Tag Archives: Jan-Willem Vester

Fmr Saab Presidents Shannon, Spenchian, Let Go By GM

Posted on 05. Mar, 2010 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History (Left to Right) Bob Sinclair, Jay Spenchian, Jan-Willem Vester & Steve Shannon. – 2007 Saab Owners Convention, Troy Michigan

The former Presidents of Saab Automobile in the United States while under previous GM ownership, Jay Spenchian (2005-2007) as well as Steve Shannon (2007-2009), were both dismissed from their duties as executives at GM this week, according to Ad Age.

Jay Spenchian began with Saab Automobile USA on March 31st, 2005 and was involved in the “Born From Jets” advertising campaign and saw the 50th anniversary of Saab in the United States in 2006.

Steve Shannon, who was interviewed at the New York Auto Show last year, led the company beginning on April 16th 2007, during a challenging time as the company itself was converted into a premium brand group, then dissolved as GM began to express its interest in shedding it’s former Saab brand.

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Saab History Year In Review – 2009

Posted on 31. Dec, 2009 by .

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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.
[…]

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Saab Cars North America Sales & Service Team By Oct 5th

Posted on 21. Sep, 2009 by .

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At the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, Jan Ã…ke Jonsson introduced Mike Colleran who has been designated as the the new COO and President of Saab Cars North America, Inc. Mike Colleran who has worked as the Sales Director for Saab USA for the past 5 years, spoke at the 2009 Saab Owners Convention back in late August that I covered. Following this speaking engagement, his announcement with this new position, succeeding Steve Shannon took place back on September 3rd, 2009.

This video indicates a few announcements for the newly established Saab Cars North America, beginning with the new appointment of John Anderson, the head of sales & service for United States and North America markets. Although there is no press release available for this new position, I would expect there to be one, once a new communications director has been announced since Jan-Willem Vester left Saab USA on April 20th, a month after I interviewed him about his career.

In addition to the announcement of the new staff member, it also indicates that the remainder of the Saab Cars North America sales & service team will be completed by October 5th, 2009. This new team, speculated to consist of 46-49 people, may be half former GM employees with the other half, former Saab USA employees and/or from the outside.

In terms of the new headquarters location for this new team, it has been rumored to be initially within the GM Renaissance center, then will move to some facility nearby again, still in Michigan.

I am guessing that within the next few weeks by this date, the details will come out soon as to what this team will consist of, where they will be located and what the new Saab Cars North America will look like.

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Saab USA Advertising & Promotions Manager Leaves Post

Posted on 04. May, 2009 by .

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Saab History has just learned that GM Premium Brand’s, Saab USA Advertising & Sales Promotion Manager, Steven Haener, has just left his position for another position within GM at this time.

This means that there is no longer anyone managing Saab Automobile’s advertising, promotions, merchandising efforts in the United States at a national level. It’s effectively the dealerships fending for themselves with their own regional advertising, promotional and merchandising (parts) activities at this time.

Steven Haener managed national advertising, sales and promotional activities such as the Saab Performance Drive Team Appearance & Born From Jets Mobile tour, Saab-Mavic Bicycling Partnership and the Saab-Salomon XWD Ski promotional program in the United States.

We first met in 2005 at the Born From Jets tour at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. when the tour began, and he was kind enough to connect with me there at the event.

It is unfortunate to hear that he is now, no longer there with no replacement in sight, just a week after Jan-Willem Vester, former Saab Automobile USA communications manager departed. This news also continues the trend, three months ago, since the director of marketing, Roger McCormack departed, and before that, the product director, John Libbos in December. I think that this departure makes Steve Shannon who I just interviewed, the only remaining ‘Saab USA’ employee, albeit under the ‘GM Premium Brands’ umbrella at the Saab USA HQ at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan. I wonder if this is due to the fact that he is member of the Saab Automobile AB Management board?

It’s clear now more than ever before, that we need an aggressive relaunch of Saab Automobile in North America this year, because at this present time, it’s ‘effectively’ just the customers and the dealerships with some loose “support” from GM in Detroit.

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Saab History Interviews Steve Shannon At 2009 NYIAS

Posted on 12. Apr, 2009 by .

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Film Credit: Saab History

At the North American debut of the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi at the 2009 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), I had the opportunity once again with the help of colleague Todd Agostini, to interview Steve Shannon, Executive Director of GM Premium Brands (Saab/Cadillac/ Hummer).

Last year, I interviewed Steve Shannon with Jan-Ake Jonsson, Managing Director for Saab Automobile USA at the NYIAS, this year, I worked with Todd of Cherry Hill Saab in New Jersey on this interview, which I must saw was quite nice in terms of the questions we asked and the answers we received.

This month of April marks the two-year anniversary of Steve Shannon’s tenure managing Saab Automobile since he replaced Jay-Spenchian back on April of 2007. I was delighted to hear his response when we reminded him of this.

A thank you to Todd of Cherry Hill Saab as well as Steve Shannon & Jan-Willem Vester of Saab Automobile USA for making the necessary arrangements for this interview to take place.

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2010 SAAB 9-3x Cross Combi Debuts At New York Auto Show

Posted on 06. Apr, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

Saab Automobile USA’s Jan-Willem Vester has provided Saab History with a recent press release about the Saab 9-3x Cross-Combi debuting at the New York Auto Show this Thursday.

Here is the press release below:

NEW 2010 SAAB 9-3X: FROM TROLLHÄTTAN TO MANHATTAN

Latest in 9-3 Family Combines Advanced Cross-Wheel Drive With Fuel Efficiency

DETROIT – Saab will introduce the 2010 9-3X at the 2009 New York International Auto Show on April 8, a rugged all-rounder aimed at active individualists seeking an alternative to a large crossover or SUV. It is the vehicle’s North American debut, following its world premiere last month at the Geneva Auto Show.

Developed and manufactured at Saab’s headquarters in Trollhättan, Sweden, the 9-3X is designed to stylishly transport outdoor enthusiasts to their adventures. It features distinctive looks; a versatile SportCombi body; higher stance; and advanced all-wheel-drive technology. On top of that, the 9-3X also offers fuel efficiency and functional storage without limits on the kinds of roads it can travel.

In the 9-3X, the acclaimed Saab Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system – which made its debut in the Turbo X limited edition model last year – will be combined with the fuel-efficient 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. The 9-3X embodies Saab’s “EcoPower” technology philosophy, which aims at combining a dynamic driving experience with an efficient use of resources to achieve responsible performance.

Distinctive appeal

Saab designers raised the chassis of the two-wheel-drive 9-3 SportCombi 1.4 inches (35 mm) and added automatic body-leveling so the 9-3X can handle a rugged driving terrain regardless of the load on the rear axle. It is designed for those who frequently travel gravel or unpaved roads, without compromising the driving experience on asphalt.
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Saab Automobile Stop & Resume Production At Factory

Posted on 27. Feb, 2009 by .

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Film Credit: SVT

This past Wednesday, Saab Automobile AB’s factory (where the 9-3 & 9-5 are produced) in Trollhättan, Sweden, was forced to shut down production due to some issues with a supplier and customs, according to just about all news sources that covered this issue.

Eric Geers, Director of Global Communications for Saab Automobile said that car production would be up and running again. At the same time as this announcement, I received an e-mail from Saab Automobile USA’s DIrector of Communications, Jan-Willem Vester and heard the same thing, that production would be up soon.

The following day, everything got sorted out and business as usual as the line assembly and factory as a whole picked up where it left off. Apparently, what happened was that after Saab filed for protection from creditors last week, they lost a 30-day credit facility with the Swedish Customs as a result. Apparently, between this past Wednesday and March 4th, Saab Automobile will have to pay a “considerable sum” of money, said Hans Ohlsson at Swedish Customs.

Effectively, the factory shut down for a day, then resumed the following day continuing business as usual during this reconstruction period.

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General Motors To Sell Saab USA Heritage Collection Cars

Posted on 19. Dec, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History 2007 (L-to-R) Peter Backstrom Saab Car Museum Sweden / Dick Balsey GM Heritage Collection

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

Jalopnik has reported that the 1995 Saab 900 Pikes Peak Car, will be going up for auction at the Barret Jackson auction house early next year in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The 1995 Saab 900 Pikes Peak Car is the first car in the Saab USA Heritage Collection to be auctioned off, and it may not be the last.

I have checked the Barret-Jackson website and have not seen it listed, so I’ve contacted them as well as Saab Automobile USA to confirm or deny these reports. They have confirmed this now.

I have also contacted Jan-Willem Vester at Saab Automobile USA and he has confirmed these reports as well.

In finding that these reports are true, and I am absolutely livid and floored that GM can be so short-sighted in this regard.

I have asked many people from Saab Automobile USA, to the GM Heritage Collection to the Saab Car Museum as to why this car can’t be offered to the Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan, Sweden! and here’s what I have understood at this time from the GM Heritage Collection as well as Saab Automobile USA, which seem to be conflicting statements:

The Saab Car Museum is not part GM, therefore we can’t send the cars to them – GM Heritage Collection

The Saab Car Museum does not have the budget in Sweden to acquire even a few cars at this time – Saab Automobile USA

No response as of the time of this posting from Peter Backstrom at the Saab Car Museum.
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Production Concept