By on March 4, 2009

Without billions of bailout bucks filling the supposedly-Swedish brand’s corporate coffers, in the middle of a massive market correction, Saab’s a liability looking for one of those “born every minute” types. To that end, Saab’s CEO is doing a very bad job of convincing anyone that anyone wants to take the keys to Trollhättan from GM’s cold, dead hands. “There are about five [buyers] we want to talk to,” Managing Director Jan-Åke Jonsson Automotive News Europe. Huh? Would that be four? Or six? “There are a couple more we are also looking into.” Wait, that’s what? Something between six and eight? Wow! They love Saab! They really love Saab! Note to self: play poker with this guy as soon as possible. And when will Jonsson reveal his cards? “We should see which candidates are serious in the next week and a half.” Automotive News [sub] reveals the reason for all the Saab, lies and bankruptcy talk. “Sweden’s government has offered to consider loan guarantees for Saab if the brand can find a new owner to underwrite its business plan.” Sign here, we get the money, you get money. Sign me up!

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19 Comments on “In Bailout Nation Saab Buys You!...”

  • avatar

    Putting a spike into the heart of Saab was brilliant as far as GM is concerned.

    It put the rest of the world’s governments that they too were on the hook. Germany, Canada, Brazil, Korea you got to pay to play baby!

    The proud new owners of Saab will be the Swedish taxpayers – and Opel is next. The business plans and structures will be opaque at best, but the bottom line is that the largest shareholders/bondholders in these former GM divisions are going to be the unsuspecting masses.

    GM was right – after all the fireworks are done – governments (any government) is going to come up with the cash.

  • avatar

    The Swedish government still wants to see a viable business plan before they take action. And as neither GM nor any prospective buyer has come up with anything yet, I think the odds are for Saab is going bankrupt and liquidated.

  • avatar

    I bet that Saab will be in the hands of a Chinese automaker before the year is out. Ditto Opel. Maybe Saturn goes with Opel.

  • avatar

    5 buyers? Weren’t last month’s US sales announced yesterday?

  • avatar

    Presumably MG Rover will serve as a model for the Chinese strategy – ie. wait until the whole thing is being liquidated and then step in and pick out the bits they want for a pittance.

    Just a thought – does GM actually own the Saab name for automotive use outright, or is it used under licence from Saab AB? If it’s the latter that might throw a spanner in the works.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    “Putting a spike into the heart of Saab was brilliant as far as GM is concerned.”

    If it was brilliant, that’s the first time that word could be applied to anything GM did while managing Saab over the past 20 years….

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    FWIW the very same Saab concept car pictured above spent most of this winter in a marketing firm’s lobby in downtown Birmingham, MI on Maple/15 mile…I have no idea why.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    gromit: “Presumably MG Rover will serve as a model for the Chinese strategy..”

    Except that MG isn’t making any money. And the Ssangyong deal was a disaster. Seems like the Chinese strategy “buy a foreign brand -> great success!” hasn’t been working so far. Apparently, there is more to car manufacturing than slapping a badge on a piece of metal.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The Chinese haven’t bought any auto brands that they’ve sold in the U.S. So whether or not that strategy works depends really on two issues. The first is “safety.” How do the Chinese-made versions of Rover and MG perform in the crash tests? Do they pass or do they fail with the same result we’ve seen other Chinese cars. The second is “price.” If a Chinese-made Saab or Volvo can pass the safety tests, still look like a Swedish car, and be sold at a bargain-basement price, then well, South Korea will have another sort of “invasion” to deal with. Only this one will be in the U.S.

  • avatar

    The five or so buyers for SAAB that Jan-Åke Jonsson was reffering to, were the five total customers that intend on buying a SAAB in this coming year.

  • avatar

    You might say that but I couldn’t possibly comment.

  • avatar

    The new rebates are out. Buy a 2008 9-3 Aero or 9-5 and get an $8,500 check. Buy a 9-7X, and it’s a cool $10,000. First $10,000 rebate I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar

    $10,000 is common on trucks, but I thinks the first i’ve seen on a car.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    If ever there was a marriage made in hell it was GM and Saab. Two totally different entities appealing to two entirely different buyers. GM learned nothing from Saab as they were losing their grip on their own traditional markets. Saab was frozen in developement and lost the pointy headed people (geeks) who always bought them in the past. A deal where everyone lost including the customers. The one thing GM could pass on to Saab was the consistantly rotten resale values of it’s American fleet. These things usually end badly and I feel sorry for Saab, they deserved a better end.

  • avatar

    Approximatly 70% of what Saab builds they sell in Europe. If you take out the US/International sales numbers, Saab is still profitable(in Europe). Perhaps the time has come for Saab to be an Europe only brand/make like Peugeot, Renault and Citroen?

  • avatar

    The 9-7 is a truck.

    I could be wrong about this, but for the last 20 years the US has been the biggest market for SAABs. Certainly in the last few years the faux 9-2 and 9-7s have bumped up those numbers.

    GM did force the convertible onto to SAAB, and that was not a bad thing. The NG is a decent compromise between SAAB and Opel, and the 9-5 was a very decent compromise. The real mystery to me is why GM starved SAAB of new models and development– even back in 2002 when GM was flush with cash. Trying to align a niche car company like SAAB into a global one like GM is always going to result in the niche getting secondhand platforms to build on.

    The new GM 4 cylinders may be the only surviving legacy of Swedish engineering…

  • avatar

    Snabster, Saab introduced the 900 convertible in 1986 thanks to Bob Sinclair, the Saab-Scania of America chief. It’s got nothing to do with GM.

    In fact, Saab-Scania had asked Sinclair for ideas to increase sales and his answer was a 900 coupe with the roof “chopped off”. I’m giving you the story because this is quite unlike how GM shove “products” such as the 9-7X down Saab’s throat. “Oh, you think an SUV would help you with sales? Here’s a Trailblazer and a couple of million to fix the suspension.”

  • avatar

    Korum, I stand corrected:

    Looks like his title of president of SAAB USA at the time.

    I do wonder how much of the 9-7 was pressure from SAAB dealers who wanted a SUV, how much was beancounters who wouldn’t approve anything but a quick rebadge, and how much pure stupidity of brand managers who thought SAAB owners would go for it.

    The sad thing is , I sat in a 9-7 and it wasn’t a half bad car — clearly not a saab, but not bad overall.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    The Aero X looks like it would fit great in a Transformers movie. It’s very ugly for a concept car and doesn’t seem to have any usable design elements.

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