Thor S Johnsen

By on September 16, 2009

Attending the IAA in Frankfurt are all (most of) the involved parties in the Saab/GM/Koenigsegg/BAIC-and whoever deal. For fans without a scorecard, that’s Saab Automobiles’ CEO Jan Åke Jonsson, Christian von Koenigsegg and Bård Eker of Koenigsegg Group, CEO of GM Europe Carl-Peter Forster and BAIC’s CEO, Mr. Wang Dazong. While the details behind the S/G/K/B/W deal are still being held under wraps, there are some interesting views and thoughts drifting through the autoblogosphere. Mr. Wang tells ttelia.se that Saab will be part of BAIC’s global vision, which is part of BAIC’s 10-year plan. Wang assures that BAIC has no other intentions than being a minority owner, and describes the Saab/BAIC deal to be a win-win, yin-yang thang. After all, we learn, Wang learned to drive in a Saab. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reveals Wang’s plans to base the Saab deal on the “strategic alliance” between Renault and Nissan. And now the real news . . .

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By on September 16, 2009

The autoblogosphere is alight: Geely has informed FoMoCo they’re no longer interested in buying Volvo. Turns out that a previous statement that Geely wanted to aquire 100 percent of Volvo PV was a solo play from a CEO of one of Geely Groups’ subsidiary companies, not Geely as a whole. Or was it? The Swedish punditocracy is viewing this one a tactical play from Geely to lower the price, in a “typically Chinese” fashion. Meanwhile, Ford’s adamant that Volvo is getting the old heave-ho. According to di.se, Fords’ Chief Financial Officer said “Die! Volvo! Die!” Skämt. In fact, Lewis Booth said . . .

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By on September 14, 2009

This post was supposed to be a report about the Volvo Union turning a cold shoulder towards Geely, seeking to avoid Chinese ownership of their beloved Volvo PV, fearing the same fate as England’s Rover under SAIC. But then news surfaced this morning that the Swedish-led Consortium Jacob AB, who wanted to buy Volvo PV, won’t. According to sources cited by Industry Daily (DI), the Swedes don’t have the financial wherewithal to buy Volvo PV, now that they’ve lost frontman former Volvo Prez Roger Holtback. DI says Roger Holtback switched horses mid-stream, taking a new role as a paid adviser to US venture capitalists eyeing Ford’s sloppy seconds. Holtback will now try to get support from the Swedish unions for a US takeover bid, which includes several other former Ford executives as “advisers.” [ED: that’s supposed to help?]

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By on September 13, 2009

I’ve been prowling the autoblogosphere today re: the Saab SAIC deal. Besides the obvious concerns about fear of production and technology moving out of Sweden, comments and speculations are mainly positive. The unions are happy, says Chairman of the United Metalworkers, Paul Åkerlund. “Lovely to be done with this discussion, now its time to look forward.” The Chairman of the union, Annette Hellgren, is similarly copacetic. “There are always question around Chinese owners, as with our neighbor in Gothenburg (Volvo), but with this deal, we don’t have to worry – that feels good.” In their opinion, we’re talking Chinese money, access to the Chinese Market, and no Chinese interference with management or product development. (Minor stake in Koenigsegg Group, remember?) As the old Swedish aphorism says, “Döm ej allt du ser, Tro ej allt du hör, Gör ej allt du kan, Säg ej allt du vet, Förtär ej allt du har, Låt ingen veta vad du har i hjärtat eller pungen.” Make the jump for the translation and more news . . .

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By on September 8, 2009

Rumors involving Chinese automaker SAIC in Saab’s rescue plans have been percolating for some time now. Christian Von Koenigsegg raised the possibility in an Auto Motor and Sport interview [via Saabsunited], saying, “we may look at producing Saabs for China, in China.” Then came word from an anonymous source quoted in Reuters as saying, “SAIC is considering taking a stake in Saab but has not made up its mind or the size of any possible investment.” And yet, mysteriously, it seems that Koenigsegg’s $420M financing shortfall has magically disappeared. SAIC refuses to confirm that it is the anonymous funding source, pleading shyness in the wake of its recent disastrous ownership of Korean automaker Ssangyong.

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By on September 6, 2009

Swedespeed.com has posted pictures of the facelifted Volvo C30. Volvo’s concentrated most of their re-design firepower on the Swede’s front end; the lights and air intakes differ most notably from the previous iteration. According to automotorsport.se, remaining Volvo dealers and customers are hoping that the Ford subdivision (still) will install the newly developed 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injected petrol into the C.

By on September 2, 2009

When Christian von Koenigsegg announced he’d cut a deal between Koenigsegg Group (KG) and GM to buy Saab, he also “hinted” that the Swedish government would contribute to the deal. Since then there’s been a lot of speculation about whether KG has access to enough cash to gain control of New GM’s deathbed-dwelling subdivision. At the same time, analysts have wondered if Saab has enough money to keep the lights on until the deal goes down. Saab’s suppliers have demanded clarifications from KG/GM before delivering parts. Yesterday’s reports that Koenigsegg’s partner in their solar-powered EV project (Swiss company NLV Solar) is facing lawsuits for fraud did nothing to reassure skittish fans of a KG-run Saab. Today’s news offers some respite. According to Industry Daily [via Swedish Wire], Koenigsegg Group has secured enough funds to qualify for a Swedish government-guaranteed loan at the European investment Bank. The source of this much-needed financial infusion? Unnamed sources finger unnamed new investors that include . . . wait for it . . . GM. US taxpayers to the rädda, again?

By on September 1, 2009

Ailing EV-manufacturer TH!NK has escaped the dark specter of oblivion. After a long period of economic struggle, investors have come up with the funds necessary to bring the former Ford subsidy out of court protection. Named investors: American battery maker Ener1 (31 percent), Finland’s Valmet Automotive production company and the Norwegian Government-backed investment fund Investinor. As you’d expect, TH!NK’s plant in Aurskog is rostat bröd, removing 85 workers from the EV-maker’s payroll. Valmet has a contract with Porsche to build the Boxter an Cayman models until 2012, after which Porsche is scheduled to move manufacturing to Magna Steyr in Austria. Meanwhile, Fisker has contracted with Valmet to produce its luxury EV Karma, with production to start early next year. So TH!NKs will be assembled alongside the Porsche Cayman and Fisker Karma for a couple of years. Great news, but Ikke selg skinnet før bjørnen er skutt (don’t sell the hide until you’ve shot the bear).

By on August 27, 2009

A couple of hours before the official unveiling of their new 9-5, the ailing Swedish brand has released pictures and a press release for the new car. (Nice to have Saabsunited for English versions :-D) It’s the Aero-version that’s being presented, and . . . well . . . I don’t know how this car is going to make any impact on car buyers not already into Saab. At the same time, Saab has released a new world-wide commercial campaign on their 9-3X, called Changing Perspective. Saab is a relatively small car manufacturer in the global market, which over the years has driven many innovations, from turbo technology and seat heating to effective use of alternative fuels. “Now we’ll bring back an even larger share of the production and initiatives to Sweden, and then we also want to take a starting point based on what actually makes us unique,” says Annika Priou, Marketing Communications Manager. Good lycka with that.

By on August 27, 2009

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ford’s European CEO, John Fleming, said that The Blue Oval Boyz aim to sell their Volvo-shaped money pit by the end of this year. More importantly, they have no intentions in keeping any remaining stake in their money-losing Swedish subdivision: “it has not even been considered.” Fleming also confirmed that Ford’s negotiating with “a number of parties” about the sale. Need they mention any names? Ford is looking for $2 billion for the moribund brand—less then a third of what The Glass House Gang paid for Volvo way back in 1999. Not to mention billions more spent in a hugely unsuccessful attempt to take the brand up market. “It’s not the global economic downfall that has sparked the decision to sell Volvo,” Fleming said, without dwelling on Ford’s patently inglorious management. “We’ve been in a process of separating Volvo and Ford for a year already.”

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By on August 21, 2009

Excited about the new Saab 9-5? Saab has put up a count-down timer on their homepage, for those in need to see exactly how far away the official unveil will happen. Meanwhile, the deal is still, as I wrote earlier, uncertain to say the least.

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By on August 17, 2009

A group calling itself Consortium Jacob AB is making a last-minute play to keep the Volvo brand out of Chinese hands. The alt. Geely newbies consist mainly of Swedish owners, fronted by former Volvo CEO Roger Holtback. Despite the late entry into the auction, Ford has promised to treat the all [mostly?] Swedish bid seriously. The Swedish government’s “manager for affairs of the automotive industry” at the Industry Dept., Jöran Hägglund, gave the group the green light. Allegedly, Volvo’s union of engineers got the ball rolling. So, now, show me the money . . .

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By on August 14, 2009

In an interview to Just Auto [sub], Swedish Industry Dept.’s state secretary Jöran Hägglund declared that Volvo will have new owners by the beginning of that most magical of years, 2010. “Ford has a lower pace than GM-Saab, but we believe a deal should be closed come this year’s ending.” says Hägglund. Last week ago, Swedish newspaper Industry Daily reported that Volvo will be parted-out to Chinese automaker Geely, Ford (maintaining a minority stake to protect access to safety technology and prevent China syndrome) and a mystery Swedish investor. Quoting “inside sources,” Auto Motor & Sport identifies Volvo AB as the Swedish part of the proposal. Volvo AB is the divested truck/buses etc. division of “old Volvo;” they’re supposedly buying a piece of ye olde mothership to control the carmaker’s Swedish genes. Profits? Jovisst. Industry Daily’s source says Ford will put the devil in the details by the end of August. According to AM&S’s information, this is a done deal.

By on August 13, 2009

Swedish supercar builders Koenigsegg wants to “liberate” Saab from GM. To that end, Mr. Koenigsegg and his partner Bård Eker assembled a group of investors to back their play. Publicly, only one other name was attached to the Koenigsegg Group (KG) proposal: Mark Bishop. Bishop is an unlikely auto magnate; a publicity shy California wheeler-dealer with a dubious past in the sub-prime mortgage CDO re-bundling business. Bishop reportedly held a 22 percent stake in KG. No more. As TTAC predicted, the Swedes have shown Bishop the lucka.

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