Peter Augustsson has quit as Saab boss just days after the contract to built the next-generation 9-3 family was awarded to Opel’s Russelsheim plant in Germany. A highly respected and well-liked automotive player (he was instrumental in the Volvo 850 and S40/V50 projects), Augustsson says he will now start up his own business development company.
However, in one of his last interviews while still at Saab, he told Autocar that the company was in fundamentally good shape. ‘We have happy customers and a highly recognised brand. But we could sell more cars if we had a broader product range,’ he said.
Augustsson also gave hints as to the next priority for the Swedish company: ‘We need an off-roader and crossover vehicle in the European market (reference the 9-7X - right). There’s a lot of growth in the BMW X3 market and above.’
Augustsson said he didn’t fear for Saab as it moved into ‘common European engineering’ with General Motors. ‘We will assemble a new car from different modules and put more effort into differentiation.’
The strength of the Swedish currency against the US dollar was also a key problem, and Augustsson hinted that Saab might build a car in the US for export worldwide.