A look at the state of play with Saab

We’re on the cusp…… so here’s a little official and non-official info to start the week.
The deal
The word out of Sweden is that Koenigsegg Group and Saab are all ready to go. Everything is prepared for immediate startup once they get the nod. What we’re waiting for now is approval from Europe with regards to the ruling on state aid, and then the final EIB loan guarantees from the Swedish government. Every indication so far is that the government will give their support, so it’s just the EU we’re waiting for now.
A whisper has come through from elsewhere in Europe hinting at December 1 or 2 as a possible date for the EU approval. I have nothing to substantiate this, but Saab Cars North America using November 30 as a deadline for cancelled dealerships indicates that maybe my source has heard the same things they have.
Beijing Automotive
Part of that deal coming off is Beijing being included and one of the obstacles to that is GM being OK with their inclusion. Sure, GM may be dealing with Koenigsegg and not Beijing directly, but you can bet your bottom dollar they’d find a way to shimmy out of things if they felt too much tech was flowing somewhere they didn’t want it to go.
Indications from Sweden are that that side of the deal is all stitched up, too, with clear limitations as to what can be used by BAIC in the future.
The plans to remanufacture previous Saab models look like going ahead, with the outgoing Saab 9-5 and the pre-2006 Saab 9-3 (no, that’s not a typo) both being candidates for manufacture there. The level of modification or re-design that would take place is not known.
The dealerships
This has been the big issue of the last week in the US and will possibly continue to be prominent in the next week or two. Losing one third of your major market dealer population is no easy proposition and whilst a handful of those dealers will shrug it off, there are a number of very sad dealers and customers in various parts of the US right now.
It’s my understanding that appeals will be considered early this week, so we may hear some good news by the weekend.
It’s also come through to me that the total number of remaining outlets – given at 137 at this point – could comprise both dealerships as well as service-only outlets.
There was news in the Canadian market last week, too, which is encouraging. I’m expecting some news about the Australian situation in the next week or two. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens here in Oz, as the impression I get is that many Holden dealers that received Saab took it on because they were told to, not necessarily because they wanted to. It’s not the case everywhere, but let’s just say It’ll be interesting to see where Saabs are sold here in my little home city in six months from now. That goes for a few others, too.
The cars – 9-5
The date I keep hearing about in terms of widespread availability is April 2010. I’ve heard dribblings of information about earlier dates for some European markets, but April is the one that keeps popping up in relation to the US. We here in the antipodes will probably have a month or so longer than that to wait.
The cars – 9-3
Production will likely gear up as soon as the deal is done so that they can start pumping out 2010 models and get them to markets around the world. Dealers need these like they need air to breathe.
Several people have indicated that Saab are going to cease the incentive offers which might be likely for 2010 models onwards, but I have a hard time seeing them clear 2009 model 9-3s without big deals.
(btw……I think the whole no-incentives thing is good, but it makes me wonder about combined GM dealerships, which will likely be offering incentives on their Caddys, etc, on a rolling basis)
There’s even been unconfirmed indications that prices will go up, which I hope means that they’re going to jack up the equipment levels in the 9-3, in line with the premium segment they’re aspiring to. Hirsch leather interior as standard, anyone? I wish.
The cars – 9-4x
Whispers have come through on the wires that Saab’s diesel problems will likely mean a US-only launch of the 9-4x at first. The European market needs a diesel and whilst Saab are probably chasing one down as we speak, there’s no quick fix when it comes down to matching it with a pre-existing vehicle.
Will it premiere at a US auto show in the coming season? That’s the other big question.
The cars – a new Saab 9-3
Spies whisper that work is coming along nicely on the car, which has now progressed so far that it’s earned its own internal nickname. I won’t spill the beans on what it is, but interestingly, there’s a similarly named project that involves windfarms, which should make Maud happy.
You are now up to date.

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