General Chrysler latest news

I’ve been trying to keep track of the situation with the General Motors and Chrysler, both to stay on top of what’s happening and also to see if there’s anything of partuclarly Saaby interest (which there isn’t).

Everyone’s got a story and the most credible ones are apparently telling theirs to Automotive News. In case some of this stuff is subscription only (as AN are sometimes wont to do), here’s the news.

First there’s the forecast concerning what the new entity might look like:

A merger between General Motors and Chrysler LLC would result in the closing of as many as half of Chrysler’s factories and elimination of all but about seven core models, according to a report by consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP.

A deal also could result in a loss of 100,000 to 200,000 jobs at the two automakers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders, said Kimberly Rodriguez, principal of Grant Thornton’s automotive practice.

Rodriguez said she believes negotiators could reach an agreement in principal as soon as Tuesday, Nov. 4, election day. Reuters reported yesterday that GM and Chrysler’s owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, have resolved major issues and the final form of any accord will depend on financing and U.S. government support.

That’s a lot of cut models and a heck of a lot of jobs. But of course, it all depends on the government financing.

Right now, it looks like the whole deal might be off before it even starts:

The U.S. Treasury Department is not negotiating with General Motors and the owners of Chrysler LLC on a request to provide direct government aid to their proposed merger, a Bush administration official said today.

Instead, the administration is working to speed the distribution to automakers of $25 billion in factory retooling funds authorized by Congress last month, the official told Reuters.

Earlier this week, industry sources said GM had asked for roughly $10 billion in an unprecedented government rescue package to support its acquisition of Chrysler from Cerberus Capital Management LP.

The request was viewed as over and above the $25 billion in funds to enable the automakers to produce fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Treasury is not negotiating with the automakers, the administration is working to get the $25 billion Congress already authorized to the industry,” the official said.

A GM spokesman had no immediate comment.

The general consensus is that President Bush would rather have this file lodged in the Obama/McCain presidential library instead of his own. It’s not dead in the water yet. Word is that the parties have sorted out a lot of the stuff that needs to be negotiated. What’s left is this funding issue, which might have to wait until after the election.

You are now up to date.

I need some old Saabs!

I’ve just been going through the full stable of Saab Pride submissions and would like to place a call for any and all owners of older Saabs to get them out of the garage and snap off some photos.

So far, we’ve got just over 80 vehicles in total. This includes entries in the original Pride of Ownership competition. Please note that not all photos received so far are of the quality of composition that I’d like for the book, so that number will fall as I go through the editing process.

The current breakdown of vehicles is as follows:

I’ve got lots of Saab 9-5s and 9-3s (of both generations), both wagons and combis. I’ve also got a goodly number of Classic 900s and 9000s….BUT..

I’ve only one Saab 99 and one Saab 95 and there’s no 96s in the virtual garage right now.

So if you’ve got one of these older Saabs and you love it, please consider wheeling it out this weekend so that we can round out this book and make sure that as much of Saab’s model range as possible is represented.

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If you’re sending in some photos, I also need some text to accompany the shots. This would ideally be a brief description of the vehicle, as well as a few words about what the car (or the brand) means to you. Imagine the sort of thing you’d like to read about, and then write it to accompany your shots.

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Thanks to everyone who’s sent in some shots so far. It’s going great!

US dealers flogging courtesy cars as things get….touchy

My apologies for not getting any content up here before this, but sometimes work gets in the way. Today I had the distinct pleasure of actually going against the trend of the near future and interviewing people to give them a job. It feels nice to help.

Anyway, as things get tighter, it’s amazing to see some of the deals popping up. Here in Australia there’s an amazing loyalty bonus going on right now that I’m not allowed to talk about publicly (Aussie Saab owners, now’s the time to at least consider trading up, believe me).

In the US, there seems to be some huge deals as well, though you might want to give the car a real good once-over prior to signing on the dotted line.

This is an ad that Gripen sent me during the week. It’s from a local dealer in Los Angeles. Click to enlarge:

They’re offering a pretty amazing discount there. It’s a $31.5K car that you can get for under $20,000 if you qualify for all the bonuses. Even if you don’t qualify for the loyalty and lessee bonuses, you’ll still get it for under $23,000. For a 2008 Saab 9-3, that’s pretty amazing.

There is a catch, though, as this is one of their courtesy cars. So it’s possibly done a reasonable number of miles, in city driving, and may have been treated with somewhat less than the pinnlcle of respect.

Still, if it checked out OK, this would be a great deal.

It’s noteworthy that they’re not the only ones, either. When Gripen posted this story in comments, DetroitSaab93 posted the following in reply:

My local Saab dealer (Saab of Troy/Lakeside) recently sold off their 9-3 courtesy cars as well. They are now using 9-7x’s. I asked for a 9-3, but they told me that Saab made them sell them.

We live in interesting times.

If you’ve got some incredible deals going on in your neighborhood, fill us in via comments.

Saab Pride – Michigan style

Did I ever say that Michigan was an ugly place?? Of course, I mean downtown Detroit, which from my experience wasn’t exactly Pleasantville. Here, Wulf brings us photographic proof that Michigan’s got a lot of different views. Oh, and then there’s his brilliant new 9-5 to go with it.

Here’s another potential submission I’ve received for the Saab Pride book. In Wulf’s case, he’s got an embarassment of riches as I’ve just looked through around 40 photos of his and the large majority of them would be perfect candidates for the book.

How good are they? This is one I didn’t recommend for use in the book. You can imagine for yourself how picturesque the others must be.

If you’re contemplating a submission for the book, please do get your camera out and get some shots. There’s plenty of good scenery out there at this time of year, so if you’ve got a landmark or something else that’s beautiful nearby, get your Saab out and get snapping.

Entries close November 10 and the full instructions and conditions are here.

Who knows what – about the 2.1 Saab 900i??

I got an email from one of our Aussie Saabers, Bill, who’s come across a 900i in someone’s shed that he might be able to acquire at a good price. Bill lives on a rural property and is thinking of getting the car for his daughter, who’s about to get her driver’s licence and might have some long distances to cover.

The story goes as follows:

Yesterday as I arrived to work at a farm house, I drove past the shed at the back of the house and there was a 1992 900i sedan in the shed. It was covered in dust with broken head lights, grille & indicators. A closer inspection indicated that that was all the damage done and the car itself was in very good order – Inside and out.

The car was bought by the lady’s father, who has since passed away. Her father was the second owner.

Checking the books, it has done a head gasket and clutch 130k & 110k. It’s got a 2.1 litre motor and I’ve been told there were a lot of problems with this model. Do you know what they are?

According to the service book the car has always had a SAAB dealer do the servicing with no major problems apart from the clutch and head gasket, both of which were fixed by a dealer.

I’m hoping to do a swap, exchanging the car for my work. I haven’t driven the car yet. It has been in the shed for the last 10 months and rego has run out.

If you can pass on any tips I would be very grateful . I’m hoping to get this car for my daughter, who is about to get her P’s (that is, her ‘P’rovisional licence)

So……

To be honest, I haven’t heard much about the engine at all. The few people I have come across with one in the past have always seemed happy with it and have commented that it pulls pretty well for a non-turbo four. If it’s alright for them, it’s probably alright for Bill’s young lass.

So, have any of you had a 2.1? And if so, what was it like? Any issues? Anything to be wary of?

Bill’s waiting!

Saab Pride – New Mexico style

Time for another quick peek into the submissions I’m receiving for the Saab Pride book.

This image shows Rogan’s Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan on the Turquise Trail in New Mexico. Beautfiul car, big scenery.

Anyone having any qualms about the shape of the 9-3 sport sedan, take a good look. That’s one very attractive and sporting profile. Click to enlarge.

If you’re contemplating a submission for the book, please do get your camera out and get some shots. There’s plenty of good scenery out there at this time of year, so if you’ve got a landmark or something else that’s beautiful nearby, get your Saab out and get snapping.

Entries close November 10 and the full instructions and conditions are here.

2009 Saab 9-3 Convertible – Spring Edition

The Spring Edition Saab 9-3 Convertible will make it’s worldwide debut next week, right here in Australia!

Here’s the press release from GM:

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New Saab Convertible Celebrates Spring with a World Debut in Melbourne

To celebrate the arrival of spring and the season of racing, the Saab Special Edition 9-3 Aero Convertible will make its international debut at the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

In keeping with the racing theme, the new convertible will be showcased outside Saab’s Flemington marquee in a unique champagne color.

For the first time in Australia, the Aero convertible will feature the 1.9-litre, 132kW TTiD diesel engine in addition to the 2.8-litre, 206kW V6 Turbo and both engine variants can be matched to six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.

The 16-valve two-stage turbo engine meets a growing demand from drivers unwilling to sacrifice performance in the interests of fuel economy. Among the best in its class, the TTiD Aero convertible is fuel efficient with 5.9/100km for the manual and 6.9/100km for the automatic.

The Special Edition also features many of the outstanding exterior characteristics which premiered on its stunning stablemate the Turbo X to include 18” wheels in silver, bold front bumper treatments and sports steering wheel.

The interior highlights a modern carbon fibre décor and 60th anniversary floor coverings [SW: ahem??].

Saab surprised the automotive world when it pioneered the concept of a ‘four season, four-seater’ soft top Convertible more than 25 years ago. Designed to be practical and stylish, the Scandinavian-styled convertible changed the perception of open top vehicles to be used all the year round.

“Saab has sold more than a quarter of a million convertibles worldwide and this latest edition highlights the fantastic design and performance that Saab convertibles have always represented” said Parveen Batish, Director of GM Premium Brands.

The convertible will be available in three metallic colors to include Jet Black, Carbon Grey and the new Bright Champagne.

On sale in November, the Saab Special Edition 9-3 Convertible will be priced starting at $95,000, plus dealer delivery and government charges.

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I don’t know who the lady is, but these are the other two photos that came with the press release.

I have three things to say about this:

1) Very nice car. Very nice.

2) $95,000?!

3) 60th Anniversary floor coverings?????!!!

Saab ain’t quite GM’s minnow brand

As I fossicked through GM’s third quarter 2008 sales data last night, I had a Donald Rumsfeld moment. I realised that there was something that I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

I’ve always just assumed that Saab were GM’s smallest brand. Even though they’re a global brand, the sales are so small and Saab always seems to struggle so much to forge a real identity that I figured they must be GM’s smallest brand.

Not so.

That’s right. Hummer is GM’s smallest brand. I’d never consciously thought about it, but I guess it makes sense.

And if GM can work up a business case to sell their smallest brand, then surely they must be able to work up a scenario to put us all out of our collective …… ummm…..exhaustion (misery just didn’t seem right) and sell Saab to someone who will make something of it.

Here are Saab’s 3Q global sales figures again, as I wrote them up last night:

Saab global sales were down in the third quarter by 29.3% (20,938 this year vs 29,633 last year). For the full year so far, Saab’s global sales are down by 21.1% (75,453 this year vs 95,620 last year).

Now, if I were writing that for Hummer, it would have read as follows:

Hummer global sales were down in the third quarter by 54.6% (8,402 this year vs 18,521 last year). For the full year so far, Hummer’s global sales are down by 39.5% (30,302 this year vs 50,087 last year).

Or, to put that in terms that are less eloquent and easier to compare:

Saab 3Q 2008: 20,938
Hummer 3Q 2008: 8,402

Saab Global 2008: 75,453
Hummer Global 2008: 30,302

BUT, I hear you say, Hummer have been on a bummer due to high fuel prices and the news of its imminent sale. To that, I’d say compare those year-to-date figures that were quoted in the comparatives (i.e. for 2007, before the sale and fuel spike).

Saab YTD 07: 95,620
Hummer YTD 07: 50,087

GM Global data broken down by individual brands is not that easy to find. They’ve only been publishing it in recent times. Nevertheless, I found this quarterly global sales report that took things back even further, into 2006.

Saab – full year 2006: 133,936
Hummer – full year 2006: 82,380

What does all this mean?

Not a whole lot in the overall scheme of things. Whilst Saab might be bigger than Hummer and have a modus operandi that’s more in line with the world’s future motoring needs, Saab doesn’t have the distinct identity that Hummer has, which therefore makes Hummer an easier item to sell, to some degree at least.

Still, it means that Saab has something.

If this whole GM/Chrysler thing means that the merged entity has a chance to sit down, take stock and evaluate its portfolio of brands, I hope it does something consciously good with Saab rather than just letting it burn in the background, or fade away to nothing.

Saab has been weaved into the fabric of GM operations, but they still have a worldwide marketing presence and real estate in Trollhattan. Where there’s still something like that to offer, there’s someone who may be willing to take it on at the right price.