Saab, or should we say the “new” Saab, has started production again at the Trollhattan, Sweden plant. The plant has been closed for the past two months while the fate of the brand was hanging in the balance. Now owned by Spyker Cars, Saab is back, and the first car off the line was a 9-5 saloon followed quickly by a 9-5 convertible.
Alongside the workers at the plant re-opening were Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, Spyker CEO Victor Muller, and plant director Gunnar Brunius, who greeted the new car with banners reading, “Saab number 001 of a new era.” Over 3400 workers have returned to the plant, which produces about 100 cars a day. Spyker officials hope to produce 50 to 60,000 cars this year and over 100,000 vehicles per year in the future. Recently, the company also announced that its headquarters will be moved to Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
Muller, the man who closed the deal with GM in January, is a car collector who owns 15 exotics including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati and Rolls Royce, as well as five boats including a 71 Riva Super Aquamarine and a former Malcolm Forbes luxury yacht. In 2000, he started Spyker Cars with former partner Maarten de Bruijn, who now runs Silvestris, a sports car and boat manufacturer.
In late 2009, he sent an email to GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz expressing his interest in purchasing the beleaguered Saab brand. Eight minutes later, Lutz connected him with the sales team. The rest is history. Muller celebrated the deal with a top hat and a live rabbit at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, a nod to his ability to “pull a rabbit out of his hat” several times during the negotiations. The rabbit, called Silver Paw, will be cared for by his children at home.
When talking about Saab, Muller emphasized his intention of bringing “bold” new cars to the brand. “We will reinforce the emotional experience between Saab drivers and their cars and we will focus on Saab’s historical strengths in the fields of independent thinking, aircraft heritage, ecological performance and motorsport,” he said.
Saab has plans to offer five lines of cars, including the possibility of a new Viggen model. The Viggen, which means Thunderbolt in English is named after the Saab 37 Viggen jet fighter and is a high powered, turbo charged version. In addition to the planned release of the Saab 9-5 flagship sedan this summer and the 9-4x crossover early next year, Spyker said it intended to develop a new 9-3 model and possibly a 9-1 to slot at the bottom of the product line.
Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond