Before you read this, bear in mind that this flies in the face of the interview I did wth Eric Geers from Saab just last week, but be that as it may, Business Week are reporting the following in the lead up to GM’s homework being handed in to the US Congress in the next 24 hours or so.
GM is trying to work out a sale of Saab, BusinessWeek has learned. For several months, GM has been shopping the brand to Chinese, Indian, and Russian carmakers, as well as to the Swedish government, sources familiar with the talks said. Saab Managing Director Jan Ake Jonsson and GM-Europe President Carl-Peter Forster have been leading the efforts to find a buyer, or at least get someone to take the company off GM’s hands……
…..In a statement issued on Monday, the Swedish government said it was willing to consider its options and was talking to the carmakers. “The Swedish government has to be worried about this,” says David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “In the case of Saab, they won’t want to lose that facility in Trollhattan [Sweden].”
GM has about 5,000 employees in Sweden, most of whom work in the Saab factory in Trollhattan, where the 9-3 and 9-5 models are built. GM has shelved plans to build the 9-5 at its plant in Russelsheim, Germany, since the brand’s future is under review…..
…..GM started shopping the brand more aggressively during the past several months, after Chairman and CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. announced plans in July to save or raise $15 billion in cash through cuts and asset sales. So far, there has been some interest, but the global recession and credit crunch makes it tough to get any kind of deal done…..
……Saab would be the easiest of GM’s brands to ditch. Many of its dealers are already paired with Cadillac franchises.
Let me take you back to the interview I did with Eric Geers a few weeks ago.
Eric had this to say about the Saab 9-5 at that time:
Eric Geers: First of all, we never officially indicate when we’re going to launch new products, but as I said earlier, there were so many speculations that in the end, dates end up almost living their own lives. So as long as a car hasn’t yet made it to market, it’s very difficult to talk about a delay.
There are always re-timings when you are developing a product. There are always timing issues for various reasons. What we did say is that the 9-4x has been delayed a little bit but the 9-5 is currently completely on schedule.
TS: So the 9-5 is on schedule from your perspective?
We went on to chat about the 9-5 in a context that I can’t share on this site, but let me tell you that at no time was there a mention of the 9-5 being delayed, and there was certainly no mention whatsoever of it’s production at Russelsheim being shelved.
Ths Business Week article says that they’ve been shopping Saab around for some time, which would indicate that the plans for the 9-5 to be removed from Russelsheim’s forward planning would have also been around for some time. I’m sure that Eric would be familiar with this, yet I can assure you there was nothing of the sort mentioned in our conversation.
It’ll be interesting so see which way this one goes.