ec: Through all of this drama, have you lost the support of many dealers and customers?
VM: There was certainly every good reason, sure, but I was amazed by the support. Of the 1,100 Saab dealers worldwide, 220 of them in the U.S. alone, we've only lost a few. When GM and the Swedish government rejected our next-to-last bid before the Christmas holidays, that was a down point. But we had no deadline, so I came back with another offer after beating my head against the wall for two weeks. One of the details we added that tipped the scales was that we would eliminate no dealers. That was huge because then both GM and the Swedish government were in a tight spot, since we immediately had the support of everyone who worked in those dealerships, and they were very vocal about what would happen if Saab closed. Then the European Investment Bank came through in February with backing for the Swedish national debt office to make the final $545 million loan, and at that point the pressure was really on in Stockholm. They couldn't back out. As far as customers, we've lost some who would have happily purchased a Saab just last year if circumstances hadn't been so bad. If we get back just a portion of those people while bringing in new Saab customers, we'll be on our way. The new 9-5 is a great start.
ec: Besides great touches like removing the dash from between the model name numbers and giving us a new generation of Viggen high-performance cars, what else can we expect?
VM: Who made the awful decision all those years ago to force the Scania Griffin onto the Saab badge? It used to be this wonderful graphic representation of a turbo-prop airplane with a beautiful font for the letters. We'll return to that branding as soon as we can. Also, there's a good reason I had an old Saab 92 on the stand at the Geneva show this year, because we'll show a Saab 92 concept hopefully by the end of 2011 or start of 2012. And remember the 92 small wagon? We've designed that, too, and it's gorgeous.
ec: What about motorsports? You've had some modest success with your Team Orange Spykers in the Le Mans endurance series, and there's your recent drama in the 2007 Formula One season. What about Saab coming back to rallying at some level?
VM: You can be sure that I know everything about Saab's racing legend and I would definitely love to see Saabs competing in the future. For the moment, however, we need to fix the company and sell 120,000 cars per year.
ec: Might we see Spykers built in Trollhättan alongside the Saabs?
VM: There's a very good possibility that the Peking-to-Paris SUV could be built at a facility in or near the Saab factory.