There was a time when wagons roamed the interstates, ferrying families from one National Lampoon vacation to another. With the rise of the crossover, those looking for the original “looks practical but handles like a sedan” mode of transport have few options, and most of them live in the luxury segment. Let’s count them before we go too far. We have the soon-to-be-cancelled Acura TSX, the last-generation Cadillac CTS , the Volkswagen Jetta, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 3-Series and the Toyota Prius V. Even if you expand things to include “off-road wagons”the list only grows by three (Audi Allroad, Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70.) Despite the shrinking market, Volvo’s brand has long been associated with practical wagons. It’s almost hard to believe it has been three full years since Volvo sold one in America. That’s about to change with the 2015 V60.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Volvo, that’s probably why I’ve owned two and chose European Delivery on one of them. But Volvo has a problem. It’s not the product. It’s not even the brand positioning. It’s a lack of advertising and visibility. Let’s dive deep into my mind as I pontificate about Volvo’s destiny.
After years of rumors and speculations of the will they/won’t they variety, a brand-new Saab 9-3 has – finally! – managed to roll down the assembly line! Don’t be fooled by the fact that this new Saab looks just like the 2009 models the company was building when it was spun off from GM’s bankruptcy, however. This car features all-new components designed by Saab engineers and manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden.
Despite Victor Muller’s assurances that he is innocent, that he has not been accused of any crime, and that Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority most likely only wants to invite him for a friendly chat, Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten thinks it knows who is the target of the investigation: Victor Muller, and Saab’s board. In the end, Victor Muller was alone on board. Says the paper: (Read More…)
As suspected, the Swedish Saab scandal over avoided taxes grows wider. Yesterday, it reached the failed takeover artist Victor Muller. “Muller prime suspect in Saab tangle,” headlines Swedens Svenska Dagbladet, The paper obtained court documents that say Muller is wanted for questioning. (Read More…)
Key members of the board of bankrupt carmaker Saab were arrested yesterday on suspicions of tax evasion. Former Saab General Counsel Kristina Geers, former CFO Karl-Gustav Lindstrom, and former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson spent the night in jail. After a serious grilling, the three were released today. At the same time, the offices of Spyker in Zeewolde, Netherlands, were searched by police at the request of Swedish authorities, Z24.NL reports.
Two months ago, we wrote that Geely will pour $11 billion into a development program for the next generation Volvos, and that half of that money would go to Sweden. Our commentariat did not quite buy that and said that the technology will go to China. Right they were. (Read More…)
After an alleged Swede, Kai Johan Jiang a.k.a. Jiang Dalong bought bankrupt Saab’s remaining assets for cheap, we could not help but reminding the faithful that this will not result in a resurgence of the Trollhättan industrial base. We figured that at the very best, Saab will march off to China. If Saab won’t manage to destroy investor’s dreams and money yet again. Both rise in probability. Saab’s buyer, Chinese-controlled NEVS, has secured an investment deal with the Chinese city of Qingdao, Reuters says. (Read More…)
Two years ago, China’s Geely bought Sweden’s (and Ford’s) Volvo lock, stock, and barrel. Among the assets: A few good Volvo platforms, along with a fair technology licensing contract from Ford. However, the platforms are not getting younger, and from what I heard back then, the licenses with Ford also have their limits. Geely has to invest into the future if Volvo is supposed to have one. Price of admission to the future: Many times the purchase price of the car company. (Read More…)
Anemic demand is causing Volvo to shut down their main Swedish factory for one week, starting October 29th.
When Volvo introduced the S60 in 2011, the Swedes advertised their mid-sized sedan as the naughtiest Volvo ever thanks to a 300HP turbocharged engine. While I’m sure former “R owners” would disagree, the S60 has met with sales success with over 18,000 units sold so far this year, a 14% increase over last year. In 2012 Volvo added a less powerful FWD model to the mix to cut the price of entry. For 2013 Volvo has further expanded the S60 line by adding a torque vectoring AWD system to the lightest S60. Volvo also tells us they have completely refreshed their T5 engine for 2013 and tweaked the transmission for the naughty Volvo’s first retouch ahead of the rumored 2014 refresh. Huh? Yep, Volvo’s gettin’ down with the yearly refresh. Does that make the T5 AWD the naughtiest Volvo ever? Let’s find out.
Part of Saab’s presumptive “quirky” image is a serious lack of funds. Saab “bled red like a stuck pig” as Car & Driver so delicately put it. Saab was sold when GM ran out of money. Victor Muller didn’t have the funds, and Saab’s future owner, Made-in-China Swede Jiang Dalong also seems to suffer the cash flow problem that is so familiar to all who touch Saab. The presumptive buyer has received an ultimatum by the bankruptcy administrators: Pay in full until Friday, or the deal is off. (Read More…)
Victor Muller managed to sell out to China after all. Today it was announced (full press release here) that Muller’s Spyker and former Saab suitor Youngman will form two companies. Spyker calls them “joint ventures,” but they look more like companies owned mostly by Youngman, with Spyker holding a token share. (Read More…)