When it comes to Saab, the clock is ticking – and it’s doing so with tempestuous speed. After plenty of rumors and potential takers for the Swedish brand, GM has decided that enough is enough and that by the end of December, it will either divest itself of Saab by selling it or kill it by sending it to the automotive graveyard, where it would join Saturn, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile. As it stands today, there is only one company left bidding for the Swedish automaker – Spyker – which, ironically, hasn’t yet turned a profit.
GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre told reporters at GM’s Detroit headquarters that Spyker is the only company left bidding for Saab and that reaching a deal is “possible,” but later reiterated that the brand would be shut down if an agreement isn’t reached by the end of 2009. In essence, there are only two and a half weeks remaining for GM and Spyker to successfully complete negotiations.
This development comes after news that China’s BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company) has reached a deal with GM to purchase tooling for certain Saab models, specifically the old 9-5 and pre-2006 9-3.
Spyker CEO Victor Muller has confirmed that GM’s deal with BAIC is for “old equipment” and thinks that the deal is “Good news.” That much would make sense – Saab is ready to launch its all-new 9-5 sedan and if Spyker were to buy the automaker, it wouldn’t care for the old 9-5 or the pre-2006 9-3 anyway. The BAIC deal may even work to shave some zeros from GM’s sticker price for Saab.
The GM Authority Take
Whatever way you look at it, Saab’s future is still up in the air. It would be very sad to see the company die on the vine, being so close to launching its all new 9-5 sedan, 9-4, and possibly a 9-5 SportCombi (wagon). On the other hand, it’s good to see GM moving in the right direction: it needs to focus on more pressing issues (such as its own products) and get rid of old baggage. Let’s hope that GM will be a responsible corporate citizen and give the Saab sales process due diligence.
Some quick trivia coming your way: the Spyker that’s in the bidding for Saab is not related to the (original) Dutch Spyker company of the late 1800s. Today, Spyker is owned by Russian banker Alexander Antonov. The only ties the modern Spyker has to its original Dutch predecessor is the name.