Saab: A history in pictures – Click above for high-res gallery
Despite the fact that the Detroit Auto Show put the focus back on General Motors' new products and pulled the spotlight away from the will-they/won't-they saga that is the Saab sale/wind-down, there are no shortage of developments to report in the ongoing story.
Yesterday, Genii Capital and Bernie Ecclestone submitted a freshly revised bit for Saab, and Spyker Cars reportedly also did so, with CEO Victor Muller going so far as to say that, "We have shown Mr. Whitacre the money." For its part, Merbanco has also apparently been asked to tweak its bid by General Motors, and it has done so as well.
Swedish-language outlet Svenska Dagbladet has reported that Genii and Spyker may team up to present an even stronger bid, and Dagens Industri has gone so far as to speculate that Genii and Spyker might try to pull Renault into a three-way deal (as you may remember, Genii purchased Renault's Formula One team recently), but Saabs United indicates that there's not much to this rumor.
In what critics are suggesting as a less-than-good-faith move, GM may also schedule transportation of the 2010 Saab 9-5's tooling to China as early as tomorrow, January 15, where the model would likely be built wearing Buick badges. The General appointed Steven Taylor and Peter Torngren to oversee the liquidation of Saab on Monday, and as part of that move, they replaced both Saab's CEO and board effective immediately.
Despite all of this, GM's new president of North America, Mark Reuss, has been quoted suggesting that the protracted bidding struggle may continue until early February, all while GM continues to the process of shuttering the brand. It's enough to make us long for the simpler days of last November, when Saab was nearly sold to Koenigsegg for the symbolic sum of one krona (about .14 cents).
While all of this has been happening, Saab enthusiasts have apparently been gearing up for dozens of rallies around the globe to show support for the sale of the battered marque, with organizers in Yekatarinburg, Russia going so far as to create a commercial and running it on local television. On Tuesday, workers at Saab's Trollhätten plant rallied, calling for the newly-appointed liquidators at AlixPartners to "go home." This, as the very first Saab 9-3 convertible came off the line in Sweden – previous droptops had been assembled by Valmet in Findland and Magna Steyr in Austria.
Given how painfully drawn-out this process has become, we have to wonder... will there be anything left to save when all the chips fall? A final, they-really-mean-it-this-time decision on Saab's fate could happen as early as tomorrow, but sources close to the negotiations seem to think that the proceedings are likely to drag out into next week.
Related GallerySaab - A History in Pictures
[Sources: Saabs United, Saab History, Swedish Wire, Earth Times, Business Week; Contract Hire and Leasing]