The icy wind of recession blows through Sweden as General Motors cold-shoulders Saab.
After GM said the loss-making Nordic carmaker will become an independent business at the end of this year, Saab sought bankruptcy protection from the courts from its debts. That gives it time to reorganise and try to raise the big money it needs to survive and develop new models. Saab’s boss, Jan Ake Jonsson, tried to put the best face on things when he told reporters: “ It is very important to look at the history of our company, at its good results, and to look towards the future. We may not have such good results right now, but that’s normal in this time of crisis and we have plans for the future, for example, this is our planned Series X car.” Whether that car ever gets built depends on if the court appointed reorganisation expert thinks Saab’s turnaround plan is viable. For the moment it keeps going and the workers appreciate that. Saab worker Mats Roos said: “Well, we see it as being better than bankruptcy, without a doubt. Definitely, people view this as a better option than a bankruptcy.” GM, with its own mountainous debts and an uncertain future, has refused to continue funding Saab’s losses. GM’s Chief Executive Rick Wagoner has had to plead with the US government to bail out the parent company. Last year it got 9.4 billion dollars to stave off bankruptcy, another four billion has just been handed over and it is estimated an additional 30 billion dollars of taxpayers’ cash will be need over the next two years. Reportedly GM Europe is prepared to put more money into Saab if the Swedish state guarantees further loans. But the Swedish government said it had doubts about GM Europe’s business plan. And even if it gets the loan guarantees, many car industry analysts believe they would not be enough to turn Saab around, and they question whether it has a realistic future.