The new Saab 9-5 sedan and the proposed replacement for the 9-3 will be killed off if General Motors winds down its Swedish subsidiary, and not re-badged in any other markets.
Speculation had suggested the new 9-5 – a longer-wheelbase version of the Opel Insignia – would be built in China and re-badged as a Buick. However, now the 9-5 is poised to go down in the annals of automotive history as an unfortunate curiosity – a design that was fully tooled for production yet never got built.
“If Saab closes, the new 9-5 and 9-3 will go, and the cost absorbed in the winding-down charge,” says Nick Reilly, boss of GM's new Opel/Vauxhall operation in Europe.
That charge is estimated at between 50 million and 100m euros ($73m-$145m), Reilly says. Avoiding that charge is one of the driving forces behind continuing last-minute attempts to sell Saab. Rumors in Detroit suggested that Saab had just 48 hours left.
Reilly also confirmed that GM isn't looking for a payment for Saab. “We're not trying to get any money for Saab – it's costing us to keep it open.”
He says the main stumbling block for the various bids has been their ability to provide robust business plans to back the loans they needed from either the European Investment Bank or Swedish government.
“Koenigsegg managed to do that, but they pulled out of their own accord,” says Reilly. “although it's still not clear why they pulled out.”
Selling Saab to a solid new buyer is also a key consideration, because GM doesn't want a new owner to collapse after a couple of years, dumping problems at Saab back on the company's plate.
“We have a large [group] of owners that we need to support," said Reilly. "If we sell to a ‘fly-by-night' type operation and they collapse, the owners are going to come back to us. We need to sell it to someone who can keep it going.”
As of Tuesday morning, GM was continuing to talk to Dutch supercar-maker Spyker through its owner Victor Muller, plus a consortium of Luxembourg-based financiers including F1 ring-master Bernie Ecclestone. But GM also announced that two two legal officials had been appointed in Sweden to wind-down Saab.Source: Autocar