By on December 22, 2010

It’s been a tough 2010 for Saab, which is trying to survive on a $40k sedan, a bunch of holdover models and the promise of a Cadillac SRX clone (coming Spring 2011). Sure there are plans for future cars, but no money to develop them. Meanwhile Saab’s US sales are down 44 percent through November of this year, with only 4,371 units moved (3,721 of which were 9-3s). So with the Swedish government probably wondering why it helped keep the struggling automaker alive, it’s funding a transmission development program staffed by Saab engineers. Bloomberg reports:

Saab and Fouriertransform AB, the Swedish government’s venture-capital firm, will staff the company with about 50 engineers from Saab’s powertrain division… The venture, which will be formed at the start of 2011, will develop transmission systems, such as gearboxes, for Saab and other carmakers

Saab is already jointly developing electric AWD systems and drivetrains in a venture with the supplier American Axle, making the deal with Fouriertransform its second JV in the supplier realm. Analysts hail the move as “a move in the right direction,” and given the brand’s recent history of selling new cars (or lack thereof), it’s hard to disagree. These supplier-side deals are the most pragmatic moves Saab has made since being booted from the GM empire.

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10 Comments on “Saab Goes Into The Supplier Business...”

  • avatar

    How does having a fully funded business plan for the next few years that includes developing an all-new 9-3 for 2012 equate to not having enough money for development?

    And the 9-4X and the SRX were co-developed, so Saab isn’t just rebadging some GM product.

    Making things up does not make for good journalism.

  • avatar

    As I and others have pointed out, bleating continuously about how Saab sales are down is a bit ridiculous. The factory was SHUT for the better part of a year as GM tried to kill Saab. The dealers had no new cars to sell for more than a half year. So OF COURSE sales were down! Sheesh – you can’t sell cars that never got built. It’s amazing they sold as many as they did.

    As a Saab owner, I certainly hope they turn things around, and if designing transmissions can bring in some cash, why not?

    • 0 avatar

      I could not agree more. It is a miracle that Saab is around. Yes they have real obstacles to overcome. But so often what I read about them has the flavor of the “glass is half-empty” it’s dirty, chipped etc. I can count on a writer pointing out the 9-5 is a Buick or the coming 9-4x is a Cadillac, they are only selling X qty. of cars. Well, Audi’s are VW’s, The Porsche Cayenne is a VW. The Volvo C30 is a Mazda 3 and as Krhodes1 pointed out Saab was all but dead!

      Quite throwing dirt on them! They staved of death, they’ve moved virtually all production to Trollhatten and they are laying the foundation for the future. A little positive press (meaning take “the glass is half-full” approach) would be heartening to see. If they can make it – we may all see some genuine Saabs in a couple/three years. And that would be very refreshing thing indeed. Contrast it with the majority of generic, formulaic appliances that pass for cars these days.

  • avatar

    Wow, that few? How many are they selling worldwide?
    Saab’s numbers simply don’t make sense to me. Can a whole, independent car company exist with such low volume of sales? Discounting last year’s number, they being partially shut down and all, their volume weren’t all that high. It would take time and extremely large amount of financial reserve to bring a company from such a low point back to a viable position. Meanwhile the 9-5 were getting pretty terrible reviews in Europe, especially their lower end models (bread and butter?). I just hope Spyker has the means and the patience.

  • avatar

    Sigh. As usual, so much wrong here. SAAB can run a profit at about 120K car sales a year. They have a factory paid for, cost of capital is low right now, and have supportive unions. The “low-end” 9-5 actually is getting better reviews — the 4 cylinder is a bit lighter and without the AWD weight.
    Now there are tons of legitimate questions on car companies at those volumes.  Can they develop new models?  Can dealer networks survive on those sales?  What will happen to your suppliers?  Bad idea not to have engine and transmission development in-house — you are always getting second rate products.
    But the newish 9-3 is already underway.  I personally suspect it will look radically different but not be so different underneath the skin, saving some  money.  A few mild tweaks to the existing 9-3 (hatchback, better interior, hiper-strut, DSG and BMW engines) might be enough.  There is more than enough money to build that out.
    Money to build a 9-4NG and the proposed 9-2 (small car): no.
    Given the low price they got SAAB for (400 million, with 88 million down) if they can show the new 9-3 is a success it would not be hard to turn around and sell this for double their money.

  • avatar

    Well, my previous comment didn’t seem to make the cut, but I still want to see some facts to back up this claim:

    “Sure there are plans for future cars, but no money to develop them.”

    Everything I have read indicates that they will have 3 new model out in the next 2 years: the 9-5 wagon, the 9-4X and the all new 9-3.

  • avatar

    Plus, imho, the Saab brand image is positive, at least in my neck o’ the woods. (New England) My family fleet consists of two ’99 Saab 9-5s, a newish Lexus ES 350 and a CR-V with awd. For the ideal combo of motoring fun and function, I much prefer the Saabs.

  • avatar

    Regardless, of all the crazy quirky cars out there, I love Saab….and would love to have one for my Sunday road trips.

  • avatar

    Next time you have a party sir, i will arrive in a Saab wearing my funny hat.

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