Saab owner Spyker Cars N.V. is looking for a successor to long-serving Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, who will retire on May 19.
Jonsson, 59, played a key role in saving Saab when former owner General Motors Co. wanted to close the Swedish brand. Saab Chairman Victor Muller will temporarily assume the additional role of Saab CEO until a replacement for Jonsson is found.
Replacement candidates for Jonsson "are definitely from the industry," Muller told reporters today. "It would take too long for someone who's not from the industry to understand how it really works in a car company, let alone Saab."
Muller said Jonsson was instrumental in Saab's survival and in its transition into an independent car company. "I am really sad to see him leave, but understand and respect his rationale. He has had one of the toughest jobs in Sweden in recent years and I am grateful that he has transferred his knowledge and experience to the managements of Saab and Spyker."
Eric Geers, Saab's communications head, said Jonsson had been planning to retire for a number of months after working day and night on the brand's future.
Jonsson had become a "symbol for not giving up -- not only for Saab but for Sweden as well," Geers told Automotive News Europe.
Jonsson leaves Saab during a critical period. The money-losing brand has struggled to raise sales since it was purchased by Spyker from GM in February 2010.