I covered a story earlier today mentioning that a spokesman for the Swedish government confirmed that they would “guarantee that we will have car manufacturing in Sweden because it is an important part of our economy,” also saying that they would “support the carmakers” (the plural is important there).
That initial report was a short one from an Australian newspaper.
The full AFP story is now online and contains more details. Here are a few quotes:
….no matter who ends up as the owner, the government is committed to supporting the industry, well aware that Volvo and Saab and their hundreds of suppliers are “big employers” in Sweden with “lots of know-how,” Nilsson said.
“We want to keep that here and to protect it,” he said, adding that Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson had developed “close connections and a close dialogue” with the Swedish manufacturers and their US owners, General Motors for Saab, and Ford for Volvo…..
And a little more Saab specific stuff:
Saab, fully-owned by GM since 2000, has tried to avoid lay-offs at its Trollhaettan plant in southwestern Sweden, which employs some 1,200 people, by reducing its two shifts to one.
“We have held intense negotiations with the Swedish government,” Saab spokesman Eric Geers told AFP, adding that the centre-right government planned to increase its subsidies for research and development.
According to Nilsson, these subsidies will amount to 450 million kronor (55 million dollars, 43 million euros) annually for 2009-2012, compared to 430 million this year.
The government also has other measures already in place — since 2007, it has given car buyers a 10,000 kronor rebate if they buy an environmentally-friendly car, an offer that is scheduled to expire at the end of 2009.
“It is extremely important for us to get demand going. So anything that would increase demand like (incentives to) scrap old cars” would help, Geers said, noting that Sweden “has one of the largest old car markets in Europe.”
I’ll keep digging………
I’ve left a message at Eric Geers’ office. He was in a meeting at the time of my call, but i’d love to ask him (a) about the nature of these government guarantees, and (b) about the Business Week story claiming the 9-5 has been shelve as GM look for a buyer for Saab.