Beijing Automotive Buys a Saab Lineup
And by doing so, finally gets a lineup of their own
By Brendan Moore
UPDATED: 12.14.2009 12:15 – Negotiations between China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC) and GM regarding the sale of the technology and tooling required to produce all the iterations of Saab’s previous 9-5 and 9-3 models has concluded today with the preliminary sale of same to BAIC, according to sources in Sweden.
Beijing Automotive will build the older models in China under their own, as yet undisclosed, brand name.
The sources offered assurances that the deal for the older models will not impede the possible sale of Saab to a new owner in any way.
There is no official comment from GM, Saab or Beijing Automotive. Previous comments by Saab officials regarding the possible sale of the old technology to Beijing Automotive merely stated that Saab was confident that any new versions of old Saabs produced in China would not injure the Saab brand elsewhere in the world.
Saab is fighting for its very existence since the canceled sale of it to Koenigsegg, a tiny Swedish manufacturer of low-volume supercars. Beijing Automotive was Koenigsegg’s financial backer to the tune of $300 million USD in that previous deal gone astray.
If Saab survives, it has a new 9-5 (first update of the large sedan in a decade) in the pipeline, which is scheduled to appear in April of 2010.
Saab does not have a new 9-3 ready, and will sell the existing 9-3 until it does, according to reports. Although it appears that Saab has sold at least some of the current 9-3 platform to Beijing Automotive, they have apparently included a clause that allows them to keep marketing the 9-3 until they can gin up a replacement.
That potential dilemma prompts another question for whatever next version of Saab exists, which is, “what are Saab’s plans for the 9-3 line?”
But, first things first. Saab needs to survive before it can worry about its future lineup. This deal to sell some of its older assets will bring the company some much-needed cash for operational puposes and make it that much more attractive to a potential buyer.
If Saab can consummate this side deal and get a new buyer to believe the company itself has a future, then maybe they can sell enough of the old 9-3 models and the new 9-5 models to stay afloat until reinforcements can arrive at the sales front. Saab is going to sell only around 10,000 units this year (a huge drop) in the United States in 2009, one of its key markets, and if the 9-5 is as good as it appears, Saab just may be able to at least get close to matching those sales numbers and hang on in the next couple of years as it regroups.
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