SWEDEN: "Necessary" to let former Saab go: state secretary
Sweden's government says it was "necessary" to allow the former Saab to go bankrupt, rather than step in to save the ailing automaker.
Saab's highly-publicised demise was the focus of much criticism in Sweden, for whom the brand represents an icon of domestic engineering prowess, but which is now under new ownership through NEVS, that will see the imminent relaunch of the 9-3 model to be followed by an electric version next year.
"Unfortunately it was necessary to let Saab go," Swedish enterprise state secretary, Hakan Ekengren, told just-auto this morning (10 October) at FKG's Annual Suppliers Forum in Gothenburg.
"It was a very difficult decision - the government was not prepared to come in. The policy is to help companies that have the possibility to survive, but in this situation at Saab, there was no possibility."
The state secretary also echoed comments concerning the positive automotive environment in the UK made by FKG managing director, Fredrik Sidahl, who opened the supplier conference attended by 450 delegates in Gothenburg.
"We follow the UK and we can see the UK automotive industry is getting bigger," said Ekengren. "We also looked at how the UK is working with innovation in the innovation climate.
"UK and Sweden have a lot of things that are similar - we have a lot to learn from each other."
Ekengren outlined a number of ways in which he said his government was aiding the auto sector in Sweden, including the FFI programme into which the state and industry had each poured SEK500m (US$77m) to promote automotive research and innovation.
"The aim is not to save money - the aim is to make the programme more efficient," said Ekengren.
"We have the supplier programme, which we were unfortunately about to scrap, but pressure [was put] on us and we willl continue to fund that and will continue to invest in the vehicle cluster in all parts of the country."
The enterprise secretary also expressed the hope the Swedish government's 10 year plan for the automotive sector would outlast any potential change in administration with a general election due next year.