Check Your Mirrors
By Kevin Miller
Saab/Koenigsegg Deal in Financial Peril?
Reuters has reported today that the deal for Koenigsegg is in danger of falling apart, if promised loans are not in place by Wednesday, September 30. According to Bard Eker, one of Koenigsegg’s owners, Koenigsegg may pull out of their deal to purchase the Saab unit from GM if the loan guarantees are not ready.
“If everything is not in place before Wednesday we are out. We give up,” Eker was quoted as saying by the Swedish business daily Dagens Industri. “The milestones that need to be achieved on Wednesday pertain to the EIB, the Swedish Debt Office and we at Koenigsegg Group moving at the same pace.”
Meanwhile in response to the comments, Koenigsegg Chief Executive and part-owner Christian von Koenigsegg also told Reuters that good progress was being made in talks to secure Swedish state guarantees for billions of crowns of loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Interestingly, a Koenigsegg spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the reports. The deal for Koenigsegg to purchase Saab from GM has had a timeline with an October 31 deadline, so the September 30 loan deadline mentioned by Eker is a bit of surprise.
Ford’s Mulally Not Hot on $2.5BN Offer for Volvo
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group Co. is leading in the bidding to purchase Volvo Cars from Ford Motor Co, with a bid of $2.5 billion. Ford CEO Allan Mulally, however, has responded cooly to the news. WSJ reported that the sum is more than observers had believed the Volvo brand is worth. The sale price is assumed to be somewhat less than that amount, as it has been losing money at an alarming rate in recent years. Perhaps Mulally is merely trying to play it cool, to keep Geely feeling like Volvo is actually worth that amount.
While Volvo purists cringe at the thought of Chinese ownership of the Swedish brand, Ford has made no secret about the fact that they would like to sell Volvo, and the current economic climate is not a great one for peddling car companies. If Geely can actually come up with the cash, I’d bet that the sale will happen.
Rumors of Outgoing Saab 9-5 Production in China
Our friends at Saabs United have posted a couple of interesting pieces in the last few days about a potential way that Saab is looking to expand into the Chinese auto market. Through Koenigsegg’s Chinese investment partner Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company (BAIC), Saab’s distribution network could be easily expanded using BAIC’s existing dealer network, to grow sales of the marque’s cars beyond the fewer-than-900 vehicles GM managed to distribute there in 2008.
More interesting, though, is the rumor that Saab would look at getting around Chinese import tariffs by having BAIC assemble some vehicles in China. Because the high costs of new tooling, however, the rumor is that after production of the all-new 9-5 is up and running in Trollhattan (with sales revived, and money coming in), that the tooling for the first-generation 9-5 could be sent to China, for BAIC to use in Chinese production of the first-gen car.
While this is a way to get more Saabs on the road in China, there is the risk that Chinese consumers will feel slighted by Saab manufacturing the decade-old model just for them, which could drag down Saab’s brand equity in China. On the other hand, a locally-produced version of the old car would be much more affordable in China than any of the Saab vehicles produced in Sweden.
It would not be without precedent, either. Saab kept producing the 99 model in Europe for several years after its replacement, the 900, was launched.
Ring Finger Length Determines Driving Style?
The Daily Mail published an entertaining little article about research showing that the length of a man’s third finger indicates how aggressively he drives. The hypothesis of the study is that finger length is determined by a baby’s exposure to testosterone in the womb, and that the length of the ring finger relative to the length of the index finger has a direct corrlation to aggressive behavior, including aggressive driving. Reading the article had me looking at my hands and considering how aggressively I sometimes drive; I’m hoping that insurance companies don’t start looking at finger length along with credit scores and driving records to determine their rates.
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