It’s well past December 31, which is the time we all expected a decision from Mahindra as to whether or not they were going to invest in the ghost of Saab.
NEVS’s money was expected to run out by then and Mahindra were going to provide two tranches of funds IF the deal was going to go ahead – $5mil for January and $5mil for Febraury – to keep the ghost afloat in ‘reorganisation’ (bankruptcy protection) until the deal is finalised.
NEVS got a financial lifeline by selling tooling for spare parts to Orio, which explains why there was no urgency around the end of the year. The price paid in the deal wasn’t mentioned in the press release so the amount of time they’ve bought is unknown. It wouldn’t be too long, however.
When will Mahindra make a decision? It’d be nice to know.
My mate Tompa has been speaking with Christian Von Koenigsegg about engines. Specifically, the potential for cutting a Koenigsegg V8 in half and using the resulting V4 in a passenger vehicle.
You can read the article here, at a site I hadn’t seen before called Saab Tala.
The good news is that Christian believes it’s entirely possible. And considering that Christian knows more about cars and engineering than anyone else I’ve met, I’ll take that as given. In fact, not only is it possible, but Christian estimates that a half-Koenigsegg V4 could reliably produce plenty of power.
Quote from Christian:
If [you’re] looking at a 2 litre engine with 4 cylinders with a slightly smaller turbo to get a fantastic response, we are talking about 450 hp and 500 Nm on Unleaded 95 octane.
Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?
There’s no bad news in this story, but the $64,000 questions remain unanswered – how much would it cost? And would that cost gel with the market(s) Mahindra would pursue with Saab if they got control of the company? Are they looking to take on the Audis and BMW’s of the world?
They’d better be. Because the engine won’t be cheap and consequently, the car won’t be cheap, either.
I don’t agree with Saabtala’s point of view about the BMW/Mini 1.6 engine being a mistake. I think it would have been a great engine for Saab, as it has been for Mini. The salient point is this: That BMW/Mini engine was considered to be a very expensive choice and it’s an engine that was used across several brands and made in the hundreds of thousands of units. How much, then, for a purpose-designed V4 from one of the most expensive carmakers in the world that’d be made in the tens of thousands?
Quality has its price. Your level of comfort with that price depends on the market you’re chasing.
It’s an interesting story and I know Tompa’s going to chase it a little more. I’m keen to see what he comes up with, if only from an engineering point of view. You can build whatever Saab you like if you’ve got the money, but you’ve got to be able to sell it to someone. That’ll be the hard part – whatever path they choose.
Side note: Tompa first met Christian when I asked via SU for someone in Sweden to provide a convertible Saab for Tompa’s wedding a few years ago. Christian was the only person to respond to the request, so Tom and Carola got to drive Halldora von Koenigsegg’s car on their wedding day. Result! 🙂
I remember the early days of Spyker’s ownership of Saab, with Victor Muller saying that the biggest threat to Saab’s future was a double-dip recession.
It’s interesting to ponder, then, what might have been if Spyker had access to finance and stuck it out until 2015.
Well, 2014 saw Western Europe record it’s first rise in new vehicle sales since 2009. And they’re forecast to grow in 2015, too. From Just Auto:
The US market also saw sales rise in 2014, but then the US market has been rising for a while. The US market’s recent low was also in 2009 with just 10.4 million vehicles sold. There were 16.5 million vehicles sold in 2014 and the last time the US market was that big was in 2006.
I wonder what would have happened, then, if there were no ban on Vladimir Antonov’s money (and no Antonov charges in Lithuania) and no supplier backlash in March 2011. What if all the new vehicle launches went ahead according to schedule and Saab kept making cars through 2011 and beyond? Would Saab have sold enough with the 9-4x, the new 9-5 and whatever would have happened with the 9-3 between then and now?
Such a prolonged slump was the economic situation that Victor feared the most in those early days. I wonder if ‘we’ could have survived it to prosper in 2015 and beyond?