I spoke with GM spokesman Jim Cain minutes ago and asked him what the statement from this morning boils down to.
“It’s about a change of control in ownership. When Saab was sold to Spyker, we wrote technology licenses, supply agreements and other things and those were based on a relationship with a business plan and our understanding of their strategy and how they were going to be deploying intellectual property and the science of a building a vehicle that we’ve developed over decades of time.”
Clearly GM has a very simple view on this. This has never been about any ill will towards Saab, it’s been all about securing their own intellectual property. Licensing it to Saab and Spyker (now SWAN) is one scenario in itself, agreeing to the same with a very large Chinese conglomerate intent on copying and selling as many examples as possible of it is another.
“As you can see in our statement, the issue of supplying components and power train and other things to Saab is something we’d be open to continuing under the right conditions, but when you talk about the 9-4X and the technology licenses, that is something we have to manage so carefully because it potentially impacts us in markets all over the world. We need to be able to control our own technology in order to be successful for the long term.”
Asked whether or not other deals would be impacted by this same logic, it’s clear that GM is not shutting any doors. They were fine with Saab as an independent automaker and they are clearly okay with that going forward so long as certain conditions and ownership are met.
“It’s a decision that we’ve made and wanted to be as clear as we possibly we could. How that impacts the way things develop from this day forward is something that Saab and Pang Da and Youngman have to discuss. Our piece has always been related to our role as a supplier and as a technology licensor.”
This chess game has many more rounds to play out, and this is definitely not the end of Saab. We’ll know more soon, ahead of most other media outlets as usual.