Whitacre: Saab Will Die, Hummer Will Live

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
whitacre saab will die hummer will live

Ed Whitacre said yesterday that none of the potential bidders for Saab have come forward with the financing needed. “I think we’ve done everything humanly possible,” Whitacre said. Then he announced that GM will start closing down Saab plants later this week. GM’s really, final, we-really-mean-it-this-time deadline for Saab runs out today.

Who knows, maybe someone will come up with the money. Or at the very least, with some Powerpointilisms: Joran Hagglund, Sweden’s state secretary for industry, said there are bids from two anonymous groups that might make today’s deadline. Except that there is that nasty little detail: “The problem is that none of them can show that they have financing in place,” Hagglund said.

On Hummer, Whitacre is still gung-ho. GM aims to close the deal to sell the Hummer brand to China’s Tengzhong by end of January, Whitacre said to Reuters. That deal has been forever in the making and has become the joke of the industry.

While he was at it, Whitacre said that GM’s new chief financial officer Chris Liddell, who has joined from Microsoft Corp, could be a candidate for the CEO post of GM. “Could” is the operative word, because Whitacre has yet to receive a list of potential CEO candidates. Liddell wouldn’t be the first bean counter to head-up GM. But don’t you need to be a bean counter and a lifer for the job?

Speaking of counting beans, and going way out on a thin limb, Whitacre predicted that GM will return to profitability this year. A prognosis that doesn’t install too much confidence for his other predictions.

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7 of 25 comments
  • Porsche986 Porsche986 on Jan 07, 2010

    You know, I have to agree with a couple of people here on this topic... even though it has been beaten to death. GM does not really want to sell Saab. They can close it, keep the brand in a vault, etc. Plus, they must CLEARLY have a goal for the new 9-5. Maybe a re-badge for another brand? The car is too good (supposedly) and cost too much to develop to just let it die, even when there are suitors. Maybe Saab will live on, but with a different badge?

  • Nutella Nutella on Jan 07, 2010

    That's exactly it, akear. GM couldn't design a safe car nor could they design a powerful, smooth and fuel efficient 4 banger. Saab strenghts. Opel was in the same boat, kept on building POS after POS. After the Saab purchase, suddenly GM cars become safe, GM 4 cyl looks like carbon copies of Saab. Then GM exploded and went bankrupt. Saab never went bankrupt, despite its small volume. GM is then rescued by the US government and kills Saab. Talk about corporate irresponsability !!

    • See 2 previous
    • PGAero PGAero on Jan 07, 2010

      sitting@home... Nutella is right. The Opel platform that Saab got was hugely improved once Saab got their hands on it. When Saab made a profit (you cited 1995), GM still didn't own the whole company. It was in 1999 that the final 50% was purchased. Additionally, one very important bit that Saab brought to the table is/was their turbo charged 4-cyl (and turbo expertise in general). The Turbo four that Saab developed in the late 70s and continually improved until it's current iteration in the outgoing 9-5 really set the benchmark for non-Porsche turbo engines for years. (And a Porsche turbo engine is a different application entirely than a turbo in a sedan or wagon.) GM has gained from this tech as can be seen in their current use of turbo engines in a number of cars.

  • Nutella Nutella on Jan 07, 2010

    sittingathome, The Vectra on which the Saab 900 is "based" was a laughingstock back then, far inferior to the offerings from VW or Peugeot. The handling was terrible, the engines dated and the crash tests catastrophic. GM forced Saab to use that inferior platform to rush the launch of the new 900. Saab used its own excellent turbocharched engines (except for the dreadful and unreliable opel V6), advanced electronics and suspension bits to make something decent, and even managed later to fix the aging Opel paltform to get very good crash tests results. Needless to say, the best bits were the Saab ones. But the Opel platform was far inferior the older Saab 9000 (done in house with Fiat/Alfa).