It seems this has been said many times but for just how long can Saab hang on now?
Despite being written off innumerable times, the indefatigable automaker has picked itself off the canvas time and time again, ready to face the next round.
But today’s (26 July) news the Swedish manufacturer has delayed – as it phrases it – “payment of wages to its white-collar employees as some of the funds that were committed by investors were not paid in time to effect such salary payments,” is yet another body blow to the troubled company that has seemingly reeled from crisis to crisis.
Perhaps it is remarkable Saab has survived so long – that is down in part to the globe-trotting, herculean efforts of its CEO Victor Muller – not to mention its extremely hard-pressed staff – but the delay in salary is just winding another blow that threatens to knock the breath out of the manufacturer.
And who are those investors who have not “committed” funds in time and why on earth wouldn’t they commit? Are they too – like Saab’s myriad suppliers many moons ago – starting to get cold feet when it comes to the Trollhattan operation?
There have been many optimistic noises coming out of Sweden – not the least of which is the hugely ambitious plan to work with distributors Pang Da and manufacturers Youngman – an estimate in the Chinese media hopefully speculated up to 150,000 vehicles could be produced annually – but any approval for the JV appears to be mired in government bureaucracy.
Saab’s massively resilient staff are starting to sound worn down by the almost constant barrage of bad publicity – who wouldn’t? – while that mooted start-date of end-August is starting to look almost hopelessly unrealistic.
It’s also not clear how far up the chain of command “white collar” goes – presumably Victor Muller is foregoing his salary for the time being.
But the CEO can probably afford to take a pay holiday – Saab’s massed ranks of management however have more pressing concerns – much like the rest of the employees who only two months ago also had to temporarily go without wages.
In itself, not being able to pay some management employees’ wages will not bring down Saab, but the drip, drip of uncertain news is starting to look ominous for the iconic brand.