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March 3, 2010

GENEVA SHOW: Saab confident of a positive future

Saab will look to develop strategic alliances and partnerships with other car makers and major suppliers as it builds its independent future. "The benefit of being an independent company is that we can decide who to talk to, who to work with and when," said managing director Jan Ake Jonsson.

Saab will look to develop strategic alliances and partnerships with other car makers and major suppliers as it builds its independent future. “The benefit of being an independent company is that we can decide who to talk to, who to work with and when,” said managing director Jan Ake Jonsson.

This year and next will be critical for the company as it launches the redesigned 9-5 sedan and wagon and rebuilds its distribution network without General Motors.

“If we have an Opel or Vauxhall dealer who is also a Saab dealer we will be happy for them to continue but everyone will have to have new contracts.”

Jonsson predicted Saab will break even next year and return to profitability in 2012 when the full affect of new the new 9-5 and 9-4x will be felt.

And he described reports that Saab hasn’t made a profit for 20 years as rumours. “It was the way the figures had to be reported and also how GM decided to optimise things like exchange rates in its favour and not Saab’s.

“If there was a company called Cadillac Motors would it be making a profit? The problem is that people have been comparing apples and oranges.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to communicate officially our own financial results; it will be a blessing for us even if it’s a loss because we will be able to explain it.”

Historically Saab made 190,000 cars a year at its plant in Trollhatten. “We plan 50-60,000 units this year and 70-80,000 next year and need to be profitable at 100,000 a year in 2012.”

Saab is heavily reliant on the US, the UK and Sweden for its current sales, the three countries accounting for 60% of its global footprint. “We want to build up sales in the rest of Europe and, of course, look to China,” he said.

Jonsson also confirmed that the new Saab will be looking at developing a new small car “a 9-1 or 9-2” at some point. “It’s historically where we started and where we need to go back too,” he said.

The next generation 9-3 will be the same size as the existing car and not bigger as was originally planned, he said.

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