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Old 22-Feb-2009, 02:55 PM   #1
CarZealot
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Default End of days for Saab... and Opel?

GM to cut Saab loose by 2010, Opel might be next...

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Saab in Bankruptcy Filing; G.M. Seeks More Aid

DETROIT — Saab, the Swedish automaker, filed for bankruptcy protection Friday and asked its government for financial support to remain in business as an independent company, separate from General Motors, its parent.

It was the latest example of auto companies asking governments in different countries — including the United States and Canada — to step in with aid, opening the door to those governments playing a direct role in deciding the future form of their automobile industries.

“This looks to me like it’s going to be a subsidized industry forever,” said Donald R. Grimes, an economist with the University of Michigan. “And then the question becomes, do you view it as a public benefit that the government should provide?”

Hours after Saab made its case to the Swedish government, General Motors submitted a request to the Canadian government approaching $6 billion, which is double the amount it previously said it would seek, according to Michael Bryant, the economic development minister for Ontario.

Chrysler Canada similarly did not offer a specific amount it was seeking. But in a letter to the governments of Canada and Ottawa released Friday, the company asked for 25 percent of what it has requested from the United States, or $3.75 billion. The Canadian governments had set aside $1 billion Canadian for the company.

Like G.M., Chrysler said that if Canada provided aid, it would not close any plants in the country.

On Tuesday, the two Detroit companies raised the amount they were seeking from the Treasury Department to nearly $40 billion. The presidential panel reviewing the requests held its first meeting Friday.

More industry requests to government officials are likely to come. G.M. said Friday it would need more than the $2.3 billion in loan guarantees it discussed with the German government for its Opel division. A reorganization plan for Opel, G.M.’s second-biggest brand behind Chevrolet, is expected at the end of next week.

G.M. said earlier this week that it wanted to cut Saab loose by 2010, as it tries to restructure. G.M. said in a report to the Treasury Department that it planned to end financial support for Saab by next year.

Saab went to a Swedish court for protection from its creditors, and said it would — with assistance from the Swedish government — reorganize to pave the way for private investors to buy all or part of the company.

After exploring Saab’s options, “it was determined a formal reorganization would be the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment,” Saab’s managing director, Jan-Ake Jonsson, said in a statement.

Saab said it would need financing during its three-month restructuring “from both public and private sources” and “would continue to operate as usual.”

Elisabeth Thand Ringqvist, a spokeswoman for the Swedish industry ministry, said Saab would be eligible for help through loan guarantees provided to the Swedish auto industry as part of a support package the government approved in December.

“This could be interpreted as the government supporting Saab in the reorganization phase,” Ms. Ringqvist said. But she said guarantees for working capital, like what G.M. is seeking in Germany, were not on the table.

A bailout for Opel is politically contentious in Germany, with politicians calling for strict conditions on the package. Some have even called for Opel to be taken out of American hands, but it is tightly integrated into the G.M. supply and technology chain. For example, G.M. uses Opel underpinnings for vehicles sold by Saturn, although G.M. plans to dissolve the Saturn unit by 2012.

In Canada, Mr. Bryant said the Ontario and Canadian governments were negotiating with G.M. over whether the government would provide additional help in financing a pension shortfall.

In its plan, General Motors of Canada said that it expected to employ about 7,000 workers next year. The company had about 20,000 employees in 2005. It also intends to have 450 to 500 Canadian dealers, compared with the current 700.

Professor Grimes said government leaders the world over would face enormous public pressure to aid the auto companies. “Politically, I don’t think they will have a choice,” he said.

But, “the automakers could become quasi-government agencies,” he said. “It will be up to the government to determine what wages the workers get paid, what holidays they get and what benefits they receive.”

Swedish officials have repeatedly resisted efforts to nationalize Saab, which came to life as part of the Svenska Aeroplan, a firm founded in 1937 to build military planes. The first Saab cars were built after World War II.

Saab, long known for quirky vehicles with ignition in the floor and a griffin insignia, became a more conventional brand under G.M. It borrowed the underpinnings from some of Opel’s cars for its lineup, which includes sedans, wagons and a sport utility vehicle.

Saab, however, is G.M.’s smallest brand in the United States, selling 21,383 vehicles in 2008, down 34.7 percent from 2007. Its best-selling vehicle is the 9-3, of which G.M. sold just over 10,000 cars last year.

Nonetheless, dealers said they were optimistic about Saab’s future. “It’s probably a great time for someone to get a bargain deal on a car company,” said Annette Adams, owner of Iowa City Saab.

Her dealership sells about 50 Saabs a year, while her husband’s Saab dealership, Saab Meyer Garage, sells a similar number.

She predicted Saab would thrive under new ownership. “I look for good things to come,” she added. “We just have to step across the hot coals to get there.”

Ian Austen contributed reporting from Ottawa, Nick Bunkley from Detroit and Carter Dougherty from Frankfurt.
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Old 24-Feb-2009, 12:26 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by CarZealot View Post
GM to cut Saab loose by 2010, Opel might be next...

Swedish officials have repeatedly resisted efforts to nationalize Saab, which came to life as part of the Svenska Aeroplan, a firm founded in 1937 to build military planes. The first Saab cars were built after World War II.

Saab, long known for quirky vehicles with ignition in the floor and a griffin insignia, became a more conventional brand under G.M. It borrowed the underpinnings from some of Opel’s cars for its lineup, which includes sedans, wagons and a sport utility vehicle.

Saab, however, is G.M.’s smallest brand in the United States, selling 21,383 vehicles in 2008, down 34.7 percent from 2007. Its best-selling vehicle is the 9-3, of which G.M. sold just over 10,000 cars last year.
I knew they used to make planes, but didn't know they had ignition in the floor for their cars...

With such bad sales figures, no wonder GM decided to cut them loose.
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Old 24-Feb-2009, 01:00 PM   #3
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I knew they used to make planes, but didn't know they had ignition in the floor for their cars...

With such bad sales figures, no wonder GM decided to cut them loose.
In this economy, even the used-to-be very profitable Japanese automakers like Toyota and Honda are in the red... GM is in lots of debt... I think they don't have choice but to try to stop the bleeding
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Old 25-Feb-2009, 09:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Achilles View Post
I knew they used to make planes, but didn't know they had ignition in the floor for their cars...

With such bad sales figures, no wonder GM decided to cut them loose.
Somehow the Saab just didn't appeal to the mass market, may be it got even worse after it was taken over by the GM..?
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Old 26-Feb-2009, 09:08 PM   #5
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Somehow the Saab just didn't appeal to the mass market, may be it got even worse after it was taken over by the GM..?
Saab's design has only made some improvements recently... but in general, Saab cars don't look good, they are not cheaper than the Korean, not as reliable as the Japanese and their branding is not as strong as most conti cars. Thus, it's difficult for them to survive in competitive market environment, let alone an economic crisis.
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Old 27-Feb-2009, 02:12 PM   #6
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Saab's design has only made some improvements recently... but in general, Saab cars don't look good, they are not cheaper than the Korean, not as reliable as the Japanese and their branding is not as strong as most conti cars. Thus, it's difficult for them to survive in competitive market environment, let alone an economic crisis.
Yes, unless they're able to make a breakthrough or huge comeback like Audi did. I think that's what Jaguar/Tata is trying to achieve too.
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Old 27-Feb-2009, 03:39 PM   #7
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Yes, unless they're able to make a breakthrough or huge comeback like Audi did. I think that's what Jaguar/Tata is trying to achieve too.
That's something that is easier said than done, it'll require a lot of resources, investment and time to make a breakthrough in design, technology, etc.
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Old 19-Mar-2009, 12:43 AM   #8
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That's something that is easier said than done, it'll require a lot of resources, investment and time to make a breakthrough in design, technology, etc.
I actually believe SAAB can do it a lot better than Jaguar can, but like you said, it IS a lot of resources. SAAB is on the right path now:

http://www.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20090221-123526.html
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Old 19-Mar-2009, 12:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Achilles View Post
Saab's design has only made some improvements recently... but in general, Saab cars don't look good, they are not cheaper than the Korean, not as reliable as the Japanese and their branding is not as strong as most conti cars. Thus, it's difficult for them to survive in competitive market environment, let alone an economic crisis.
Saab does have some strengths, their branding may not be as high up as BMW or Benz, but they are relatively high. In terms of technology, their edge will be of an aircraft background, but not sure if that really applies And I find that the newest models quite nice, especially the 9-3. What I feel they have to work on is their reliability

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Originally Posted by wizard_om View Post
I actually believe SAAB can do it a lot better than Jaguar can, but like you said, it IS a lot of resources. SAAB is on the right path now:

http://www.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20090221-123526.html
Hopefully they are on the right path like you said. It'll be a waste if Saab just close down like that. In fact, I think they shouldn't have sold to GM in the first place.

Quote:
Saab on the road to independence
  • Swedish court process to reorganise Saab into a fully independent business
  • Three new models ready to be launched over the next year and a half
  • Saab aims to bring resources back to Sweden
  • Funding sought for 'new independent Saab'

SWEDEN: As a result of GM's strategic review of the global Saab business the Saab Board announced today that it will file for reorganisation under a self-managed Swedish court process to create a fully independent business entity that would be sustainable and suitable for investment.

The reorganisation is a self-managed, Swedish legal process headed by an independent administrator appointed by the court who will work closely with the Saab management team.

As part of the process, Saab will formulate its proposal for reorganisation, which will include the concentration of design, engineering and manufacturing in Sweden.

This proposal will be presented to creditors within three weeks of the filing. Pending court approval, the reorganisation will be executed over a three-month period and will require independent funding to succeed.

Jan Ake Jonsson, Managing Director for Saab Automobile, said, 'We explored and will continue to explore all available options for funding and/or selling Saab and it was determined a formal reorganisation would be the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment.'

'With an all new 9-5, 9-3X and 9-4X all ready for launch over the next year and a half, Saab has an excellent foundation for strong growth, assuming we can get the funding to complete engineering, tooling and manage launch costs. Reorganisation will give us the time and means that help get these products to market while minimizing the liquidity impact of Saab on GM.'

Funding for the restructured company will need to be secured during the reorganisation process and will be sought from both public and private sources.

Saab will continue to operate as usual and in accordance with the formal reorganisation process, with the Government providing some support during this period.

The reorganisation should have no impact on other GM operations. Details of the progress will be provided as milestones are achieved.
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Old 19-Mar-2009, 12:20 PM   #10
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Saab does have some strengths, their branding may not be as high up as BMW or Benz, but they are relatively high. In terms of technology, their edge will be of an aircraft background, but not sure if that really applies And I find that the newest models quite nice, especially the 9-3. What I feel they have to work on is their reliability



Hopefully they are on the right path like you said. It'll be a waste if Saab just close down like that. In fact, I think they shouldn't have sold to GM in the first place.
Hehe, your bug freaks me out zealot!

Yes, Saab has some SWEET models on the horizon! its silly to see the media jump on all the doom and gloom, hurts my car's feelings!
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