The man who bought Saab had to sell his Spyker sports car business last week to fund the future of the Swedish brand – and he was sorry to “see his baby go”.
Dutch entrepreneur Victor Muller founded Spyker cars more than eight years ago and surprised everyone when he bought Saab from General Motors last year.
He soon came to the decision that in order to let Saab grow something had to give. He sold the sports car business to Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov, a long-time investor in Spyker. The sports cars will continue to be made in the UK through the Russian’s investment vehicle CPP.
Muller said at the Geneva show that the sale of his pride and joy was his decision. “It was me who put the suggestion to the board. Unlike Saab, Spyker had no fully-funded business plan so basically we had two options.
“One was to keep it and let it simmer in the background, the other was to sell it a man who has been best supporter the company ever had.
“Do I like to see my baby go? No, but it will now flourish. For Saab it is a very good deal, its debt has been reduced and we have the finance in place to move forward.”
Part of the business of moving forward was the unveiling of the Phoenix concept car at the show. A design described by Saab chief executive office Jan Ake Jonsson as “provocative and daring”.
So provocative and daring that only small design cues will be seen through to production, but the architecture underneath will be the platform for a new generation of cars.
Jonsson said: “This architecture will underpin the next generation 9-5 and 9-3 and it could also be the basis of a future 9-4X.”
It will be too big, however, for a new small car, the so-called 9-1, being considered by the company.
Jonsson added: “The 9-1 is not in the business plan at the moment but it is still top of our wish list. There is definitely room in the small A segment for a practical, high performance model.
“At the moment we are defining the requirements and looking at possible design cues.”
But with a new platform required, Saab is looking for a partner to co-develop the small car project.
The CEO said: “We are talking to a number of companies with a view to co-operating but we cannot reveal who. Once we have looked at all these things, then we will be in a position to make a decision.”