What are we up to now?

Today news broke that Youngman ceased their efforts to buy Saab. In a way we have become used to see them around as they were trying to take over a part or all of Saab for over a year now. But other than one would expect I cannot say that I am too sad to see them go. They may have been an option being a part owner as intended under SWAN but not in a full take over.

One thing that di.se mentions is that Youngman were not as reliable in keeping their promises as one would wish. Sure, last fall they sent money bit by bit to keep Saab afloat but only enough to avoid death. I don’t think this was to push Saab into bankrupcy, they knew pretty well that they might face some players who are much bigger and more attractive than they are. Rather, their behaviour draws me to the conclusion that they either faced troubles in getting proper financing or in dealing with the NDRC. Or even both.

Whatever reason it was they did not make a too trustworthy impression on me despite their attempt to give a positive impression in a number of interviews. In the end it left me with more questions than answers. An additional point was that all the collaborations and joint ventures Youngman’s car sector did not work out too well. A good example is that they registered the Chinese equivalent name of Lotus. You can imagine that Lotus was not too happy about that.

Being from China they would have faced maximum resistance from GM. It was never said clearly but the invisible arm of SAIC always played a major role in this game. They simply don’t want to see another competitor rise in the Chinese market. Even more as they might have built cars on the same platform as their own Shanghai brand.

My final point on Youngman is the lack of a proper network in the industry. Looking at Mahindra, they have been in collaborations with many automotive players around the world and own a number of companies in all fields of the car business. A huge benefit if they get to buy Saab and want to develop the company further. Being a big conglomerate, Mahindra has the means to absorb the cost of restarting Saab. For Youngman Saab would have been the main foot to stand on – which could easily have lead to a situation similar to the one we face right now.

Based on those obsevations I personally came to the conclusion that Mahindra is the only viable option in this process. It was said that they were favoured by the receivers, too and the departure of Youngman could well mean that a basic decision is already there with just some details to be figured out and contracts to be finalized.

On a sidenote: Yesterday Qoros was said to be interested in taking over Saab. While this is an easy guess given that many Saab employees found a new home there we dare to say that this is a rumor with no truth inside. I’d also regard to the part about the electrohybrid Chinese consortium in the di.se article as pure speculation.

76 thoughts on “What are we up to now?”

    • Well if Youngman is definitely out, then it seems like the announcement would have to be soon, right? Wasn’t it stated in the press or by the administrators that they were down to the final two bidders? It’s like in poker….if Youngman has folded, it would seem Mahindra & Mahindra takes the winnings.

      • Everyone is hoping for a Mahindra purchase, so am I, but lets not forget:

        1) The Chinese-Japanese electric consortium is still in the running, per Just-Auto.

        2) Volvo is still around wanting to purchase Saab’s tooling and other tangible assets, sans Saab as a working entity.

        If Mahindra comes through, do you think we’d see a restart of Saab production this year, or a couples years from now? Obviously this all depends on GM, those pansies.

        • As I´ve read todays news; an announcement will likely be placed next week. The Chinese-Japanese consortium might be backed/ prefered by both the chinese and the swedish government AND has widened the plans to include also hybrid-cars. Mahindra is still in, but not at pole position right now.

          To me this sounds like excellent news, I might even prefer the Chinese-Japanese cons. over Mahindra if that´s the case. All manufacturers will pop over to hybrid cars in a couple of years anyway, and it´s a perfect match for a niche player like Saab. Beeing the first full or semi-electrical manufacturer (apart from tesla etc). Selling 100.000 cars will be easy, and remember, Saab will not do it in a dull way, the cars will be as fast as we remeber them.

          • Electrics and/or hybrids, though, will be more expensive and likely out of the price range of those waiting for the new 9-3 replacement with small turbo engine + eXWD on the rear axle. That was the type of hybrid I am interested in. Some estimates said the new 9-3 replacement might get up to 50mpg.

          • OK sounds good…but what will they sell in the interim? I’m afraid the entire dealership network will be belly-up by the time new models hit the showrooms.

            Do we know for certain who is still in the game? Was all the BMW talk pure fantasy???

            • not at all, Imagine our OG 9-3 aeros, but with a small turbo petrol engine in the front and electric back axle, that together delivers the same horsepower. I could live with that. Everything else is going towards diesel, and I´m not a diesel-fan.

              • You are right as long as they are called Saabs. But I’m annoyingly uncretain they will or want to keep even the name…! Previous reports suggested that and still no one confirmed, or vica versa.

  1. IF Mahindra are now the only one’s in the running let hope they don’t start arguing about price reductions, etc!!

    • No, they are not only one left in “the game”. There is still electric cars consoritum and according to swedish media they are administrator’s faouvorites in bidding. Although, again according to swedish media, its not the same consortium as earlier…Panasonic is out of picture, and the “new” consortium wants to produce hybrids in volume of 100.000 cars/year. Some unconfirmed rumors say M&M has jonied forces with them in bidding.
      Lets see what happens (apparently) next week.

    • somehow I feel this is the end of SAAB, those guys probably only want the plant and know-how, they do not need a brand !!!


    • National Electric Vehicle Sweden. What the….? Looks like Maud’s wish is coming true after all if the SweGov is behind this [email protected] Youngman were just out for IP so lets home Mahindra can be Saab’s savoiur!

      A somewhat pessemistic Zippy 🙂

      • If that comes to pass….I do not think I will ever be buying a National Electric Vehicle of Sweden. Whether they put a Saab logo on it or not.

          • Angelo, my dear fellow, but Sweden is a nation of “eco-weenies”! If you dislike that fundamental aspect of modern Swedish culture so intensely, then why bother driving a Swedish car? Why don’t you just get an old Cadillac V8? Or a Hummer? Or an oil tanker?

            Now, as for NEVS v SAAB … Well, mocking the name National Electric Vehicles Sweden is a bit like turning back the clock and mocking “Swedish Aeroplane Company” (Saab) when it was formed in 1937. So let’s not do that. It ain’t big and it ain’t clever.

            Personally, if a new company emerged called National Electric Vehicles Sweden and they won this process and made quality hybrid and EV cars embodying Scandinavian values but under a NEVS brand rather than Saab, how would I react? Well I would most certainly be very sad indeed to see the end of the Saab name on cars, but I would also rejoice because Sweden would be making quality, distinctive and forward-thinking vehicles again. And you can bet your big gass-guzzling behinds that I would buy one!

            However, there seems to me to be no reason whatsoever why NEVS would not be able to licence the Saab name anyway… so it’s all good.

            PS – JUST FOR ANGELO, Saab could do a deal with Hirsch where they put an old Buick V8 (minus catalytic converters, and running on fully leaded four-star) into the new NEVS Saab. Then everyone’s happy. 🙂

            • I personally don’t care much for radical environmentalism either, but do value the other parts of Swedish culture that Saab brings to the table which results in safe, comfortable, practical, and durable automobiles that stand out from the crowd.

              If an inexpensive, long-lasting, high-capacity battery, fuel cell, or “Mr. Fusion” type device is developed that actually makes electric cars practical that’s fine — electric motors are a lot simpler than combustion engines — but we are not there yet; I would not buy a hybrid or electric car based on the batteries commercially available today. (Even the environmental credentials of current batteries are pretty questionable.)

              I think a new Saab, NEVS, or whatever electric-only vehicle is going to be doomed to failure, it would be just too limited. Hybrid might or might not do OK depending on the market.

            • Sorry, Allan. It’s not all good. Show me an electric car that actually works as well as one powered by an internal combustion engine and I (and others) may buy it. But given current technology it just ain’t gonna happen and I don’t see it happening with NEVS. I don’t know where you live, but here in the US there are very long distances that need to be traveled…if you think a battery powered car travel these distances, you’ll be thumbing a ride very soon.

              • I always liked Saabs (and even Volvos) for their safety, space efficiency, different type of styling (apart from the crowd), comfort and yes, the ability to have an economical engine move the vehicle. I’m not opposed to efficiency and common sense—-but I think the idea of “going electric” is more political at this point, and tosses practicality to the side. For me, Swedish cars have always been function first—-practical and solid. I fail to see how “going electric” will respect that legacy. It’s a farce.

                • In my little head, Saab’s products represents the engineers’ ability to (for the lack of a better term) “think outside the box”.

                  I believe that if anyone can “crack” the hybrid “code”, then it will be them.

                  I, as you, would prefer this to happen a bit on the side while Saab still had their product lineup intact (to make it easier to work out the kinks before hurrying a product out the door). In a way, that was what happened while they were working on the Phoenix platform.

                  Hopefully the consortium are not trying to copy Think’s “success”, and hopefully they want to at least achieve the same sales numbers as Saab had back in 2007/2008.

  2. Can we afford being that picky? It takes the administrators ages to decide who’s going to be the “lucky one”. In the meantime dealers don’t have cars to sell and their customers buy different brands. Dealers already face a sales gap and as such a future maintenance gap. The question is: who can afford to stay Saab dealer?

    • The administrators have been a giant disappointment to me—-and to many others who aren’t star struck by them. I really fail to see how any logical case can be made that they’ve done well with this assignment. Fair or poor—-those are the choices, and “fair” is getting out of town quickly.

  3. Well let’s hope M&M will be the final winner.

    But at this stage, I’ll be elated if *anybody* successfully buys SAAB, even if it’s the Japanese-Chinese electric consortium.

    Griffin UP !

  4. Everyone I caution you to not be so gullible.

    Of course Mahindra will win. The only reason they are mentioning any of these electric car companies is simple: To keep the price, terms, and pressure up for Mahindra. Its nothing but a bargaining tool that the administrators are using now that Youngman is gone, so Mahindra doesnt try and manipulate the situation now that they are the only bidders left.

    I doubt strongly that the electric car company Qoros (or whatever its called) or the Japanese company will win because in reality they don’t need all of Saab’s estate to get started, and will probably split it up and sell what they don’t want their damn selves. Not to mention finanically, banks and investors are VERY cautious at this point and will not lend to anyone that wants to go on a money ride right now.

    Now everyone go out and celebrate, make sure that wine is on ice. Im having Indian food for dinner.

    • Are we being gullible, or are you being naive? I hope its not the latter! 🙂

      Regardless, even if it is the electric consortium, it looks like the town of Trollhattan and those subsequently affected by Saab’s bankruptcy may have something to celebrate. Surely, we’d all like to see Saab return as the world’s best automotive manufacturer, but if the consortium energizes the economy and saves thousands of jobs, so be it!

      • I assure you it’s not the latter.

        I can care less at who buys Saab at this point so in no means am I against the electric consortium, I’m just a bit fonder of M&M. But either is good enough to drive innovation and get jobs back in Trollhattan.

        But it doesn’t take away from the fact that the administrators are CLEARLY playing a game to protect themselves in the intense negotiations that are about to happen with Mahindra. Anyone even mildly educated in management and business studies should know: Never let your hand be known or your opponent get the best of you until the ink is on the paper when it comes to negotiations.

  5. I think we should assume no new SAAB cars produced for 3 or 4 years if M&M buy SAAB. I hope the cars manufactured after this are entirely new designs with no GM content. The 9-3 is simply not good enough to do anything but create bad press for SAAB and should not be manufactured again. I hope sales of the new vehicles are purely internet-based, at least outside the US. The current ‘authorised repairer’ network could remain in place for after sales service. Dealers are an outdated way to sell cars today like bookshops. They raise costs and lower returns.

    • Well your worries can be quelled, Tim. GM wants to make sure NONE of their content is ever used for any future SAAB products, and as you know so far, GM has been trying to kill SAAB for about 4 years now since the 2008 recession. So rest assured, SAAB’s future will be as distant from GM as the east is from the west.

    • What does that say about the approximately 700 new Saab 9-3 in the U.S. now? That they are “not good enough to do anything but bad press…”?

      I would favor having the 9-3 production started again with minimal changes. Headlights are expensive to develop so new lights will not pay off. Just build them as cheaply as possible and sell them at cost.

      Maybe upgrade a few things, like stainless steel brake lines. Then they can say that Saab has them but even expensive cars don’t.

      • Derek: I’m with you 100% and I’ve been saying the same thing for months—-and add a few new bright, non-metallic colors too.

  6. Incidentally, my comment that the 9-3 is ‘simply not good enough’ is not based on my opinion of the car. I quite liked it. My comment is based on what other people say when comparing the 9-3 to the BMW, Audi and MB competition. For SAAB to thrive this comparison has to be very positive. But it has not been.

    • Tim: They need product to sell in less than 4 years. Rebadge a Ssangyong or reproduce the 9-3—-but waiting 4 years (5 model years) to introduce a car won’t get it done. Most of us will be onto other things by that time.

  7. Well if m&m and those Swedish batteryboys are working together it could work out just fine for trolhattan , swegov , and us saabers. They can make beside the normal petrol and diesel fueled cars also hybrids, with that Swedish technology , one hand washes the other. Everybody happy. Stay positive , what choice do we have? Zero.

    • And don’t think M&M don’t know that. Hopefully these administrators aren’t foolish enough to try and put the screws to them. Don’t forget that piece meal is probably more money at this point so this thing is far from over and the fall back chair is to sell the parts. I don’t care what they say, money talks in the end.

      • I’m very relieved in knowing at least that M&M is a huge conglomerate with tons of money, so that in itself is not an issue. I still fear the GM IP roadblock, but given that M&M is Indian and GM has no joint ventures building automobiles there (GM India is private and only builds lowly Chevys and Opels) that compete with Saab’s segment, it’s not quite the same situation as was with Youngman trying to penetrate the Chinese market with Saabs that share common technologies with other GM/SAIC products there.

        Fingers crossed !

      • P: These administrators seem to be ABSOLUTELY foolish enough to do that. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there is some divine intervention and they know when to say when. It’ll be a small miracle if this thing ends in 2012 and we actually have some information on the direction it’s all going in. I’ve been in the workforce for 25 years at companies small, medium and relatively large—-I have a general sense of what could be accomplished in a given time frame, even with massive legal obstacles, many parties involved, etc.—-in bankruptcy (at least in the U.S.). This has been a circus of futility from what I can tell. If in fact I’m wrong, we wouldn’t know it because there’s been zero transparency through the process—-even the things that can and should be disclosed to the Swedish public and other affected parties. It’s a sham. And yes, I meant to leave the “e” off. My hope is that by accident, something positive will come out of it all. By attrition, Mahindra might actually “win” provided an idiotic move isn’t made—-like turning it all over to an electric car consortium that is simply doomed to fail.

  8. Come on guys let’s face reality and let Saab go. If it was not possible to turn around Saab in restart 2010 why should that be possible now?
    I would say think first on former Saab employees and that they could have a chance to get a proper job in a new company with future chances eg. electric car company.
    Again keep on dreaming but also face reality and that means a complete new company with strenght for the future and is not old Saab I’m afraid.

  9. Were Saab to build hybrids and electric vehicles with a focus on environmentally responsible performance, it would be a very exciting development. It is very likely to appeal to the affluent, intelligent and highly educated male and female motorists out there whom Saab needs to win back over in order to be special and successful again.

    The appeal of a hybrid/EV Saab applies as much to India, which has made a startling leap forward in using alternative energies, as it does to Scandinavia or the UK, or the rest of Europe.

    Anyone who thinks that Mahindra would just let Saab to keep on partying like it’s 1978 by sticking with turbocharged fossil-fuel powerplants, while the rest of the motoring world overtakes it, has surely not been paying attention. So I am optimistic of a win-win scenario that secures a bright future for Saab, either with the EV consortium or with Mahindra.

    • Allan: Why not build gas engined and diesel vehicles with a focus on environmentally responsible performance? Why the snake oil of electric? And as far as Mahindra goes, anyone who thinks they are going to sacrafice profits to “save the planet” has not been paying attention to how business works. The eco-weenie scam has stalled badly among people who have taken to the time to understand what started it and who has profited enormously from “saving the world” from cars and trucks that run on gasoline and diesel fuel. Mahindra’s best bet (whether or not they are able to buy Saab) is to provide vehicles that people want, at prices that people can afford, through clever design and effective advertising and marketing. Go 1978!!! Bring back the 900 from that era, or the early-mid 80s. I’ll put down a depsoit this minute if that is announced. As for eco-weenie golf carts—no thanks. I’ll just watch the failure and LMAO.

      • Now then, now then…. let us not confuse the issue Angelo. Making the world a cleaner and more sustainable place is a doctrine that even Cookie Monster could see the merit in.

        What we can both agree on being A BAD THING is the pernicious, corrupting effects of self-serving elites – whether corporate or governmental, and often both in cahoots – and their tendency to subvert what is a noble idea – eg, EVs, or renewable energy – and twist it for their own, greedy, self-serving ends so that we, the consumer, get screwed. But, frankly, if you think we are not being screwed already in the fossil-fuel world by profiteers among these corrupt elites then clearly you have never had to fill your tank from a pump at a forecourt in the UK!!

    • I’m glad to see someone on here talking positively about alternative fuel cars for a change. Reading electric car / environmentalist bashing comments (and even articles) isn’t entirely surprising for a motoring interest website, but it’s a bit disappointing hearing it come from people interested in Saabs – the company prided itself on being forward thinking so investigating alternatives to fossil fuels would seem an ideal pursuit for it. I agree that current electric cars are less than practical (and their batteries less than ideal in many respects), but these are quickly developing technologies. Saab has a track record for bringing fringe technologies into the mainstream, along with the practicality and reliability that demands.

      It wouldn’t bother me if electric cars weren’t pursued, but something has to be. Regardless of how clean modern petrol or diesel cars are, they’re still worse than they could be and obtaining their fuel is damaging. Oil companies are resorting to harder-to-reach supplies to match demand (like trying to ‘cook’ it out of tar sands and destroying vast tracts of forest in the process) and biofuels displace food crops. Electric cars are only as good as their electricity source, but at least there’s the potential for that to be renewable.

      • I think one thing that would have needed immediate attention, and the moment may have been badly missed, is the DIESEL. One of the main reasons of PM10 particle pollution, one of todays europe’s most alarming and deadly type of air pollution. One of its results is lung cancer, which is Europe’s TOP 2 leading causes of death. If my voice was to be heard, I’d stop diesel production with immediate effect, stop the outrageous stink and devasting flurry of particles that infest our homes and places of work.

        On the other hand, when I was playing with the idea to buy a hybrid suv, I made my studies first. After reading a few reports from hybrid specialists, I ran from the idea as far as I could! Hybrids just over complicate the already over-complicated cars of today (on the top of it, with a CVT gearbox!). Operating and excessive repair costs of such cars are just not affordable for the masses of todays car owners. Only to have 2-3 litre of petrol to spare on 100 km. Around town. On highways, all the stuff just become a dead weight of no use. Once we’ll learn how pure e-cars emerge. But in the meantime, what is already here, and damn efficient: LPG, CNG and ethanol. Clean emissions, without the poisonous, deadly dark smog of over-hyped diesels. Let them rock and roll, and afterwards if someone’s still got a problem, let’s dream about high voltage.

        • I can tell you that the TTiD which I have been driving for a week now has no black exhaust, no bad smell and it works great! =)

          I’ll put up a video of the car when it’s running and you’ll see…

          • I believe your words and I’m delighted to hear. Afterall it is a Saab, which makes out the best (bordering impossible) solution of any given technology. Even so, if the technology itself is vexed.

            The miraculous engineering so far solved nearly everything [except for the current state:(]

  10. Frankly the current misplaced focus on CO2 is not about making the world “cleaner” or more “sustainable.” It is an unabashed grab for power and money by the same self-serving elites that you mention. (I have personal experience of the environmental movement from its early days and this is nothing new, it’s always been a major factor.)

    Cars have been very clean for many years now. Even my old Saab 9000 when driven through a polluted area has an exhaust that is cleaner than the ambient air, and its Trionic engine control system was developed 20 years ago. Environmentally-responsible combustion engines are nothing new.

    As far as I am concerned the planet does not need to be saved. However if it did, the people who think that driving an electric or hybrid car is going to save it are just fooling themselves.

    • ‘Even my old Saab 9000 when driven through a polluted area has an exhaust that is cleaner than the ambient air’

      That only works as long as the other polluters around are significantly worse than you – which I’d hope after all the time since that bit of Saab literature came out isn’t the case any longer.

      • “That only works as long as the other polluters around are significantly worse than you – which I’d hope after all the time since that bit of Saab literature came out isn’t the case any longer.”

        There are probably places where it is still true, but that’s not really the point. The vast improvement in auto emissions took place between the 1960s and 1990s. From that point on we’re looking at very small numbers and diminishing returns in emissions reductions.

    • Jersey Saab: Of course you are right and of course there will be people who don’t like your sensible and accurate message. Power grab is an understatement. It’s not just the power that is jacking up the movement, it’s the billions and billions of dollars, bordering on trillions.

      • You really have to follow the money trail to make any sense of it, though of course some are also motivated by the power to forcibly impose their values upon everyone around them down to the kind of light bulbs we are permitted to buy. The idea of CO2 as a “pollutant” is a politician’s dream. If you control carbon you control all aspects of life, and it gives the aforementioned self-serving elites a set of fangs with which they can suck the financial life out of the public at an ever-faster rate.

        The electric car is just a non-starter unless there is a quantum leap in practical, commercially viable batteries. Even then you have the problem of generating the electricity. Usually the people who push electric cars also do not want atomic power, coal-fired power, or any other kind of currently-available mass power generation. They seem to believe they will power an industrial society and its transportation needs with solar and wind power, no doubt with a generous sprinkling of faerie dust.

        I’m actually being kind with the term “power grab,” but this is not a political forum. I’ll state my opinion but am not interested in getting into a full-blown war over it here so that’s all I’m going to say about the issue.

  11. TTELA had a story earlier this evening,stating that Chinese Dongfeng was one of the partners behind the New Bidder. This story has for some reason been deleted and I don’t know why, maybe not credible? Still the other stories that has been going on today are just stories, based on no facts. Seems to be some kind of heavy lobbying/PR activity from one of the parties right now

    Dongfeng has previously showed interest in Saab: http://saabsunited.saabklubben.se/2012/01/rumors-dongfeng.html

    I don’t want to pour gasoline on the rumours fire today, but I am also a little bit excited that something happens. As said before: keep calm,,, I think we soon have answers to all our questions.

  12. Sorry SaabKen but I don’t agree. The Saab name means nothing to me without the values that Saab has always displayed in its cars (safe/comfortable and practical/fun to drive/environmentally responsible etc. These aren’t bonus items; they’re at the core of what Saab is all about.

  13. Allan there simply is ZERO choice but to STILL PRODUCE & SELL gas powered cars.

    Switch SAAB golf cart, candyland, MarioKart only vehicles and you alienate, perhaps permantly, me and many others as customers.

    I drive am average of 300 miles per DAY.

    Please explain to me HOW, until there are DRASTIC advancements made, any EV will be a viable real world vehicle for me???

    I’ll save you the trouble:

    Simply Answered: IT CAN’T.


  14. Bryan, I like your style. But look, man, let the innovators innovate. I also frequently drive more than 300-400 miles a day in my line of work to reach clients in far-flung places. It looks like one day I will be doing that in a Saab hybrid, and then in a Saab EV, and I can’t wait. 5 years at the current exponential rate of progress? C’mon, no problem!

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