Well it looks like GM will be holding a surprise Press Conference this morning at 11:30 Eastern Standard Time. The internet is buzzing with anticipation that there will be an announcement that a savior has rescued Saab, in the form of a quirky Dutch Supercar Builder named Spyker. Is this really in the best interest of Saab?
2009 has been a spectacularly bad year for most automotive companies, with two major bankruptcies, a host of discontinued brands, and the emergence of both the Korean and Chinese, taking an ever increasing share of the worlds marketplace. Remember, the Chinese have eclipsed the United States as the worlds largest car market. In this environment there is really no place for quirky brands, especially if they are owned by big companies. Ford jettisoned most of their Premiere Group, consisting of Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, as well as Volvo. Volvo is the only brand still clinging to Ford, but not for much longer. Saab on the other hand was never properly managed under GM since they took over the brand in the early 90’s. It has been one long succession of missteps, ignorance, and arrogance that has led to the brand virtually withering on the vine.
Saab declared (a form of) Bankruptcy last February, and has been a walking corpse ever since. It did manage to cover most of its debt, and exited from bankruptcy in August, with a white knight waiting to take it away, the Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg. With the hope of a large infusion of cash from both GM and the Swedish Government, everything looked set for the marriage of the two Swedish beauties. Unfortunately, the marriage was called off at the very last minute late in the year, and details as to why remain sketchy.
Then, at the beginning of December, GM decided to sell some Saab technology, as well as the tooling for the 9-3 and 9-5 models to the Chinese firm BIAC. Press reports state that no one was concerned, including the then courting Koenigsegg, because BAIC had an agreement with Koenigsegg to become a minority partner in the firm. Selling off the production lines and technology of soon to be obsolete models is really nothing new (witness the previous generation of the Chrysler Sebring line sold to the Russian Car Company GAZ), but with no future models in the immediate future for Saab, you have to wonder why GM found in necessary to sell it.
Now here comes Spyker. This struggling Dutch Company, responsible for some rather stryking (spelling intentional) sports cars, borrowing Audi power, and incorporating retro details, hasn’t made a dime since its founding in 1999. The only possible reason for the Spyker deal is the $566 million dollar loan guarantee from the Swedish Government, since this will give the firm access to some much needed capital. As a condition of the loan, reports have stated that any connection with a Russian Businessman would be terminated.
So what is your reaction to this deal of deals. Will it save Saab, or will it still be in the intensive cars facility slowly waiting to eventually die? Express your thoughts below.