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Interview: Victor Muller – CEO Spyker Cars
The Dutch maker of high-end sports cars – Spyker Cars – has established in rebuilding its business. With the introduction of the new C8 Aileron at the Geneva Motor Show 2009 it was time to have a closer look at the firm – the past, the future and their ambitions. Our chief editor, Des, interviewed Spyker’s CEO Victor Muller during the event in Geneva and asked him all about Spyker Cars.
DS: The C8 Aileron has been introduced today. How were the reactions from the audience?
VM: Really positive. Our new C8 Aileron is a completely new vehicle build on a brand new chassis. It is the turning point in the short history after the re-birth of Spyker. We are growing in our market perspective and do see a lot of new opportunities with this new car. A clear example is the fact we are introducing the Aileron with a brand new automatic gearbox. 80 to 90 percent will have the new option installed. This option was absolutely necessary to sell more Spyker cars in the United States.
DS: When are you starting the production of the new Spyker?
VM: We will start production in the second quarter, and we expect the first new Aileron’s to be delivered to customers as early as the third quarter of 2009.
DS: If we look back in time there are two Spyker concept cars that haven’t made it into production. Do you plan to take them into production and if so when can we see them on the road?
VM: That is correct. The Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris SSUV and C12 Zagato were both presented as concept cars. The SSUV will go into production next year. Expect an official introduction of the production version at Geneva 2010. The SSUV four-door four-wheel drive car will have minor updates resembling the Aileron shown today. The C12 Zagato project is still a very hot issue for us and it something we’re working on.
DS: How many D8 Peking-To-Paris SSUV’s do you plan to build?
VM: It is an important car for us, at the moment product capacity is not an issue so if the demand is good we will build to fulfil the demand.
DS: Can we expect any new concepts from Spyker in the near future?
WM: After the hard and difficult past it is now time to stay focussed on making a success of our current models in the process of delivery or advanced stage of production.
DS: Does the production facility allow for Spyker Cars to have three cars in production?
VM. Oh yes, that is possible. Our line production has the ability for mixed production of several products. Currently the C8 Laviolette is still in production. All current orders are filled in until the third quarter this year. The Spyder will stay in production together with the new C8 Aileron.
We (Spyker Cars) doubled the production from 2007 into 2008. And we are expecting a big increase this year over last year. With the new infrastructure within the factory we are able to produce hundreds of cars per year. The C8 Aileron will play a key role on our road to profitability.
DS: How many Spyker dealerships are there at the moment? And how are the expansion plans progressing?
VM: Currently there are 40 Spyker dealers worldwide. The dealers are an important part of our marketing and sales strategy, therefore we hope to have a total of 70 dealers by the end of 2010.
DS: Is Spyker affected by the current economical crisis?
VM: We’re not really affected by the crisis, but I have to touch wood. The first prognoses for 2009 show a solid increase in sales and as said before the C8 Aileron is opening up a bigger market for us.
DS: Not only the market for new (super)cars is affected by the crisis, but also the prices in the second hand market are down for most models. How is Spyker doing in the second hand market?
VM: There are not many Spyker’s up for sale on the second hand market and those that do maintain their value very well.
DS: How is your relation with shareholder and former-CEO Michel Mol and chief-designer Maarten de Bruijn who left the company over the years?
VM: We’re still in touch and I would describe the relation with Michiel Mol and Maarten de Bruijn as friendly. In the press the relation with both Michiel Mol and Maarten de Bruijn has often been target of gossip and rumours. Maarten de Bruijn founded Silvestris, a company that designs and builds exclusive boats, after he left Spyker.
DS: What is the importance of motor sports for Spyker Cars?
VM: We are really dedicated to racing and especially GT2. GT2 and Le Mans are part of our strategy and there’s an incredible match between Spyker Cars and racing in general. Spyker Cars will again take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans this year. The problems we experienced over the past years are under control. They were mostly related to the engines. Investments into an analysis of the errors have paid off in the end. We are really confident on making our laps. Staying in the race is the most important during the 24 hours.
DS: Will there be a replacement for the C8 Laviolette GT2R?
VM: Spyker is planning to start racing with the C8 Aileron in GT2 in 2010. We do think the new C8 Aileron has better racing capabilities due to its longer wheel base, new chassis developed together with Lotus and increased aerodynamics.
DS: Is the knowledge and experience gathered with Spyker’s motor sports activities used for the street cars?
VM: Yes, all we learn from racing is used to improve our road cars. The engineers working on the race cars work at the same facility as the engineers who build, test and develop the road cars, which makes it easy to share knowledge and ideas to make our road cars better.
DS: Recently we heard rumours that Spyker has been talking with Honda F1 about taking over their F1 team, is this true?
VM: No comment.
DS: How do you look back on the time Spyker was active in the F1?
VM: We’ve had some trouble, but in general I think F1 and Spyker were a great match. If I would get the chance again, I would definitely do it again only better.
We like to thank Victor Muller for this interview.