TROLLHATTAN, Sweden - Former SKF boss Peter Augustsson has been named Saab Automobile AB's new executive vice president and day-to-day operations chief.
Augustsson, 43, will be second in command to Bob Hendry, Saab's chief executive, who was appointed last month also to run Adam Opel AG.
Augustsson will take over as Saab chief executive in two years.
Until recently, Augustsson was CEO of SKF, the Swedish industrial bearings group.
He worked for Volvo from 1978 to 1994 and was project manager for the 850 program.
Hendry keeps direct control over sales and marketing and brand management.
Augustsson will work with several former Volvo colleagues, including Technical Director Lars Olsson and Brand Manager Mikael Eliasson.
'I probably would not have accepted the offer if Saab did not have the support of GM,' Augustsson said. 'GM has the research and development facilities that Saab needs for future investment.
'We are in a well-defined niche of the market and should grow by widening our presence in this niche (rather) than by turning to other market segments.'
Hendry will divide his time between Opel and Saab.
Augustsson will run Saab in his absence.
Hendry has said he expects to spend two-thirds of his time at Opel in Germany, and the rest in Sweden. In two years, he will switch to Opel full time, when Augustsson will take over at Saab.
Saab increased new-car sales by 17 percent in 1998, compared with the same period in 1997.