Saab has been in the news quite a bit lately, and mostly for the wrong reasons. But now that the Swedish automaker appears to have secured loans and buy-in from Hawtai Motors in China, Victor Muller and company are looking to go on the offensive.
Automotive News reports that the Spyker CEO is still talking China, but now he's entertaining the possibility of partnering with a Chinese company to distribute low-cost autos in the U.S. Muller reportedly says that Saab could utilize its dealer networks in the U.S. and Europe to sell $10,000 Chinese vehicles in two or three years. And just because Saab struck a deal with Hawtai doesn't mean that the Swedish automaker is restricting its plans to its newest strategic partner. Muller pointed out during an interview in Washington, D.C. that there are 120 companies in China, and that Saab is interested in "the one with a strategy."
There are many hurdles for Chinese automakers to overcome to finally breach the U.S. market, not the least of which is passing federal safety standards. Muller acknowledges that a five-star-rated Chinese vehicle likely won't happen any time soon, but he says that made-in-China SUVs can be had with tons of features for about $10,000, adding "Do you really worry about a five-star rating? They Look good."
Hmmm. We're guessing there will be plenty of buyers who don't want to drive a vehicle with compromised safety capabilities, but a low price tag could cure those fears. Of course, we also can't help but wonder how many luxury car shoppers will want to pay premium prices for Saab automobiles if they share showroom space with discount Chinese offerings – the Swedish automaker's residual values have been problematic enough as-is.