Poll: Who would you like to see as Saab’s new owner?

Bids for the purchase of Saab Automobile are due by April 10th, which means it’s crunch time in Trollhattan. Who would you rather see as Saab’s new owner?

I was going to introduce this poll with an overview of the three ‘known’ parties that are reported to be interested in purchasing Saab Automobile. According to all the reports, they are:

  • Youngman – Chinese company with fingers in several pies, wanting to expand into passenger cars
  • Mahindra – Indian company with fingers in several pies. Owns one passenger car brand already but does more with commercial vehicles.
  • Unidentified Sino-Japanese consortium looking to build electric vehicles.

I’ll leave my thoughts on each party aside, for the moment. Right now, I’m more interested in seeing what you think of the potential bidders.

Vote below. Comments are open if you’d like to elaborate.

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56 Comments

  1. M&M, personally know of two businesses acquired by them and they are going great. Very aggressive and have comprehensive and clear vision.

  2. I just wish that BMW would be the one…I guess that we’ll have to settle for less… Again … China could win but I ‘m so disapointed even though I just bought myself my last insurable 93 aero ’08 this week because no one in the province of Québec will insure models ’09 or newer… I feel sad

    1. Settle for less?
      How many knew anything about or had even heard of TATA when they aquired Jaguar? Or Geely? Volvo is doing better than ever.

      If BMW would be a new owner that Could (but only could) be Fab but with one HUGE downside…… One high end premium car manufacturer owning a premium car manufacturer in the same size segment and the same kind of models. Ok, Saab could go back to being the “smart” and “quirky” of the pack but at the same time: Aero vs M… Saab hatch vs BMW hatch etc. Would BMW save the goodies in the parts bin for themselves and have Saab tech develop things that would only gain BMW? Would Saab remain Saab or become a retro brand like Mini or like Rover became with the 75? No thank you.

      But we don’t have to think of a BMW future since they have denied any interest in Saab Automobile.

      One thing about M&M is that we know absolutely nada of their intentions and businessplan. Youngman has been very straight forwards with what they want to do.

      Electric cars only? No thanks

      Cheers/Tom

      1. “Youngman has been very straight forwards with what they want to do.” this seems to be opposite of what we’ve been told by Swade, VM, TimR, random SAAB staff, on and on and on.

        Also, to be fair, the history of Geely/Volvo and Tata/JLR is very fresh, you point to as it is a decades-long success story. Where will you be if Geely moves the majority of manufacturing to China in 5 years?

        How was the Rover 75 a “retro brand”. You are truly are clueless. I should have read your post more before wasting time.

        1. As a former SaabsUnited writer I am hardly “clueless” and I resent your tone. You don’t know me and nore do I know you.

          Steven, Tim (Whom I both know) or newspapers have said nothing other than that Youngman has been open. Youngman have told the press of their plans. The thing with Youngman is a lack of management skills and if what they have said can be trusted.
          So No, it is in no way opposite.

          The Rover 75 had a “Retro” design. I nice looking car but I hope Saab stay away from making cars with to much of the old designs. Saab need to stay fresh but with their own design cues.

          I have Never stated the Geely/Volvo deal to be decades long… But as it looks it is a good deal for both.

          Cheers/Tom

          1. And AjA..
            Tim is the one that took over from Steven at SaabsUnited.
            SU has a Team of writers. Among them TimR, Robin M, Rune, Jeff, RedJ, Till72, Jason Powell, Brendan etc.

            Cheers/Tom

    2. Bimmer might be a good fit, but still, SAAB would never ever be the main focused brand. They would of coarse be better of than what they where under the GM ownership, the scarps from bimmer will probably be something that a brand can live on, but SAAB will not be a brand that will be first with techs, inventions and so on. That’s bimmers role.

      Under Mahindra, they hopefully will get an owner that let the brand breath and build what they can do. With Mahindra, they hopefully get funding that takes them thought all the developing costs and an owner that can take those losses during 3-5 years.
      Then, and first then, we can see what the actual potential is within SAAB.

  3. I’ll go for something Swedish or European myself. But, does my opinion really matter? Just looking to stay alive.

  4. I wonder just who in his right mind would really choose an unknown one over Youngman… one has to be really clueless, indeed.

  5. The “other” category isn’t just for hopeful guesses. It’s there just in case there is an “other” bidder that hasn’t been discussed publicly (which I doubt, but still…)

    All companies would be well aware of GM’s veto and indications are that they’re proceeding, so they either have plans to take the company forward without it, or some sort of deal with GM.

  6. I was of the impression that GM’s influence is limited strictly to the licensing of their IP rights– Swade, please let us know if this is correct.

    But given the choices on the board, I’m strongly pulling for M&M: Not only can they produce or procure needed parts through their own manufacturing facilities (they make their own steel!) and supply chain if Saab’s regular suppliers falter, they also have 2 different lines of cars/trucks (Mahindra and Ssangyong) to sell the ailing dealer base while the new Saabs get ramped up. I’ve heard enough about Youngman to have that company placed as an absolute last resort, one half-step above selling off Saab’s assets.

  7. GM’s veto only pertains to IP. The administrators can sell Saab’s estate to anyone, but the buyer will need an agreement with GM to produce vehicles that rely on GM technology.

    So Saab can be sold. GM can’t veto that. But they can veto any future production based on their technology.

    1. Which means that any buyer will have significant design time before any new vehicles exit the Saab plant. It’s a significant impediment to success without deep, deep pockets.

  8. I voted for Mahindra because on paper they are definitely the best new owner. they have money, they don’t have a bread brand portfolio, so SAAB would not suffer under some other brands, the experience with JLR under Tata is more then positive.
    But I also have some reservations. Who can guarantee that M&M want to continue with producing SAAB cars? The only bidder that has publicly declared that they want the brand is Youngman (and of course Brightwell, but they are out of the game now).
    But let’s hope for the best: SAAB has flourished under Idnian ownership and has become not only successful mid sized car company, but a strong engineering hub for all Mahindra vehicles.

    1. “the experience with JLR under Tata is more then positive.”

      Precisely my thoughts. Tata have done wonders with JLR, here’s hoping the same thing can happen to SAAB…SOON! 🙂

      1. Done wonders? You know much of that product was developed under Ford, right? Ford sold Tata a JLR on the rise. You honestly think that Tata was the brains behind all of this?

        1. Yes, I do believe Tata has done wonders with JLR. They have owned them now for four years, and JLR are in the best financial position they have been in in decades.

          Below, are articles about JLR’s 2011 profits (2012 haven’t been released yet). And the new vehicles introduced by JLR in the past few years SINCE the purchase from Ford, have been developed without the help of Ford.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/8538217/Jaguar-Land-Rover-profits-rise-above-1bn.html

          http://blog.roadandtrack.com/jaguar-land-rover-profits-boost/

          Tata may not have been “the brains behind all of this”…but they had they financial where-with-all to allow the engineers and desingers within JLR crerate vehicles that have been selling very well. Far better that Ford ever did.

  9. I’ve never been very optimistic about the future. And starting from scratch and not building GM cars makes a restart a long way off.

    I have always felt that if Saab needed a partner, they would match a Japanese or Korean company very well. Both countries have found it hard to expand into Europe with bigger cars. Think how long it’s taken Toyota with the Lexus brand – 20 years?

    So a well founded Korean or Japanese company would be ideal. Saab would get the funds for development and production. The new owner would get an established upmarket European brand to use as a point of sale for larger cars.

    My first thoughts would be Honda. The Legend has never been really accepted in Europe and the Acura is only in the USA. Or Kia who are just beginning to expand. Who would not be tempted by a Saab with turbo and Vtec? 🙂 Then sell it with a 7 year warranty….

    1. I’ve thought Subaru could have been good – not so much because there was the Saabaru, but I think the two brands could coexist nicely.

  10. India isn’t really into the “shiny car” syndrome yet. China is. Check out what’s on their highways.
    For that reason, plus the fantastic chinese work ethic: Youngman.
    Make sense to anyone else?

    1. Question is does Youngman really have deep enough pockets to totally wait until new Saabs with no GM IP can be designed, built, tested and approved for sale in the key markets? They will get NO help from GM, so they would have the longest runway to new product.

      We do not know for a fact that GM would say no to M&M on all IP. Sure, they are not likely to restart production in Mexico on the 9-4X, but they might be willing to allow production in Trollhattan of the current 9-3 and 9-3X (and maybe 9-5?) The answer seems to be pretty strong and consistent for a Chinese company, but there have been some mixed messages for non-Chinese companies. Also, M&M is not a small enterprise. They may have some cards to play that might interest GM.

      All electric cars is a start-over from scratch with no proof that it is (yet) a viable business model long term. Would not be the Saab we know today or even the Saab that was to be the future before the bankruptcy. So that option to me is “game over”.

      1. Bottom line is I feel there are no optimal solutions at this point…only which solution offers the most hope for something like the Saab we know. While I appreciate Youngman’s year long interest and their seemingly good intentions, the option that offers the most hope (in my opinion) seems to be M&M.

  11. KIA is owned by Hyundai so thats a nogo.

    Why Vtec? I’d rather have a badge saying “VarioCam Plus” on a Saab 😉 Why? Because Porsche tech has a better ring to it than Honda tech.
    Hey Steven… Does Alfa have their own Valve timing/lift control technology? 🙂

    Cheers/Tom

  12. Without knowing who “other” might be, “other” got my vote. All in all, of course, “other” (or Mahindra, or Youngman, or the China/Japan Electric Car Consortium) has a series of massive mountains to climb. First is GM. God only knows what they’ll say about any acquisition since they haven’t been all that open about it over the past year. Second is the $1.9 billion in debt that SU says Saab has, along with the large amount of cash a new owner would need to put into the company going forward – to design and build new models, to reassemble its dealer network, to restore the value of the brand name. Last, of course, is the disposition of the brand name itself. Will Saab, the aircraft company, allow Saabs to be called Saabs in the future? Before you jump all over me, I’m not a crepe-hanger. I have a lot of affection for Saabs. I’ve owned four of them. With one exception, a ’95 9000 CD, they were great cars. I sincerely hope the company comes back.

  13. M&M seems to be the shortest distance to restarted production, if GM plays ball on IP. If Mahindra gets full access to IP, I hope to see both the NG9-5 and 9-3 in production this year as 2013 models.

    The biggest problem with any of the 3 (4 if BMW is included) potential purchasers will be making the normal car buyer aware the brand has arisen from the dead, hence building on the Pheonix platform or name.

    All electric Saab is a no win proposition, only delaying the eventual sell-off of the plant/brand.

    However, I am pessimistic on Saab long term, to the point of eventual liquidation. 🙁

    1. If BMW indeed took over SAAB, the PR would be complete almost overnight that SAAB is back. With all others, it will take years and $$$.

      It seems BMW is just wishful thinking, so the major hope now is M&M with GM playing ball (don’t really see that happening).

  14. BMW would be the best solution (if BMW is included). If M & M is able to restart production in short term, I would also support this buyer and order a new Saab.

  15. I voted for Mahindra as they seem the best positioned candidate. They are big and they have the means to make it happen. I just hope they don’t plan to make Ssangyongs in Trollhattan.

    Youngman has proved quite unreliable during last months, that led to bankruptcy of Saab. That may also be partially attributed to GM’s hostile attitude when it comes to IP issues, past EIB entanglements and gross neglect by SweGov. Still, they broke their promises on several occasions. Also, NDRC may yet prove to be a hurdle for them in the future. Chinese government is also gradually working on their strategy of world industrial domination, which is quite probably going to make us see chinese Saabs in western markets sooner rather than later, should they win the bidding. Not a very nice thought.

    Same as the first cars were in no way better than horses, electric cars are currently way behind their gas brethren, but one day they may prove to be the preffered solution. I fear however that that day is still far away. Unless this sino-japanese consortium has an absolutely revoulutionary an still unheard of technology in their pocket (which I seriously doubt), they have no future. Current electric cars may pick their prizes as European and whatever cars of the year, but I still didn’t see a single Ampera or Leaf on the road as they don’t sell. No wonder as they are unpractical (range), ecologicaly unfriendly (battery) and also very expensive. I don’t see myself buying one in next 10 years.

    God only knows what other interesting parties may be involved here. In my oppinion the best soluttion would be independence – alas that did not happen.

  16. Why is everyone so worried about GMs IP? GM is just playing with everyone. We all know the company is run by greedy vultures who will do anything for a buck. Therefore they can yell no all they want, but if someone puts a large amount of money on the table they will take it. Most likely their refusal to cooperate with anyone is just a tactic to raise the bets.

    1. I agree.
      And I vote Mahindra. And I think that if Youngman really had wanted Saab, they would have bought it already.
      And GM can go **** themselves.

      1. Hans-my thoughts exactly too. Youngman dropped the ball on Saab already months ago, so they’ve lost my confidence & I don’t trust them. I hope Mahindra gets the bid & they also begin producing without any influence from GM. Though it may take a lot of time, I think that a new company free of GM’s bad ideas has a lot of potential for success.

    2. You of course are assuming that the folks at GM know what the are doing and what they want. My question is do they have their heads screwed on straight?

      Just a thought.

  17. BMW, for sure. That’s one of the few owners that would instantly restore confidence. They also have the funds. Leading technology and great fun on both front and back wheel drive. I vote for BMW (even if that is a naive wish)

  18. BMW isn’t on this list but should be as it was confirmed they were a party interested. mahindra may be big enough to buy the company, but they aren’t big enough to invest and save the company and develop new models. and as i suspect may only be interested in buying saab for its technology, tooling, and maybe to rebrand saabs for the indian market to capture a segment there…..

    youngman are a favourite but GM say’s no to china.
    saabs as electric vehicles? come on. even as current saab’s they dont sell enough numbers to survive. it would kill the brand PERMENANTLY.

    the favourite is BMW. not only do they have the money to buy, but also to invest and repair the brands faults, and develop new models that will no longer have GM DNA.and they have a proven track record of repairing brands improving them and developing new models whilst keeping the brands heritage. BMW WOULD BE THE WISEST CHOICE

  19. Personally Id like to see Koenigsegg buy Saab. They originally intended on buying the brand from GM but couldnt agree on a price – but more importantly the Swedish government said they refused to bail out any swedish company failing that had ownership overseas. This would now bring the ownership of saab back into Sweden and finally get some support from the government. It is at least 3500 jobs they would be protecting if they were to step in…

  20. mahindra in my opinion are a bad choice. i remember seeing them at a motorshow when mahindra tried to enter the british market in the early 90’s. they had 1 model which looked like a chinese copy of the jeep wrangler, and another model of a 4×4 pickup. both models were really old technology and as poorly made as a lada. they didnt even have glossy brochures. just black and white printouts from a PC stapled as a 2 page booklet…. this may explain why they only lasted a year in britain before shuffling back to india with their tail between their legs, and also another reason why mahindra are unknown outside of india.

    Its also a reason why i don’t think they have enough money to repair the company or invest in new models. they may scrape together enough to buy the company but i think that’s all they can do. If mahindra are chosen, i can see bankruptcy will be looming a year or 2 later again.

    plus i think mahindra’s interest would be the technology and tooling to imrove mahindra and maybe to rebrand saab’s as mahindra’s for the indian market.

    1. What M&M looked like in the mid 90:s might not be a good point of reference I guess.
      Today they got models that is approved by the US regulatory, but no dealers, the opposite of what saab have…or had.
      The Syang product isn’t all bad even if the stuff isn’t of the latest fashion, I do believe that M&M got what it takes, if they are allowed

  21. Look, I don’t really want any of them. I would really like to see another German company buy them. I just don’t think that the Japanese are capable of keeping the Sweedish mark that they have on it. Hopefully something will change.

  22. I’m ready for the process to move forward. I am sure the SAAB will be able to reestablish itself with new ownerships. I saw that GM had veto power over a purchase, how is that possible? GM screwed up SAAB so much you would think there would be a limit their power.

    GM is a piece of **** company who couldn’t even cut it on their own without the US government saving their ass, how the hell do they have the ability to veto a buy out of SAAB?

  23. I was woting for Youngman, because of their interest during reconstruction. They have been hanging on and allready put in a great lot of money.
    Chine will take a serious discussion with the wide gaps of usa. They have a great amount of USdolar cashed in. If they dislike us realityecomomics, they can easily put usa on the shelf by selling out.
    An other interesting chase would be an overtake by Peageout/Citroen.
    GM have just made some letter of indents with the frensh group.
    This would be a really great surprice in Washington – Detroit !
    Perhaps tis way out would put a knife in the shoulder of the mean americans.

  24. I vote for Youngman. They have always pledged to keep design and production in Sweden. They have experience with their own brand and Lotus/Proton vehicles. Also I believe for Saab to survive it has to do well in China.

  25. The one thing I have been wondering from the start of GM’s show of power by stating no to everyone on the IP rights is: If GM is so set against a chinese owner or someone starting Saab up at all why don’t they buy them again and just shut them down and have all of the recent Saab IP too ?

    I am hoping that “other” doesn’t include GM and that GM’s only reason for a bid is the death blow. Am I paranoid or does anyone think GM could be holding back on their IP to keep bids low and let Saab back?

  26. I wonder how deep GM’s IP runs in the cars. Does it cover Saab innovations like active head restraints, night panel as well as chassis design, hard points, engines, transmission?

    1. …four wheels, gasoline, seats, windshield, words, …
      The list goes on and on… GM owns everything. If you ask them.

  27. I can’t get excited about the prospect of Mahindra – I can’t forgot those awful Jeep things they manufacture! I know Tata had a similar track record before buying Jaguar Land Rover but its such a gamble.
    For every Geely there is an SAIC – The Longbridge site in Birmingham, Rover used to manufacture is largely a wasteland. The cars are now manufactured in China and assembled in Birmingham by a skeleton workforce. Its the solution that best suits SAIC’s plans but all those engineering skills have been lost forever.
    TVR was bought by a Russian oligarchs son and has disappeared completely, the factory in Blackpool now abandoned and derelict.
    Whoever it is will need deep pockets and I’d love it to stay European. BMW bought up Austin Rover and stripped out the brands and technologies it wanted, though it did breath new life into a dormant Mini the rest was an afterthought.
    Chinese Youngman I believe would be first and foremost interested in servicing the largest growth Automotive market first – China, a market which is dominated by products inferior to there European counterparts, and whilst brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar are all experiencing growth in China do Youngman consider Saab an equal brand? or would it simply be a platform for a passenger car that could be mass produced in a low cost format?
    So many concerns about all the bidders. I still feel that the other rumours may offer a more popular option and guarantee the continuation of the values of the Saab brand and ensure we have a product that Saab drivers will want to buy beyond brand loyalty – and will be a compelling proposition for other buyers…

    1. I agree totally. To be honest, none of the mentioned contenders excite me at all. Youngman bailed at the last minute, actually causing the bankruptcy and now want to get hold of Saab on the cheap (for what purpose, who really knows..), Mahindra may have good intentions as they seem to have done with SsangYong, but also just as much may want the tech to either improve SsangYong or Mahindra’s own woeful product, and as for electric cars, total non-starter. Who would buy these electric “Saabs” if they ever got built? Too much pipe-dreaming for me..

      In my very sad, but honest view, it’s too late for anyone now. The huge amount of money, time and positive publicity that’s required would doubtless cripple any company and I can’t see who would be willing to risk it.

  28. Are any of the above suitable buyers?
    Just because Tata and JLR are successful it does not follow that Mahindra Saab will find equal success. They are vastly different organisations with different problems. GM jumping on the Saab bandwagon after Ford bought Jaguar did not work out too well in the end.

    At this stage in the game the parallels with MG Rover are too strong – plant closed, urgently needed products still in development. I almost prefer the idea of shuttering the plant for 3-5 years and then relaunching as an all electric brand but again the challenges involved remain immense.

    I believe SWAN was the last best hope for ‘business as usual’ if and when Saab returns I await to see if they re-emerge with answers to the problems of yesterday or the problems of tomorrow.

  29. Where is the voting option for killing off GM? I’ll vote for that! On a more serious note, I think, I’ll vote for the unknown, because the one we do not know about, might just be the real true SAAB saviour!

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