A small ray of hope for Saab, thanks to Brightwell

Cross-posted from Swadeology

For months now, we’ve heard GM spokesman James Cain come out and say things like this:

TT: Why did you not agree to meet them?

– We stand by our policy not to sell technology licenses to a new owner for Saab.

TT: Not in any way?

– No.

TT: Typically in business, everything has a price tag.

– Not in this case, says James Cain.

So…… They stand by this policy and from earlier in the original article at e24, they responded to Brightwell’s requests for discussions with a big, fat “not interested”.

Not according to Brightwell’s President, Alphan Manas.

We have to rely on a Googletrans from Manas’ own blog here, but it sounds very much like they reached some agreement with GM in relation to the 9-4x before GM demanded a $73million “tooling fee”. This was apparently an unexpected development and it’s quite possible that tactics like this are part of the reason that Brightwell dropped out of the race to acquire Saab.

Of course, it’s not the first time GM has done something like this, either. Back in December 2009, GM halted negotiations with Spyker – quite suddenly – and announced that Saab was to be liquidated. Later they backflipped once more and ended up selling the company.

What does all this mean?

Not a lot, really. The changing of terms in business deals is commonplace and GM are as prone to it as anyone else. The fact that a Saab fan might find it distasteful doesn’t alter the fact that it happens (nor that PR people would ‘forget’ such things in public statements).

Perhaps the ‘tooling fee’ is a blessing in disguise for a Saab fan. If I’ve interpreted what Manas has written on his website correctly (a significant “if”, but I think I have), it means that GM might actually be willing to negotiate with a possible purchaser of Saab Automobile under the right circumstances. I’m sure they’ll charge a massive fee for such access, but it’s a glimmer of hope if ever I saw one. The 9-4x deserves to be produced for longer, and as a Saab, too.

Again, I have to stress that I’m relying on a web translation of Manas’ blog. I tried to get in touch with Manas via Twitter last week but got no response. The translation is all I’ve got to go by at the moment. If you know Turkish perhaps you can clarify things a little for everyone.


Thanks to Gregg for the tip.

23 thoughts on “A small ray of hope for Saab, thanks to Brightwell”

  1. Swade! Great to see you back!!!

    That’s some really insightful news you bring here, I do hope one of the bidders is willing to front up the “tooling fee” and it’s all down to money to resurrect the 9-4X and 9-5.

  2. The 9-4x was over weight and under developed.
    The marketing would have you believe that it was designed for specific markets.
    Well how else are you going to spin the fact that it would fail in your biggest market, Europe.?
    The 9-4x needed entry level 4 cyl petrol and diesel engines and the 190hp TTID and 260hp 2.0Di engines would have been a far better choice with both delivering 400nm of torque. Ultimately a V6 diesel is what this vehicle needed but as GM refuses to understand the European market place it never materialised.

    The amount of time, money and effort that will be wasted negotiating with GM who will make any investor pay a huge premium for license usage will be far better off developing the Phoenix architecture and finding new partnerships. As for the current ( how do I put it? ) Non-Epsilon platform, this should be either considered as a budget series of models or dropped all together.

    • the 9-4x is a remarkable car – the best I have ever owned.. Probably true not great for Europe – but really beats the competition in the american market… CUV’s are big here.

  3. Gidday Swade!

    I think that paying $73 Million to GM to buy the rights to let it (GM) build 9-4xs for whoever buys Saab, will be a bitter pill to swallow for most of the bidders. Just like Brightwell, I expect they will balk at this and perhaps rightly so? Plus I imagine GM will want an ever bigger fee for the rights to continue using the Epsilon II platform (and other associated technology) that underpins the 9-5. It will also likely want exclusive guarantees that the technology is not used on any other vehicles that are manufactured by the new owner. Not that I see this as a huge problem, as most of the bidders are more interested in Phoenix than Epsilon II, but dealing with GM will be an extremely tall hurdle and any successful bidder will definitely need a (non GM) plan B.

  4. There was a time, not that long ago (a few decades) when GM could easily do this sort of thing and it was accepted as the “price of admission.” I think big, dominant companies behave this way (Apple, Microsoft, Wal-Mart) in how they “negotiate” with suppliers, landlords, etc. Funny thing is that GM is no longer in that category of larger than life, successful, dominant company. But I guess in this case, they can flex that muscle—-tooling fee, okay. Depending on how much longer this saga is dragged on by the Receivers, the new owner will basically be starting from scratch and might have other ideas than to resume production of the most recent 9-4 and 9-5, which will be a few model years old anyway. GM is certainly entitled to a per car sold royalty and other compensation—-just not sure about 73 million for “tooling.”

    • Well, GM is still number 20 on the Fortune 500 list and the largest carmaker in the world. So I’d say they still have quite a lot of muscle to flex towards suppliers and such.

      • Jeroen: That’s puffery. Before United States taxpayers gave them a mostly involuntary massive bailout (I say involuntary because something like 75% of the public was against it.), they were a bankrupt mess—-horribly mismanaged—–a corporate laughingstock. It’s funny what billions and billions of free dollars will do to “put you in the top 20.” Totally ridiculous. They’ll fail again—and if a sensible administration happens to be in power when that happens, maybe some successful companies can come in and pick away at the best of the carcass.

        • Sorry but I disagree. This was nothing compared to the bailout of the banks. this saved jobs and a manufacturing sector. If Ford was the only American company making cars, it would be a shame, especially since Ford had its own bailout from the Ford family who wanted to maintain a huge block of controlling voting shares.

          I remain convinced you just don’t like your American compatriots. GM was badly mismanaged, but most of that mismanagement can be laid at Wall Street’s feet who can now demand that even companies as large as GM have a short term outlook.

          Sorry, I hit the report comment accidentally and you should disregard it. Mods please disregard it as well.

          • Ford bailed out from the Ford family? So what? If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (and Snooki from Jersey Shore) wanted to bail out GM, I’d say more power to them. We’re not talking about Wall Street banks here, we’re talking about car companies and why GM is “Top 20” now. My only point was that GM benefitted mightily from a massive taxpayer bailout—-and if that didn’t happen, they might not be so high and mighty “TOP 20” that they are now. Also, just because YOU think it would be a shame if Ford were the only American company making cars—-again, so what? That’s one person’s opinion. Frankly, I’ve owned way more GM products since I learned to drive than anything else. I still have two of them. I used to be a loyal GM customer. I like Ford. I also like what Chrysler is doing these days. For the record, I wish AMC was still around too. I love domestic U.S. car companies. I just don’t want to bail them out when they have mammoth, unsustainable union obligations (that they could have shed if this nosey administration didn’t go repay campaign donors with my money). They also have executives making herculean bonuses—-more on a bonus that the avereage wage earner makes in years—-and they’re gifting rank and file $7000.00 each while they still owe billions to the treasury since their stock has taken a nose dive. This is a model success?

  5. GM is the world’s classiest automaker. Just look at the chrome wheels. Or the wide white belt of the salesman. Others may have the Audi A8 and R8. We have Avalanche. Game over!

    • Now, now—-the Avalanche is keeping some lucky plastics factory at 100% capacity—-and the same 8 year old who draws cars and trucks in the library intead of reading certainly came up with a nice design for GM this time.

  6. If you look at the new GMC, clearly its the back and parts of the Saturn Outlook, so I suspect we’ll see the 94x turn up in another guise soon enough.

  7. Glue charge for attaching the Saab stickers to the 9-4
    Line toll for allowing to cars to proceed along the plant in Mexico
    threspassing fee for the cars leaving the plant
    handling surcharge for the uncommon handling of parts in the plant
    translation costs for translating the parts into Mexican

    Sounds like GM did not fully evaluate the situation yet πŸ˜‰

  8. It seems that Ducati goes to Audi’s hands. Some of the interested buyers that didn’t make it are Mahindra, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Hope some of them, with more money available, can push to conquer a mitical brand as Saab.

    • I’ve sent an email to Zamier and we will see if we get some clarification. It all to me sounds to be right on the money though because when I spoke to Zamier in the past, he had said that they had been working with GM and then at the last minute GM changed things.

  9. Let me help you with the translation.
    ” Saab deal has come to an end for us. Our international partner, GM, has fooled us, therefore we had to withdraw from placing a bid. However in previous negotiations GM promised us that they will provide us the 9-4X model which they would build in Mexico plant. So that GM requested 73 Million USD for this production in the name of “tooling” cost. Then they said “sorry”. That was the first fooling, later on other ones followed. They stated that they were noway in talks with anyone and never have been in talks with Brightwell: http://saabsunited.saabklubben.se/tag/james-cain. Up until we really got serious about Saab, GM thought noone could place a serious bid for Saab. Therefore this way, GM would not be responsible for all those Swedish workers who would lose their jobs. Swedish government has became mad and forced GM to take care of the situation but GM acted “as if” they were on it. But we came along and ruined GM’s play…”

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