Automotive News have a couple of important articles in virtual print today. Subscription required to read the full thing, but the best bits are below.
I gues the most important one is this one:
The White House and congressional Democrats on Tuesday night reached an agreement in principle on a $15 billion proposal for bailing out U.S. automakers and forcing them to restructure or fail, officials said.
Now I know that that sounds a lot like the news we heard the other day, but it is different. At last telling, the legislation was being drafted and the finer points were still up for argument. This is an agreement that can be voted on this week.
Democrats have arranged to have the House of Representatives vote on a bill as early as Wednesday and send it to the Senate for consideration.
Stability being the mother of survival, this is good news.
That was the important one.
Richard Johnson is the Managing Editor of Automotive News, which means he probably spends his work day looking over the writing that other people do. Today, he wrote a few paragraphs about Saab and Volvo, and it really makes you appreciate that there’s still a fair bit of goodwill out there for Saab.
Here’s some excerpts.
Sunday morning, I sat down in a TV studio in suburban Detroit and stared into a camera lens that, in my mind at least, represented the entire Swedish population.
The program was “Agenda,” a kind of Swedish “Meet the Press.” The nation’s prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, was also a guest, listening in as I took questions from “Agenda’s” Karin Hubinette…..
…..Hubinette got to her main point.
“Will a bailout of the Detroit 3 save Swedish jobs?”
As she asked the question, a poignancy in Hubinette’s voice registered over the satellite hookup. Just like us Americans, the Swedes are worried…..
…..Saab and Volvo have been poorly served by their American owners. At its peak in 1987, two years before GM took control, Saab sold nearly 50,000 cars in the United States. Last year it sold 32,711…..
….The two companies have given more to their owners then they’ve gotten in return. Volvo’s well-engineered platform architectures have been put to good use by Ford. Both companies have been a source of fresh talent.
Saab delivered Bo Andersson to GM. Andersson is a product of Sweden’s armed forces, and his militarylike cost-cutting regimen as head of global purchasing is one reason GM has held on as long as it has.
GM’s troubles with Saab might be traced back to the January 1990 press conference at which the American company was introduced as Saab’s 50 percent shareholder. David Herman, an American GM executive installed as CEO, was stumped when a Swedish journalist asked him what the Saab brand stood for.
GM, which later took 100 percent control, never did figure that out. Maybe the Swedes wouldn’t have known what to do with the quirky brand either, but they had done pretty well until then…..
….Truth be told, I’d like to see Saab and Volvo once again become smart, independent Swedish companies, finding their way in a world of giants as they had done for so long. After two decades of consolidation and brand-hoarding in the auto industry, there is still scant evidence that size matters all that much.
There could be a fair bit of truth in that last sentence. Companies need to be big enough to do the necessary R&D, but sheer size doesn’t guarantee that you’re insured against a downturn.
Brains and preparedness go a long way towards that end.