Saab Seeks Technology Partners, Says Spyker CEO

By Brendan Moore

Saab’s goal of turning a profit by 2012 will be helped by teaming up with other auto companies in technology exchanges, says Spyker CEO Victor Muller. Spyker Cars is the new owner of Saab.

Muller told a gathering of Saab dealers in France that “a large number” of serious industry players have approached Saab about sharing their technologies with the reborn Swedish automaker. Muller stated that he wanted to make sure that Saab has the technology it needs to be successful moving forward. Muller noted that “successful” to Saab means being profitable as a stand-alone entity.

Muller also commented that the technology deals will be a two-way street, with Saab technology being supplied to new partners.

“Nobody sees us as a threat so everybody wants to talk with us,” Muller said. “And there are good chances that we will be supplying our technology to third parties, we’re not going to be just on the demand side of things,” he added.

Saab can certainly benefit from having more technology available to it as the company plots its comeback, but what it really needs to do is get the new 9-3 on their production line as soon as possible. The new 9-5 large sedan will be launched this summer, and the new 9-4X crossover will follow close behind. The 9-3 is Saab’s volume model and would complete the revamping of their lineup.

Saab sold only 8,680 units in the U.S. (one of their largest markets) last year amid all the uncertainty surrounding their existence, and they desperately need to pump up the sales volume. The company sold less than 40,000 units worldwide last year, and they are hoping a renewal of their whole model lineup will bring them the 100,000 unit sales they say they need to achieve profitability. Saab still has around 1200 dealerships from a global perspective (218 in the U.S.), and plans to add dealers in certain markets over the next few years.

Besides the new models, Saab has lowered prices on its current cars, and also signed agreements with leasing companies that will allow the company to offer customers leases on its vehicles as early as next month.

All of these actions together should produce 125,000 sales by 2012, says Saab.

Saab was sold to Spyker by GM last month for $400 million USD, and Spyker has vowed to do everything it can as soon as possible in order to return Saab to profitability. Spyker itself has been losing money for the past couple of years, so profitability is certainly the order of the day at both Spyker and Saab.

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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