Blog: Dave LeggettSaab restart

Dave Leggett | 16 October 2009

It was a curious affair yesterday at the Saab 9-5 UK media launch. No, we couldn't drive the car – though I must say I liked the way it looked and the overall feel of the interior and I'm a bit of a sucker for the whole Saab aero heritage thing. The world would seem somehow a little poorer if Saab wasn't in it.

But the really interesting thing was the atmosphere.

Was there some spin? Of course, just a bit. But there was also a genuine sense of people feeling a little more freedom now that Saab is leaving the GM family. Freedom is perhaps a double-edged sword, but there are some people in Saab who give the impression they are really enjoying some fresh air.

One thing I picked up over dinner: Saab really is a brand that dentists go for. Yep, they love 'em. Good to know. I guess after a day delving into the inner reaches of people's mouths, a blast in something with associations of very fast travel in the unbounded sky might be just the antidote.

Yesterday's post-presentations dinner at the very appropriate Aviator hotel, next to Farnborough aerodrome, was quite good fun. Saab GB's Jonathan Nash seemed – as ever - on irrepressibly good form. The guy is almost indestructible, has been dealt some 'challenging' cards in the past and is always happy talking to journalists in a genuine kind of no-obvious-BS and we're all adults, have been around etc sort of way. I must admit, I couldn't quite bring myself to bring up Cadillac.

I wasn't totally convinced that the reindeer burger with mashed potato was quite the way to go (mind you, the red wine we were served really was exceptional - I was too busy drinking it to look at the label). I just hope hard pressed Saab didn't pay through the nose for the hospitality - or did they get it through under the GM wire...

Can Saab really get to sufficient volume for break-even? In this tough market - not getting much easier over the next few years - that is the big question. Keep an eye on the SEK/dollar exchange rate, too - Saab's US shipments still account for almost a third of total sales.

FEATURE: Saab savours a future without GM


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