It’s been a tough 2010 for Saab, which is trying to survive on a $40k sedan, a bunch of holdover models and the promise of a Cadillac SRX clone (coming Spring 2011). Sure there are plans for future cars, but no money to develop them. Meanwhile Saab’s US sales are down 44 percent through November of this year, with only 4,371 units moved (3,721 of which were 9-3s). So with the Swedish government probably wondering why it helped keep the struggling automaker alive, it’s funding a transmission development program staffed by Saab engineers. Bloomberg reports:
Saab and Fouriertransform AB, the Swedish government’s venture-capital firm, will staff the company with about 50 engineers from Saab’s powertrain division… The venture, which will be formed at the start of 2011, will develop transmission systems, such as gearboxes, for Saab and other carmakers
Saab is already jointly developing electric AWD systems and drivetrains in a venture with the supplier American Axle, making the deal with Fouriertransform its second JV in the supplier realm. Analysts hail the move as “a move in the right direction,” and given the brand’s recent history of selling new cars (or lack thereof), it’s hard to disagree. These supplier-side deals are the most pragmatic moves Saab has made since being booted from the GM empire.