Tag Archives: Steve Shannon

General Motors Announces Saab Automobile AB’s Departure And New Era of Independence

Posted on 20. Feb, 2009 by .

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Image Credit: Saab Automobile AB (New Logo “Wordmark”)

This is the press release we’ve been waiting for since December of 1989, when General Motors took over Saab Automobile AB with a 50% stake.

Today, it is my great pleasure to provide you a press release twenty years later in 2009, stating that Saab Automobile AB will be departing 100% from General Motors over the course of this year.

The poll that I provided really made it clear with the results that everyone wanted Saab Automobile to be sold from GM, and effectively, this is the first step in the process.

To take a look back at the eras of Saab Automobile, please refer to my chart here.

I have gone ahead and asked the current Saab Automobile USA President, Steve Shannon to provide a video announcing this departure much like former President of Saab-Scania of America, Inc. Bob Sinclair did back in December of 1989 in his corner office of the merger. I am awaiting his response.

Saab History’s history continues here on Saabhistory.com and without further delay, here’s the press release (notice the updated Saab logo “wordmark” on the header in the press release)

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Saab Automobile on the way towards independence

– ”today is the beginning of a new chapter in Saab’s history”

After 20 years of foreign ownership, the future of Saab Automobile is once again in Swedish hands. On Friday, the Vänersborg District Court approved the request for a reorganization and restructuring which Saab’s representative submitted earlier in the morning.

“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in Saab’s history”, says Jan Åke Jonsson, Managing Director of Saab Automobile. “We are now recreating Saab Automobile as an independent unit. The road ahead will not be easy. Many have already suffered considerably as a result of the crisis in the automobile industry and sacrifices will be a part of our future, but after a period of tough decisions we will have laid the foundations for a new beginning.

“Saab has a trademark which is well established both in Sweden and internationally. We have a documented efficient production and we have a strong range of models in development. That is why we have chosen this road. The future will be tough, but the commitment which exists to support the Swedish automobile industry and Saab will help us in the arduous tasks which lie ahead of us.”

The work of piloting the new Saab Automobile into the future will be led by a group of three persons: the lawyer Guy Lofalk, whom the District Court has appointed as Administrator, the Managing Director Jan Ã…ke Jonsson, and the international reorganization expert, Stephen Taylor.

The purpose of the company reorganization is to create a short-term stability that will make it possible to develop a long-term solution for Saab. The Swedish Company Reorganization Act says that an application shall not be approved unless there is reasonable cause to assume that the purpose of the reorganization will be achieved. In today’s decision, the District Court has found that such conditions exist.

“I can already say that I am impressed by the competence within Saab”, says Guy Lofalk, “and with three strong automobile models just around the corner it would be a waste not to try to find a long-term way forward.”

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General Motors Holding Saab 9-5 & 9-4x Hostage Until Financing Comes From Swedish Government

Posted on 19. Feb, 2009 by .

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Photo Credits: Auto Bild

An internal satellite (IDL) video conference took place yesterday at Saab dealerships. In the video conference it was confirmed that the next generation Saab 9-5 and 9-4x vehicles that are 90% complete, will be shelved until financing comes.

It’s clear that General Motors are now positioning themselves to “hold future products hostage” from Saab Automobile AB unless Saab’s Board of Management and the Swedish Government meet the financial demands of GM.

Here was the original letter to dealerships below:

February 17, 2009

To: All Premium Channel Dealers

Tonight, GM will submit an updated viability plan to the U.S. Treasury as part of the long-term loan agreement. It discusses in detail a significantrestructuring of the company and demonstrates our detailed plan for long-term success as a global enterprise.

As you well know, we have been engaged throughout the last few months in a strategic review for both the HUMMER and Saab brands. While those reviewsare not yet complete, the viability plan covers a wide range of business decisions, including actions associated with HUMMER and Saab that will be of great interest to you.

To that end, I’d like to invite you to participate in an IDL on Wednesday, February 18 (EST). Steve Hill, Steve Shannon, Jim Taylor and I will discuss the highlights of the viability plan as it relates to the Premium Channel. Cadillac dealers are more than welcome to attend, but we will focus specifically on news regarding HUMMER and Saab. Please reference the details outlined below to view the broadcast:
[…]

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Saab Automobile’s Global Marketing Strategy Restructuring

Posted on 05. Feb, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

As indicated across the globe, Saab Automobile’s marketing changes are happening at a rapid pace because the global marketing strategy is being restructured. We’re seeing this at all levels from the websites which will be fully updated to reflect a globally consistent brand presence. In addition to the online changes, we’re having management changes as well as Saab Automobile continues its progression towards independence.

According to Automotive News, who I “rarely trust” have indicated these management changes will continue with Saab Automobile AB’s Managing Director, Jan-Ã…ke Jonsson who will be taking on additional responsibility of marketing and sales as of March 1st, 2009. It’s interesting to hear this because, GM Premium Brands in North America’s Steve Shannon, did this last fall, but added Cadillac & Hummer to his responsibilities as did his colleague.

Here’s a quote from this report where Automotive News spoke with Brent Dewar, GM Europe’s head of sales, marketing and aftersales.

Jan-Ake Jonsson, currently managing director of Saab, will add responsibility for Saab’s marketing and sales in Europe.

Evidently, Jonsson also chimed in as well stating that this will help them focus the Saab brand.

Saab’s Jonsson stated that the new structure would give the Swedish brand greater responsiveness to the markets. “We will not be working through many different layers and we can better focus our brand,” he said.

The news sounds positive, but I did e-mail Brent Dewar as well as Knut Simonsson, Executive Director Global Brand & Sales Operations, to ensure that this news is accurate.

It looks like a lot of changes are already in the mix as we speak, even though a new business plan is being hammered out between now and February 17th for Saab Automobile’s next era of independence.

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Next Generation Opel Insignia Saab 9-5 “A Year-ish Away”

Posted on 07. Jan, 2009 by .

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According to Motor Trend, GM Premium Brands Executive Director, formerly Saab Automobile USA President, Steve Shannon says Next Generation Opel Insignia Saab 9-5 is about a “Year-ish Away”.

At this rate, what’s the point with this car really? With the 1st generation Saab 9-5 that has had 2 facelifts, once in 2002, again in 2006, will be ending as a MY 2009, so does this mean that 2010 there will be no Saab 9-5, given that next generation 9-5 will be a MY2011 when it debuts now?

I think we’re all getting quite tired of this, especially when we see the first version of the 9-5’s platform, the Opel Insignia to get launched prior, and again with the Cadillac SRX being launched prior to the Saab 9-4x.

With this vehicle being substantially delayed and pushed aside for the Opel Insignia to be launched first, what will be the point by the time it arrives? It seems like for the forseeable future, Saab dealerships will only be selling the 9-3, and that’s just not enough, it just isn’t.

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The U.S. Ethanol Industry Now Asks For Govt Bailout

Posted on 07. Jan, 2009 by .

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Edmunds has recently been indicating that the U.S. Renewable Fuels Association is looking for a $1 Billion dollar financial aid bailout now, following the financial sector and automotive sectors.

Here’s a quote from Edmunds other blog, Inside line, it’s just great!

The Renewable Fuels Association has recently put in a request for $1 billion for financial aid to help struggling ethanol producers so they can finance current operations. In addition, the RFA — the ethanol industry’s lobby — has also suggested to the incoming administration that it create a $50-billion federal loan guarantee program to finance investment in the ethanol producers’ expansion. Give me a break.

If this is the true state of this particular industry, how will this affect Saab’s BioPower plan for the United States this year? I recall that 2009 is the year that Steve Shannon indicated that the program would be launched back when we spoke after the dinner at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C. in August of 2007. I still have not received a definitive response about the 9-5 BioPower shown to be used at the up and coming Gumball Rally this spring.

Furthermore, what is the status on GM’s investments in Coskata, Inc. as mentioned at the Saab 9-4x BioPower Concept launch and Dartmouth College’s R&D on cellulosic Ethanol, Mascoma, Inc.?

I have been in touch with Saab Automobiles chief of BioPower development, Kjell ac Bergstrom whom I’ve interviewed last January, and met back in 2007 at the Saab Festival at his seminar, so I look forward to his responses about their outlook for 2009 in this regard.

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Saab Automobile Debuts 25th Anniversary Convertible

Posted on 13. Nov, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile AB

Saab Automobile USA are releasing a “25th Special 9-3 Convertible” which will be showing at the Los Angeles Auto Show that begins on November 22nd.

This edition, as I suspected is only for the United States, because back in September Saab Automobile released an almost identical version called the “Air Edition” for Europe, although that version had multiple engine options along with uniform aluminum colored Turbo-X wheels.

This “25th Anniversary” edition is interesting, because although technically it has been 25 years since the 900 Cabriolet Prototype hit the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1983, however Saab Automobile released a Saab 9-3 Convertible “20th Anniversary” edition back in 2006, two years ago, not 5.

I do want to use this an opportunity to thank former President of Saab-Scania of America, Bob Sinclair for the idea of the convertible and pitching it to Sten Wennlo back in 1983, and getting the prototypes built by ASC (American Sunroof Company) here in the United States. I also want to thank Saab Automobile USA for recognizing this during the 20th anniversary of the convertible in 2006 by having a media event in Southern California showing appreciation to Bob Sinclair.

The press release is below, and as you can see there is only one engine option for this U.S. edition unlike Europe, and omitting the Turbo-X wheels, but instead including an abundant set of wheels from inventory that debuted a whole three years ago. Why is it that Saab Automobile continue to waste time and energy on something like this, where an anniversary edition was already done 2 years and with much better execution I must say.

While the Saab 9-3 Convertible in its present form is a good car, this special edition is redundant and in my opinion undermines the 20th edition Saab 9-3 convertible launch back in 2006. The least they could have done, as one commenter on Motortrend suggested: “Outfit the converitble with a burgundy leather interior and white exterior paint job if they were serious about making it a true historical “anniversary edition” successor.”

I suggest you read what others are also saying on Motortrend and Autoblog.

For Immediate Release — November 12, 2008

American debut at Los Angeles auto show
Saab Celebrates 25 years of Convertibles with Special Edition
DETROIT – The first ever Saab Convertible made its world debut at the Frankfurt auto show in the fall of 1983. Now, 25 years later, a Special Edition makes its American debut at the Los Angeles International auto show which opens to the public on November 22. This new version of the Saab 9-3 Convertible will be showcased in a unique bright champagne metallic color.
Saab surprised the automotive world when it pioneered the concept of a ‘four season, four-seat’ soft top Convertible. Designed to be practical and stylish, the Scandinavian-styled convertible changed the perception of open top vehicles to be used all the year round.

“Saab has sold more than a quarter of a million convertibles worldwide and this latest edition highlights the timeless design and responsible performance that Saab convertibles have always represented,” said Steve Shannon, executive director, marketing and product, Saab Automobile USA.
The special edition Saab Convertible will be available in three metallic colors to include Jet Black, Carbon Grey and the new Bright Champagne. It will feature Saab’s signature 2.0-liter, 210 hp four cylinder engine and can be matched to six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions.
Special content includes influences from the Turbo X performance model, such as the design of the front bumper and steering wheel plus carbon fiber interior finishes and black floor mats with grey binding. Like the Aero version, the rear shows dual exhaust pipes and an anthracite grey bumper insert. Five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels will be standard.
Expected to arrive in dealer showrooms in January 2009, the Saab 9-3 2.0T Special Edition Convertible will be priced starting at $ 46,725 including destination charges.

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GM Premium Brands North America (Saab, Cadillac & Hummer)

Posted on 28. Oct, 2008 by .

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It has been recently indicated that Saab Automobile USA, is now part of the channel now known “GM Premium Brands” North America. GM Premium brands consists of Saab, Cadillac & Hummer. The configuration of these brands is what we’re now seeing in Saab dealerships across the United States.

While the Saab USA name may be used here and there, I expect that to be used less and less internally and only be used as a simple external indicator of the brand in the limited advertising and marketing exercises within the United States.

Furthermore, there is no more president for the Saab brand as well, as the previous president, Steve Shannon while continuing to act as a general manager for Saab, is now also managing director of the premium brands, Cadillac, Hummer & Saab. Mr. Shannon’s time now not 100% devoted to leading Saab Automobile’s operations in the United States, so how can this be beneficial to Saab?

This all means that Saab is officially not receiving any urgent priority in the United States in comparison to other brands, and with a new “premium brands” channel, we should expect this trend to continue.

All of this news may call for a final tagline “Saab, the best kept secret”

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SCUSA President Steve Shannon Manages Premium Brands

Posted on 17. Oct, 2008 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile USA

Saab Automobile USA President, Steve Shannon has left his position as General Manager after only 1 year 6 months of tenure, however he will be continuing in a similiar capacity while taking on additional responsibilities.

Update:

According to Saab Automobile USA Communications recently, Steve Shannon will, in addition to managing of the Saab Automobile USA brand, will now also be responsible for managing the “premium brands” which consist of Cadillac as well as Hummer.

With the tenure of less than his predecessor solely in a Saab-only capacity, Jay Spenchian at 2 years, I wonder what this means now that he’ll be working with other brands in addition to Saab.

The other big question I have here is, why can’t there be someone leading Saab Automobile USA that spends 100% of their time on Saab? I’ve been running this resource full-time for the past year and a half now, so with all of the work I have and all the work that needs to be done, I would believe that there is much more work in the capacity of a general manager at Saab USA.

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