The Future

A big part of Saab’s future took shape late last week. I’m not talking about GM ditching its stock in Subaru and the cancellation of the 9-6x. Sure, this has an effect, which I think will be a good one if recent crossover news is fulfilled. What I’m writing about here is the recent filing for bankruptcy by GM’s major parts manufacturer, Delphi.

Autoblog has its writeup and the press release here.

The Autoprophet has a good summary on the outlook for GM as a result of this action. Delphi was spun off from GM in 1999 and is GM’s biggest parts supplier. The fact that this bankruptcy has taken place has a good and a bad side. Delphi gets the chance to restructure its business into a leaner operation (read: competitive), unencumbered by some of the legacy contracts that accompanied its formation. The bad side is that there’s a human face to those contracts – workers past and present that will be hurt by the action. Whether all the benefits they’ve been reaping for years are really deserved is a topic for another post, and likely, another weblog.

The omen for GM in general is not a good one as GM is loaded up with the same contracts and overheads as was Delphi. With recent downgrades to stock ratings, a declining SUV market and a decline in marketshare in general – The General’s future is looking decidedly murky.

Some see it as the necessary pain that must be endured in order for GM to be reborn into a world class, competitive manufacturer again. That may be so….

BUT

Where will an ever-increasingly likely restructure of GM leave Saab? Would they be motivated to retain it? More to the point: would a bankruptcy proceeding allow them to retain an historically proven loss-making division, regardless of its potential?

I’ve been looking forward to watching Saab’s future because of model development. I don’t know if Saab’s founding fathers double-crossed some Chinese in their past, but the company they founded seems destined for the curse of living in interesting times. My observance of Saab’s future is still something to look forward to, if only for this reason.

The sales options most often mentioned in recent times seem to gravitate between Renault (I don’t know why, but they do) or a sale to a Chinese company. If push comes to shove, you can bet your firstborn that GM won’t care where the money comes from – only that it’s the right colour and in sufficient quantity. I’m also willing to bet that out of those two options, one will lead to a maintainting of the Saab community, and one will see it disbanded into a bunch of historical preservation societies.

I’ll let you figure out which is which.

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