Who Are Mahindra?

As we are all puzzled by the latest news on the Youngman bid and confused by what to and not to believe, now seems like a great time to look at another player and their bid for Saab. Mahindra & Mahindra have been the quiet seeker of Saab and we’ll take a moment to look into who they are.

You have to look no further then their website to find out where they came from. They talk about how Mahindra and an independent India began their rise together. In 1945 two brothers, J.C. and K.C. Mahindra joined forces with Ghulam Mohammed and started the Mahindra and Mohammed steel company in Mumbai. Two years later the Mahindra brothers decided to manufacture Willy’s jeeps in Mumbai when India got their independence and Ghulam Mohammed left and they became Mahindra and Mahindra.

When you do some digging, you come across many companies and many different areas where Mahindra has a presence. It is eye opening to say the least to see just how many areas they are involved in.

Systech is a part of the Mahindra Group and is one that catches my attention for many reasons. Their website says “Come Innovate and Create” and “one stop shop -art to part- design to delivery” all things that get me thinking and excited because that is the way to produce so that you don’t have to worry about supplier issues because you are your supplier. This is the kind of thinking that would solve a lot of issues that Saab has seen and with the Sytech model of design to delivery if put in place at Saab, you could see a self sufficient company.

In 2011 Ssangyoung Motor Company joined Mahindra & Mahindra. This South Korean company has a presence in more than 90 countries and employs more than 4,800 people. The company is said to be focused on strengthening their global presence by producing environmentally friendly engines and have plans to strengthen their global distribution network in the next few years. Ssangyoung has a number of vehicles offered including the Korando which is a contraction of “Korea can do”.

You can check their website for more of their offerings. Personally, I quite like the look of the Korando.




Automotive companies of Mahindra include:

Mahindra Auto January sales numbers look great too. Auto numbers are up 22% from 36718 January 2011 to 44717 January 2012. YTD for 2011 was 348,440 in automotive sales 156,547 in passenger vehicles alone.

Mahindra is involved in aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, components, construction equipment, consulting, defense, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail and bikes and scooters and is a company that is always moving forward and looking at ways to be better.

Below is community initiatives from Wikipedia on Mahindra:

The Mahindra Group is extensively involved in philanthropy and volunteering. It is considered an active participant in the Indian Corporate Social Responsibility field and received the Pegasus Award for CSR in 2007.[13] Mahindra engages in philanthropy primarily through the KC Mahindra Trust, which serves as the CSR arm of the group (although many subsidiaries have their own CSR initiatives, notably Tech Mahindra and Mahindra Satyam).[14] Founded in 1953 by K.C Mahindra, the trust focuses primarily on fostering literacy in India and promoting higher learning through grants and scholarships.[15] Mahindra operates several vocational schools as well as the Mahindra United World College.[16] The KC Mahindra Trust’s primary project however is Project Nanhi Kali, which targets the education of young Indiangirls.[17] The foundation currently supports the education of approximately 51000 underprivileged girls.[18] Other initiatives include Mahindra Hariyali (a 1 million tree planting campaign)[17] as well as sponsorship of the Lifeline Express, a mobile hospital train. Mahindra employees also plan and lead their own service projects through Mahindra’s Employee Social Options Plans. In 2009, more than 35,000 employees participated. [19]

The Mahindra Group was responsible for the creation of Mahindra United World College, a UWC campus located in Pune.

Mahindra also supports the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards to recognize Indian theater talent, the Mahindra Indo-American Film Festival, and the Mahindra Lucknow Festival. In 2011, it held the first annual Mahindra Blues Festival with guests like Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, and Shemekia Copeland.[20] Mahindra also partners with the NBA and Celtic Football Club to bring grassroots basketball and soccer to India.[21]

In 2011 Mahindra had revenues of 14.5 billion US and a work force of 144,000 worldwide and were listed as #21 in a list of top companies of India in Fortune India 500 in 2011. I’m sure there is so much more to write about Mahindra and the companies they own and I would if I had the time. From what I have found in my searches of this company, I would say it is easy to see that they would be a great fit for Saab as they understand the industry and the people. I am not endorsing anyone because none of us no how this will look in the end, but I will say that I like what I see and hear from Mahindra and I have provided a lot of different links in this post for you to check things for yourselves.

If in the end Mahindra is the winner, I will not be sad, I will be excited to see what they bring and how they let Saab be Saab.

120 thoughts on “Who Are Mahindra?”

  1. Take that SUV in the picture, put in the interior from the 9-3, call it either 9-4X or 9-2X (recycled names, I know), turbocharge it, and you could have a major world player.

  2. Bring on Mahindra & Mahindra! They are fast becoming my preferred acquirer providing of course Saab is kept as a whole with production in Trollhattan. My concerns are the reports of Mahindra’s interest has purely being pieces of Saab not whole.
    Otherwise they would be a great fit. (Tata as an example)

  3. Tata has handled Jaguar and Land Rover really well. They have deep pockets and bought two icons. Tata’s secret is very simple, let Jaguar and Land Rover run themselves just approve the production cars and write the checks. Geely is doing the exact same thing with Volvo. Mahindra would pursue a very similar if not identical strategy.

    Like for example: http://www.leftlanenews.com/jaguar-land-rover-to-form-joint-venture-with-chinas-chery.html

    Tata Motors and Geely will oversee JLR and Volvo and help with the decision process, but will not interfere in day to day operations. Mahindra is the best fit for SAAB…Period!

  4. I’ve been a proponent for Mahindra since before it was even rumored that they have an interest or they will put a bid in. I know that Mahnidra had two vehicles approved by the U.S. EPA a couple years ago—to sell stateside. There were problems with their distributuion deal and the plan fell apart. I’ve always felt that if Mahindra could have come to the party sooner, they would have caputured the entire U.S. Saab dealer network to sell their own vehicles side by side with Saabs (the 9-3 at least). From a global perspective, Mahindra really makes a lot of sense as a new owner for Saab cars. I’ve been ridiculed here for suggesting that they could rebrand one of the Ssangyoung vehicles as a Saab—-I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees that possibility.

  5. I’m not sure about rebranding. The automotive press would have a field day. Remember they called the 9-2x a Saabaru.
    Should be avoided. Who will win out?- “The last shall be first and the first shall be last”-Matthew 20:16.

    • In today’s economic climate—-and the realities of this situation—–it might not be able to be avoided. Didn’t Honda rebrand an Izusu when they felt they needed a sport-ute quickly? And at that point, they were dealing from a position of strength.

      • Tiley: Maybe, but they managed to sell them and make some money on them, in the U.S. at least. They needed to fill the sport-ute niche in their line-up quickly to attract some buyers to a hot genre—-and didn’t have a whole lot of options to bring something to market quickly. That was a decent truck to begin with—-and I think Saab did an admirable job in tuning the ride and especially with the styling, inside and out. It was the best they can do, on time and on budget. As Saab fans, I think we might have to get used to the fact that we’ll need a volume leader to make some money—-to support the “genuine” Saabs that are at a higher price point—that many of us want a chance to own.

  6. There’s no question, looking at this information, that they have the expertise to aquire and run a company like Saab. If they are truly serious it could be a great thing. They’ve been much quieter in the bidding process, which is probably wise. I hope they are in fact as interested as has been suggested.

  7. Any badge engineering for Saab would be a disaster. The Gm900 problem was bad enough, and that was at least a western manufactured car.

    • If the alternative is termination of Saab, I’m all for the rebranding, at least as a stop-gap measure. Beggars can’t be choosers. By the way—–I recently bought a used Kia minivan as a weekend hauler and a beater vehicle to go to my weekend cottage—-let me tell you, it is competitive with what Ford is doing with fit and finish—-driving, features, etc. It blows away the current GM products. I went to the DC auto show and saw what is coming out of Korea—–better than the Chevrolet booth by a mile—-more like Buick as far as the GM family goes—-and that includes the cheapies in their lines.

      • The first car I bought was a new 2001 Kia Sephia. It most certainly was a no-frills car: crank windows, manual locks, tape player, not cd. It did have ac. But it looked kind of nice for its time (and my budget). It was a very serviceable car. It never had any mechanical troubles at all–not one–even when I traded it in for a Saab in 2010. The sheet metal was very thin, though, and the doors, especially, were prone to denting. Every other Sephia I’ve seen on the roads seem to have the same trouble. It was also quite light and I started to be worried about how safe it was since I needed to drive more. Assuming Kia has improved the body strength on their vehicles but maintained the reliable inner workings, they are not bad cars. Nothing like a Saab, of course.

      • There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the cars – hell, I had (and loved) an early 90s Proton for a while, and that was badass, in a “this is a piece of sh*t, but at least it’s hilarious” kind of way – but if Saab ever hope to position their brand alongside the likes of VW, never mind Mercedes, selling Saab badged Ssangyong’s would be the death of that hope. Doing that WOULD mean the termination of Saab.

        Saab needs to remain European designed if there’s any hope of holding on to what little strength they have left. BUild them somewhere else if they must (there’s no fighting this long-term, so might as well go to India or China now..), but make sure the car is a Saab first and foremost.

  8. Having worked in India for many years I see a clear advantage of Indian ownership for Saab rather than chinese.
    1. Rule of Law. India has a Legal system that was left by the British, that makes it easy to do Business. A business partner you can trust.
    2. Indian companies are well funded, and they don’t tend to borrow money to put them self at risk.
    3. Indians tend to move slower, Discuss things from all angles before making descissions, compared to Chinese that moves on gut instinct and opportunity.
    4. language is English.
    5. Non-government interference like NDRC
    6. India is the largest democracy in the world.

    • No doubt about those advantages. If they have the will to do this, they can. I hope the receivers are looking at it objectively, without being influnced by people who shouldn’t be in the process.

  9. Jason: Very nice piece, I would be very happy if Mahindra ends up owning Saab production, and I will tell you why:
    1. GM will not fight as hard here as the Chinese bids.
    2. Jaguar has shown India cars can work in the US.
    3. This company has addtional veicles to move into the lost 9-4-9-5 situation.
    4. They need a N.A. dealership chain to sell cars in N. A.
    5. They have more capital than the Turks
    6. They have the size to withstand a couple of red years.
    7. Because of recent events, and the political situation, Indian cars will be better accepted in N.A., than Chinese.

    Anyone who thinks Saab will be only manufactured in Sweden by Swedes in the future, is living in a dream world from which they will never wake. This is the best deal that we can hope for, and I for one, will take it. Chris Hansel; 3, 9-3’s, one 900, one 9-7X, and one very great 9-5 from 2002.

    • Your last paragraph nails it. I read most of the posts, especially on weekends, when I have the time—-and I’m amazed at how many people want Saab to survive, but are putting conditions on it that are simply impossible—-no way it can happen. No rebranding, ever, for any reason? Nothing manufactured except for in the factory that is currently shut down? Ideally, sure. But we’re in a war right now—-quick decisions and emergency measures are needed to win a war, or at least avoid losing it. Things can be re-evaluated later. For people who say, “If that’s what they need to do to survive, then let them disappear, let them go into history.” NO, IF THAT IS YOUR OPINION, YOU AREN’T NEEDED IN THE EFFORT! You can always admire what Saab did for any period of their history, without taking them away from the rest of us—-who might be very open to Swedish engineering on a platform in existence in Korea, or China.

      • I’m fine with selling rebadged cars in, say, China or India – that won’t damage the established brand in other territories. I’d be very cautious anywhere else. As much as it’s backs against the wall now, you still have to consider the future.

  10. Thanks Jason.
    Good writing. I think Mahindra & Mahindra has the power to get Saab on the right track. Both can anticipitate from each other. But Saab would become the key development centre for automotive inside the group.

  11. Let’s be serious here, the Ssangyong Kyron SUV is still a second-rate offering, Ssangyong had their moments of brilliance, but their development mostly relied on borrowed talent from Daimler. No Saab Korando please.

    That said, on the shoestring budget they had over the years, they have managed to develop some rather impressive skills for a company of that size. What is important is that they have become a sort-of premium automaker in the Korean market, which could ease the entry of Saab as the preferred premium car brand in the relatively closed (and relatively large) market of South Korea. Rather than the Korando, admire the new Ssangyong Chairman W (yes, it’s the legendary Mercedes W124 underneath):


    Now, the question is whether Mahindra are really interested. The first account of their interest was one by the least trustworthy person in the entire Saab affair, and for now they have been very quiet about anything Saab-related. They might be investigating the Saab opportunity, as rumor has it, but will they end up placing a bid? Will they see Saab as as good an opportunity for themselves, as we see Mahindra for Saab.

    PS. If the Swedish authorities had any balls and initiative, they’d put Youngman, Mahindra and the other interested parties at one table and have them try to found a joint-venture based on Saab’s technical abilities and brand. Youngman desperately needs car-making expertise and technology, and Mahindra could use Chinese sales. BAIC already uses Saab technology, and there is much talk about consolidation of the Chinese car inudstry. Brightwell could be OK taking some risk and profiting from an investment in a selected part of the venture, like eAAM hybrid systems…

    • That is not really what Volvo said. You have a way of twisting statements, Nick…

      Volvo are cautious to appear as vultures, but what they have confirmed is that they are waiting in the wings IF the receviers would decide to split up the assets and sell pieces separately. If this is indeed the case, then Volvo is an interested bidder for the development facilities (in competition with Semcon it seems).

      Very understandable position I would say. Any car manufacturer within an hour’s drive from a bankrupt competitor would be interested in top development facilities at knockdown prices…

      • You little Bagdad Bob!! You said exactly what I said!! Some people here need to wake up and see what is happening. There will not be any more SAAB cars produced!!!
        SAAB will be sold in pieces!
        I said it directly after the receivers had there latest pressconference where everyone said oh they didn’t say anything! I said directly that they are preparing and planting that SAAB will be sold in pieces. I also would like SAAB to make it but it’s unfortantly not going to happen. 🙁

        • Yes, if the receivers want a calculated maximum price for every piece separately, how on earth is anyone going to be able to buy the whole lot?
          What are all the liabilities at this point? If someone would offer straight up what the company owes plus the lawyers fees, shouldn’t that be enough to make the deal?
          Obviously no lowball offers are going to be accepted. Bidders playing games at this point will only make it worse/end in tears.

        • I left you writing “saab is dead”. Now you’re here again with “there will not be any more saab cars produced”.
          You have a strange way to show support to saab, Nick.
          It is a fact that there are bidders offering to buy saab and start production, and that the final decision is not made.
          But you still prefer to talk about saab dead.

          • Has he been planted by GM? I’m trying to be optimistic and at the same time, realistic. I think the odds of a Saab branded car rolling off an assembly line again—is about 50/50, even odds if you will. If a Saab car rolls off the line again to be sold—-will it sell in the U.S. and other markets where the previous Saabs did? Again, 50/50, I simply don’t know. I think there is a chance that the new owner, if there is one, will export to North America again—-and just as good a chance that they won’t—the focus will be a home market or somewhere else. I’ve been following this as closely as I could, obviously from a great distance—-and for the life of me, I haven’t seen anything that paints a definitive picture that “SAAB IS DEAD.” On the contrary, I think there are several well funded entities with real interest in buying this company as a whole and manufacturing Saabs again, in Sweden and elsewhere, and selling them wherever there is a profit to be made. I have no idea if their offers will be strong enough—-or if their business plan will be good enough—-and neither does the “Saab is dead” crowd. Here’s the thing: I can see why people who are trying to be optimistic—-hoping for a new Saab car—speculate on the good things that can happen, the “glass half full” scenario that would put Saab back in business, saving thousands of jobs and keeping a great vehicle option on the market for us. What I guess I don’t understand—-and definitely don’t appreciate—-are the nags who have the same information and seem to be praying for a complete collapse of the brand so it never comes back. I guess my confusion is that these people have a right to shy away from the brand—-never buy one—–never look at one—-ignore us and ignore Saab. But what are they gaining by seeing Saab die? They seem to want it so badly, they’re speculating on the glass half empty disasters that will close Saab forever—-and they can’t wait for that to happen. I don’t get it.

            • +!

              And, why come to a Saab appreciation site and spew their negativity?

              Like you, I’m a realist, it’s very touch and go that Saab will rise again and our favourite cars will once again roll of the production line, but, as no-one knows what is going to happen why be negative? Let’s just sit back and watch the drama unfold and keep our fingers crossed and hope. 🙂

            • I think you can say that Saab is surely dead in some (maybe even many) of its past and present markets even if there is new production. The question in my mind, if there is new production, is where will the new markets be? How many of the old markets will be part of the new markets? For me as an American, I see the Saab American market is probably dead unless a buyer really has other products they have wanted to get to the American market but haven’t been able to. The only potential buyer I see in that group is Mahindra.

    • I’m confirming right now, that I want to buy Saab and I’m willing to spend $100,000 cash (a hundred thousand smackaroos) to buy Saab. I want all debt forgiven though. I will partner with Suzuki or Kia, possibly even Ford or FIAT/Chrysler (Don’t worry, I’ll talk one of them into it as soon as I get control.). So there, I’m expressing definite interest. I’ve confirmed, same as Volvo “confirmed” their interest. Hurray for me.

  12. Based on what the company has to offer, knowledge of Automotive industry and financial strength Mahindra is without doubt the preferred buyer in my books.

    The only caveat is that we don’t really know exactly what they want to do with the Saab assets. In today’s SvD Jonas Froberg writes that they just want a European production hub, something that I find a bit odd. I would imagine that Mahindra of all bidding companies should be very well placed to appreciate the value of Saabs development facilities and the PhoeniX platform, not only production.


  13. i too think the Ssangyong korando is pretty good looking for about A$29,000 driveaway, farmers appear to like their robust qualities, Ssangyong have good dealer coverage here in Australia which Saab do not have…..

    • From what I’ve read, the Ssangyong vehicles are indeed “robust” and capable. Good warranty too? It’s easy to ridicule something you have no first hand knowledge about, have never seen in person, have never driven and have only heard of sporadically, by reading blurbs in the automotive press. In the case of saving Saab, I have a very open mind. Global platform sharing is a reality.

    • I never had the impression that farmers represented a big market for SAAB. Are you suggesting that the farmers market (no pun intended) is an untapped source of sales that SAAB ignored to its own detriment?

      • Maybe not the farmers, but definitely the “farmers market” crowd. Robust qualities favored by farmers frequently make a vehicle good- look at Subaru and Land Rover.

      • Actually, the specter of college campuses full of SAAB pickup truck driving professors is an interesting one – especially if they were to replace their walnut pipes with the corn cob variant.

    • The problem with Ssangyong in Australia is that besides the farmers no a lot of city dwellers (majority of our 24,000,000 population) would consider them. No yet anyway, they have a long way to go before they crack the market in Australa again. Let’s face it, the only attractive car on offer is the Korando. The other are simply butt ugly!

  14. I don’t know if Nick is necessarily a “plant” or not, I think he is just a typical American naysayer. His comments have been very pro-Opel rebadging Saabs, there have been a number of Fox News style comments (“You little Baghdad Bob”,) and a generally dark attitude. We have a great number of people like this is in the US. They are the same people that have great faith in their country and follow their leaders with great gusto, believing everything they hear and never questioning or standing up to be heard. They constantly look at the negative and prepare for the worst rather than looking for the best. In this election year these people are in steady supply. It is why nothing ever gets accomplished in America anymore and the country is less and less relevant.

    • Jason: In fairness, the naysayers around the internet come from everywhere, including Sweden. I think that generalizing about Americans is as bad as what you are accusing Americans of doing regarding their attitude toward Saab. If things aren’t getting accomplished in America anymore, it’s because of the division between people—-and America doesn’t have the unicultural societies of most other nations on Earth—-we’re a melting pot and sometimes pots can boil over. As far as being relevant—-I honestly don’t care about being relevant—-I think we should worry less about that and worry more about solving our own problems, of which there are many. If we can do that, the “relevant” factor will take care of itself, if it matters. The disgust I have with America/Americans right now centers around General Motors part in this debacle that is going on with Saab. That is embarassing.

  15. Let’s all try to stay on topic here and talk about the post and not the commentators. As far as the Korando and for that matter all the other cars that are available to Mahindra through their companies, I would not suggest simple re-badges to make them Saab’s. What I think would be a good plan to offset the expense of the Saab purchase and build up to an all new line of Saab’s is to offer another brand for sale through the dealer network. What this would do is increase revenues for the parent company and dealers alike. Last year their exports were up by I believe 95% which sounds huge, but exports have not been a big part of their business and 95% accounts for about 3500 vehicles. That being said, they have huge potential for exports and having a company like Saab could only make this better. Most dealers would welcome another line of vehicles and if they are a cheaper vehicle they could even help with Saab sales because you would have more traffic in the showrooms.

    • Yes—-even if the vehicles aren’t rebranded as Saabs—-they can be sold in the same showrooms and you are right, more traffic will build more Saab sales in the future. That’s why I’m so hopeful about an entry level Saab—-but I suppose another brand in the showroom—-an affiliated brand—-will create the same outcome. For pick-up trucks or crude off roaders, I wouldn’t be comfortable with the Saab badge. But maybe with a nicer small sport-ute, with the right modifications—-a different character—-that could work if it is branded as a Saab.

      • Mahindra is rumored to have licensed its small diesel trucks to Navistar and Navistar will be making them in Alabama in a plant that is literally one mile long. How much of this plant is being leased my Navistar is not certain. But it appears it will be substantial production. navistar’s lease began in January 0f 2012. Neither Navistar or Mahindra have a dealership network in the US (Mahindra not at all and Navistar only for large commercial trucks). So the Saab network in the US would be tailor made to get Navistar or Mahindra up and running. And these small diesel pick-ups would have no competition to speak of in the US. Throw in some Korean cars as well and dealers would have a smorgasbord of vehicles to sell.

        • yes, with any luck, they’d have the 9-3 to sell and in due time, the PhoeniX. The dealer network is dissolving like sugar in water—-I’ve said that before—-and we need an outcome very quickly. I understand patience and the need for “due dillegence” but if it goes much longer without a positive outcome—-the negative outcome we fear will be a given. I think these dealers will find a way to keep their doors open if they get the news that new models are coming. But if it stays “undecided” the dealers will go away quickly. It’s one of those situations where if the receivers don’t make a decision—-they are in fact, deciding. It’s very frustrating to watch.

          • And to clarify my own comments—-I don’t mean that the receivers have anything to decide on at the moment—they are waiting for bids—-but once a couple bids are in…

    • I suspect that a lot of the remaining dealers after the dust settles will already be GM co-branded, since GM is requiring that the remaining Saab warranty service be performed at one of their locations. This puts customers in the difficult position of potentially having to go to a different dealer than they bought their car from. But, my main point in writing is to note that having the same parent as a Korean or any other brand could certainly help Saab in terms of parts, esp. if the current parts manufacturers can’t or won’t resume delivery, at least for a time. My 2011 9-3 was built in Sweden, of course, but the sale sticker noted that a plurality of the parts are German, I think, and there are Japanese parts and Swedish, and more. Since every Saab is already an international car, I don’t think it much matters where the door handles or rear-view mirrors are made, so long as they match Saab quality. And if they can be acquired without trouble and extra expense, it’s probably helpful, assuming the current suppliers are not able or willing to continue with Saab.

      • I don’t think you’ll find many of the remaining Saab dealers being GM co-branded, at least not in North America, unless they already were. GM is not handing out franchises to dealers, as part of their restructuring with their bailout was letting a number of dealers go and terminating their agreements. GM will try to make you take your Saab to one of their stores for warranty work yes, but in many cases, the GM store will not be able to do it and the work will in the end be sublet to a Saab dealer. Once warranty is done though or if you have extended warranty, you can take it where ever you want.

        • I can only speak to the situation I have seen, of course. In Massachusetts there are, I think, 12 Saab dealers! Few are stand alone or do not include GM in some way. The exception was Shaw Saab which just closed. Saab of Norwood is co-branded with Cadillac, and is owned by the Village group, same as Charles River Saab. 128 Volvo/Saab is by far dominated by Volvo. Saab of Hyannis is co-branded with GM lines. Herb Chambers Saab is alone, but part of a very large dealer structure. What they will do if Saab really ends is unknown, but for other late GM brands they have authorized service centers (the former Shaw Saab may become one after it open as a new Herb Chambers Lexus dealer). Village Saab in Acton also includes Subaru in its network. Long Saab is mostly Cadillac. Patrick Saab is also VW, and includes a Subaru dealer in its network. Woodworth Saab in Andover is also Cadillac and Chevy. Pioneer Valley Saab is also Volvo. Fathers & Sons includes several other brands, none are GM.

          So, of the 12, the only completely independent is now closed; 4 are GM-co branded; 2 are alone, but part of larger networks that include GM brands; 2 are Volvo co-branded; 3 are part of small non GM networks. Over half of the living dealers have some relation to GM.

          In my other state, Minnesota, there are just two dealers: Morries Cadillac Saab and Schmelz VW Saab.

          I guess my point is just that a plurality of dealers seem to be GM co-branded (at least in my sphere) and most of the others are co-branded with someone else, or already part of large networks. The few independent dealers who might take on a new brand may not be around long enough to see the introduction of a new Korean brand.

          • I think there are some bylaws of the Commonwealth of Massachusets that stipulate that every car in the Commonwealth has to be sold by Herb Chambers, other dealers only use loopholes… Back in 1995, my 900 SE was sold by Herb Chambers Saab, I still proudly possess all the documents 🙂

            PS. Schmelz VW? Really? Are there no Yentas in Minnesota to tell him?

      • There seems to be some confusion regarding where warranty work on gm-era cars needs to be performed. My dealer said that the warranty work would be performed at their dealership but they would have to process the claims through a GM dealer. To quote them “this is our problem”

    • Jason, I think they could compliment each other very well.
      As I’ve said numerous times, the Independent Saab’s biggest problem from the start was the lack of a wide enough product or engine range. In fact if the new owner has pockets deep enough (which they must) the first thing they should consider is to get the Saab diesels approved in N.A.
      I’m pretty sure they still outperform everybody in the consumption to hp ratio and the 9-3 TTiD with a bit of advertising could become an unexpected hit in the U.S.

      But first, Mahdindra needs to rename Ssangyoung for the Western markets. I still don’t know how to pronounce it and you can’t sell anything without a “marketable” name.

      • RS: Completely agree—-a new name, easier to pronounce, easier to remember, is a must. Though I’ve got to tell you—-originally, Hyundai wasn’t off to a good start in the U.S.—-it wasn’t only their products (which were lousy) but also the name. They had to keep reminding people “Rhymes with Sunday.” They made it. They definitely made it!

  16. It seems to be a bit unclear whether the administrators are willing to sell Saab as a whole entity at all – just because of money ? Nor do I understand whether one needs an approval from GM for this step again. But it would fit into the whole picture. 🙁
    Besides there exists somebody on this planet who could collect the parts of the puzzle, add the missing parts and is willing to produce Saab cars again.
    It´s not easy to watch this bazaar …

    • Good questions, if we take what the administrators themselves have said in the media at face value, they want to sell Saab as a whole. Personally I don’t know what to read into the statements by an unnamed source because they could be upset at how the bid was received and figured the best way to be heard was to look for public sympathy….. It’s been done before. I think until the administrators come out and say something directly, we have to take them at face value. IMO

  17. While I can see GM has status as a bond holder and has a say over specifically licensed technologies, I don’t see how it has any sort of veto power over a deal. They may decide to not license, but I think there are other people owed money, and the liquidators only have the responsibility to get the greatest value for the creditor. That is it. There is negotiation, the creditors may agree to take 10 cents on the dollar up front and 80 cents in a deferred bond of some sort… so I would HOPE the bidders are smart enough to stretch out payments to the creditors…for example…they get to bid on new business on a lowest cost bid…and if they win they will get 10% a year additionally towards the accrued debt, plus be paid 2% interest on the outstanding balance.

  18. But Brightwell Holdings haven’t given up: http://ttela.se/ekonomi/saab/1.1517045-brightwell-vi-forhandlar-med-gm-

    Basicly they want a “ideal sittuation” from GM which means to have 9-5 and 9-4X set for production here in Trollhättan and also more employees, depending on how the deal will end up. But if that’s not possible, it means a set back for xx months. And latley Brightwell Holdings have negotiated with GM over there and Mr. Zamier Ahmed is “more than happy” with the negotiations. And yes, they want to buy entire company in one piece and have it here in Trollhättan, because everything is ready for re-start. It will be interessting how Mahindra and especially Youngman will respond on this! As I said before, this is now bidding-war and it sure isn’t over.

  19. I find it funny how many Saab owners think sometimes. Always attaching stipulations to an interested party, oftentimes hiding behind the banner of “feeling bad” for Trollhattan, and wanting them to have something to produce for their livelihoods, and betterment of the local economy. Yet on the same token, if Saab is broken up and sold piece by piece and production of something (lets say windmills), presumes in Trollhattan, people are upset because it isn’t a Saab.

    Is this about people, or about our own selfish motivations? No wonder many people on different auto websites simply are not sympathetic to Saab and don’t like Saab owners.

    I feel sometimes that the Saab community itself is responsible for chasing away bidders, simply because of the amount of pressure and spotlight we place on such a delicate process. And sometimes, we chased away bidders or endorsed bidders in an attempt to “turn the tide” or convince ourselves that this is the better outcome.

    Remember Renco? I bet more than half of you would accept them as a buyer now, instead of what we are witnessing.

    So what I am saying is maybe we should stop playing armchair quarterback and just play the game however the chips may fall. At this point, a martian company could come and buy Saab for all I care. I don’t care if Fox news, Dick Cheney, and Day’s Inn decide to buy Saab. In the end, whomever can make this business work, makes it work. The poor 5 or so bidders need some room to breath!

      • David,
        The point of my post was to illustrate the “keep calm and carry on” term (to me its “sit down and shut up”:) ), and how the Saab community at times have simply been wrong, by endorsing (time and time again) one or two buyers, instead of looking at the grand scheme of things (as Jason has done here), plus the overall attitude of people that come here is pretty astonishing. I remember just 2 years ago people were screaming on these very same boards how they would never buy a “Chinese” owned Saab for “Civil rights abuses”, yet had no problem buying an American owned Saab (and we all know very well America’s civil rights abuses). And on the same note, are the same people advertising for Youngman to buy Saab!

        Funny how people’s attitudes change by perception huh?

        In the real world, calling a company “The Chinese”, or “The Turks” at work, is unprofessional and inappropriate. “The Chinese” have a name. The stigma in the automotive world that “the Chinese” are bad news and such, is just as wrong as saying GM is bad news. Both have done things just as wrong as the other, when it comes to vehicle rebrandings and such! GM just does it in-house.

        Another, is the fact that people here are convinced that having all production in Trollhattan is viable, when in all actuality, it simply isnt an option in the long term. Another commentator put it well: “Anyone who thinks Saab will be only manufactured in Sweden by Swedes in the future, is living in a dream world from which they will never wake.”

        Instead of attaching stipulations to a sale, just sit back, see who buys the lot, THEN we can get all rallied up with what we want, because guess what? The power will be back in the hands of the consumer.


        • Ronnie, you are simply being wrong about the economical viability of production in Sweden. The labour cost argument has become invalid, when labour costs in China have now exceeded the comparative costs in some Eastern European countries. The world is simply running out of cheap labour. And labour rarely comes really cheap when it comes to advanced products – the experts on the Chinese automotive industry say that you can get workers for the assembly line on the cheap, but you need to increase the usual amount of quality controls and still be prepared to handle either rework, significant warranty costs or simply much lower quality (the Chinese domestic manufacturers usually gravitate towards the third option).

          Moreover, labour costs are only 10% of a modern car’s costs. The more important cost and quality factor are components – and Europe is where you can get high-quality componentry made for premium automobiles the easiest. Most of what is being made in the Americas or Asia suits larger vehicles better, so it is not appropriate for Saab.

          Of course, one can consider moving the Saab factory to Eastern Europe, but what for? The costs of building a factory, training workers and keeping it a going concern capable of putting out consistently high-quality product is rather high. This is why Saab is so valuable right now, not because of the facilities or individual people, but because of the way they work together.

          If it was all so easy, we’d all be driving Chinese-made cars by now, as the companies would have moved factories to China when labour was still cheap there. For now, it’s only the Honda Fit/Jazz. So there must be some other factors.

          • But I do think that China is still relatively new at car production—-as compared to most other countries that manufacture. Their quality control will improve, along with efficiency. Of course, their labor rate will climb too—-but probably still stay well south of the U.S. or Europe or Japan, for many years. Apple Computer products are made in China and are considered very high quality. Not long ago—-the highest end computer products wouldn’t have come from China either. My purpose isn’t to shill for China—-as an American, I recognize that my own nation’s economy has been damaged by China’s success—I also recognize that consumers enjoy getting lower priced products that serve their purposes, so they buy, regardless of where the products originate. I guess my point is that if production of Saabs begins in China or India—-I would not assume that the cars will be inferior. Korean cars used to have that image—but are now very competitive. I’ve also read that Buicks that are made in China are put together better than those made stateside.

    • I don’t understand if your comment is directed at me posting as if that is not giving them room to breath or if it’s about some of the comments the post has brought forward. I think it’s good to talk about who the bidders are and to have a little understanding of who and what the parties are. I have not endorsed them in any way, I have just stated that if in the end they are the winning bidder that I would be happy. To be honest, I can really say the same thing about just about anyone that may end up owning Saab because if they are chosen by the administrators, then you would think that means that out of all the bids submitted, they are the ones the admin saw the most effective of bringing the brand back to life. Like you said, I too want to see whomever can make the business work make it work and if that’s a martian company (lol) then so be it.

      • Not directed to you Jason, I thought your post was informative and very interesting. To talk about the prospective bidders in the light that you and the other SU crew bring is fantastic as I believe you are an asset to Saab.
        In my comment, I was talking about the *commentators*. Just by scrolling up, you can see how they get so rallied up and selective over whom they want as a buyer. Some are actively endorsing one or two and advertising for them right here in comments! In the end it doesn’t matter as much as we all think. The US market is all but destroyed, the Chinese and Indian markets are still going to be started eventually, and whomever steps in will record losses anyway. All the prospective companies that we know about have money. They all have unique skills to make this thing work as well, so for everyone to be so rallied up is not surprising, but unfortunate.

        In the end, someones gonna walk away with the bone….who that party is should be irrelevant. They all said they will continue producing in Trollhattan, none have GM licenses, and all are attached to big markets, and/or have big plans.

        So thanks to SU for supplying us with info, but the comments race should stop.

        • Honestly this renovate your store thing has been a problem for a long time now. With Saturn, we all had very similar showrooms and had spent a lot of money on outfitting them the way we were told and then in the end we were being pushed heavily to do upgrades even though most had done this 10 years earlier. Some dealers did the upgrades to the tune of millions of dollars only to have the brand phased out. I see around me a lot of GM dealers in Canada that are now being forced to “IMAGE” their stores and the dealers I’ve spoken to have all said the same thing “this will not sell me more cars”. When Saab came back to the markets, they were fair in realizing that we need to make money before we spent it on having manufacturer approved furniture and desks and no, I don’t think we would have sold more Saab’s if they had forced us to do full showroom image improvements. I do feel that when dealers are doing well and we’re not in the worst economic times that most of us have ever seen, it is in the best interest to have a uniform look to brand stores, but most of even the GM stores can’t afford to just throw money at nothing. All that being said, I wish we had a cafe here, I’d never have to leave the store….. maybe it’s good we don’t.

          • Some of the most pleasant buying experiences and best service departments are at small dealers who can’t afford to “renovate” to that level.

    • Hey, Dick Cheney is interested too?

      Have some consideration with the mere mortals around here. Almost all are Saab enthusiasts and are very much upset with all the uncertainty. It’s no wonder that there are some irrational comments, no one is perfect. with the exception of yours truly and I refrain from sharing my crystal ball visions 🙂

    • I was thinking about Renco the other day. The thought struck me that some of us basically think that no-one is good enough / deserving enough to own Saab. Such thoughts are indeed of little use. At the end of the day, we either like the product or we don’t.

      GM did not ask our advice three years ago, and so they picked ‘the little guys’ twice in a row. It would have been a helluva story to tell if any of them had succeeded, but I doubt that was GM’s motivation. In any case, nobody are asking for our advice now. Only the respective bidders know their own true intentions, and even they could change their mind mid-game.

  20. Who ARE Mahindra. That’s actually really bad grammar. It should be :Who IS Mahindra, not that it matters. The verb ‘are’ should refer to a plural noun, whereas Mahindra is one entity.. Am I right? Doesn’t matter really.

  21. If Mahindra has the winning bid, this is better than what is happening to Saab now (factory closed, no cars produced). However, a year ago, Mahindra would have sounded like an awful idea.

    Indian cars are junk, Mahindra included. Maybe Maruti Suzuki are passable.

    Brightwell does not make cars. They may make bad decisions if they control Saab.

    Youngman is not known for quality cars. They may just try to steal IP.

    Neither of the three bids are ideal. Yet with Saab dead, all three are now better than nothing. I hope Saab produces cars again and that they will be sought after like the Saab 900 from the 1980-1990 period.

    • Why would Mahindra cars be “junk”, especially over Maruti Suzuki? For the record, Mahindra does not build cars, but rather purpose-built pickups for the tough Indian conditions – rudimentary comforts and equipment by European standards, but somehow they have conquered the rural Indian market.

      I do believe they know what it takes to manufacture a product for a particular market – otherwise, would they be able to build advanced defence systems? And they know where to go for advance expertise on that – that’s why they partner with Saab AB. I believe they are perfectly aware that their modern-car-making abilities are almost nonexistent, that’s why they went after Ssangyong and now ponder Saab.

  22. LOL! Mahindra owns Ssangyoung? A couple of year ago i had a small, and with small i mean tiny, Ssangyoung dealer just around the corner in this little Swedish town where (the size of two Trollhattan) . I have to say the close to generic looking Korando is disappointing since their earlier cars are so boldly fugly. I think the dealership closed down but now and then i still se an “Actyon Sports” driven by some carpenter that thought a Chevy or Toyota pickup would not reflect the uniqueness of his company strongly enough.


    With that said, thanks Jason for your extensive research about this company. I think i read at Swade’s blog that his friends favored Mahindra since they was serious about the Saab brand and has some real rupee muscles.

    • Thanks Montahue. By disappointing do you mean because you liked the old ugly or “fugly” ones? lol. I actually think that Ssangyoung has some very marketable vehicles right now that would do well in the North American markets and if Mahindra was to start exporting to North America through say a Saab dealer network, they could make some money while trying to get the Phoenix ready by marketing one of their other brands along side. That of coarse would be if they end up winning the bidding on Saab. We need to remember that whomever gets Saab in the end will want to explore every possibility to minimize the losses they will have in the beginning.

      • If the Korando sells as hell or not is nothing i’m igonna care about before the day the evolution of new Saabs depends on it. You know what i mean. Saabs are always beautiful but they are also odd. I like odd cars even when they are not beutiful as Saab’s. An older ugly Ssangyong is not beautiful but its ugliness is interesting and fun and the Korando is not.

  23. I would say the Korando looks like a slightly Nissan Juke inspired Ford Fiesta with a grille designed by some nervous 14 year old anglophile. Lets hope Mahindra realised they need Saab as much as we need them.

    • There is no Saab at the moment. If there is to be a Saab resurrection its all up to “them”. If they are up to nothing god but buying Saab to get their hands on Saabs-stuff instead of building Saabs there is nothing we can do about that. If they want to build up on 70-year old automobile history and engineering know-how or not, its also up to them.

      • Agreed—-that’s why I view “Saab” as needing Mahindra more than the other way around. With or without the purchase of Saab, life goes on for Mahindra.

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