Future Uncertain for Saab- But News is Coming on Monday
By Kevin Miller
Earlier this week, Automotive News reported [sub] that sources familiar with GM’s strategic review of Saab had produced no parties interested in buying the beleagured-yet-iconic Swedish carmaker. The strategic review became necessary when GM accepted federal funds as a bridge loan from the US government in December, as a part of their corporate long-term viability plan submitted to Congress. While Saab was never officially for sale, we’ve all learned in recent months that the term “strategic review” is code for “looking to get rid of”. GM’s Hummer brand has undergone a similar strategic review in recent months, and no buyer was found for the marque.
Without a buyer for Saab, the brand’s future is uncertain. According to a report last month by Danish news source Børsen, Eric Geers, Global Communications Officer for Saab Automobile AB in Sweden, indicated Saab had three months to be sold, else GM may be forced to close the money-losing brand to ensure long term corporate viability.
There is a glimmer of hope in the form of the Swedish Government, however. The Swedes have guaranteed loans earmarked for their nation’s automakers (both Saab and Volvo, which is for sale by Ford) up to 25 billion Swedish Kronor (about $3.2B). The auto industry is a sizeable employer in Sweden, and the Swedish government would like to keep that industry in business. Eric Geers confirmed to Automotive News Europe that that Saab was in discussion with necessary Swedish government officials about applying for some of that money.
In any case, we should know more about Saab’s future quite soon. According to Swedish news source Dagens Nyheter, there is a GM press conference scheduled for Monday in Detroit at NAIAS with members of the Swedish government. While it is unclear exactly what plan will be unveiled on Monday, the fact that there is a plan should be encouraging to Saab faithful. Also encouraging is the news coming via TrollhattanSaab.net, that US Saab dealers have been informed the replacement 9-5 is “back on schedule”, and that photos will be forthcoming at some time in February with an on-sale date later in the year. With the 9-4x development essentially complete (assembly should be ramping up Q3 or Q4 this year), Saab looks to have two-thirds of its lineup entirely new a year from now. Assuming they are still in business.
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