On the home stretch – extended

Another week has passed that leaves us with more questions than answers. We know a few interested parties, but not all. We know there are bids, but we don’t know all the names, let alone details from them. Even that interview with Mr. Pang left did not feed us too much. Though it is hard for a blogger to live on information diet I have to admit that in a way I like to see the busy silence as it means something serious is going on.

Last week I picked up the known (and some unknown) bidders and gave my opinion on how I see them. I’ll more or less do the same this week under the impression of the developments we came across in the last few days. A lot of things are happening right now behind closed doors. The bids that have been handed in seem to indicate that there are some parties who are really interested in this. And as one of the administraters hinted a while ago it may even been possible that one of the parties in the game joins forces with another, new, party. Right now it seems to be an extremely busy and highly sensible process that could maybe lead to a surprising but good outcome.

The big man of Youngman, Pang Qingnian, sat for an extended Interview with SvD. It was a good read but most likely due to those confidentiality agreements he did not reveal too much of their plans for Saab. You may call me overly sceptic but to be honest I am still not sure about their intentions for Trollhättan. From a business point of view I wonder why a company that has a huge overcapacity in China would set up a production in Sweden. May be big plans for the future. But on the other hand the recent bid that Volvo placed showed that moving the production facilities to whereever is not totally unthinkable. Still, I’d think their bid belongs to the “parts only” bids that only come into play when the six or seven parties that want to revive Saab have not been able to strike a deal.

Another company that I’d like to mention here is BAIC. They stated that they have now a fully functional prototype of an electrical car. What they showed was a facelifted 9-3 with Chinese badges just as they did on a few motor shows since they acquired the old Saab technology. I bet that this is one of those 7 9-3s MY 09 (or so) they bought from ANA back then. I don’t get at all why they always came up with those cars as their prototypes as they have the licenses for the older model. And why are they looking at ePower when they have a fully functional technlology themselves. Their rumored partner for electrical cars, Panasonic, has enough financial troubles to sell three buildings of their headquaters. The other big question is how much do they want to get. Is it still just the factory or more now? And is there enough demand for electrical cars to use the capacity of the Trollhättan factory?

Recently the receivers have stressed that what they are looking for is not just a big cheque for the takeover but also a proper plan for the future of Saab. There are a few obstacles to overcome in this, one of those is GM the other is the cracked supply chain. For the latter companies like Mahindra&Mahindra or the european automotive manufacturer would of course have benefits because of their automotive network that will help to close the gaps and to regain the confidence of the remaining suppliers. It may not be crucial for the takeover but it is surely a piece in the puzzle that helps them.

Brightwell don’t have that huge experience in the automotive sector but they have buying power and most likely a plan, a vision where they want to take Saab. They have been pretty quiet recently which I would take as an indication that they are deeply into the process. I would not count them out in any way.

I am pretty sure that some of you wonder why I did not name that european automotive manufacturer. Let me put it this way: the initial indications we got were not wrong but did not paint the whole picture in this. Those indications we get from various sides are seldom a clear statement. You get many dots, add some more yourselves and connect them. So in some cases you aim at the right direction without hitting the center of the target.

We are working hard to get the crucial information out to you and to judge the rumors but still in some cases we have to step back and respect a certain amount of secrecy that is requested by those involved. Tough for us as well as for you but if it helps the outcome I’m all in it. Most involved parties are reading along, checking the state of the community. Let’s show them that we are still standing behind Saab and any new owner that wants to get things rolling again. Don’t be too picky, beggars can’t be choosers and noone can make it right for everybody. But still we can be happy to have such a great field of bidders at the table.

There is no need to loose hope in any way. Through this past week I got even more confident that we can see a solution that enables Saab to start up again. Personally speaking I’d prefer two of them for I see special opportunities in them. But in the end I’ll be happy with any new owner who can fund Saab properly and get cars rolling off the production line in Trollhätan again.

Use this weekend to enjoy your Saab and dream about a great future. We’re still on the home stretch. And it still looks good.

dcpattie
Member
4 years 7 months ago
You can *feel* the winds of change throughout the auto industry. For example, GM and PSA in discussions. I’m really hoping for a BMW result, even if its not the 100% most money upfront. I see Saab as BMW’s counter to VW. Saab’s sophistication, safety, uniqueness, and driving dynamics that will pull customers away from VW to Saab. Let’s also remember that BMW needs to hedge its bets against Hyundai/Kia which is considering a high-end “Genesis” marquee. BMW could also better position Saab against Acura, Lexus, and Volvo but I see that as a losing proposition. Build a Saab GTI… Read more »
Audun
Member
4 years 7 months ago

+1 🙂

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Very refreshing, very coherent and here’s hoping you’re onto something!

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Saab pitted against a glorified Honda or Toyota? Meh, in my opinion they win that race hand down, and have all along. BUT image is everything, so I have no doubts Bimmer could do wonders for their image. Also Bimmer has some sweet advertisements, and I think that’s hugely important. The half time commercial where the sand man dumps too much sleeping dust on the guy and he’s driving a Kia around the racetrack, it made me like Kias just that much more! They were willing to have a little fun with it and still show the high points of… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Jesse: Hands down, Kia’s “dream” commercial for the Optima was the best Super Bowl spot. It’s great that the guy leaves the track that has Adriana Lima, Motley Crue and cheering fans to go into his wife’s dream to take her back from the prince on the horse—really imaginative advertising but I like that they also show the car. I actually think Saab needs to be much more low key—-stop with the “Born From Jets” nonsense and show the car—-show the interior—stress function, value, practicality.

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago
I agree, Saab commercials should be… well… Scandinavian I guess. Practical, elegant, show the cars strength and control, and bang for the buck. But just imagine, 2013, the new Phoenix platformed Saabs having a spot during the superbowl! I often thought a commercial of say an NG 9-5, maybe a Mercedes as well going around some twisties, showing the drivers white knuckling it in the rain or snow, some adverse climate, then having a Phoenix platformed Saab passing it like it was nothing… then just give a quick line about how far we’ve come or maybe talk about the terrific… Read more »
dcpattie
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Jesse, I think we are in total agreement. I think Saab, with its design language is worlds better than Toyota, Honda, Kia, and VW. I just think Saab could serve BMW well by repositioning the brand as a pre-permium brand that gives high value, safety, and style at a competitive price-point. That fact that Saab is so much better will win folks over but (and a very important but) the repositioning of the brand must take place first via mega advertising! Something that really catches people, similar to when the BMW group launched the MINI brand.

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago
I will add that if Saab product positioning/pricing slides down a bit—-it will make the new advertising image that much easier. Trust me—-I’ve worked in advertising of some sort since the late 1980s. Even with all of the damage from the finanical issues and bankrputcy—-the image of Saab cars is still that they are safe luxury performance cars that compete with the best from Europe. You drop the price and start to show comparisions with Volkswagens and you have a built-in value premise on the part of consumers—-that they are getting a “better” car for the money. Even if you… Read more »
julie@KellySAAB
Member
I could not agree more with all of you. As a retailer of SAAB for 20+ years I know that if it was VW I was marketing against I would win hands down every time. And as an entry “pre-premium” brand we would have a real winner on our hands. Benchmarking the cars in the premium class for future products but pricing them in the “pre-premium” segment would kick a$$! Really that’s kinds what Hyundai and Kia have been doing for some time. And adding the BMW name would certainly make all the difference in perception. Just telling people we… Read more »
xelav
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Can it be that i read that before? So BMW and magna are not that sure? Or is it Mercedes , only they have a propeller in their logo. Till next week boys, taking a ski break for à week! Hopefully there is à wifi at the hotel….

jouni72
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Me having next week a ski holiday too, so preparing to have a very good mobile internet connections…:)

David-SAAB
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Mercedes-Benz is not a propeller but a 3 pointed star – land, sea and sky.

Coke is it
Member
4 years 7 months ago

As long as Saab is restarted with all current models I’m happy but I would be even more happier if it was restarted by BMW (or Mercedes) since it would give Saab a needed boost in confidence in Saab.

TonymacUK
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I`m with you Cokeisit, otherwise till`s post is the same old, same old.

TurboLover
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I read “Cokeshit” every f*ckin time and then after two seconds my brain changes its’ mind and tells me “Coke is it”. Scumbag brain…

saabyurk
Member
4 years 7 months ago

You’re not alone. 🙂

Thylmuc
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Not at all 😉

Coke is it
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Me too 😉

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Wasn’t “end of February” the defacto deadline that even the Receivers were trying to comply with? That’s next week. This isn’t just a matter of us being impatient—-but it’s also a matter of a realistic and viable chance at Saab as we know it surviving—-Saab branded cars being sold in the near future. So my hope is that there will be “breaking news” next week. If this drags much beyond February—-we have a totally different possibility—which is a Saab hibernation for several years and the effective destruction of all stand alone Saab dealerships. Then, in time, a “new Saab” could… Read more »
Snowshoe
Member
4 years 7 months ago

It is also crunch time in order to keep some of the engineers.

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I know a month or so ago we were talking about some of them bleeding off to the new company there in Trollhattan, and some going to Volvo, does anyone know if there are a lot of engineers waiting in the wing to step back in when they’re called upon? How about those willing to come back when Saab reopens?

Ronnie_Rad
Member
4 years 7 months ago

+1

hughw
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Most former engineers that are still unemployed will jump at being hired back by almost any new owner. But I wonder if someone like BMW who was obviously well funded and in for the long haul, what would be the attitude of a former engineer recently hired by another company, provided they had not left the TH area. COuld they be lured back, by better pay, by love of Saab, or whatever? Most will not have had time to comfortably settle into their new job and might be happy to have an offer to come back.

MeanSabean
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Long Live Saab!!!!!!

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Till and others keep mentioning that these bidders are watching, and as sad as it is I’ve recently started leaving comments (probably too many) in an attempt to add to the Saab conversation, to lend my support by adding to the list of people who actively use the site and let the bidders know there’s one more person out there who loves Saab and is willing to buy one. I’ve been lurking in the background ever since SaabsUnited opened, so while I seem like a newcomer I’ve in fact been following the events ever since Saab ran into trouble with… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Is anyone familiar with a corporation from Taiwan, HTC? They are not a car maker and to the best of my knowledge, have nothing to do with the car industry. Could they be the Taiwanese version of Brightwell in this Saab saga?

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago

HTC? As in the cell phone makers? That’d be… unusual. Although their slogan is “Quietly brilliant”, could be a good fit for Saabs as well.

Ronnie_Rad
Member
4 years 7 months ago

The same HTC that just saw a major several 100 million dollar profit drop in January?

E. Boon
Member
4 years 7 months ago
The priorities of an administrator are: The debtors (first), future employment (second), the SAAB brand (third). In the eyes of the administrator it’s not a must that the future cars rolling out the factory have the SAAB batch. Let’s cross our fingers. BMW is the best option. Trolhatten could make BMW 1, Mini and Saab 9-2. Munich the 9-3 (on a BMW 3 platform) and the 9-5 (on a BMW 5 platform). The SAAB brand would perfectly fit into the BMW brand portfolio. Their engines are great. Their automatic 8 speed gearbox is the best on the market. Youngman is… Read more »
Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago

You know, having the factory build parts for Bimmer rather than just being owned by them is something I hadn’t really considered, but that’d be great, it’d just add to the value of Saab. Imagine looking at a BMW and seeing the origin of parts list reading “Components from Sweden: 10%” In fact this could be a really great way for Saab to hold themselves over until they start producing cars full time again.

Thylmuc
Member
4 years 7 months ago

This will hopefully not manifest. Saabs on BMW platforms would mean longitudinally mounted engines with RWD, and accordingly, less interior room, and more oversteering. I will not buy a car configured like that.

Turbo_Charged
Member
4 years 7 months ago
A RWD Saab goes against the deepest roots of what Saab stand for – as a dealer once told me. Sitting in a colleagues BMW 520 last year (UK) progressing carefully down a snowy road towards a roundabout, discussing where to crash because he had lost control, eventually reversing out of the ditch, PUSHING the back end to help go back up hill then abandoning the car because I was knackered. Walked to the colleagues house and went home without issue in an ancient Renault 5! My colleague now leaves his car at home for the lightest dusting of snow… Read more »
Allan B
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Which of these is the least likely scenario?

A. Hell freezing over
B. Buddy Holly and Michael Jackson recording a duet
C. BMW turning Saab into a rear-wheel-drive car

Turbo_Charged
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I truly hope you are correct in your insinuation! Mr Boon was worrying me.

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Definitely, C. If there is enough good in the world and we reject evil (a long shot, but possible) hell will freeze over. I think it’s possible that in another place, Holly and Jackson have already recorded a duet—though where they are, live performances are the order of the day, not recordings. As for “C” I think that is the least likely. If anything, BMW’s interest might be because people in that organization are having serious second thoughts about a BMW branded car with FWD. By obtaining Saab—-they can offer a premium brand, FWD (perhaps even in their own showrooms… Read more »
E. Boon
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Exactly. RWD = BMW branded. FWD = Saab branded (by BMW)

liftarn
Member
4 years 7 months ago

As both are essentially 4WD nowadays it might just be a matter of software.
Well, not exactly.

zippy
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Lets hope the administrators see sense and sell the entire company to someone with real money and the intention of keeping Saab Swedish.

Griifin Up, folks. 🙂

BarryMemphis
Member
4 years 7 months ago
I must say that I am more than simply frustrated. Newswires around the world reported (based on the text written by SaabsUnited) that BMW was interested in and bidding for Saab. Now Till says: about the ‘European automotive manufacturer’ …. “Let me put it this way: the initial indications we got were not wrong but did not paint the whole picture in this. Those indications we get from various sides are seldom a clear statement. You get many dots, add some more yourselves and connect them. So in some cases you aim at the right direction without hitting the center… Read more »
Allan B
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I think Barry has a fair point. I am now even more convinced that it must be BMW 😉

MeanSabean
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Maybe Magna & BMW together!

E
Member
4 years 7 months ago

+1

JasonPowell
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Barry, there has been no retraction of the statement made earlier this week by Tim and as time goes by more information becomes available and the structure of bids may be adjusted. Different writers have different ways of bringing stuff forward and Till has chosen to not reveal as much as he may know, kind of a let the chips fall where they may approach. The fact that other news sources have quoted this and there has not been a retraction at any level should let us know where the truth lies but remember to that the administrators have hinted… Read more »
BarryMemphis
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Jason. You put things in proper perspective.

JasonPowell
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Glad to help when I can.

BarryMemphis
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I am just so frustrated. I hope for the best…

JasonPowell
Member
4 years 7 months ago

It’s hard not to be frustrated with how long this ordeal has been, but it feels like there is something to be happy about right now and it looks promising.

Allan B
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Amen to that.

Chris Hansel
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Jason: you are about the only voice of reason on this blog. Need for you to post more often.
Chris

wishihadasaab
Member
4 years 7 months ago
I agree whole-heartedly. I have been following this site since October 2011. A lot has happened but even more has been speculated. I joined this site just to respond to your post. I felt it was time to interact rather than just read what others had to say. I joined this site for reasons other than most. I have not owned a saab but have been obsessed with the styling for quite a few years. Last year I heard about the troubles SAAB was having after VM ran into a financial downfall, it was at that moment where I thought… Read more »
DMR
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Joseph, we’re all crazy about our Saabs (I’m going on my 3rd) around here, but we’re not plain crazy. In fact, we tend to be a practical lot when it comes to most things. I don’t know how corporate laws work in Sweden, but if they are in any way similar to the United States, I’m pretty sure that the unpaid employees, GM, the Swedish govt, the suppliers, and even warranty claims from current Saab owners all come ahead of a single cent (or krona) being paid out to a stock holder. Before you get into any further trouble with… Read more »
wishihadasaab
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I am not concerned about the government paying stockholders. The win comes with the added interest in the stocks. The stock goes up everytime a new story comes out. That is besides the point. I want Saab to succeed whether I make money or not. The fact that Saab will be around even if I lose my money means that I will be able to buy a GM free Saab one day. (when I am able to recover from my losses that is)

BarryMemphis
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Now THAT was funny (‘gamblers anonymous’). HAHAHA

…but…Welcome to our ‘family’, Joseph.

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Contact General Motors CEO Info
Daniel F. Ackerson
(moderated)
McLean, Virginia 22101
(moderated)

I find it interesting that the GM CEO lives near Washington, DC instead of near Detroit, where the company is based. That tells you all you need to know about the state of the American automobile industry.

(Moderator note: Guys, keep in mind that there are people within GM who are on Saab’s side. Please don’t alienate potential allies. Sending letters directly to the home address of the CEO can be considered to be a bit creepy. Tone it down. Please. –Rune)

Turbo_Charged
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Angelo, I tried the cooperate HQ, which I have posted here before. I also posted on the GM blog just above you. I did actually get a formal response from the UK head of PR having investigated the issue and telling me why GM had acted the way it had. No new info though.
Daniel Akerson
General Motors Corporate Headquarters
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit,
MI 48265
USA

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I’m sure GM loves us.

100%Saab
Member
4 years 7 months ago

“Prior to joining GM, Akerson was a managing director and head of global buyout for The Carlyle Group in Washington, D.C. In this position, Akerson managed more than $50 billion in assets and more than 200 portfolio companies with several hundred thousand employees around the world.” – GM website.

Think money and nothing else.

Just a thought.

Turbo_Charged
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Well GM have talked to Mahindra before about selling Hummer to them (http://wardsauto.com/gm-talks-mahindra-others-hummer-sources), and to BMW about fuel cells. The lines of communication were probably left open.

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Rune: I live about 20 minutes from him (in light traffic). We’re both in the cushy suburbs of Washington, DC, though admittedly, his is “a little” more cushy than mine—though my neighborhood is a lot less pretentious, thank God. I had a friend I used to work with whose parents lived very close to Mr. Ackerson in McLean. Anyway, the address and phone number are public information—-widely available on the internet. My thought is that the mail addressed to him at GM headquarters is probably immediately sent to the circular file. But you’re right—it would be creepy for his family… Read more »
Ronnie_Rad
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Who knows, maybe Jesus will buy Saab. New definition for “Ghost Ride”.

Can’t wait till all this is over. Hopefully BW or M&M take the crown.

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

If Jesus had control of Saab, I have no doubt that He would bring back the Amphicar, branded as a Saab. The advertising tagline? “Not All Of Us Can Walk On Water, But All Of Us Can DRIVE On Water!”

Jesse Crandle
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Turns water into petrol!

Garrett
Member
4 years 7 months ago
I saw a replay of a CNBC show on BMW’s takeover of the Rolls Royce brand, but not any other part of the company which VW took (factory, facilities, along with the Bentley brand). BMW’s development of the Mini brand was the same: take the name, not the baggage. I wonder why Saab is more attractive now as wreckage than it was as a going concern? Was GM such a lousy counterparty that all these more reputable bidders stayed put in 2009 or was the financial crisis that bad? My guess is that if BMW is bidding, it wants the… Read more »
Ronnie_Rad
Member
4 years 7 months ago

My sentiments exactly. If people here expect BMW to keep Saab’s development dept and designers separate than BMW and Mini they can dream on. When BMW gets in there they’re gonna clean house.

mnztr
Member
4 years 7 months ago

BWM would not have to clean house as that has already been done. BMW did try to buy RR, but were out bid by BMW. So they used their aerospace connections to secure the name (which was owned by RR Aeroengines). As for Mini they bought the whole mess with Rover. Dumped Rover and kept Mini. the Mini was mostly a Rover design.. the Gen II is a BMW project. But BMW does have a Mini technical center in the UK that does a LOT of development. I could see the same for SAAB.

mnztr
Member
4 years 7 months ago

I meant they were outbid by VW….

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago
Garrett: As wreckage, isn’t there a lower price and less obligation to creditors? If so, that alone puts a lot more bidders in the game. Even though Youngman is not at the top of my list among bidders—-I do think they were at least interested in buying, pre-bankruptcy, when no one else was willing to step up, and that counts for something. As for your other question, I have replayed that in my head over the last few months—how Spyker came to own Saab—and why no one else (better financed, better known, more capable) was interested. Short answer? I don’t… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

…and now for some comic relief: http://obamavolt2012.com/Site/Obama_Volt_2012.html

David-SAAB
Member
4 years 6 months ago

Fantastic!
I doubt the volt will ever be imported into Australia. Thankfully.

3cyl
Member
4 years 7 months ago

Has Studebaker surfaced as possible bidder?

Angelo V.
Member
4 years 7 months ago

The “AVANTI” could become the new Sonnett.

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