China Buyout Watch: SAIC Sets Sights On Saturn

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
china buyout watch saic sets sights on saturn

It’s high time to start a new TTAC category: China Buyout Watch. It’s good for at least a post a day. The latest: “SAIC is likely to be the potential buyer of Saturn,” says Gasgoo after reading the print edition of China Automotive Review. They cite an email letter that has told Saturn dealers that interested buyers were ready to buy Saturn. A Detroit-area dealer for Dodge and Saturn said GM was seeking buyers in China. According to the report, GM tries to package Saturn and Hummer together. A price has not been named.

After last night’s Congress cruelty, there might be government help after all. From the Chinese government. In China, the interest of Chinese automakers has grown far beyond the rumor stage. Today, government-controlled China Daily (THE English speaking news outlet for the official party-line) runs a long article on the Chinese aspirations to snap up juicy bits of Detroit. Actually, as China Daily sees it, it’s Detroit that’s making the advances to China. The headline says it all: “Big 3 look for Chinese medicine.”

After issuing the appropriate CYA cautionary notes, as in “Chinese companies should exercise caution when it comes to acquiring US assets,” China Daily lists a virtual speed-dating session between Chinese and Detroit automakers …

“Chang’an Auto is believed to be in talks with Ford for taking over the Swedish luxury brand Volvo.”

“UK’s Mail had earlier reported that Ford might sell Volvo to SAIC Motor Corp, China’s biggest automaker.”

“There were also reports yesterday that Chery intends to buy assets from Chrysler, with the help of a 10 billion yuan loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.”

“Dongfeng Motor Corp, China’s third biggest carmaker, was also reported last month to be considering asset buys from General Motors Corp.”

Folks, take my word for it: If China Daily writes something like this, then the matter is way beyond the idle chatter stage. There will be denials, or milquetoast “no comments,” but if it’s in China Daily, something is definitely in the bush.

By the way, the China Daily Group also owns the 21st Century Business Herald, which first broke the story last month that Chinese automakers are interested in taking over assets of GM and Chrysler. For a behind the scenes account of China Daily, go to the blog appropriately titled “Leaking State Secrets.”

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  • Brush Brush on Dec 12, 2008

    SSangyong: All last generation Mercedes-Benz diesel technology, ugly by asian standards but solid rugged vehicles. Even still have cassette deck with cd players! check out the aussie range and the prices

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 13, 2008
    wouldn’t that dealer “network” have to agree to be sold, since each dealership is individually owned ? I haven't read the franchise agreement, but probably not. The franchise agreement is between the dealer and some entity related to the parent company (which in this case is Saturn Corporation, a GM subsidiary.) If someone else takes over that entity, the agreement should be intact. In any case, you are taking an overly linear approach to this. Put yourself in this situation -- if you were a Saturn dealer who was stuck with a big chunk of land, a dedicated cluster of buildings with limited uses, and a service department committed to serving a dead brand, and someone came along offering you a chance to survive, wouldn't you take it? You just might. And that saves a company that wants to enter the US market a lot of trouble of getting a network set up. Take the long view. This is an attractive market for car makers. Chinese companies have a taint, so they would be particularly interested in getting an established US brand, even if that brand itself has substantial flaws. Buying Saturn is not a perfect way in, and the price would reflect that. But for someone in their shoes, it could be a preferable alternative to starting from scratch. They can get the R&D for their cars from who they want, so that isn't a factor.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.