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by Matt Brogan

Spyker CEO, Mr Victor Muller, says his company’s acquisition of Saab last month was nothing less than a bargain at US$400 million (AUD$440 million).

Mr Muller said the tiny Dutch luxury-car manufacturer acquired Saab and its full range of upcoming products from General Motors for “the cost of a wind tunnel”.

The first of the new models expected from Saab will be a redesigned 9-5 sedan (pictured above), due to be launched by the middle of this year. The Saab 9-4X SUV will follow in 2011, with the smaller 9-3 sedan to follow in 2012.

Were these products not already near completion and their development largely paid for, Spyker would have needed to invest a further 1 billion Euros (AUD$1.5 billion) to develop them.

“This has all been given to us as a nice package, saying, ‘Good luck with it,'” said Mr Muller.

Last year, Saab’s global sales were down 58 per cent to a total of 39,903 units. The Swedish manufacturer built only 20,791 cars last year with the balance sold existing 2008 stock. But Saab’s Managing Director, Mr Jan Ake Jonsson, said output under Spyker will increase, estimating between 50,000 and 60,000 units will be produced this year, and up to 120,000 units per year by the end of 2012. Mr Jonsson also predicted Saab will return to profit in 2012.

Saab’s suspended production is due to resume by the end of the month, which will hopefully top up low inventories around the globe.

Marketing and public relations will also be a heavy focus as the brand struggles to help dealers spread the word that Saab is back. Internet advertising and local dealer events will be key to Saab’s revival.

“If you look at the size of the company and our marketing muscle, we cannot afford to do mass marketing,” said Mr Jonsson.

“We cannot do full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal. But that’s not where our customers are.”

Mr Jonsson also said he hopes Saab will be able to reclaim buyers who defected to other brands.

“We have many customers who went to another brand (because the 9-5 was so old),” Mr Jonsson said.

“Customers also went to crossovers because the product offering was not available. Now it’s a different story.”

Once re-established, Mr Jonsson said Saab also plans to build a smaller car to compete against the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series (possibly named the Saab 9-1). Hybrid vehicles also are in the short to medium-term plan.




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