Saab sale/saga FAQ

Someone mentioned this idea in comments and I thought it was a good one, so here’s a quick reference you can use if you’re looking to explain an aspect of Saab’s situation to someone.
This is not an official FAQ, of course, but hopefully it should give a pretty decent idea as to what’s going on.
The post will grow as I add more FAQ’s and then publish.
Did Saab go bankrupt this year?
Saab Automobile voluntarily entered a Swedish process similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, whereby they were protected from creditors claims whilst they reorganised their business. This process lasted six months and Saab are no longer participating in that process.
Has Saab been sold to a Chinese company?
No, they haven’t. Saab recently sold a combination of IP and tooling for older Saab 9-3 and 9-5 vehicles to Beijing automotive. Saab will also supply engineers to Beijing on a continuous basis to help them implement the technology they’ve bought. The transaction gives them a cash injection now, as well as the start of a relationship in the biggest automotive market in the world.
What’s going to happen to my warranty if Saab are sold from GM?
General Motors are legally bound to honor the warranties of vehicles they sell. This will continue after Saab are sold. The mechanics of how that will work are as-yet unknown, but your vehicle will still be covered by warranty. Same if Saab isn’t sold, but are liquidated instead.
What, they could be liquidated? When?
It’s possible. General Motors has set a date of December 31, 2009, by which time they will make a decision to either sell Saab or begin “an orderly wind down” of the operations.
So Saab have to have a new owner before January 1, 2010?
Not necessarily a new owner, but GM have promised that they will make a decision by that time. If GM decide to sell Saab then they will keep Saab operational until that sale can be closed. If GM decide that a sale is not possible, they will begin wind-down at the start of 2010.
What about parts?
Like warranties, GM are legally obliged to continue parts supply for a certain period of time after a car is made (seven years, perhaps?).
So why are GM selling Saab?
GM made a decision to either sell or close four car brands when they received a taxpayer bailout from the US government earlier this year. Saab were one of those brands, along with Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer.
Many people consider that Saab is not profitable and rarely have been under GM’s ownership. They use that as the reason GM are selling Saab.
Is this true? Have Saab been a perpetual loss maker for GM?
With an organisation like GM, it’s very difficult to tell which brands have been profitable because of corporate accounting practices. There are years when Saab definitely would have made a loss, but the popular claim that Saab have been profitable only once under GM’s ownership seem a bit much.
With GM owning so many brands in so many places, it’s possible for them to employ some tricky accounting practices that shift losses from one place to another. With Sweden’s costly tax system, it’s not difficult to see the motive for presenting Saab with a loss each year.
Saab had one of its best sales years back in 2007, selling around 130,000 cars. It’s hard to see them not being profitable at that sales rate.
So who’s going to buy Saab?
The current favourite is a group called Spyker. This group comprises the Spycar car company themselves, along with the Convers Bank (who are major shareholders in Spyker). Spyker are a Dutch car company that make exotic sports cars. Convers Bank is a financial group owned by a Russian family, the Antonovs.
Weren’t they being sold to another exotic carmaker?
GM were originally negotiating with the Koenigsegg Group, based around the carmaker Koenigsegg, who make $1mil-plus supercars at their base in Angelholm, Sweden.
The Koenigsegg Group pulled out of the transaction on November 24, citing timing issues as the reason for their withdrawal. Basically, they set themselves some goals and all the parties involved couldn’t meet those goals in a timely manner.
If a big company like GM couldn’t afford to keep Saab, how will they survive on their own?
GM never really invested in Saab or developed their model range in the manner they should have, that’s why they never saw great financial returns from Saab.
Saab have a business plan that’s been developed this year, has been reviewed by the European Investment Bank and the Swedish National Debt Office, as well as accounting firm KPMG. All have said that it is viable, though not without risk (every business involves risk).
That plan involves new models in the next 12-18 months, as well as a plan to develop new models in partnership with various contractors and companies. Whilst GM offered cheaper parts due to bulk purchasing, those parts didn’t help Saab like they helped a volume car like a basic Chevrolet. Saab will now be free to negotiate designs with contractors of their choice, as well as determine price.
What are the new models?
Saab released the new Saab 9-3x, a rugged styled version of it’s 9-3 wagon, earlier this year.
Coming soon is the Saab 9-5 saloon, an all new large flagship vehicle. Following that will be the 9-5 wagon and the Saab 9-4x SUV.
Will these all be built in Sweden?
Part of Saab’s business plan involves increasing production in Sweden. The Saab 9-3 convertible will be built in Trollhattan, having been built by Magna Steyr in Austria for the last few years. The new Saab 9-5 was going to be built in Germany, but tooling is being installed in Trollhattan for this vehicle, too.
The Saab 9-4x will be built by General Motors under contract at their Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico, alongside the sister vehicle, the Cadillac SRX.
Will they be designed in Sweden?
Saab have moved their design facility from the GM Europe Design Center in Russelsheim, Germany, back to Sweden.

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