• Nov 28, 2009
2010 Saab 9-5 – Click above for high-res image gallery

When Koenigsegg pulled out of its agreement with General Motors to purchase Saab, many thought that General Motors would dump the Swedish automaker much like it did the Saturn brand. But it appears that The General is still willing to look for another interested party, and speculation is that two perspective buyers are at the front of the line. The Swedish press is reporting that China's Beijing Automotive (BAIC) and Wyoming-based merchant bank Merbanco have shown renewed interest in perennially cash-poor Saab.

Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs reportedly told Automotive News that there were 27 suitors interested in the Swedish automaker prior to Koenigsegg becoming the preferred bidder and confirmed that there are now other bidders interested. "We have a close dialog and close contact with several who have expressed interest in buying Saab Automobile," Gustavs says.

if another bidder does win the opportunity to purchase Saab, they'll inherit an automaker that expects to lose $427 million in 2009 and a similar amount of cash in 2010. That buyer will also run into plenty of resistance when trying to get its hands on GM's technology assets. One issue that reportedly derailed the Koenigsegg bid was GM's reluctance to share its tech for new products like the new Saab 9-5. On the upside, the aforementioned 9-5 sedan has just begun serial production, the 9-3X allweatherwagon is ready to go, and the 9-4X looks to be just around the bend, too.

Earlier in the week, GM released a statement stating that it would "take the next several days to assess the situation and will advise on the next steps next week." Thanks for the tips, everyone!



[Sources: Autocar; Automotive News; Auto Motor und Sport]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a shame that koenigsegg pulled out and left saab in the dust, hope someone else will pick it up and give it the tlc it deserves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saab WILL survive.

      If anyone is interested in following just how Saab will make it through their current situation, I recommend heading over to www.saabsunited.com . You won't find a more trusted and accurate source for Saab news. They've got up-to-date news articles straight from Sweden, and even insider information exclusive to the site. Go there to get the straight truth, instead of the week-old biased-opinion news stories that other sites offer.

      http://www.saabsunited.com
      Stop
      • 5 Years Ago
      So it's all because GM's greed and ambition that Koenigsegg pulled out because of GM's unwillingness to hand over the tech as well, such tightwad. It if wasn't for that everyone would be happy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Stop
        The success of GM is far, far more important than keeping SAAB alive. Giving away access to GM technology could really hurt them in the long run. I doubt you will have the same attitude when similar stipulations apply if SAAB is purchased by a Chinese company. In fact, if other posters are any indication, you will be lauding such restrictions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope they will survive in some form. But I guess it is unlikely. There seems to be a brand saturation in the automotive world and a few brands might end up dead.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I for one am excited to see SAAB live on!
        • 5 Years Ago
        So am I.. but that is because I work at one of their dealerships (non-salesman thank you very much haha)
      • 5 Years Ago
      To JerryB:
      I think you're probably about half right. Certainly, the entrance of the Japanese makers really did help kill essentially all luxury makers not BMW or MB, but the story is, well, sadder and more complex than that.

      Both Saab and Volvo (as well as Jaguar) were essentially victims of their own success. Their cars at their peak, whatever their flaws, were truly different from the mainstream. Even today, the 70's and 80's Saabs, Volvos, and Jaguars are iconic. Anyone can identify their profiles easily, and each brand really did stand for something. However, each of these "stable" brands came up against threats they were, as a result of their stability, uniquely unprepared to challenge, including:

      - Regulations and market forces resulting in the increasing perfection of cars... Even the most mediocre of cars is bristling with safety features, performance, utility, engineering, craftsmanship, comfort, and value, items that previously defined the very identity of Volvo and Saab in particular... What car isn't safe these days? Is a Volvo really safer today than a MKS or C-Class? Remember the days when a Saab 9000 Aero was the quickest in its class? These days, a Camry V6 would smoke that car... Who doesn't have performance now?

      - The undeniable, monolithic success of the MB/BMW/Lexus: Their model schemes, BMW's performance, and Lexus' silky luxury approach have made them the defacto standard to the point where they almost define luxury today. If you don't try to at least match or ape their characteristics, you're not "truly" a luxury car brand...

      - The Japanese makes, for better or worse, redesigned their cars so fast that brand "identity" no longer has time to marinate and mature anymore. Thus, we get overdone, forced design languages (Bangle for BMW and Acura's current "robocop" motif anyone?) and constantly shifting brand identities (Acura, Infinifi, Lexus) as they all try to leapfrog one another. This instantly condemns less resource rich yet stable brands identities (Saab, Jaguar, etc) to being stale in the marketplace...

      - Ownership (Ford, GM, etc) that didn't understand their brands succeeded by being different, and only saw them as gateways to "Euro Premium." They understandably wanted to chase the same huge and only growing 3-series/E-class/X5 customer base. Both companies thus tried to morph their three small, unique European premium brands into "me too" BMW/MB/Lexus chasing mainstream brands. The irony is that both failed in different ways, GM failing by just failing, while Ford failed by succeeding. GM failed, underinvesting in Saab and thus it lost the interest of its customer base. Ford has built perhaps the best Volvos ever, but these BMW/MB competitive cars, by being more like their competition than different now, are less distinct, and thus have lost the interest of their customer base... Different story, same result.

      The saddest thing for me is that the customer is partly to blame here too... Why do we all want cars that are so similar? Why don't we want/tolerate/buy diversity? Look back at a 1983 car guide and marvel at how DIFFERENT in feel, look, and flavor all of the luxury cars were... Caddys and Lincolns were boat-like; Saabs were smart, quirky, and fast; MB were rolling bank vaults; BMW's were practical performance cars; Volvos were utilitarian rolling bricks with cool, slotted, see through headrests.

      Today, that's all gone, and all luxury cars are different flavors of the same thing. Everyone is chasing a variation on a theme of the 3-C/5-E/7-S and if you're not, shame on you! You're not in the game... What, you don't have a Lexus-style, creme colored, soft touch wide center console covered with flush buttons and back-lit in teal? Then you're not class competitive... You don't handle like a 3-series? Get outta the ring... Don't have MB ride-handling balance? Don't even apply... You lack all of these characteristics in one product? Then why exist? And we, the customer, are in part to blame... And before you dismiss me as an old fogie, I was in the single digits of age in 1983 and not certainly buying cars then... We're in an undeniable golden-age of automotive speed, reliability, comfort, and, unfortunately, uniformity. I'm just jealous I don't have as much choice now as buyers had in the past...

      And, my friends, that is how Jaguar, Saab, and Volvo, under new owners, have the potential to survive... By being genuinely different. Not like it is now... Saab, if it wants to survive, for instance, has to stop building 3-series or 5-series wannabe's that throw a floor mounted ignition here or a joystick dash vent there to define "character." The new 9-5, for as great as it really looks, is undeniably a Saab slant on the 5-E theme. No, I want a next-gen 93 or 95 that's REALLY di
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good points Garris.

        Volvo was the standard for safety back in the late 80s. Now, as you said, every luxury marque is just as safe, and Volvo has been pushed to silly lengths to try to keep a claim to be the standard bearer in automotive safety by installing devices that detect driver drowsiness.

        I think one of the driving forces behind the sameness of modern cars (pardon the pun) is the financial sector and the enormous pressure Wall Street puts on companies to turn more and more profit year after year. Since the 80's corporations have been pushed to pile on more debt, grow by acquisition rather than by competition. The result is less of a stomach for risk taking, less tolerance for building a unique brand and maintaining it. Bonuses are paid to those who make money fast.
        The safest ways to make more money more quickly are to
        a) buy existing brands, as GM and Ford did by gobbling up Saab, Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Mazda, Opel, etc
        b) copy existing brands, as eveyone else has in chasing Mercedes and BMW.

        The only way to turn back the clock to the diversity of the early 80's would be for the corporate world to renounce growth by acquisition, swear off excessive debt, and go back to managing their brands for long term growth, not short term gain. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      > The only way to turn back the clock to the diversity of the early 80's would be for the
      > corporate world to renounce growth by acquisition, swear off excessive debt, and go
      > back to managing their brands for long term growth, not short term gain. Unfortunately,
      > that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

      Good point. A large part of it is emphasis on short term gains... The other way to go back to diversity is for it to actually work, for "different" products to succeed and encourage others.

      Cell phone were only a few years ago dismissed as "commodities," something that everyone would have that would be similar and be a "race to the bottom" as far as profit margins went. Then the smart phones and iPhone came along and now there's a huge diversity of interest products (Android, iPhone, WebOS, Windows Mobile, etc) with much better margins.
      • 5 Years Ago
      AngeloD,
      I love how you took the chance to take a cheap shot at those rascally liberals when you really have no idea what jinushaun's leanings are. Seeing others as potential enemies is more of a conservative trait anyways.

      While the US may never have trained or equiped the Taliban, it is well established that the US did train and equip the Taliban's predecessor, the mujahideen. Without this support the Taliban may never have existed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And without that support, the USSR would still be in Afghanistan, and likely Eastern Europe as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I drove a Saab 900S in 1986 and enjoyed it. However, today there are far too many car companies vying for the same customers. You could eliminate half the world wide auto manufacturing capability off the planet and you would still have enough new cars to go around for everybody. When supply exceeds demand, price has to come down. However, since the cost of making a car has gone up, there is no way to reduce prices, thus the world is producing more cars, and has factories to produce more cars, than the world can buy. The market is over saturated. In order to restore balance, capacity must be slashed.

      There was a day when smaller manufacturers like Saab could exist, even by only selling to their own local populations. Tooling costs were much lower, design and research costs were much less, automobiles were much simpler, regulations much less, and competition fewer and further in between. Those days are long gone. Ferrari, as an example, can exist by selling only a handful of cars each year, but that is because they can charge an exorbitant amount, enough to cover their operating costs. Companies that make regular cars, do not have that luxury. They can only be profitable by selling in bulk today. Unfortunately, for them, only a few companies have enough market share to sell in bulk. Manufacturing smaller numbers of reasonably priced cars in the expensive west is not a business model that works anymore.

      For a country like Sweden to make cars, really no longer works. Considering today's cost structure, they are too small a country to have their own domestic auto industry. (Ford is similarly planning on divesting itself of Volvo to Geely) Either you sell cars in bulk, or you sell niche cars for astronomical prices. So it is not ironic then, as it might seem, that a small niche Swedish car company that most people haven't heard of, Koenigsegg, was in a position to purchase Saab and not the other way around.

      As far as the Big 3, there is really is not enough demand from them to keep all three in operation. The holy trinity came into existence long before the Japanese invasion, long before Americans discovered a place called Europe that also made cars, and certainly long before the Koreans and Chinese got in on the game using cheap labor the Big 3 could never compete with. While the number of worldwide customers has increased in the last 40 years, the increase in capacity, and the increase in the costs of producing an automobile, has far outstripped that. The end result is twofold: Small manufacturers get swallowed up for few cents on the dollar, and the Big 3 will soon be the Big 2. If it wasn't for anti-trust laws, it would, and should, become the Big 1.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if the Swedish government might nationalize it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would love personally to see Saab survive, but I know that most likely it will end up dead. You could buy the brand for the symbolic price for $1 but it would still mean an investment of another $1 billion down the road to make up for the money Saab will be losing. By then, who knows if the new products in the pipeline (9-5, 9-4x) will sell well enough to ensure the brand any survival. By the way Saabs have been selling the past few years, they are on a downward spiral to nowhere.

      BAIC may buy the remnants of the brand (the name and the rights to build the cars) once it's put into liquidation, much like SAIC bought bankrupt remnants of MG-Rover, focusing sales in China. It might mean more debt for the bankrupt part of GM (Motors Liquidation Company), but less long-term debt than keeping the brand or trying again unsuccessfully to sell it. Saab may live on, but if it does it might not be in a way that would have them sold in the US or Europe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Goodbye SAAB.
      I think SAAB's demise began when it lost it's identity and stopped building rugged 5 door sports sedans.
      Too many manufacturers doing the plush sedan thing ,and in the meanwhile BMW and Honda are coming out with 5 door sports sedans.
      SAAB stopped building SAABs.
      Lost their unique vision and place in the market.
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