Koenigsegg Pulls out of Saab Deal
By Chris Haak
More bad news for a castoff GM brand. First Penske couldn’t find a supplier of rebadged vehicles after Renault’s board gave him the cold shoulder, which had the effect of killing Saturn immediately. Now, word has just come out that Koenigsegg has pulled out of the deal to buy Saab from GM. GM released a statement saying that the company will address the next step it will take regarding Saab next week.
“We’re obviously very disappointed with the decision to pull out of the Saab purchase,” said GM President and CEO, Fritz Henderson. “Many have worked tirelessly over the past several months to create a sustainable plan for the future of Saab by selling the brand.”
And now, unless there is some white knight waiting in the wings (which there does not appear to be), Saab has not just an unsustainable future, but literally no future. GM’s board is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, December 1, and Saab’s future will likely be discussed during the meeting.
Saab sales have plumetted by 61.5% year to date in the US, with only 7,400 new cars being sold, making the loss-making, quirky semi-luxury brand something of a hard sell to any potential buyers.
According to a statement released by Koenigsegg, the timing of the deal – and therefore the difficulties and delays in getting financial backing and approvals – was what finally sunk the deal. “The time factor has always been critical for our strategy to breathe new life into the company,” Koenigsegg said in a statement.
GM shut down Pontiac outright, then tried to sell four of its brands as part of its post-bankruptcy restructuring. So far, it hasn’t been very successful. As already noted, the sale of Saturn to Penske fell through, and the sale of Opel to Magna also collapsed. The Saab deal has collapsed, which now just leaves Hummer, the unloved-by-many off road, pseudo-military truck brand. GM has a tentative deal to sell Hummer to Tengzhong, a Chinese heavy-equipment manufacturer. However, though that deal appears to be progressing, it is still subject to state approval, which is far from a certainty in China’s tightly-controlled economy.
If the Hummer deal also falls though, expect Hummer to end up at the same place that Saturn, Pontiac have ended up, and where Saab probably will: the automotive scrap heap amidst Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Studebaker, Hudson, AMC, and others. And that’s a shame. Apparently it’s just not a good time to sell a car company, even if the price is right.
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