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James Cain does it again

February 29, 2012 in Editorial, News

Today we were again faced with some statements from James Cain regarding GM and their stance towards the parties that are interested in Saab (from E24.se):

Our contact with Brightwell consisted only of several letters they sent with requests to start a discussion. We answered that we are not interested. It has never been any negotiations or discussions, he said.

TT: Why did you not agree to meet them?

- We stand by our policy not to sell technology licenses to a new owner for Saab.

TT: Not in any way?

- No.

TT: Typically in business, everything has a price tag.

- Not in this case, says James Cain.

TT: Can you describe why GM does not want to give Saab a chance to survive?

- They have had several chances to survive. The business has been in terrible shape for a long time. That’s why GM, when we had our own problems, decided to close down Saab. It was not GM’s fault that Saab decided to stop paying their suppliers and their employees.

To make it short: I do not believe that. As I stated before he is a spokesman and his job is to tell the press what he is told. But there are always some things that are handled in certain levels of the management that don’t give reports to the press department about what they are doing. It is as simple as that. So you can’t even blame Mr. Cain for not knowing about everything, he is dependent on the info he gets. But what I really don’t like is the tone he uses from time to time. Maybe it is because GM did not like Brightwell openly stating that they were in talks. Maybe it is because Zamier once said “of course we are not negotiating with their spokesman”. But there are still better, more professional ways of stating something than the way he did. If GM wants to keep things behind closed doors I can repect that but if you want to deny do it in a proper way.

We at SU have been in contact with Brightwell and honestly I see no reason why they should have lied about GM. They put huge effort in this and noone spends some millions into something like that just for fun. They believed in Saab and had a very interesting and serious plan how to bring Saab back to life. And obviously they got quite far with GM up to a certain point.

It was pretty clear that we had to say goodbye to one or the other party at a certain point of this process and we still have a few in there, so there is no need to panic. Still it is sad to see Brightwell leave that soon.

As I already stated yesterday my belief in this is that GM found another party who fits them better or has more to offer. And that is not only meant in terms of money. There are other benefits that GM could like even more. In China they are facing a market that is more and more driven to suit the local brands. In Europe they still got their problems with Opel. So whether they like it or not they need some partners in certain fields to protect the main interest of their shareholders: to keep going and head into the future without facing a 2009 deja vu.

I know that not all of you may follow my arguments in this and there is a lot of personal view in here. But we have learned to be pretty critical towards GM. So why should I take James Cain’s words for the only everlasting truth?

Digging into his last sentence I would even want to correct him an bit. GM decided to sell Saab due to their own problems and the wind down decision only came because they could not agree with Spyker in time. Or should I take this a a freudian slip that tells me GM’s initial general intention was to close down Saab? I think I would not go that far but it could make one think.

On the other hand as a prove for GM’s goodwill he reveals another thing:

James Cain now reveals that GM was in favor of the Russian financier Vladimir Antonov, who is suspected of financial crimes, if he would have gone in with money.

- We had an agreement that had allowed him to invest in the company, but it did not succeed.

But that is another story…

270 responses to James Cain does it again

  1. This makes me sick of GM, again.
    Unless they resurrect Pontiac, I have no desire to buy a new car from them in the future. GM’s behavior is disgusting in this matter of Saab.

    I hope BMW buys them & GM’s stake is dissolved, with new Saabs coming out in about 4yrs. F GM!!

    • B/c BMW wouldn’t need GM’s licensing in the first place.

      What is this “they have had several chances to survive” crap??
      GM neglected Saab like they did some of their other brands like Pontiac as well as mismanaged them.

      • The ”several chances of survival” slip is simply outrageous.

        With a 12 year old 9-5, no new hatchbacks in 14 years, delayed models, engine restrictions, downgraded interiors, the wind down in 09 -killing many Saab suppliers, letting VM run around China for 6 months to make deals with new investors that would never be accepted by them etc. etc. GM gave plenty of opportunity to for Saab to make it. Yeah right!

    • Pontiac, Chevrolet, what’s the difference? That’s really hard for a European to understand. They have always been made side by side and have always been almost identical twins anyway….

      • GM had a brand ladder(or planned obsolescence). Which was created under Alfred Sloan back in the early 20th century & were as follows:

        Cadillac
        Buick
        Oldsmobile
        Pontiac
        Chevrolet
        Later on…Geo & Saturn were under Chevrolet.
        Of course Saab was in the mix too along w/Hummer.

        In the late 50′s & through the 60′s, Pontiac got a performance image starting w/the GTO.
        It is what Pontiac’s heritage has been known for but was neglected & moved largely away from after the 70′s. During the 80′s, Roger Smith, GM CEO heavily damaged Sloan’s brand ladder by giving all brands but GMC more or less the same car(80′s J-body) w/different fascias(front/rear). From then on, Pontiac was more or less an entry level alternative brand to Chevy. But started to show some promise near the end w/the Solstice & G8.
        So Pontiac was actually a niche above Chevrolet & had been viewed as a better brand in comparison to Chevrolet.
        IMO, Pontiac still is, even though it is dead by way of neglect, lack of vision & mismanagement like other GM brands.
        To my knowledge, GM has killed more automotive brands than any other automotive company.

        • I’m afraid that GM squandered their brand values.

          Chevrolet was the car for the working man who wanted a little more than Ford offered. Why Pickups, 4/4s, Corvette, etc ?

          GMC was supposed to be 4/4 pickups etc. Why did all the other brands have them too ?

          Cadillac was supposed to be the global ultimate driving machine. By the 1990′s it was floundering with no direction. FWD tanks v RWD Opels and average buyer age 69. Now improved, but struggles outside US.

          Pontiac was supposed to be the sporting car. That died when Delorean moved to Chevy. Why was the top Corvette sports line not a Pontiac.

          Saturn was supposed to be the non GM badge swapped car to show the Japanese how to do business. it flopped in US. And, laughably so, in Japan.

          Oldsmobile and Buick just lost their identity.

          Hummer was an inexplicable purchase given the global change in market direction.

          Saab was a puzzle to GM. In 1995, the reception at the then GM HO in Detroit didn’t know GM owned Saab.

          Opel & Vauxhall suffered from “doing it the GM US way”. Costs slashed they became cars to be sold at a loss to corporate buyers.

          I could write more …

          • Nice post mpprh.

            The fact that Buick fell into neglect sums GM up. It was the cornerstone of that company, and its Scots-American founder David Dunbar Buick the inventor of the pushrod engine and the original V8. What an amazingly stupid, crass and – as we can see from the Marvellous Mr Cain – vindictive organisation it has turned out to be.

            Amazing to think the degeneration set in at GM years before they had even heard of Saab, and yet GM keeps on going.

            Down with General Moloch!

        • Saturn was never under Chevrolet nor were they sold in Chevrolet showrooms like GEO was. Saturn was an independent division, specializing in “import fighter” smaller cars. On average, the cars Saturn offered were more expensive than comparable Chevrolets.

      • Well, look at the American cars from the sixties and into the beginning of the seventies. They were not the same and they had great design and new technology unt so weiter. Swedish Police had American cars in the sixties Plymoth Valiant (Chrysler, I know).
        What was one of the coolest cars in the world when I was a child? Pontiac GTO!! Look at them (use google) from 1964-1974 epic cars!! Then they tried to wake the GTO name up again in 2004…. and… well… those cars didn’t do it for me at least…

        • That late-day GTO was in fact a rebadged Holden Monaro. Not a bad car at all, actually. Top Gear loved it.

          Ivo

          • It wasn’t a bad car, but the styling was as bland as bland can be—-and if flopped mightily. It should never, ever have worn the GTO badge.

            • The last GTO didn’t do very well, b/c it didn’t have any relation to the GTO of the 60′s w/its exterior & wasn’t marketed correctly. But it did have the power that a GTO should have.

              I will agree that Saturn was more of a Chevy alternative than under Chevy.
              Saturn developed a loyal following. Some of the things that Saturn dealers were doing should have been done at the other GM brand dealers too, but weren’t.

              • When Saturns were produced in Spring Hill, Tennessee, they had a little cult following. They only sold them at sticker—-no “deals” which was a new way to sell cars in the U.S. The cars were boring but competent. As soon as they started producing new models in Delaware—-a UWA plant—-the charm was lost. The cars weren’t as good, the cult following fizzled out. GM really doesn’t get much right, do they?

                • I was creative director at the ad agency in San Francisco that did Saturn’s launch advertising in 1990. The advertising tagline (written before I arrived at the agency) was a perfect summary of GM’s intentions when it started Saturn – “A Different Kind Of Company, A Different Kind Of Car.” Saturn was a venture in which multiple parties – GM itself, the UAW, the company’s dealers – had equal votes when it came to making key decisions. The launch advertising, which became reasonably famous and also worked incredibly well, told the stories of Saturn “team members” (employees) who’d spent years developing the cars, along with stories of other people who’d moved to Spring Hill, TN because they knew or believed their voices would be heard given the original principles of the company. In my experience, there was enormous pride at the factory in Spring Hill, all of it engendered by a solid GM/UAW partnership. In time, sadly enough, the original partners moved along. So, in fact, did I. As an outsider after I was no longer connected to Saturn, I looked on in disbelief. I felt the company’s new managers just didn’t get it. So much so that they completely squandered the gains Saturn had established. It’s hard to build a reputation in the car business. And so easy to kill it.

              • I am a loyal follower. Of Saab, of course, but also of Saturn. They were good cars (My dad got 186,000 miles out of his 1994 SL1, and he still thinks that the engine failure was his fault). Then, GM had to sieze control. No GM brand can be original; that’s not how it’s done! So they took a bunch of garbage Opels and called them Saturns. We Saturn fans knew this, and then GM was surprised when we didn’t buy them. After all, who wouldn’t want a rebadged Opel sold under the Saturn name? So then, GM closed the brand, snatching it out of the hands of a willing buyer. And that’s how things work at Generally Malicious.

      • Chevrolet and Pontiac were both terrible cars, but Pontiacs were better styled.

  2. So now what? Is it truly the Endgame thats being played behind closed doors?

    • Not necessarily the end in a bad way.

    • Cain made a statement—-probably over a month ago, about the end of the 9-4. He was clear in his answer (at least as clear as they’d allow him to be) that it was over for the 9-4. Factory had broken down the tooling, no more 9-4s to be produced. Period. The end. Still, here on this forum, we (me included) continued to talk about a new owner resuming with the 9-4 (and 9-5). We’ve spent weeks talking about it since he made that statement. It’s like we intentionally (or maybe in our subconscience) repressed the information—-pretended we never heard his proclaimation. I raise my own hand—-I know what GM is about, yet I’m in denial like many of us here—-blocking out the obvious. It’s fun for us to speculate about what can be or what could have been—-but for the bidders—-I hope they are focused on life without GM. GM is being so clear about not licensing this technology—-holy hell, how can they now license to someone without looking totally ridiculous? Do you really allow statements like this if there is even an outside chance that you’ll license this tech?

  3. I think in some of the comments made by recievers yesterday You could get a feeling that there might be bid or bids with technology agreements. Hope it would be question about GM agreements I still want my 9-5 SC….

  4. Thanks Till :) I Think that gm intended on shutting SAAB down when Victor was trying to buy them… “Show a dollar and it’s yours” the comment i seem to remember !! I think Victor pushed so hard and in some way forced them to sell ! Maybe due to media attention
    I know first hand as to what they are like to work for..Make sure your wearing back protection .. Hopefully 2009 deja vu happens for them soon :D
    Any of the New interested parties need to proceed without gm or their so called ip..Do we really won’t them pulling the strings in the future ? I think Not !!
    A German company should have no problem ridding us of “gm ip” whether SAAB designed it or not
    Your thoughts ?

    • Bravo! Very well said! If in fact BMW is a bidder, they have more than enough engineering power and money to start fresh with new platforms.

    • Right with you, Kinglake. That is precisely why I favour BMW. The GM cars are history, irrespective of whether or not GM do relinquish some current IP. Provided there are contingencies in place for a new owner to show a bit of goodwill and look after ng9-5 and 9-4 owners as best they can then it should turn out all right, all other things being equal. It makes me sad to say the GM-era cars are history. I own one myself, and then ng9-5 is great. But under someone like BMW – assuming honorable intentions – the next generation of Saabs will be even better.

  5. And so, the truth comes out. It’s not that they’re against Chinese ownership, but that they want SAAB dead, and now that they got what they wanted, they are blocking every single attempt to revive SAAB.

  6. Looks like the stance that GM is taking will and can only be changed or softened with US Government direct intervention. With GM’s arrogant and un-cooperative attitude, no deal is going to be successful. GM is behaving like a big bully down at a backlane of a tiny neighbourhood. The way Cain answered those questions sounds very much like a cry baby whose toy was snatched by another sibling.. Disgusting, to say the least.

  7. Till:

    Are you at liberty to tell us Brightwell’s proposed plans? Even though they are out of the bidding, I think it would be very instructive to hear how this company planned to manage Saab, and VM’s role in consulting with them. I recall Zamier saying that Brightwell already had a platform developed– where did it come from? Brightwell Chairman Alphan Manas is very interested in electric vehicles now. What were their plans for Saab electric cars?

    Knowing what kind of business plans were rejected may give insight into what the winning bid would have to contain– please share!

    • I believe there can be a moment in the future to do that.

      • With all due respect to all of the dedicated folks here, it’s important to remember that what Brightwell and GM are telling to the media — including SU — is pure public-relations spin.

        The actual truth is somewhere in the middle.

        • There was no P.R. spin in what Citizen Cain said. In fact, it was the opposite of P.R. He was as blunt as I could imagine. No GM technology will go to any buyer of Saab. There will be no GM technology in the next Saab. I think the exception MIGHT be the 9-3—-he might be focused on the Spyker era introductions—9-4 and 9-5, that are chock full of GM tech that is more current.

        • Mike, you can think what you want about the PR spin, but I spoke with him personally and I have to tell you, that is not what I took out of it. Zamier came across as honest and sincere and very upset that they had to pull out. In fairness, he didn’t have to call me. He could have just left it to the other media out there, but he took the time and as a decent judge of character, I have to say he didn’t seem to be spinning anything.

  8. I don’t know. I hate translations from one language to another. Too many subtleties are lost.

    • Does anyone know where James Cain is when he is being interviewed? US or Sweden or somewhere else? Does anyone know what language he is being interviewed in? The quotes that keep being attributed to him just never sound like those of a company spokesperson. I’m skeptical of any James Cain interview at this point. Are there any videos?

      • Are you saying that Mr. Cain doesn’t exist?

        • A robot? A computer program? Hmmmm…..

          • What I am saying is that often the translations don’t make sense. You are right about the 9-4 X though. That statement was in English and an answer to an American reporter who inquired about rebadging the 9-4 X as a Chevy or a Buick. It was in an article where the journalist was commenting about what a good vehicle it was and why it was such a shame to stop production of it.

            • What was curious about that comment was that it was acknowledged that it was a good vehicle. So if it was and Saab was truly dead, why not rebadge it and recoup some of the cost of making it? There has to be something to this. Perhaps some type of legal exposure for GM. Perhaps there was something in the sale to Spyker that would not allow GM to rebadge Saab cars in the event of a default so that Saab would have something to sell that was not in competition with GM.

              It could be that when the bankruptcy is over, all contracts between GM and Spyker become null and void and maybe GM can do something at that point.

              • It’s the Cadillac SRX, isn’t it? So I’m sure they could rebadge it if they choose to. Problem is, rebadge it as what? In the U.S., it wouldn’t fit into any division except Buick, who already has the Enclave. Would have maybe worked as an Oldsmobile. Not sure about the rest of the world.

                • Close but not exactly. The 9-4 is much squarer and looks better. (Caddy’s just seem to have awful styling these days with those funky headlights). Don’t know about the rest but the 9-4 looks much more like a traditional SUV.

              • Spyker (now SWAN), the corporate entity GM signed the contracts with, isn’t bankrupt (yet). What is bankrupt is a subsidiary of SWAN but that’s not the entity the deal was made with. Saab shares are now worthless, as are the prefs GM’s prefs that GM retained as a kind of surety for SWAN’s possible default to pay the remaining acquisition price. Which SWAN did, of course, but the bankruptcy of Saab itself has rendered the surety useless and prevented the return of control of Saab to GM.

                SWAN may be dissolved forcibly or voluntarily at some point in the future but that point apparently hasn’t arrived yet as the SWAN share is still being traded on the AEX/Euronext, the Amsterdam stock exchange, at 0,23 euros as of Feb. 29th. See here: http://www.euronext.com/quicksearch/resultquicksearch.jsp;jsessionid=D18B5D9740115A5D562D8480AA88D3BF.29E4FA353CFFA5222DE5EF226DBBA125?lan=NL&matchpattern=SWAN&cha=1921

                Apparently, someone bought over 711.000 shares on that day. Good luck to him/her.

                Ivo

      • Could be english to swedish and back to english.

    • I understand what you’re saying, but wow, how hard is it to translate “NO.” “NO” is the bottom line here. I don’t see this as being lost in translation. It was a very direct answer, details obscured by language or not. “NO.” said James.

  9. “It was not GM’s fault that Saab decided to stop paying their suppliers and their employees.”

    Hmmmmmmmmm…..

    Remember 2008/2009 Mr Cain? 19th February suppliers stopped deliveries to Saab due to unpaid bills….
    I would say that GM was ultimately responsible for Saab back then, and let´s see. how many suppliers and emplyees did not get paid back then..?

    I agree with Till. This guy (hopefully) don´t have the full picture…

    I WANT MY 9-5SC!!!

  10. The more I read about GM, the lower they sink on my scale of (dis)respect. Ok, now they come out with a story, that they would have approved VA. I can still remember full well how much trouble they caused Saab on that issue. They probably just wanted to make sure, that their approval came so late, that it would do no good to anyone. In a year’s time they will probably change their mind about licensing of 9-5 and a bit later about 9-4X. In other words, they are just loosing Saab precious time.

    Sorry, if I sound negative, but after all that they have done to date, I can only see them as an unreliable partner and Saab (and anyone who is going to buy the company) should strive to get every single nut and bolt that has anything to do with GM out out out of Saabs ASAP.

    As always, time will tell. Despite all this, I think Saab will come out of this stronger than ever and all this will backfire on GM.

  11. Correct me if I am wrong, but it was directly GM’s fault that Saab hasn’t paid their suppliers. It doesn’t take a genius to see that. Saab needed access to capital markets. A car company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Just ask GM how hard it is to survive without giant capital injections that your business model couldn’t generate. They’ll tell you.

    • Sorry, that just isn’t true at all. Saab under Spyker control didn’t pay their suppliers, and in April 2011 suppliers stopped providing parts, which shut down the Saab factory. GM at that point was just a vendor to Saab.

  12. Maybe GM will currently licence to an other party. But is it worth or secure on the mid/ long term? It’s not really worth to deal with this guys.

    If a buyer starts with at least the 93-II and GM Parts (Powertrain,..) I would working like hell to eliminate this parts and try to replace it with parts PhoeniX should have in place:
    Gearbox: Vicura AB did consulting to a new gearbox (designing it for Saab, Tools were made). So there should be something. Withe there own gearbox (double clutch gear box) as a key part they can adopt any engine to there cars.
    Chassis parts: if I remember right ZF was also for longer in charge to develop some parts
    This small examples shows patches beside the possibility to go ahead with FIAT diesel engines and automatic gear boxes in generall.
    A Saab 93-II could morph in releases to PhoeniX. If they can consolidate the dev tracks for GM free 93-II and PhoeniX that would be a blast. If only able on key components this would be good.
    Saab need to take care to control major parts to adopt other supplier parts. This parts are gearbox, it’s e.g. bus/ controll systems (gateways to other bus standards, to integrate other interieur systems/ parts (standard parts from Bosch, Delphi, Schaeffler or Magna) and so on). With this flexibility they can act as a smart buyer and they’re not in a must buy from partner x situation.

  13. People, I think we shouldn’t count on GM letting someone to get IP’s for SAAB cars. I don’t think we should try reading between the lines here, GM has said no so many times in the recent past, that thinking of a secret GM plan is just naive.
    GM has full hands with stopping Opel bleeding and trying to fix the future for “non-American” cars (read non-”big dinosaur gasoline-thirsty pick-ups and SUVs”) with setting alliance with PSA . I now think that SAAB IP question bothers GM as much as a mosquito biting a big elephant. In their minds they have euthanized SAAB and let Spyker do the burial.
    Sorry for my pessimism, but I think that GM track is dead end. I would love that the future prove that I am wrong, since I think the 9-5 and 9-4 are such great cars, but somehow I feel that we will never see them produced again. So YM and M&M do not count on producing 9-5 and 9-4! Maybe you can trick out 9-3 but that’s it. Pay your attention on Phoenix and prepare for the big restart in year or two!

    • yes. I think it would be better to do 93-II in a way to not hit GMS IP rights (diesel engine, auto gearbox) in low volumes and do a contract to build Minis as well in Trollhättan to get the people jobs. And PhoeniX must be the goal.
      Don’t waste time with GM. Risky and expensive business.

    • +1 over here.
      I think GM it’s a dead but believe me, I’d love to be wrong though.
      Has anyone considered the chance they might be telling the truth ?
      No deal, period.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Time to move on.

    • Absolutely! GM has said NO so many times now that I believe them, and let us be honest; there might be some truth in Mr Cains statement:

      -” They have had several chances to survive. The business has been in terrible shape for a long time. That’s why GM, when we had our own problems, decided to close down Saab. It was not GM’s fault that Saab decided to stop paying their suppliers and their employees.”

      As we all know: when GM took over SAAB many years back they gave SAAB platforms to use without any other permitions to do body & badging. SAAB, independent and stubborn as always went away and modified the pllatforms also so they suited SAAB specs. I don’t blame SAAB doing this, they really managed to stay in there as SAAB, but I guess this was extremely risky business from a echonomically point of view – and we all know SAAB’s sales figures. This is also maybe a good example on how little GM followed their stubborn and innovative carmaker over in Trollhättan. GM just didn’t cared about SAAB. GM is not without guilt when it comes to SAAB’s “terrible shape”. And for the record: I don’t like GM either.

      I think, and I hope I am wrong, that we will never see any SAAB as we know them today will roll of the production lines in Trollhättan. That is history, I’m afraid. Hoping that BMW should be interested in a SAAB take over with intentions to restart productions of SAAB cars is out of this solar system. What they might be interested in is the Phoenix platform, and nothing much more. YM, MM and other bidders might be able to do a restart, but without GM’s blessing I guess it’s just a dream. Let’s face it: SAAB hasn’t been profitable more than a few years in it’s history. Who wants to restart that tradition?

      It really hurts writing this because I really want a breathing and kicking SAAB, please believe me. To compensate I have last week bought a 9-3Sport Sedan as a supplement to our highly beloved 9-5SC. For me it will be SAAB for maaany years to come, but I have no further realistic hopes for buying a new SAAB.

      • I think there is a realistic way for a company like Mahindra to keep the Saab name alive. I HOPE they could at least produce the 9-3 in some form while the new platform is developed. They could supplement with rebadged cars from another division of theirs and/or sell Mahindra branded trucks (already approved for sale in the U.S. and other places) in Saab showrooms—-or I should say “Saab-Mahindra” or “Mahindra-Saab” showrooms. I think the 9-3 is a big lynch pin. If that car can be produced, it could keep Saab in the game until something else is introduced.

      • Olav, when the dust settles and the files are open to lawyers, or journalists or historians, we will see – and I am quite convinced of this – that Saab did indeed turn a profit over several years at GM but this was disguised by GM’s – and I am using a euphemism here – creative accounting. Even by GM’s own unique – another euphemism – measure Saab did in fact turn a profit in 2003 I believe.

        • I’ve read that GM statements suggest that Saab was profitable for 2 or 3 years of the 20 year run. Besides your wanting Saab to have been secretly profitable, are there any facts that suggest it?

          • Keith: I will take GM’s word for it that they lost money on Saab for 18 out of 20 years. That doesn’t prove anything about Saab, but it says a whole hell of a lot about GM, doesn’t it? Hummer, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Saturn, GEO for God’s sake…couldn’t turn enough of a profit on any of them to justify keeping them in business? Look at the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky: How much money was spent on development, production, distribution, marketing and advertising of these cars? And how many years were they offered? LMAO. LOL. GM is so incompetent, it’s beyond belief. So if Saab was profitable but GM cooked the books to show losses, they’re corrupt and unethical. If on the other hand, they couldn’t make a profit on Saab in two decades, they are monumentally incompetent. Take your pick. Sounds like two losers. GM sux.

            • Angelo, I gotta give you credit. Your energy on this is impressive.

              Every owner of Saab the auto company has lost money. Saab AB didn’t make money making Saab cars, and neither did Scania. By your logic, they too are “monumentally incompetent.”

              Like GM, both Saab AB and Scania have somehow managed to be successful in their post Saab auto lives. I like my Saab Angelo, but being angry at GM for not wanting to invest further energy in Saab just makes no sense. You come across like a jilted ex.

              • Saab AB and Scania, successful in their post Saab auto lives…selling cars? I don’t really know what their ownership/P&L history was. I do feel confident that Saab as a nameplate can be successful under different management/a different owner. I suspect GM feels that way too. What “further energy” are we asking GM to invest? Aren’t enterprises in business to “invest” energy to make money? That aside, to be quite honest, I have been clear here that I think Saab has been “mismanaged” since before GM was the owner. I have said countless times that beginning in the 1970s but especially in the 1980s, Saab made the horrific mistake of abandoning the lower end of the market, which made them too much of a niche—-a niche of a niche to be precise—-which led to their downfall in my opinion. In fact, while many hated the Saabaru 9-2, I viewed it as at least an attempt by GM to bring younger buyers to the brand—-though that arrangement fell apart too quickly and they did nothing to replace the Saabaru in the line-up. Keith: GM is first and foremost, a corporation that sells cars—they were once the largest corporation in the world—-not only the largest car maker, but simply the largest corporation on the planet. Their business was cars. I don’t see how you can put Saab AB and Scania in that camp and judge them on the same playing field. GM was the biggest and the best at sales—and now they are down to three divisions and GMC Trucks—a joke clone of Chevy Trucks. Do you really think they’re headed in the right direction and that it’s (and this is really hard to type with a straight face) a “product driven rebirth”? You think this “turnaround” is because they suddenly have good management (even though it was merely a promotion of lower ranking bean counters to higher positions after Obama fired Rick Wagoner—himself a pitiful bean counter)? Or, do you think maybe, just maybe—-my 11 year old cat could be named CEO at GM and would show profits a couple years after getting billions and billions of dollars to float the corporation? This isn’t impressive energy on my part—it’s easy to be honest.

                • Angelo, as I’m not able to talk to your 11 year old cat like you do, I’m just not sure.

                  • LOL :-)

                    Keith, let’s be clear: so far as I am concerned, Neil Armstrong did walk on the moon and Elvis died in 1977. I am not into conspiracy theories.

                    There is at present not much hard evidence of what GM truly got up to vis a vis Saab’s finances, so far as I can see, although hopefully someone with more knowledge might pipe up on this. But what I have is a gut feeling, a hunch. That is why I said that when the files *are* actually opened up, ie the facts come to light, I firmly believe we will see a different version of events than that which has been presented by GM and that the value Saab generated relative to what it was said to cost was in reality more favourable.

                    That might be 100 years hence, who knows, by which time Angelo’s cat will have fathered a race of feline superbeings who have taken over the entire world and instead of keyfobs, cars must be licked in order to open and start, while garage bays everywhere are built with extra-strong hydraulic supports for the doors in order to accommodate the many hours they have to spend in the ajar position while drivers hover on the threshold trying to decide whether they want to be in, or out.

                  • Well, I did a skype interview on that subject with Angelo’s cat. He mawed to me that he certainly could run GM, just like any other fat or skinny cat could, but had no intention to, no matter how many Whiskas cans GM would offer to him as basic remuneration and how many Biscroc bisquits as a bonus. He simply didn’t want to make himself the risee of the cat community by assuming control of something as gross as GM. And he doesn’t pretend to be a superfeline being. Any cat, even a totally stupid one, would make that decision, Angelo’s cat said. Sorry, mawed.

                    Ivo

  14. Are we to connect the dots and guess that Brightwell was the source of the conviction SU got that “GM is talking”? If so, I believe they were indeed not.

  15. After owned five Saab, I’ve just sold my last sport hatch to buy a…. Peugeot….. I’m in trouble, I’ve a lot of reasons to worry once more!

  16. My prediction is that SAAB aircraft will simply licence the SAAB car name to another manufacturer. That, of course, means that someone else’s IP goes into a SAAB and we get, for example, in the short term, an existing BMW model rebadged as SAAB.
    The big question is then whether a new owner like BMW would allow a SAAB branded new model to be built at Trollhatten. Whatever the solution, it’s unlikely that SAAB is going to get control of its own IP again, and there is going to be a three or four year gap before much can restart at Trolllhatten.
    I don’t know how profitable the aircraft company is these days but they might as well take control of the SAAB name again and re-start the whole thing from scratch.
    If SAAB aircraft said that they would only licence the name to a manufacturer based at Trollhatten and or producing at least 50% of its cars in Sweden, would that make matters better or worse for the receivers? I don’t think we have heard enough from SAAB aircraft.

  17. God I’m sick of that puppet!

  18. Shameless interview. Business in terrible shape? That is under GM foor almost 20 years, so they had to blame thereselves. I’m really angry now!

  19. Thus the reason I think GM should rot in hell.

    Also, do not be surprised if there are other reasons that GM is fearful of SAABs survival. I have a gut feeling that there is information on actions taken by GM while they owned SAAB. Specifically whether or not GM “cooked the books” and transferred liabilities and debts into SAAB all while transferring assets away from SAAB – the latter we know they did – and all of which would cause them to be crucified by even the government.

    Food for thought people; food for thought.

  20. Just STOP talking and writing about GM.
    It is over, out, finished.
    Why don’t we look forward and try to go our own way, eventually with new partners that are more trustworthy then this GM group.

  21. http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/AllCars/261537/
    That is the fact about BMW rumours. Why would they revive 2 brands at the same time?

    I think only YM remained with almost no chance knowing GM’s position.

  22. Speaking of official statements.

    I don’t know how reliable this info is but BMW is said to have officially denied interest in buying the Ducati (from an unreliable source http://www.indiancarsbikes.in/cars/bmw-interested-saab-buy-race-ducati-56263/ ) but has said to ttela http://ttela.se/ekonomi/saab/1.1543418-gm-inget-har-forandrats- that they don’t comment on rumours and therefor not on the rumour that they are interested in Saab.

    So, they deny the rumour about Ducati but say they don’t want to comment on the rumour about Saab.

    I like rumours :)

  23. I’ve been saying this for months and have only been criticized by folks here.

    GM never cared about saving Saab. This is only news to you if you had your head in the sand.

    Saab is dead. Accept it and start focusing on ways of building the community of enthusiasts who are dedicated to keeping all of our Saabs on the road!

    If there will ever be an automotible company known as Saab in the future it will be based on architecture that is entirely unrelated to any current Saab in existence. It will also have no real tie to the now defunct company that we all loved. It will be like modern day Bugatti is to its namesake. Like Bugatti, if it ever comes to exist, hopefully it will be worthy of it.

    • The situation now is that there is a handful bidders for what remains. At least one of them has said they will continue developing the Phoenix platform (and subsequently the 9-3 replacement).

      If what you wrote was true, then nobody would put a 2 billion SEK bid on the table.

      That doesn’t mean that things would not pan out the way you describe, but currently that is the less likely scenario.

  24. I’d like to see GM in the hell and all their inversors. I love you James Cain

  25. Really interesting to read how GM acts.
    It seams like they have no knowledge what so ever of the force an internet information storm against them would lead to.
    The car world is indeed big and Saab people are generally highly educated, connected and verbal.
    It is high time to let the car world know how GM acts.

    • I urge you and others to go to GM’s Facebook pages and join me in occupying and speaking some truth there. It’s amazing to me—-but it really seems as though on average, there are nearly as many negative posts as there are positive ones. Go to Kia’s Facebook pages or any other manufacturer—-and it is probably 90% positive. At GM? Maybe 50% over the course of a week? You’re right—-time to let the car world know what they risk by buying GM.

  26. That last paragraph smacks of sour grapes to me. It’s like he is saying ‘If GM can’t make a success of Saab then we’ll be damned if we will allow any one else to!’

    To be honest, I gave up taking much notice of what Mr Cain has to say some time ago and I suggest we all do the same. Just my opinion of course.

    Griffin Up! Cuore Sportivo!

  27. Clear. So GM will frustrate any deal based on starting up production soon. Dealers won’t have cars to sell so will have to close down. Drop option 1: start-up with permission of GM, develop your own thing, gradually change to non GM technology (Brightwell, Youngman). This leaves option 2 and 3:
    2: Buy factory, start-up with another brand (Mini), develop a non GM car ready in 2 year and brand this car SAAB. (BMW).
    3: Cherry pick the factory / buy machines, kill SAAB period (Geely).

    For the sellers (administrators) only the amount of money is important, Not the car brand SAAB.

    For whatever frustration there has been between GM and VM, I can’t rationally follow GM’s thoughts. Why not at least make some money by granting someone permission to outface GM technology / GM IP? Just built in a clause that only until date ……. only on models …….. only when manafucated in Sweden.

    • Yes, why not at least make some money—-when you still owe the U.S. treasury 20 billion dollars. I’ve already rifled off three letters to my three representatives (two Senators and a Congressman). GM owes me, as a taxpayer, money. Not only are they walking away from the licensing money—they are also ruining resale value on my car and causing some Saab employees in the U.S. their jobs, adding to our unemployment. It’s obsurd. GM should not be allowed to exercise this power that the contract allows until they are square with us financially.

  28. I was cautioned previously for “namecalling” when I was critical of this Cain fellow. So I will refrain from namecalling today. But I think if nothing else, I was proven right in one respect: He’s doesn’t appear to be very good at his job. To elaborate—-in business and in politics, a spokesperson is supposed to serve the purpose of representing the entity in a capable way—-and often, that means putting a good face on a bad situation—–making a negative seem not so bad. Making a positive seem all the better. This man’s demeanor, at least in my opinion, takes a small fire and throws gasoline on it instead of water. That’s precisely the opposite of what a competent spokesperson should do. His curt, bordering on rude answers leave me stupified—-having worked in public relations, I can hardly believe this person is paid to speak on behalf of a large company. Then again, that company is GM, and that might just explain it.

  29. By the way—-this is really bad news. I don’t think Cain would be that specific—-and that final—-unless he was given very clear information by higher ranking people at GM who actually know something. The language “(Saab) has had several chances to survive” is combative to say the least. The rumors that GM might be willing to license this tech—-that they were speaking with potential buyers behind the scenes—these rumors seem to have been squashed by this statement, in no uncertain terms. Can we now conclude that if there is a new buyer of Saab as a whole, and a restart, that there is absolutely no chance of the existing 9-4 and 9-5 being produced again? Is that now final and we stop talking about it? Has anyone ever established with any certainty that the 9-3 can or cannot be produced without GM? Have we established with any certainty that the PREVIOUS generation 9-3 can or cannot be produced by a new owner? Is that tooling and technology now owned by someone else? Is the only option at this point Saab coming back on another manufacturer’s platform—-a reskinned, rebadged version of a Sssangyong or a BMW, until PhoeniX is developed? A possibility of some form of 9-3 actually surviving this to carry the torch instead? Again, Cain has wrecked my day because this statement sounds very definitive and very final.

    • In the past (pre-bankruptcy) GM has stated its willingness to sell parts–engines and the like–to a Chinese owned Saab. That was deemed not enough and the 100 % ownership deal fell through, as we know. But I imagine that GM would be willing to take that route again for the 9-3, if a buyer so chose. It could be a stop-gap measure until the new line is launched. I believe I read here that Saab engineers felt that replacing GM parts with another manufacturer’s on the 9-3 would be quite costly, probably prohibitively so. But that’s not an official word.

      • Saabman, that’s a good point but GM sold BAIC old tooling for the OG9-5 and some outdated tech used on the 9-3SS — nothing that it planned to use for future models. That tech deal is completely separate from any deal that would use current IP, and that would be the case for any stop-gap 9-3 on the market until the Phoenix-based models were built.

  30. “To make it short: I do not believe that.” I agree.

    • Based on what? Not WANTING to believe it, or is there something more tangible that can give hope that it’s false? I don’t want to believe it either—-but it’s one of those situations where the grass is green, not purple. I can tell myself the grass is purple if I really want purple grass—-but it’s not, so what’s the point?

      • Past performance. We will see.

        • I”m afraid Angelo is right. There is no way Mr. Cain would make such definitive statements unless he is reflecting company policy. If, as some seem to think, Cain is not being kept informed of the true situation, then GM is destroying the credibility of its own official spokesperson – something I don’t think any company would want to do.

          • Official spokespersons are told to say crap all the time. Suppose GM really wants a deal with, for example, Mahindra, and is trying to discourage all other prospective buyers. It could secretly be telling Mahindra they will license to them and have their spokesperson say they are not considering licensing to anyone.

            Afte getting a deal with Mahindra, all they have to say is that Mahindra made them an offer they never expected and could not refuse because to refuse the offer would hurt their shareholders.

            So these comments do not necessarily mean the end. This kind of crap happens all the time in the US anyway. It could just be cover.

            But who knows what is really going on? That is why I think it is very important not to trust translations. A word here, a word there, can mean all the difference in the world.

  31. One more thing: Those of us who advising bidders 4-6 weeks ago to stop spending energy, time and money worrying about GM cooperation might be vindicated/proven right by Cain’s statements. The feeling among some Saab fans was that GM’s position was absolutely crystal clear—-they would not under any circumstances cooperate with a new buyer, regardless if the buyer was from China, Turkey, India or Mars—-and wasting time dealing with GM or trying to deal with GM would accomplish nothing and only damage the chances of actually saving Saab—-as it was taking resources from developing realistic business plans and alliances to get the brand out of bankruptcy. Ditto for the Receivers piddlepaddling with the brutes at GM. I think by late December, perhaps EVERYONE INVOLVED should have just assumed GM is out of this game—-leave them the #%!/ alone. The 9-4 and 9-5? Yes, we all want to see production resumed. I want to win the lottery too, and there might be a better chance of that. I hope I’m wrong—-I hope James Cain is wrong—-I hope GM DOES license tech to a new buyer—-and I hope I hit it big with the Mega Millions lottery this Friday night.

    • Agree, no reason to dig your head into the ground anymore.

      Cains message is crystal clear.

      • Yes, but this means that any buyer of Saab will have it that much harder to resurrect the brand since the worldwide dealer network (what is left of it) will have a hard time surviving until new Saabs with no GM tech IP can be designed, tested and built. Not to say someone will not try, but the job just got that much harder if this is as final as it is made to sound.

  32. I feel for the individual Saab Dealerships because they will be hurt most by GM’s actions. Even if the best case scenario pans out – BMW buys Saab and builds several variants on the Phoenix platform – it will be at least 2-3 years away. With no product to sell in the interim, the current Saab dealership network will collapse. So perhaps in 2-3 years from we will start seeing BMW-MINI-SAAB showrooms?

    • I’m afraid you’re right. And that’s even a best case scenario.
      As long as GM doesn’t think rational but acts emotional instead.

      • Well, the dealers could sell Mini’s for the time being. Or convert to BMW group dealers and resume selling/add Saabs as soon as they become available again. A brand can never have enough dealers and service points.

        Ivo

  33. Makes me sick to my stomach everytime he opens his mouth……………

    • “If someone were to acquire the [Saab] factory in Trollhattan and produce vehicles, including Saabs, it would not be an issue,” said the GM spokesman.

      Hmm..I wonder if it wouldn’t be..

    • Interesting that just-auto talks to a “GM spokesman” and not to Mr Cain. And also quite intriguing to hear that “spokesman” only talking about the 9-4x and the 9-5, no single word about the 9-3.

      • I agree with your “interestings” Red. I actually see a couple hopeful pieces of news in this statement. First, despite what the bankruptcy trustees seemed to suggest early on, it doesn’t seem that GM has to approve the next sale of Saab. That’s good news. GM won’t be an impenetrable roadblock. And that GM seems to have clarified for itself that the 9-3 is not an issue for them. Earlier in the Chinese negotiations GM refused to license any technology but stated that it would be willing to sell parts to Saab, presumably for the 9-3. It seems to me that the best way forward to be to negotiate a renewal of that offer to keep Saab alive for the next 2 years building the 9-3 Griffin in its various manifestations–Sports Sedan, Convertible, Sports Combi, 9-3X. There are several model variations for customers to choose from (Aero, XWD, to name two), until the exciting new line is launched. Plus whatever the new owner if it’s BMW or M & M might have in the mix. The GM refusals sound grim and maybe they are, but maybe they are just what Saab needs to rise up without it’s former parent, assuming a new buyer is willing to give it a chance.

        • a couple of points:

          1) To my knowledge, GM never had to approve the sale itself, as the Spyker deal was 75 percent in non-voting shares. I can see why there was a misconception, as that “GM wants to kill Saab” fiction gained traction here in the comments over the past year. The bankruptcy trustees had GM on the radar because it is a major shareholder and one of the creditor due to the licensed tech. If Saab went belly-up, GM would simply be in line with suppliers, employees, and other vendors trying to recoup losses.

          2) You nailed the distinction between GM’s refusal to license tech and its willingness to sell parts to the new Saab. The Phoenix architecture wisely uses off-the-shelf components instead of expensive custom bits and GM parts were always part of that mix. The suppliers are relatively inexpensive since they deal in high volumes and could ensure steady supplies as demand built. That important element has been overlooked in the past. Any “non-GM” 9-3 built on the Phoenix platform would still be assembled with some GM components and coud get off the ground much faster — especially since it would be far easier to adapt the existing design to existing parts.

  34. I think these are the key words we really need to absorb and accept:

    “If someone were to acquire the [Saab] factory in Trollhattan and produce vehicles, including Saabs, it would not be an issue,” said the GM spokesman.
    “But if someone tried to restart with GM technology, that is not going to happen.”

    That seems fairly definitve to me. So, let’s forget any GM IP, any existing or past GM content Saabs and hope that a potential buyer can or would want to, build a car(s) with no GM tech. I would guess this would take at least 2 years, by which time there will be no dealers left to sell them.

    However, a large motor manufacturer may be able to graft a Saab inspired facelift onto an existing model for a while. But, I have to ask, why would they bother??? Strictly speaking, do any car makers NEED the brand name “Saab”? The car industry is saturated with brands already.

    But, we can hope I guess….

    • +1.

      But I wish I didn’t.

      Fat lady Cain has sung…

    • Yes, a company like Mahindra desparately NEEDS (not just wants, but NEEDS) a familiar nameplate (even one with some baggage) to sell vehicles in new markets, including the U.S. They need dealers to sell their (EPA approved) trucks too. So yes, grafting a Saab nose and tail treatment on a Ssangyong vehicle, upgrading the interior and drive characteristics and selling it as a Saab is a lifeline for a company like M&M to enter markets where they currently have no presence at all.

    • Well the industry may well be “saturated with brands already”, but not too many are Swedish and most are just clones of some sort! I honestly think that the industry DOES need another alternative to the mainstream brands, and marketed properly I think that more people would eventually start to think outside the box. GM did a lousy job of marketing Saab and didn’t have a clue as to where to pitch the brand in the market! Even now I still meet people who know nothing about Saab, some have never even heard of Saab at all, that is a disgrace, therefore I reckon all previous marketing/advertising execs who worked for Saab should be shot at dawn!

      • I agree in principle. A Saabless motor industry is a sad one and I for one will miss Saab immensely (if the worst happens) but in a world full of mindless clones, are there enough buyers for Saabs to make it viable for a manufacturer to poor countless millions into? I do, really, really hope so!

  35. I am not a fanboy of GM. But I would imagine the tone of this interview is lost in translation. Typically, when you translate from another language into English, you lose all pleasantries.

  36. Months ago in this situation each logical thinking human being interested in Saab must have developed a plan avoiding GM. Hopefully someone thinks reasonable and set the stage for it. I don´t understand why everyone is running to GM begging for a license they never wanted to accord.

    • My thoughts exactly. Hopefully the remaining bidders are dazzling the Receivers with a business plan that throws GM out on their fat ass. It might be the only way for Saab to be sold as a whole.

  37. GM has been running Saab into the ground for many years. As Saab’s corporate parent, GM is responsible for the mess. LET’S NOT FORGET, GM ITSELF IS ONLY ALIVE TODAY THANKS TO THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER, a fact which makes this US citizen sick at the very thought! GM’S LACK OF VISION, LACK OF CREATIVITY AND OBSESSION WITH BADGE ENGINEERING are some of the reasons for their lackluster performance in recent years. GM is currently the George Costanza of the auto industry…..their every instinct and call to action is the opposite of what should be done. Remember the amazing concepts Saab unveiled back in 2001? Remember Bob Lutz himself telling us it represented the future of Saab design? A short time later as the industry (particularly the premium segment) embraced “alternative” designs such as the hatch, GM decided it was time for Saab to introduce yet another sedan and estate. Brilliant. Instead of the original Saab 9-3X crossover concept, we were treated to Subaru’s and Chevys. Let’s also remember GM’s decision to pour gobs and gobs of cash into the misguided Cadillac in Europe experiment while Saab sat by the wayside for years, waiting for scraps to fall from the table. GM’s current actions are nothing short of criminal. A future for Saab also means added revenue for GM for years to come. I’d like to hear a detailed business justification for these actions Mr. Cain, you owe it to the US taxpayers!

    • This US citizen would like to point out to other US citizens that GM just had its most profitable year ever, in part because it solidified its core brands by cutting Saab, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn.

      • In part because they don’t have to pay corporate income taxes for 10 years. In part because they were floated with billions from Uncle Sam. In part because municipalities are being pressured to buy GM junk for their fleets. Hey Mike, guess what? GE just announced that they are buying 12000 Chevy Volts for their corporate fleet. Why do you suppose that is? Jeff Immelt of GE is just a really sweet, green guy? Or maybe the White House had something to do with it? Gee, ya think?

      • I appreciate your thoughts Mike, but Saab helped GM far more than it ever hurt them. GM mined Saab for its technology over the years and GM’s product lines have benefited as a result. It’s also uncertain how much of a financial black hole Saab really was, and I don’t think it’s realistic to blame Saab for GM’s financial issues. GM kept Saab’s own product lineup on life support for a very long time, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Saab didn’t flourish with GM at the helm. My point is that Saab deserves the chance to recover and flourish again, just as GM was given the chance. This isn’t very gracious behavior on GM’s part, having recently been the recipients of a bailout. It also seems counter-intuitive to reject an opportunity to license technology to Saab. Let’s not forget, some of those technologies were developed in Trollhattan BY SAAB!

        • I just don’t agree with that. GM has oodles of technology that have never make it to production. What Saab had was a desire to make a certain kind of car (not necessarily a highly technical one). More than anything it was a philosophy. Saab concentrated on making a car that was safe, one that was peppy, fun to drive, utilitarian all at a reasonable price. It is a high value car. But these were design choices much more than they were technological achievements, although Saab did have some very good technological safety achievements.

          But GM didn’t need Saab’s technology.

  38. But….. BMW and GM do already cooperate on fuell cell technology. Maybe…… etc. etc.

  39. This isn’t news. Well it is, it is old news. We already knew that GM doesn’t want to license to any new SAAB owner, whoever they may be. It seems that so far GM is the only company to keeo their word. BH said they were talking to GM, everyone assumed licensing would take place, rumors started swirling about back room deals, etc… Yet GM, specifically James, has said time and time again, NO HOW NO WAY….. I cannot fault a company for being a company. They do not owe the US money like everyone says and they do not owe the tax payers. WE PAY TAXES- we do not get a return on what the government does with those tax dollars. We got the greatest return we could have hoped for- 100,000 people not on unemployment…. I hate GM products. I let their products speak for themselves. Everyone keeps saying, “GM doesn’t want to make money and they are refusing a licensing agreement that would bring in revenue.” That is not true. They are licensing SAAB- just without SAAB. They have agreements with several companies and are starting more (PSA) in which they are licensing technology. I do not believe it is right but again THEY ARE A COMPANY…………….. Griffin Up! A better buyer that does not care about licensing is already in the game…

    • Joseph: General Motors has an outstanding balance of 20 billion dollars owed to the U.S. Treasury. You can spin it however you’d like to. I know that technically, they don’t owe taxpayers—-they owe the Treasury. But the Treasury is funded by taxpayers, like a co-op. So if one party owes—-I can rationally make the leap that by owing the Treasury, they also owe the other members of said co-op—the ones who ARE paid in full, me being one of them. My understanding of the licensing is that if GM would grant technology used on recent Saabs to a new owner of Saab, General Motors would be paid a fee on each vehicle sold. I have read that here and in other places. If that is incorrect, please reference a source and clarify. I don’t want to be spreading false information and I have written in other places that GM will be paid for each vehicle sold if they go along with a tech licensing plan. Finally, I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney, but I agree with him that a standard-issue organized bankruptcy (I’m assuming Chapter 11 but I’m not an expert) would have accomplished much of what the massive bailout accomplished. In fact, it’s very easy to argue that a standard bankruptcy would have left GM in a much stronger position for the future as they could have shed enormous debt that they still have. That’s a political argument for another day.

      • While there was a bailout (that started before GM’s Chapter 11), there was an organized bankruptcy proceeding that shed all that debt. In other words, there was both. No longer having that legacy debt is a significant contributor to GM’s current net profitability.

        • Steve: The UAW contract stood. In fact, didn’t the UAW receive 33% ownership as part of the government bailout (after President Obama took over from Bush, who started it)? So this particular bankruptcy re-organization didn’t rewrite the fat UAW contracts, didn’t rewrite their pensions, didn’t reduce their solid platinum medical benefits—in short, didn’t retool GM to be more competitive—-it just showered billions upon billions of dollars on them so they could meet their obligations without freeing themselves of the obligations—-as a traditional bankruptcy does. You are likely referring to bond holders getting skunked, along with some suppliers who were owed big bucks and who were stiffed.

          • Sigh…..Actually, the UAW contracts were rewritten to change elements of health care, pensions, and pay. That was one of the contingencies that the US govt demanded before the bailout.

            http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2009/05/uaw_leaders_endorse_gm_contrac.html

            http://local10retirees.com/41401.html

            and so on…

            • …and partial OWNERSHIP of the corporation Mike? Don’t forget that tiny detail. It was a sweetheart campaign repayment for union support. Traditiona, organized bankruptcy would have let them emerge leaner—-and would have been the most fair approach in a free markets economy. How is this fair to Ford?

              • Ford could have filed bankruptcy if they wanted the same deal or a similar one. It didn’t because the Ford family would have lost their 30% (maybe 40%) voting rights.

                I hate this argument about what a saint Ford was. It only did what it did because the Ford family saved its bacon. Neither GM nor Chrysler had a Ford family to bail them out.

            • Mike: Since you’re an expert on how those contracts were rewritten, are you aware that there was no restriction on $7000.00 bonuses being doled out to the rank and file? Low and behold, guess what? GM just announced those $7000.00 bonuses to their peeps~! Where is our 20 billion again?

              • Profit sharing was part of the UAW contract renegotiation. The UAW worked out a similar deal with Ford that was picked up by GM and Chrysler.

                Next?

                • Mike: Ford doesn’t still owe the Treasury 20 billion dollars. I don’t care if they share their profits with their employees or with the Royal Family—-doesn’t matter to me. What GM does with THEIR profits, while they owe the U.S. money—THAT matters to me. Next?

        • Another contributor to their current net profitability is that they were relieved of paying corporate tax for 10 years (I assume beginning in 2009). That sure helps. I’m sure Ford would love that peach of a deal too. They weren’t good enough at begging though.

      • http://www.factcheck.org/2010/05/general-motors-debt/ (debt paid)
        as far as Ford… Not American made… They moved all production out of US… They cut jobs and left the regions where they once produced vehicles economically unstable and environmentally unsustainable. Ford is company, you are right… By giving GM a handout the government gained 61% of the company and did a restructuring to keep the most amount of people employed as they could afford. The government wasn’t trying to save GM just the jobs. Now the employees have stock in the company, the jobs are still in the region, and their headquarters is helping out Detroit. I wish the Swedish govt would have done that for SAAB. It forced GM to produce more economically/environmentally viable cars. I am sorry facts are facts… Again I reiterate, GM products are worthless… But it doesn’t change the facts…

        • Sorry not all US Ford plants closed… Most closed and are no longer in the US tho…

            • You are calling me a GM shill because I gave you evidence backing an argument. Pull your head out of your arse and actually read for once. Do not just let anger control your ignorance. I (as a damn scientist- geospatial and statistical analyses) read, read, and read some more before I make a conclusion. The facts are out there, it is up to you to put aside your bias and find them. I pay taxes in America just like you (except no state tax because I live in Texas) and I know research where my dollars go. I know the money that went to TARP for GM was pocket change as well. My current governor (Rick Bush- I mean Perry) has misplaced $20 billion. Without the bailout Ford would have failed as well. The bailout also saved the parts suppliers that Ford relied on. Ford wanted a bailout but did not need it because their ceo did preventative maintenance by moving jobs elsewhere. And I was wrong, according to the Wall Street Journal the bailout saved over 1,000,000 jobs. Mitt Romney is an idiot and is pandering to American’s fears. Bailouts have been occuring long before TARP. Please I beg you pick up a book. I apologize for being so rude but sometimes people need a kick in pants….

              • Joseph: I only had to read this hastily written paragraph for the lights to really turn on. You say you’re from Texas? By any chance, are you near Arlington? And I see you’re not just a GM shill, but a shill for the political left in the U.S. too. Lately, the two have gone hand in hand, along with Jeffy Immelt of GE and NBC News (a tidy little clique, they all are—White House, GM, GE, NBC, wouldn’t you say?). Can you give us a rundown of what percentage of Ford vehicles sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. vs. the same figure for GM? Do you plan on buying a Chinese Volt?

                • I do not know percentages because they are broken up by vehicle component. However, Ford has two of the top ten vehicles made in the US and GM has four of the top ten vehicles in the US. http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&subject=ami&story=amMade0808 (source) Yes I do live near Arlington and I am sorry my grammatical skills are not up to your standards. (sarcasm in case my poorly written sentence got lost on you) I belong to no party and get my news from facts not bias opinions. Also, GE sold NBC, so no bias there. I buy cars to drive because thats what they are made for. If I want high mpg’s I ride my motorcycle (yzf 600r- 50mpg) I want vehicles with power, comfort, and handling- I assume thats why we are on the SAAB forum to begin with. Chinese made does not always = crap. We expect things to be inexpensive and by wanting things to be cheap we cheapen the items. Pay for better quality and you will get better quality, where it is made has nothing to do with its value. I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I would consider myself a fiscally responsible Democrat tho lately I have been considered a constitutionalist who still believes we have to cater to the good of the people. And bias is in the eye of the beholder. The liberals scream fox/ republican bias and the conservatives scream/nbc-cnn bias… Lets not forget these are companies who make money off of the characters they portray. “Companies” seems to be the reoccurring operative word in everyone of my posts. Why do people expect companies to be anything but what they were designed to do? Besides aren’t responsible-hummanitarian companies what non profits are or at least supposed to be.

                  • This is not a forum for a political debate. Both of you are much too intelligent for this. Believe it or not, Saab vehicles don’t have factory installed bumper-stickers that read: Republican (or) Democrat….Liberal (or) Conservative. Saab is ALL inclusive! Get over it guys.

                  • Arlington, Texas, home of a General Motors plant. Now we’re getting somewhere.
                    1) Your grammar was just fine—it was the attitude that made me say “hasty.”
                    2) My point with the question about Ford/GM imports is that both make cars in U.S. factories and both sell cars in the U.S. NOT made in U.S. factories. You seemed to pin this on Ford but it’s true of both of them—-not even sure about FIAT owned Chrysler. Historically, Chrysler sold plenty of imports as Dodge and Plymouth—from Mitsubishi as I recall.
                    3) The point about my Volt question wasn’t to imply that China makes crap—only that GM makes crap in China and plans to move Volt production there.
                    4) I’m socially moderate and fiscally conservative—have voted both Republican, Democrat and Independent.
                    Finally, I’m sad that that Arlington GM plant stopped making the very nice RWD Cadillac Broughams and big wagons from Oldsmobile, Buick and so on. Those big RWD cars were a delight to drive, they really were. I owned several of them. But GM saw the profit in Sport Utilities (the Suburban) and I guess they needed the capacity to build more of them.

                    • 1. I did not know there was a plant in Arlington
                      2. I made the point about Ford to point out they are a company first.
                      3. I agree- except GM makes crap everywhere
                      4. Same here- I dont vote for party but rather people
                      5. Sport utilities seem to be the family prefered vehicle…. It was once wagons and sedans

    • Ford is a company too.

  40. Question: If a company buys Saab (as a whole) out of bankruptcy—-but does not get GM licensing for anything and has nothing to build for the time being—-what would that mean for the future as far as parts and service is concerned? I know for now, we’d be able to go to any Saab dealers that survive or go to independent shops that specialize on Saab—-and hope they could source parts. But let’s say in 2 or 3 years, a winning bidder comes back with a Saab car. Just as an example, let’s say it’s BMW—-and they sell Saab’s at their Mini dealers or BMW showrooms—-at that point in time, would they also pick up parts and service for today’s Saabs? Would a future owner who doesn’t produce a new Saab model for 3 years reach back to service our cars that we own now? Would they have control over parts production/distribution and service for our older Saabs?

    • Legally, in both Sweden and the US car manufacturers have to make parts available for a certain number of years after a model was discontinued. It’s 8-10 years, I think. So, those legal regulations should keep things going for a time. Obviously you can’t hold a bankrupt and closed business to that, but since GM was the owner until 2010 it follows that it should be responsible for vehicles produced until 2018 at least (basically any 9-3 should be safe, even those sold under Spyker/Swan). Not sure about the 9-5 or 9-4x. At the same time, we know that Saab Parts was not declared bankrupt and so is still an intact business, now being overseen in some way by the Swedish government.

      • Do you think a new owner would still service older Saabs—-if the new owner doesn’t begin selling Saab branded vehicles for a few years? Would they basically only service “THEIR” Saabs, or do you think they would open their service departments to GM era and Spyker era Saabs?

        • I’m no expert on this, just an interested Saab owner who reads SU. But it seems to me that a smart new owner would do everything it could to cultivate the loyalty of current Saab drivers. They wouldn’t want to start out by frustrating the people who are likely to be the first buyers of a relaunched Saab. To my mind, they may even reinstate warranty coverage (for 2010 and 2011) and the new car free serving, to create goodwill and loyalty. The latter may be too much to ask, but it wouldn’t cost them all that much and in three years these owners might be ready for the exciting new models. But since GM is urging drivers to use GM shops for the older Saab warranties, I would imagine that one could continue to get a car repaired in one of these locations, too. As well as by independent mechanics specializing in European or Swedish vehicles.

        • I guess that new owner would have to be pretty stupid not to continue selling parts. If no complete Saabs can be built for a year or two, the parts production and distribution would be the only profit center for Saab until the Phoenix 900 arrives. Moreover, not doing it would alienate most of the existing worldwide customer base, i.e. people like us. Would you buy another Saab if the new owner would leave you out in the cold as far as service and spare parts are concerned?

          Ivo

          • As part of this sale, will the new owner gain the rights to produce/sell the parts—-or somehow, does that stay with GM or someone else, especially for the GM era cars (through 2009)?

  41. In plain terms, GM sees Saab as some sort a threat, if it becomes a success under the ownership of a company with enough funds to carry out the job correctly! Why else would GM not wish to talk about selling licenses and making some money? Just a thought!!

    • They don’t see Saab as a threat—-they see a future owner of Saab as a threat. To clarify: GM claims to have lost money on Saab every year between 1990 and 2009. That’s two decades that they were “saddled” with a brand they couldn’t turn a profit on (according to their hot little books). So the threat you refer to is that a buyer—-be it inexperienced Youngman, German BMW or Indian truck maker Mahnidra—-could buy a bankrupt Saab and within 3 years, start showing a profit. The threat here is to GM’s image and reputation. The American press (probably the worldwide press but I can only speak for the U.S. press) would have a field day with this. GM would be exposed as clowns—-impotent, disorganized, incompentent clowns. Of course, we know this already—-but a profitable Saab belonging to China, Germany or India (or Sweden for that matter) would drive home the point to American taxpayers of just how lousy GM is at marketing automobiles—as if the Volt wasn’t enough testimony!). Skipper, you nailed this one. It’s not “just a thought” but it’s reality. GM will do everything within their power to destroy Saab in fear of seeing someone else turn a profit with Saab and show the world how utterly ridiculous GM is.

    • Actually I see this *all* about money. Cain said SAAB stiffed them for US$100M. New owner needs to cover that and pay a penalty ($10M?) for starters. If they approached it from that position, perhaps they’d pay ball…?

      • …play ball …? (not pay)

      • TT: Typically in business, everything has a price tag.

        - “Not in this case,” says James Cain.

        E: Are you calling the honorable James Cain a liar? Yes. You are saying this is “all about money” and he is saying in this case, there is no price tag. I’m very disappointed that you don’t believe the upstanding Citizen Cain.

        • Angelo: Haha. You are still smarting from someone calling you a name caller … I can tell. ;)

          I am saying if company X walked into GM’s HQ with a briefcase containing US$110M then I could see them listening. If there is no “Show me the Money” moment, they’re not dancing.

          • Hello, “E”! Angelo ‘got it’….he was being ‘tongue in cheek’.

            By the way…for others here, James Cain speaks english, was interviewed by a Swedish reporter, and the verbiage then translated into Swedish and (I assume) back into English via Google translation. Whilst some things may be lost in translation, the tone of the conversation is definitely NOT. I would say, unless otherwise authorised by his company, the arrogance he exhibited in his statements are at best ‘politically incorrect’ and at worst, libelous. He is a spokesperson that hasn’t been taught the ‘good lesson’ of DISCRETION. That will work to his (and GM’s) detriment.

  42. Talk about GM killing there self on the World market buy there own act,

    And then we just can say to Mr James Cain : “It was not the Europenans fault that GM lost significant market in Europe and the rest of the world . It is just cos of there behavour regarding SAAB. ”

    I do never going to spens one cent on there products in the future and btw…I want my 9-5 SC as well.

  43. after doing some research on the internet (Google, GM.com), i found no James Cain inrelation with GM. there IS a James M. Cain (writer, died in 1977) and a James Cain, actor. also at http://www.gm.com/company/aboutGM/GM_Corporate_Officers.html i didnot find a James Cain als CIO, or the like….

    are we being fooled herer by GM???

  44. Why even try it … leave GM to their destiny.. IF youngman has the financial power to finish the Phoenix then it just might fly.

    I don´t need to have the latest model of any brand, I want a Saab and if I can´t get it I will stick with the present models…..

  45. Isn’t it ironic that the movie Citizen Kane profiles an arrogant corporation—-and today, we read the ramblings of James Cain—-representing an arrogant corporation?

  46. Someone out there is taking the p… now, this has gone on long enough almost farcical. If GM wont sell to anyone, tell us and stop wasting out time and energy. Make a GOD DAMN STATEMENT to the world and tell us !!! BMW if you are up for a bid, TELL EVERYONE, and anyone else that is interested. If SAAB is dead, i’ve still got to get up for work tomorrow !!!

  47. The contents of Cain’s interview needs to be published by media here in the USA. I intend to do my very best to make that happen. The sheer and pure arrogance of this man (on behalf of GM) must be displayed to the American public, immediately. I assure you that it then becomes less about Saab, as it is to the audacity of an individual or a COMPANY to publically DECLARE that they INTEND to cause the ‘death’ of another esteemed company, simply because they THINK they can (especially when they were in the same position only a few years ago). Communications to Congressmen/Senators, etc., may or may not have value. Communications to MEDIA are much more immediate, and much more effective…IMHO.

    • Start e-mailing the various newspapers, go for it!

    • Ditto here! ! !

    • rofl……as someone who used to do this for a living, here are your headlines:

      “GM: We Won’t Allow Foreign Firms to Buy Intellectual Property at Fire-Sale Prices”

      “GM Says ‘No’ to Foreign Vultures”

      “GM Bucks Trend, Refuses Bad Deal With China”

      and so on.

      There are myriad ways for GM to positively spin this in the media.

      • Mike: That reminds me of something—from the cold war era. The U.S. swim team went to Moscow for a contest against the U.S.S.R olympic team. They were the only countries competing. The U.S. swimmers won the meet. Provda (Is that spelled right?) reported it as: “U.S.S.R. places second in swim meet. In the same meet, the U.S. team finished second to last.” Yes, it’s amazing what you can do with words.

        • A fair point…

          But GM truly doesn’t care about what happens in Trollhattan, but it deeply cares about how it’s perceived in the US after the bailout — despite its success. That’s where the right words come into play, and it’s far less damaging to be seen as heartless toward a small city whose own government left it for dead. That’s the opinion of a few thousand die-hard Saabisti. A few million people likely care that GM is protecting its US investment by refusing to get fleeced by China.

      • Let them ‘spin it’ any way they wish. GM would be forced to ANSWER. PERIOD. And when the facts are revealed, they would lose the battle for/of integrity. It needs to happen, regardless the outcome. What do we stand to lose?

        • …other than our company? We must fight, and we must fight intelligently. If we fail, then at a least we know that we tried to win. Sitting by, waiting for GM to bless a ‘deal’ is pure bullocks! LET THEM SPIN. I care not.

        • Again, answer for what? For securing its IP from foreign ownership? For protecting its market share? For aggressively trying to recoup the US government investment?

          What other facts are there?

          • Actually… What are we discussing here?

            “License GM technology”. Well, what does that mean exactly?

            I assumed/believed it was a contract allowing Saab to put certain parts in the 9-5. As an example the new 220 bhp direct injection engine (introduced MY10).

            But it has to be something more substantial than that?

            Are we talking about accessing proprietary information allowing Saab to produce (or contract a supplier to produce) certain parts?

            Then I agree the question is a bit complicated, but at the end of the day I would say a simple contract stating “the parts xx to yy are only to be used in 9-5 models sold in Europe and America” should address the concerns raised by GM.

            If YM’s bid is the winning bid, I do not understand what would keep them from getting access to the information at hand. Lofalk hinted at this once, telling GM that everything stored on the computers of Saab’s engineers would befall the new owner…

            So… If YM cannot be trusted to adhere to a “no China for 9-5″ deal… Well, then what exactly is stopping them now? What has GM accomplished through their shenanigans (as far as “their” IP is concerned)?

            What am I missing?

            • I’ve thought of the same basic premise. In fact, aren’t the Chinese considered the absolute best in the world at reverse engineering?

            • Yup, precisely what I have been stating on di.se and other places.

              Saab already knows the technology
              It is not a matter of technology transfer it is a matter of usage of technology in a defined context of a certain car model, namely the NG 9-5.

              The 9-4X is an even more stupid argument since it is GM that makes it.

    • Hey Barry. (Called you today by the way). Cain is a corporate stooge but I put no stock in what he says. GM has a price. If GM were offered ten billion dollars for Saab, GM would be licensing all kinds of shit to whoever the buyer was.

      Cain’s commentary is just negotiating BS. What happens in settlement negotiations all the time is that one party often will attempt to shut off negotiations for what ever reason because they believe that no reasonable offer is forthcoming. It has never ceased to amaze me how many times in litigation if someone had just made a real good offer to start with, or sometimes any offer, an unnecessary trial would have been averted.

      No bidder has wanted to make GM a real good offer. They all want to nickel and dime GM, thinking they are in the catbird’s seat. I think Brightwell made a huge mistake. Whatever it said in those letters was likely an insult to GM and so GM’s response was totally expected. We will send a message that we will not tolerate insulting offers.

      In the corporate world, both management and the board of directors will have to consider any reasonable offer in order to perform their obligations to the shareholders. So GM has its price. And if the right money is on the table, from a buyer GM can live with, GM will sell.

      But what a buyer must be aware of is that any offer that is too low will not put management or the board of directors in a box where they feel that would have liability from a shareholders derivative suit. You have to make an offer that puts management and the board of directors in a box. If you don’t, you give them an easy out.

      • Hey David, great to hear from you. I fully understand the premise that EVERYTHING has a price. If someone offered enough…perhaps they could buy GM! That isn’t the point. The point is that (through Cain) GM has stated that they want Saab dead. And, to the extent that they can make it happen, they intend that to be the result. A rediculous offer to appease GM or to get their ‘approval’ is just that, and will not happen.

  48. Why are the major automobile (news) media outlets (print, online, television, magazines) NOT exposing GM’s ineptitude on how they handled Saab and are handling (or their apparent draconian-style) of the on-going Saab sale? Nothing from Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Road & Track, Top Gear (UK), etc.)!! GM is a hugely protected (cancer-like) company that has been deep in the pockets of all politicians in the US. Surely, there was “technology” in Saabs before GM and there should be after… especially with the likes of BMW and such. But even America’s consumer review and (supposed) advocate organization, Consumer Reports, has practically erased Saab from their last 2 years’ reports.

    • You are forgetting to take your medicine. The auto media isn’t against Saab, they just don’t care.
      Why should they. There are new models coming out all the time. Why rehash yesterdays news which is old.

      GM does suck and never should have been bailed out. But, while saying that, GM isn’t doing anything wrong. They had a deal with an entity. That entity is gone. They aren’t under any obligation to anyone else. Would it be “nice” if they lent a hand. Yes. But they don’t have to.

      I believe Consumer Reports needs a certain amount of cars to make the #s worthwhile. If not enough cars are sold AND not enough owner participate, then that may be the reason for Saab dropping off their radar.

      Other than blowhards here that constantly throw out the word “lawsuit” I haven’t heard of any against GM concerning Saab. You would think that there are people and companies with actual skin in the game would have filed if they knew they were being legally screwed. I haven’t heard of any, so I’m guessing GM hasn’t done anything legally wrong. Morally, maybe, legally, I doubt it.

      • Whether legal or not does not help since the judgement of that would come way too late. Thus there is no point in taking that route.
        Was GM in their rights to say no to every effort to raise outside funds? It might be a breach of a contract to refuse to deliver. But that does not help us at this moment.

      • Why do you say GM should not have been bailed out? Why do you hate workers so much? The bail out saved a million US jobs.

        GM has had horrible bean counter Wall Street driven management which wrecked the company in the same way that Wall Street is wrecking the world.

        But I am glad these American workers have their jobs. Kudos to the government for saving them. Too bad Sweden wouldn’t do the same for Saab and Volvo.

        We bailed out Wall Street to the tune of trillions with its pseudo economy. Compared to it GM and Chrysler were peanuts and are the real economy.

  49. I believe GM’s full intent right from the start, is to completely shutdown Saab. And they seem to be systematically doing it by talking to parties and denying their offers. GM is sick! They GM-ized Saab when they should have let the Swedes use all of their own technology. Swede technology is way better than GM technology!! I hope Saab somehow makes it through this! There’s got to be a silver lining somewhere!

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