2009 Saab 9-5 SportKombi

2009 Saab 9-5 SportKombi

Saab’s shaky recovery has come up against another major hurdle, with the automaker’s head of manufacturing and purchasing, Gunnar Brunius, calling it quits after 30 years on the job.

While it’s unclear what the main reason was for Brunius’ departure, we can confirm that he will be entering a new role at aircraft components manufacturer Volvo Aero AB.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Saab’s parent, Swedish Automobile, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to sell the struggling automaker to Chinese firms Pang Da and Youngman.

Production of Saab’s cars has been halted since April of this year and is unlikely to start until early next year, if at all. No major European automaker has stopped production for that length of time since the end of World War II, and today’s news means the road to recovery for Saab just got harder. That's because Brunius was a key person involved with negotiations between Saab and its unpaid suppliers, which are currently owed close to $200 million.

Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Lars Holmqvist, the CEO of a group representing the suppliers, said his members are willing to work with Brunius’ successor to help Saab get back on its feet.

Until a replacement can be found, quality chief Goran Ejbyfeldt and purchasing chief Kjell-Ake Eriksson will fill in the role left by Brunius.

Saab has made no mention of when production might ramp up again but things are to be accelerated as quickly as possible. In the mid to long term, Saab has itself targets of about 35,000 - 55,000 sales in 2012, growing to 75,000 - 85,000 units in 2013. The longer term figure is annual sales of 185,000 to 205,000 units. In addition, the company plans to shed around 500 workers.

For our complete coverage of Saab's woes, click here.