By on December 13, 2009

fly me to China

The NY Times is saying that the deal to sell the outgoing Saab 9-5 and 9-3 tooling is done. We reported that it was going to happen, and that BAIC had the money lined up. The amount spent for the machinery and rights to build the two models was not disclosed. And of course, that still leaves the final outcome of Saab and the new 9-5 unresolved.Mixed emotions are the order of the day in Trollhattan:

The fate of Saab’s 3,500 workers in Trollhattan, Sweden, remains uncertain, following the unexpected collapse last month of a deal between G.M. and the high-end Swedish automaker Koenigsegg for Saab.

Still, a pact with the state-owned Beijing Automotive “would be good for Sweden, good for China and good for Saab,” according to a Saab official who asked not to be identified by name because the discussions were not final.

GM has not yet commented on the sale. Several buyers are reportedly still negotiating to buy Saab. These include Renco, owned by the U.S. financier Ira L. Rennert, and Spyker Cars, a specialty automaker in the Netherlands. A sale to Spyker would bring some baggage:

Spyker had confirmed its interest in acquiring Saab, but a spokesman declined further comment. Spyker sells 30 to 50 high-performance sports cars a year, which are made to individual order and cost just under a quarter-million dollars each.

As was the case for Koenigsegg, taking over Saab would mean a large increase in production as well as a formidable business challenge for Spyker, especially given G.M’s inability to succeed in making Saab profitable.

It would also expose Spyker and its Russian backers to more public scrutiny, some of it potentially unwelcome.

The main investor in Spyker is the Russian bank Convers Group, which is controlled by Alexander Antonov, a Russian tycoon who was shot seven times and reportedly lost a finger in a failed assassination attempt in Moscow in March. His son Vladimir Antonov, a 34-year-old banker who is a top executive at Convers, is chairman of Spyker.

Meanwhile, Saab is still talking up the prospects of the new 9-5 and keeping jobs in Trollhattan

The new 9-5, company officials said, is an attempt to revive Saab’s traditional appeal in Europe and win back loyal customers in the United States while increasing production in Trollhattan.

If Saab production in Sweden survives, it will be a boost to the country’s industrial base. The area around Trollhattan and Goteborg to the south is home to both Saab and Volvo factories, and a network of auto-parts makers and other suppliers in the region is dependent on the two companies.

“The Saab organization is still intact,” said Eric Geers, a spokesman for Saab in Sweden. “We’re very excited about the new 9-5, which has already been received positively by enthusiasts around the world.”

Hope springs eternal, especially at this time of year.

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19 Comments on “Sale Of Saab 9-5 And 9-3 Tooling To BAIC Confirmed...”

  • avatar

    Saab has already been divided into several different holding companies. There’s nothing to stop GM from just churning out bits and pieces as long as there’s anybody interested in the carcass. The tooling of the 9-3 and 9-5 are gone, what’s next?

    • 0 avatar

      Sale of the previous generation 9-5 tooling will give SAAB more funding which equals more time to find a suitable buyer.

      After owning Audi’s, BMW’s, Merc’s, and comparable Lexi’, SAAB blows them all out of the water when it comes to the driving experience. Yes GM has diluted the brand somewhat with cheapened interiors and plastic bits here and there but the SAAB driving experience is still there…

      I love my ’06 9-5 and would not even blink at Audi, BMW, or Lexus.

      The new 9-5  is a stunner.

  • avatar

    but if the tooling is sold and on its way, what are they making in the Saab factories?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul W

      The deal doesn’t include tools for the platform and chassis for the 9-3 (by the way, were talking about the old, pre 2002(?)-model here) since Saab needs those for about 3 more years, until they’ve come up with a replacement model. So to answer your question, the factory is making the new 9-5 and the 9-3.

  • avatar

    The SAAB factory will be building the new 9-4x, new 9-5 and the replacement for the famed 900 in the coming years…

    What else could one want?

    By the way the only car that I have test driven for kicks that has a similar driving experience  to the outgoing 9-5 is the new 2010 GTI with DSG as well as the new 2010 Jetta diesel.

    You have to spend $$$ (think Audi A4 3.2  or BMW 335) for a similar driving experience.

  • avatar

    Boy, it’s a good thing that the $30-45K near luxury market is not competitive at all, and most other players are content to sit back, not update their products, and give Saab and the new 9-5 a chance to get on their feet. Just imagine how bleak things would be if this market were instead one of the most vicious and cutthroat in the industry.
    Really guys, hang it up already. It’s just getting sad.

  • avatar

    Which GM Exec (Wagoner?) was “excited” about the next yet-to-be released Saab about 12 months ago? Is it that tooling that is going? ie a brand new model at the beginning of it’s platform life? Did he say he was “worried” about it falling into some other company’s hands? I can’t find it.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      Hi, Pete,
      I think you’re thinking of Fritz Henderson. He’s only been gone five minutes and already you’ve forgotten him! ;O)

    • 0 avatar

      It is old tooling that was sold.  Not the new models.

    • 0 avatar

      From the Saab Newsroom:

      – Saab closed on a sale of certain Saab 9-3, current 9-5 and Powertrain technology to BAIC
      – Current 9-5 tooling will move to China where it will be used to make BAIC vehicles
      – Saab will assist BAIC in integrating this technology into BAIC vehicles

  • avatar
    John Horner

    How long until we see the 2009 9-5 reincarnated as a Geely and sold in North America? Even with an unfamiliar name (hey, nothing could be a worse name than 9-5!) and a Made in China label it would probably sell like hotcakes for $19,995.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Selling old automotive tooling to cheap-labor centralized planners is nothing new and does not foretell the end of Saab. Russian Ladas were old Fiat 131s. Romanian Dacias are Renault 11s. One can go on and on. Heck, old Buicks are Chinese who-know’s-what’s, as are old VW Passats.

  • avatar

    Are we sure they aren’t selling the current 9-3’s tooling?
    The NYTimes article is vauge.  Have they essentially discontinued then their “best selling” model then?

  • avatar

    Didn’t I read on here that the actual tooling they sold was the old body 9-5, and the 2003-2007 tooling for the 9-3?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul W

      It’s the tools for the 1998–2002 first generation 9-3, not the current generation. And again, the deal doesn’t include the chassi & body tooling, so BAIC will have to come up with a car design of their own for that particular model (cynics may replace “come up with” with “copy”) . When it comes to the old (=current) 9-5 BAIC gets everything, so all they need is to slap a new emblem on it.

  • avatar

    Here’s a thought:
    Wouldn’t it be cheaper for GM to just keep Saab, move production into either a European factory or a US factory?  They have already invested heavily in the new 9-5… and the basic components are already in production all over the world.
    It seems the whole argument to keep or let it go hinges on keeping Saabs made in Sweden.
    We buy TONS of BMW and Mercedes that are built right here in the southern US… so, why not US built Saabs?

  • avatar

    PaulW, what is your reference source?  Several people have asked this in the forum so far.

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