Saab Resumes Production
General Motors extends their bid deadline, so Saab starts making cars again
By Brendan Moore
Reuters is reporting this morning that Saab is restarting some production lines after the New Year as a result of General Motors extending the bid deadline for prospective buyers.
GM had previously stated that it would only wait until the end of this month (tomorrow) to decide on potential bids for Saab, but has now set a later date of January 7 for evaluation of the bid from Spyker, the Dutch supercar maker. It is believed that GM may have provided an even later evaluation date to other bidders that entered the bidding process after Spyker.
Saab has taken that respite as a signal to start making cars again, with production of the new 9-5 and the 9-3 Cabrio slated to commence after the traditional winter holiday ends at the factory in Trollhattan, Sweden.
Saab spokesman Eric Geers stated, “We have the orders and we have to deliver them as usual. We also have the orders for the 9-3 and others. The factory has to continue again.” He added, “We are preparing the wind-down process. At the same time we are open to options, to bids that come in. Therefore the deadline has also been dropped.”
The statement from Geers prompts a couple of observations from this writer.
One, if production of the new 9-5 starts and Saab does shut down shortly, anyone who owns a new-generation 9-5 is going to have one rare car in their driveway.
Two, I am curious as to just how many orders the factory has, since Saab sales worldwide went into a swoon in 2009, and all the uncertainty regarding their existence at the end of 2009 cannot be helping sales at this point. I know that some U.S. Saab dealers have stated that they currently have cars that have already had two birthdays on their lot, and I wouldn’t think any of those dealers would be too excited about ordering new Saabs.
But, apparently dealers in the U.S. and Europe have ordered the new 9-5 in fairly substantial numbers, and the factory is going to fulfill those orders. I am, however, curious as to just what kind of volume of orders the company has received.
Spyker’s second offer for Saab on December 20, in which Spyker claimed to have resolved all of GM’s objections to the first offer, has been met with resounding public silence from GM. The Dutch specialty car maker made only 43 cars last year (compared to Saab’s 93, 295 units produced) and is backed by Russian and Arabic investors, and neither of those facts is giving GM much confidence about their bid.
Merbanco, a private-equity group out of Wyoming, USA, is also rumored to be actively bidding for Saab, but no one (Merbanco, GM or Saab) will confirm their interest.
It is believed that there are also other, so- far-unidentified bidders interested in Saab.
BAIC, a large Chinese automaker, recently purchased tooling and technology for the previous generation of the Saab 9-5, as well as some technology related to the 9-3, and is said to be interested in buying the Saab brand if a deal to sell Saab whole does not materialize.
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