Swede and sour

Saab fol­lows Volvo in get­ting a boost from China

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - PAUL GOVER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

CASH from China will keep Saab’s come­back plan in Aus­tralia on track.

The Swedish com­pany was only weeks into its re­turn with the all-new 9-5 and ex­ist­ing 9-3 when cash­flow prob­lems at home threat­ened its re­vival plan. Un­paid sup­pli­ers forced a shut­down of the fac­tory at Troll­hat­tan, Swe­den. How­ever, Saab says fresh in­vest­ment from China’s Haw­tai Mo­tor Group has restarted pro­duc­tion and con­firmed its plans for fu­ture mod­els. It stops short of con­firm­ing a baby 9-2, con­sid­ered the cru­cial model for its re­newed op­er­a­tions, but says $203 mil­lion from Haw­tai will make all the dif­fer­ence.

All things be­ing equal, I hope we’ve seen the last of the grow­ing pains,’’ says Saab’s chair­man, Vic­tor Muller.

Haw­tai was cho­sen from a dozen po­ten­tial part­ners and is pro­vid­ing cap­i­tal and a loan that will make it a 29.9 per cent stake­holder in Saab, the same as Muller, the for­mer boss of the Spyker sports car com­pany. Rus­sian ty­coon Vladimir Antonov also plans to in­vest.

Muller be­lieves Saab now has both the cash it needs and a strate­gic part­ner that will pro­duce the 9-3 in China plus han­dle dis­tri­bu­tion of other Saab mod­els in the world’s fastest-grow­ing car mar­ket.

We’re cur­rently putting to­gether a busi­ness plan for the joint ven­ture,’’ he says. We chose this one for many rea­sons, but one in par­tic­u­lar is that it is a very en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­pany. Their size is very at­trac­tive. So they are a very equal part­ner.’’

Muller re­fuses to con­firm the 9-2’s fu­ture but says the chances of it go­ing ahead are bet­ter with Haw­tai.

The chances of build­ing a car like that have not di­min­ished. You could now think of a sit­u­a­tion where you could cre­ate a plat­form in a part­ner­ship with Haw­tai.’’

He says it is too early to spec­u­late, but the chances have not de­creased so it does bode well for the Saab 9-2.

Muller also says the Chinese con­nec­tion could take Saab in an­other new direc­tion.

If you look at the spe­cific needs of the Chinese mar­ket, you could think of other prod­ucts— there is a large de­mand for large SUVs— so cre­at­ing a ve­hi­cle that is larger than the 9-4X is think­able. But it’s way too early.’’

Muller also says that Saab deal­ers could even­tu­ally have Haw­tai ve­hi­cles in their show­rooms, though

some­where far in the fu­ture’’.

New: The fu­ture of the Saab 9-5 Vec­tor 2.0T (above) and Saabs to come, such as the con­cept 9-1 (be­low) nowseems se­cure

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