2009 the media reported that Koenigsegg Group, consisting of Koenigsegg Automotive AB, Christian von Koenigsegg, Bård Eker and a group of investors had signed a letter of intent with Saab to take over the brand from General Motors. In November 2009 Koenigsegg decided not to finalise the purchase of Saab and therefore left the negotiations.
Many people are curious about what happens behind the scenes at Koenigsegg. Readers of Company blog send their own questions to Christian von Koenigsegg. Now he has answered some of them, and at least one question dealt with Saab.
Koenigsegg Automotive AB was closing in on a deal to buy Saab Automobile AB in 2009, but in the end it didn’t come through. Although there was much written in the (Swedish) press about it at the time, it was almost all negativity regarding the financial details and hardly anything about what the actual idea behind the deal was. It would be interesting to know what convinced you at that time that such a deal would be worthwhile.
Christian von Koenigsegg: I’m aware that a few questions ago I said that we are not into building mass-market cars and it’s true for Koenigsegg Automotive AB. The Saab opportunity was different and involved a specific set of circumstances:
1. It was clear that SAAB needed innovation and entrepreneurial help to survive.
2. SAAB had fantastic and underutilized car development facilities that could be used to revitalize the brand relatively quickly and efficiently if we could infuse the Koenigsegg way of working with these facilities instead of the GM way.
3. We had many technologies from the Koenigsegg side that we could quickly and efficiently integrate into the then-present line up of SAAB cars to make them more desirable and exciting. Things such as suspension and handling, turbo patents, reduced back pressure systems, FreeValve engine systems (sister company to Koenigsegg), upgraded exterior design using our aero and design experience etc. Basically, it was a unique opportunity to enter that market with a good brand and a good factory at what would have been a very affordable price. I think we could have used some of our technology and design expertise to make some interesting cars.
The group was called the Koenigsegg Group because mine was a recognisable name. There were other much larger investors behind the group that saw the opportunity, which is where most of the financial resources would have come from to actually run the business. I am very happy with what Koenigsegg AB is doing now, but it would be interesting to know what life would have been like if the Saab deal had happened.
Many said it was an impossible undertaking. Actually I fully agree. The fact is, I like impossible undertakings, like for example creating Koenigsegg Automotive from scratch or being instrumental in creating the worlds first fully functioning FreeValve system.