Saab: We just need our customers back
* Spyker boss interviewed * Saab to make 125k cars a year by 2012 * 9-5, 9-5 estate and 9-4X coming soon...
Saab has enough fans throughout the world to ensure its survival following the divorce from General Motors, says the head of the organisation that bought it three months ago.
'Saab doesn't need any new customers it just needs to get its own customers back, and there are one-and-a-half million of them,' says Victor Muller, CEO of the Dutch Spyker group.
Muller signed the deal under which Spyker bought Saab from GM last February, and admits the move flabbergasted many people in the auto industry.
'They wanted to know how this little company in Holland could take over such an important, relatively huge company like Saab,' he says.
'The truth is that Saab came on to the market at a time when there were simply no takers. We had a banking crisis which turned into a worldwide crisis, and GM had to dip its hand into the holy of holies, which is the American tax pot,'
Muller adds. 'The price of that was a demand to restructure.'
He admits that over the years GM did 'some wonderful things' for Saab, but says that at other times Saab was left wondering 'whether GM would throw it a bone'.
'Saab has traditionally suffered from the fact that it was part of a giant conglomerate,' he claims.
When Saab makes a profit
Muller now intends to confound those people who claim that Saab is too small to survive. 'Our break-even point is now slightly north of 100,000 cars a year and by 2012 we will have reduced that to 80,000, but by then we will be producing 125,000,' he says.
Saab will also have an all-new product range in 2012. A new 9-5 goes on sale in a matter of weeks and will be followed next year by a crossover called the 9-4X and a 9-5 estate. Then in 2012 Saab will launch a replacement for the 9-3.
'We will have the best product range in the company's history in two years' time,' says Muller.