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Car Industry

Saab celebrates "Independence day"

Published onsdag 23 februari 2011 kl 10.26
Saab CEO Jan Åke Jonsson (left) and Spyker's Victor Muller. Photo:Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix

Workers at Saab Auto's main factory in Trollhättan are today celebrating what they're calling "Independence day."

It's exactly a year to the day since American owners General Motors sold the Swedish based company to Spyker Cars of the Netherlands.

Before the deal, Saab's 3,800 strong workforce in south-western Sweden faced an uncertain future with a very real possibility that the plant would close as GM repeatedly extended its deadline for potential bids from buyers for the loss making brand.

During the crisis, the Swedish government , which had visited America for talks with GM, helped Saab to pay salaries to their employees as part of a warranty system.

Some car analyists at the time blamed GM for its stewardship of Saab and welcomed its decision to sell the Swedish carmaker as an "opportunity for the future."

Auto analyist Matts Carlsson, managing director at the Gothenburg Management Institute then told Radio Sweden that Saab would benefit greatly from new ownership outside America.

"I don't believe GM has done a good job with Saab. When it bought the company, the move was widely welcomed but now looking back, we can see that it hasn't been as good an owner as it should have been and it hasb't developed the brand," Carlsson said.

Wednesday's celebrations, which began at 11am,  included turning part of the Trollhättan factory into an entertainment arena, with live music, video shows and some product news.

Ahead of the event, Saab's CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said " This is our Independence day, we will be celebrating becoming masters of our own destiny again, being free to make our own decisions and back our own judgements."

Talking about how the company has coped with trying to turn around its profits, Jonsson said, " Saab has come a long way in the last 12 months. We've restructured our operations here in Sweden and around the world, we've introduced new ways of working, entered new markets and forged new business partnerships. We've also triggered the biggest new product offensive in saab's history with the launch of the 9-5 Sedan and the 9-4X crossover, the introduction of the 9-5 SportCombi later this year and the arrival of a new generation 9-3 range next year."

Victor Muller, who's company Spyker bought Saab, said "Saab is being reborn as an independent and entrepreneurial business. We are giving full rein to the free thinking and innovative spirit that has always been part of this company's DNA."

Saab sold only just a touch over 30, 000 in 2010 but hopes to increase that number threefold this year.

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