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When is a Saab Not a Saab?

Talks about naming rights break down between Chinese investors and Saab AB.

by on Feb.02, 2016

It may look like a Saab, but it's not a Saab. Talks between Swedish aerospace company and Nevs, the Chinese firm building EV versions of the 9-3, fell apart.

Saab is back … sort of.

Fans of the Swedish cars “born from jets” rejoiced in December when news broke that the defunct company was being resurrected by a a group of Chinese investors and renamed National Electric Vehicle Sweden, or Nevs, with the idea that they iconic vehicles would be remade into electric vehicles.

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However, lost in the hoopla was the fact that this new company didn’t have the rights to the name Saab, which is still held by Saab AB, the aerospace and defense company. According to Automotive News, the new company won’t be getting to use the name or logo either. (more…)

Saab Returns – Finally – as Electric Vehicle in China, Sweden

Nevs inks deal to produce 150,000 EVs by 2020.

by on Dec.18, 2015

Saab is returning with a 9-3-type sedan that will be a battery electric for China and Sweden.

Saab aficionados were disappointed when the company essentially went on hiatus a few years back after it was scooped up by a group of Chinese investors and renamed National Electric Vehicle Sweden, or Nevs, with the idea that they iconic vehicles would be remade into electric vehicles.

When it happened, the idea seemed a bit far-fetched; however, Nevs just signed a $12 billion deal to provide 150,000 9-3-style sedans for Panda New Energy Co, a vehicle leasing company that features green vehicles in its fleet.

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The vehicles should be delivered by the end of 2020 and the deal also calls for Nevs to provide an additional 100,000 other EVs and a variety of unnamed services. (more…)

A Saab Story with a Happy Ending?

Swedish maker builds first car in over two years.

by on Dec.02, 2013

The Saab plant was building the maker's 9-5 model when it was forced to shut down in April 2011.

Could there be a happy ending to one of the auto industry’s longest-running Saab stories? Or, more appropriately, a happy new beginning?

After a more than two-and-a-half-year shutdown that saw the Swedish maker go bankrupt, new owners have fired up the assembly line and rolled out a new Saab 9-3 Aero. The question is whether the plant will be able to keep going under control of a Chinese-Japanese consortium that eventually wants to shift production to a new line of electric vehicles.

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For now, production at the old Saab plant in Trollhattan, Sweden will be limited to “small and humble numbers,” said Mikael Ostlund, the spokesman for Hong Kong-based National Electric Vehicle Sweden.

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Saab is Back in Business – Almost

New owner restarts Swedish assembly line for first time in two years.

by on Sep.20, 2013

The Saab assembly line in Trollhattan, Sweden has been idled for more than two years.

Shortly before its seemingly final collapse, struggling Swedish automaker Saab rolled out a striking concept vehicle it dubbed the Phoenix.  Despite generally positive reviews, the prototype wasn’t enough to save Saab from collapse, but now under new ownership, Saab is once again trying to rise from the ashes – and the Phoenix could be the long-term key.

For now, though, the new parent, National Electric Vehicle Vehicle Sweden, or NEVS, is focusing on building the old Saab 9-3 as it fires up the maker’s flagship Trollhattan assembly plant for the first time since April of 2011.

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Just two cars rolled down the line this week, and “We need to finalize a few remaining dialogues to build partnerships with suppliers (before a formal decision is made) to start production of Saab cars,” cautioned a statement from Mattias Bergman, the acting president of NEVS.  But the goal is to have a turbocharged version of the 9-3 back in production before year end.

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Saab Shooting to Re-Start Production Mid-November

Maker now under court protection.

by on Sep.26, 2011

A Saab 9-5 in the Trollhattan plant.

Struggling under court protection to raise cash and pay off angry creditors Swedish automaker Saab hopes to get back into the business of building cars by sometime in mid-November.

That is just the latest in a series of plans to restart the company’s headquarters assembly plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, however, and skeptics would be far from surprised if the maker misses that goal, as well.

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After being rescued from the automotive rubbish heap in early 2010, Saab’s new parent – now known as Swedish Automobile – fell short of its sales targets and steadily deeper in debt.  By late March of this year the company’s unpaid vendors decided to boycott, leading to the shutdown of the Trollhattan plant.

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Swedish Court Rejects Saab’s Reorganization Bid

Maker to appeal – but is time running out?

by on Sep.08, 2011

Saab is building the new 9-4X but potential customers are still steering clear.

Time – and patience – may be running out for the embattled automaker Saab, a Swedish district court rejecting the maker’s request to go into reorganization, a process that would protect it from workers and others owed millions in cash while it comes up with plans to replenish its coffers.

Saab officials say they intend to appeal the decision by the Vanersborg District Court but observers have begun to believe that the financially strapped maker might now be forced into an involuntary bankruptcy – even though several Chinese companies are themselves waiting for regulatory approval on plans to acquire a majority stake in Saab’s parent, Swedish Automobile.

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“It appears unclear if – and if so when – the relevant Chinese authorities will approve the agreements,” the court said to explain its decision.

Saab has been struggling for a number of years but appeared to get a reprieve in early 2010 when General Motors sold the ailing firm to Swedish Automobile, then known as Spyker Cars.  But it soon became apparent that the new owners were woefully underfunded.  And, in late March, unpaid suppliers began a boycott that forced the maker to idle its headquarters plant in Trollhattan.

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Saab Production Resumes in August, But Maker Still Faces Major Challenges

Putting the emotion back into a “passion brand.”

by on Jul.07, 2011

The first Saab 9-4X crossovers rolled into U.S. dealer showrooms this week.

With cash in hand to pay both workers and boycotting suppliers, Saab will re-start its Swedish assembly line on August 9th, the automaker confirmed, though company officials acknowledge Saab still has a tough battle ahead if it hopes to reverse the financial problems that nearly shut it down over the last three months of frantic deal making.

While the maker continues to look for additional revenue sources to help ensure it won’t run into another cash crunch, the upcoming challenge will be to not only resume production but get buyers back into the carmaker’s 199 U.S. showrooms, said Tim Colbeck, President and Chief Operating Officer of Saab Cars North America.

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“Our priority,” he said, during a small briefing for Detroit journalists, “is to instill confidence in the brand.”

There hasn’t been much of that in recent months.

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Saab Plant Ready to Resume Production

"I blame myself," says Saab's Acting CEO.

by on May.11, 2011

A partially-assembled 9-5 body sits on the currently idled Saab Trollhattan assembly plant.

With its new investors on board and a new chief operating officer in place to direct its business in the U.S., Saab AB expects to restart its main assembly plant in Trollhattan Sweden, the company’s chief shareholder and  acting chief executive officer told TheDetroitBureau.com.

Victor Muller, Saab’s acting CEO, also said he expects to recruit a new, permanent CEO soon and took responsibility for the recent confrontation with suppliers that forced Saab to close the Trollhattan plant and undermined the company’s reputation.

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“I blame myself for what happened,” Muller said during an unusually candid moment before a dinner with journalists in Washington D.C.  Muller earlier told TheDetroitBureau.com that when suppliers threatened to halt deliveries over unpaid bills he decided to resist – to unexpected results.

Earlier this year, Saab was beginning the transition away from the GM’s purchasing organization, which meant that the terms and conditions of specific contracts were also in flux. As the terms began to change, some of the suppliers balked and in Muller’s words he decided “to call the bluff” of one key supplier.

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Saab Forming Partnership with Chinese Automaker Hawtai Motor Group

Additional deal with Gemini Investment should help reopen Saab plant this week.

by on May.02, 2011

Saab hopes to restart its Trollhattan plant this week.

Struggling to head off a collapse, the cash-strapped Swedish carmaker Saab has lined up a pair of deals that could allow it to reopen its headquarters assembly plant later this week.

Saab’s Dutch parent company, Spyker Cars NV, plans to borrow 30 million Euros ($44.6 million) from the Gemini Investment Fund, money that apparently will be used to pay off suppliers who have been boycotting the Swedish maker for nearly a month.

“We’re hoping to restart production in the next week, however it’s dependent upon our conversation with suppliers and parts availability,” cautioned Saab’s U.S. spokeswoman Michele Tinson.

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While the Gemini deal could head off a near-term catastrophe, the longer-term news involves the aspiring Chinese automaker Hawtai Automotive Group, which plans to announce a new partnership with Saab on Tuesday during a Beijing news conference.

Sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that Vladimir Antonov, the wealthy Russian businessman who had hoped to pull off a deal of his own with Saab may yet align himself with the struggling maker as part of the latest developments.

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Saab Shutdown Drags On, Threaten Brand’s Survival

Suppliers claim Swedish maker owes millions.

by on Apr.08, 2011

The Saab 9-5 Aero at the maker's plant in Trollhattan, which has been idled by suppliers demanding payment.

The shutdown of Saab’s main assembly plant, at its Trollhattan, Sweden headquarters, could drag on for some time as the maker struggles to raise additional cash to help cover what parts suppliers claim are millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

The maker’s parent, Dutch-based Spyker Cars, nonetheless insists that Saab is not nearing a collapse.  The maker only emerged for near-insolvency a year ago, after Spyker purchased the failing brand and its assets from General Motors.

A spokesperson for the automaker, based several hours from capital city Stockholm, said Saab officials are “working hard” to find a solution, but also warned “could” stretch on for several days.

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Following the Geneva Motor Show, in March, Saab Chairman Victor Muller stated the company still has about $200 million of the money left from a 2010 European Investment Bank loan.  But he also said Spyker would be seeking to raise additional capital as quickly as possible.

Saab was hit with a brief production halt last week when suppliers temporarily halted deliveries.  Saab appeared to have addressed that problem, but the confrontation resumed this week, and the latest production halt is now in its fourth day.

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