Saab. Saab Automobile’s own, Jan-Ake Jonsson stated “that in order for his company to be successful, it needed to become separated from GM. It was here where we learned about the “official talks” beginning with GM’s interest in selling Saab. This included everything from the company’s business plan to potential loans needed from the European Investment Bank in order for to become independent of GM.

In parallel, the 2010 Saab 9-3x and 9-4x official spy photos were released combined with those of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan. On the others side of the spectrum, GM was forced to sell the Pikes Peak heritage collection car.

At the end of this month, we learned that there was a significant date coming up of February 17th, which was the date that GM submitted their viability plan to the US Government.

February

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At the first of the month, Saab Automobile began to update their global marketing strategy as they continued to work hard to develop their sustainable business plan.

In the meantime, Saab Automobile successfully launched the all new Saab 9-3x at the Geneva Motor Show.

As the month continued all eyes were on the February 17th date where GM submitted a viability business plan to the U.S. Treasury and awaited the results of that plan in a press conference the following day. That press conference indicated that Saab would officially not have any future as being part of GM.

On February 20th at a press conference at the Saab Museum, Saab Automobile voluntarily filed for a reorganization with their local court that would initially be 3-months to restructure the company and protect themselves from creditors. At this time, Saab Automobile issued their first official press release about their intents on becoming fully independent of GM.

As the month continued, debates between Saab Automobile & the Swedish Government grew so much that Jan-Ake Jonsson of Saab & Maud Olofsson appeared on Sweden’s SVT to publicly respond to each others position. We learned that the Swedish Government would not provide any financial support unless a buyer was secured.

While the news about Saab’s future continued to be uncertain, the people living and working at Saab in Trollhättan, Sweden, held a torchlight procession and other demonstrations in support of Saab Automobile.

At the end of the month, Saab Automobile confirmed that there were 7-8 potential buyers without naming them.

March

In early March, Saab Automobile’s CEO Jan-Ake Jonsson indicated that he believed it would be three months to secure a buyer, making that sometime in June.

Following this news, we then learned for the first time about Chinese automobile companies expressing their interest in Saab either as buyer in part or whole.

Around the middle of the month, we then understood that there was a Swedish investment group emerging as a possible buyer of Saab as the company continued their 3-month reconstruction process up for review on April 6th. This was the first news we had about a buyer that was not proven otherwise.

As Erik “On The Roof” Carlsson celebrated his 80th birthday, SAAB’s original aircraft engineer, Rolf Melde, passed away at 86 shortly after.

As the month came to an end, GM’s CEO Rick Wagoneer who was at the helm when Saab’s remaining 50% was acquired in 2000 was asked to step down by the U.S. Government. Following this news, Saab Automobile & GM made an agreement on technology and we learned more details on the ongoing reconstruction process. We found that it consisted of the process, de-integrating from GM, producing information for potential buyers and restructuring the company so that would be stronger when it completes the process.

April

April 6th marked the date when Saab Automobile had their checkpoint with the Vanersborg court and was allowed to continue their reconstruction until May 20th, completing the 3-month process for the plan.

The next week, the all new Saab 9-3x had its North American debut at the New York Auto Show and immediately following this Jan-Ake Jonsson discussed the future of an independent Saab.

It was in April when the prospective buyers increased to 27, then later were reduced to 10 and then 4 by the end of the month.

As the month came to a close, Saab Automobile USA’s Jan-Willem Vester was no longer working as Communication Director and Saab Automobile launched a road show in Europe that included the 9-3x and 9-4x BioPower Concept.

May

In May, the month began with Saab Automobile USA’s advertising and promotions director departing, then Robert J. Sinclair, former President of Saab-Scania of America passing away leaving behind a legacy that he built.

It was during this month that we all believed that Saab Automobile would emerge strong after a successful 3-month reconstruction. Unfortunately, that is not how it panned out. What did happen was that Saab Automobile filed for a reconstruction extension on May 19th and ended their previous reconstruction the next day while in parallel starting another 3-month reconstruction.

In addition, Saab Automobile put in a request that their debt towards their creditors, be reduced by 75%, which was eventually accepted.

Towards the end of the month, the Swedish Government indicated that the loans available at the beginning of the year were still untouched and available should Saab Automobile find a buyer.

June

June began with GM officially filing for bankruptcy for the first time in the automakers 100 years as an automobile manufacturer and as a result, Saab Automobile’s Jan-Ake Jonsson responds.

The previous four bidders are now to two, Koenigsegg & Renco along with an 11th hour bidder to compete with them by the name of Merbanco.

On June 16th, an official announcement was made that the Swedish based Koenigsegg group reached a tentative agreement with Saab Automobile.

As the month continued, the first unofficial photos of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan surfaced along with sightings of it in the United States. In addition, a Swedish electric motor company made their first announcement that they were working on an electric vehicle with Saab Automobile.

To round out the month, Saab began discussing the urgent need for bridge loans as they needed funding immediately.

July

After the first week of the month, Saab Automobile’s owner GM emerged from bankruptcy court as “Government Motors” officially called General Motors Company, leaving the old company as Motors Liquidation Company.

As the new buyer, Koenigsegg Group was determined in the previous month, and Saab continued their second to last month of reconstruction, it was clear that they were now owned by 61% of the United States Government due to their owner’s new status.

During this time, a U.S. bankruptcy judge allowed GM’s sale of Saab Automobile.

Meanwhile, the final old Saab 9-5 sedan rolled off of the assembly line at the Saab factory at the same time as the all new Saab 9-5 continued testing in the mountains of Colorado.

At the end of the month, Saab Automobile’s equity and balance sheet was restored and a German automobile magazine broke an embargo by publishing the first seen official photos of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan.

August

At the start of the month, the Koenigsegg Group lost their investor, Mark Bishop that was putting up 22% of the financial support for the takeover of Saab Automobile. This created a huge financial hole for the company and the global media responded and were not particularly supportive of the group’s financial backing any longer.

A few days later, the Koenigsegg Group submitted their business plan and application to the Swedish Government & European Investment Bank to ensure financing.

At the 2009 Saab Owners Convention that week, it was indicted that the Koenigsegg group is close to a deal and they were right. The next stage in that deal was a stock purchase agreement for the sale of Saab Automobile. Immediately following this news, Saab Automobile’s Managing Director, Jan-Ake Jonsson and Christian Von Koenigsegg addressed questions and concerns with a promotional video.

As the month began to wrap up, Saab Automobile exited their 6-month reconstruction process by launching their new online ad campaign for the 2010 Saab 9-3x in addition to an online launch of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan.

The final news for the month was that the Koenigsegg group learned late that the European Investment Bank loan they applied for would not be reviewed until October., the same month that Saab Automobile’s new global sales operations would begin.

September

The first new month since reconstruction ended for Saab Automobile, the company began to consolidate their Stockholm & Goteborg, Sweden offices while relaunching their design center in Trollhättan

Following the consolidation announcement, the Koenigsegg group signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing Automotive Industry (BAIC). BAIC had previously visited the Saab factory so it was really no surprise that they are planning on continuing the old Saab 9-5 production in Beijing, China.

The middle of the month marked the global debut of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan in Frankfurt, Germany. It was here where Saab Automobile, Koenigsegg Group and BAIC were present to discuss their future program together. The new Saab Cars North America organization also indicated that they would start operations on October 5th. At the debut, Saab Automobile & Koenigsegg group discussed their hopes that the sale of Saab to them would be completed by the end of October.

At the end of the month, Saab dealerships in the United States were requested to submit their state of business to Saab Automobile USA as part of the selection and assignment process of dealerships. In addition, dealerships inventories were well depleted by a U.S. Government initiative called “Cash For Clunkers” that also permanently removed over five hundred and fifty classic Saab models from the road.

October

The first week of October saw the new Saab Cars North American organization begin operations, while they set their sights on a new headquarters in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The second week saw the all new Saab 9-5 road tour begin in Europe beginning in the U.K., then onto Spain & Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourgh, then Poland, Switzerland, Hungary & Austria.

The third week of the month saw approvals for Saab Cars North America’s new headquarters in addition to final approval for the long awaited European Investment Bank (EIB) loan.

The final week of the month involved the all new Saab 9-5’s North American debut in Miami while the Koenigsegg Group’s business plan emerged and their indication of extending their wait until the end of November was communicated regarding the remaining pieces of the deal that needed to come together.

November

The beginning of the month began with Saab Cars North America picking 137 out of 218 dealerships in the United States to continue, leaving 81 dealers to close operations by the end of the year.

Shortly after this news, Saab Cars North America received their tax abatement for their new headquarters in Royal Oak, Michigan.

On the 24th, the Koenigsegg Group unexpectedly and surprisingly decided to terminate their agreement to purchase Saab from GM. The results of this event caused a chain reaction to the global Saab community from customers to dealers and even Saab Automobile’s own European tour of the all new Saab 9-5 was abruptly cancelled excluding the final stops in Greece & Italy. This was the same week that the all new Saab 9-5 began production at the Saab factory in Trollhättan, Sweden.

As a result of this unexpected turn of events for Saab Automobile, the company ensured that business would continue and that they would secure new bidders to complete ownership, before the end of the year. Fortunately, old bidders re-emerged and some new bidders arrived. In addition, Saab dealerships in the U.S. were given an extension until December 31st to stay alive and those that were not chosen, were automatically reinstated and the European Investment Bank said that their loan was still available for a new buyer.

At the end of the month, GM & the Swedish Government indicated that there were two possible buyers for Saab and that discussions have begun.

The monthly GM board meeting was scheduled for the 2nd of the next month, so delegates from Saab Automobile & the Swedish Government flew to Detroit to plead their case to get another 30 days to find a new buyer.

December

On December 2nd, Saab & Swedish delegates met with the thirteen member GM board in Detroit, Michigan and managed to get another month in which to secure a buyer for Saab Automobile. GM indicated in an official statement that if no buyer has sealed the deal by the end of the month, they will wind down Saab. In addition, GM’s board also had President & CEO Fritz Henderson replaced with Edward Whitacre. As Saab & the Swedish delegates returned the Sweden, Saab’s CEO, Jan-Ake-Jonsson was greeted by his fellow Saab employees in Trollhättan.

On the very same day, Dutch based Spyker Cars emerged as the interested party to buy Saab according to media reports.

A week later following Saab Automobile’s organizational split into five divisions, longtime Saab Automobile Communications manager, Jan-Willem Vester passed away.

Immediately following the earlier reports about Spyker Cars, the company itself issued its first official statement about its interest in buying Saab Automobile upon visiting Saab headquarters in Sweden. GM responded to this by posting their own statement about negotiations with interested parties. Saab dealerships in the United States received another extended agreement until the end of January.

The same week, BAIC reached a cooperation with Saab Automobile in purchasing Saab 9-3 technology from ’05 & the old 9-5 model from them. This in turn gave Saab Automobile enough money to operate for 3-months without problems. Shortly after this news, the following day we learned that a new coalition was formed to deliver high performance fully electric vehicles with Saab. This coalition involved Saab Automobile, Boston Power batteries, Sweden based Electro Power as well as Innovatum & the Power Circle group.

The next week, we saw the final Saab produced at the Saab Factory for the year, the all new Saab 9-5 receive 5-star EuroNCap safety ratings while the initial talks between Spyker Cars & GM collapsed on December 18th, 2009. Following this news, GM had a press conference outlining virtually no details whatsoever about why the talks collapsed and more specifically, why it was announced that they would proceed in winding Saab down before their December 31st deadline they originally had. It was indicated by TTELA that apparently, the Spyker Cars-Saab deal was only hours away when this unexpected termination of the discussions took place and GM held the press conference.

On December 20th, a new group of anonymous Swedish investors emerged while Spyker Cars surprisingly resubmitted a renewed bid that removed the last hurdles to buy Saab Automobile from GM. GM as before, released another statement about the expressed inquiries they have received since December 18th’s indication that they would wind down Saab.

The following day, Spyker Cars CEO was in Sweden and met with GM & the Swedish Government. In addition, he also visited Saab Automobile’s headquarters and spoke to the press and had numerous interviews about his expressed urgent interest in buying Saab Automobile.

On the 23rd, Saab Automobile indicated to their employees that they are planning for two completely different scenarios. The first being that they are purchased, the second being that they will follow GM’s wind down to commence on January 1st, 2010.

On Christmas eve there were reports that the second revised Spyker Cars bid was rejected, however that was incorrect as negotiations continued.

From December 25th throughout the holiday weekend, there was nothing new to report regarding negotiations between GM & Spyker Cars and any other interested bidder.

We believed that the final week of the December beginning on the 28th was when the fate of Saab Automobile is to be determined. This changed, when GM moved the date to January 7th in order to make the final decision.

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No Responses to “Saab History Year In Review – 2009”

  1. Thair

    28. Dec, 2009

    Great review, Ryan.

    Well done!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryan

    28. Dec, 2009

    Thair,

    Thank you! It took about 7 hours to compile, but was necessary.

    Reply to this comment
  3. ARUK

    31. Dec, 2009

    Thank you for all your hard work over the year Ryan in creating this exceptional site dedicated to all things Saab!

    More where this came from in 2010 please -Saab have a successful history that is yet to be told!

    Happy New Year/Gott Nytt År!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Martin W

    31. Dec, 2009

    My first comment here,
    Learned about your site from some comments at SU. Hope to become a regular here. Very informative review and fascinating videos. TSN is my other regular site as well. Lots to keep up with.
    Happy New Year.
    Martin,
    Toronto, Canada
    1991 900 SPG
    2000 9-3 Viggen

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ryan

    01. Jan, 2010

    Thair, Aruk & Martin,

    Thank you and Happy New Year!

    R

    Reply to this comment
  6. Troll96

    01. Jan, 2010

    A first-rate effort at capturing a very tumultuous year. Thanks, Ryan.

    Happy New Year from California!

    Reply to this comment

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