There will be little doubt when we get to look back on it that March 2006 was a huge month for Saab Automobile AB. The only question remaining now is the perspective in which we’ll see it.
First up there was the Aero-X. A concept in every true sense and a pointer for the future. A car that has captured the press and the people. A car that made Robert Collin smile.
The one that snuck up on us was the Hybrid. Just mere days after the Aero-X has rocked the world, Saab announces a Biopower Hybrid. Potential zero fossil-fuel emissions and better performance, and all this modelled in a convertible of all things. Talk about different!
Add on to these mammoth events (and they are mammoth events, don’t let my brevity fool you), the fact that Saab has had it’s best start to the year ever in terms of sales, with March looking to either hold steady or continue to improve depending on the market – there’s little doubt that March 2006 has been an absolute cracker!
Perhaps one of the biggest things to influence Saab over the next 5 years or so happened just in the last few hours. It happened in a court room in the US. Farago‘s writing about it, Detroit News is writing about, Reuters, the IHT and plenty of others will cover it too.
Delphi took the next step in its bankruptcy proceedings today, filing its restructuring plan and asking the judge to tear up it’s existing labour contracts with its largely UAW workforce in the US. Delphi’s looking to shed plants as well as slashing the hourly rate for contract workers from $27 and hour to $16.50.
The UAW won’t have a bar of it and the consensus opinion is that there’s a strike coming. It won’t happen straight away, but chances are very high that it will happen.
I’ve got no idea the number of parts, if any, that Delphi manufactures for new Saabs. I’ve got no idea whether or not a strike by Delphi workers in the US would effect Saab workers in Sweden at all. Perhaps the 9-7x will be the only vehicle to feel the pain. But I do know that a long, protracted strike will pretty much cripple GM in the US, and what cripples the parent will surely be felt by the child, even if they’re a continent away.
The cynical amongst us could raise the sale possibilities again. Saab’s value right now would have to be higher than pretty much any point in the last few years. Improved sales, 2 magnificent and well-received concepts – one of which having real practical applications in the near future. That’s a company with momentum and value. One could go even further…..GM have known about the Delphi deadline (March 31) for some time now. One could even say that this build-up in momentum, the concept announcements etc, has been timed to add value at a critical time when potential suitors could come knocking.
But that would be me being cynical.
Many analysists have said that bankruptcy would be the best route for GM. Shed the fat and come out a leaner machine, still holding all your future designs. Maybe that’s the case. But I’d hate to think that things would fall over just when the GM-Saab relationship is starting to bear some fruit.