GM boss's stark message, despite Trollhattan plant reopening
11 January 2010

GM 's bosses have sent out a downbeat message on Saab's future despite production at the company’s Trollhattan plant restarting today and the company saying it is still assessing offers from bidders.

Speaking at the Detroit motor show, GM chairman and acting chief executive Ed Whitacre said: "We're closing down Saab. We're winding it down."

See the Saab production line pictures, taken today

GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said GM would press ahead with closing down Saab unless a new bid emerged that was "financially better for us than the wind-down."

However, depsite the negative tones, the comments do not appear to move the shutdown of Saab any closer or further away, but rather reaffirm the actions begun last Friday, when GM hired AlixPartners, the restructuring firm that assisted in its US-government backed bankruptcy last year, to handle the wind-down of Saab.

"The offers we've received so far in terms of risk and financing up-front just have been as good as winding it down," Lutz said. "For years GM has been procrastinating when it comes to Saab. I'm glad to see that for once GM is sticking with a decision to wind something down."

However, a GM Europe spokesman told Autocar: "We're running both processes [the wind down and negotiations for the sale of Saab] in parallel, and one process doesn't preclude the other," he said. "There's no deadline for the decisions, we want to analyse the bids thoroughly, although time is of the essence.

"We want to do what is right by the bidders and by the Saab organisation. There's no change in the current situation."

The restarting of production in Trollhattan was scheduled to complete orders of the 9-3 and current 9-5. Meanwhile, work on the new Saab 9-5 build also restarted, as Saab has a small scale production facility for the car at its base.

If the company survives into tomorrow, build of the 9-3 Cabriolet, assembly of which has been shifted from Magna-Steyr’s Graz, Austria plant, will also restart.

As many as five bidders are said to be attempting the purchase of Saab, including Dutch supercar maker Spyker and an initiative headed by Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone. But doubt over whether GM is actually willing to make the sale is depressing the hopes of those wanting to see the marque survive.

Stories that GM has already earmarked the 9-5 production tools at Opel’s Russelsheim plant for another destination, possibly China where the car would be rebadged as a Buick, have been denied by GM’s Bob Lutz, who instead suggested that the model may never make it to the showroom. The sources for the story that GM has other plans for the new 9-5 nevertheless claim that it has very solid foundation.

At the Detroit show Lutz has also said that GM wouldn’t sell Saab to a company it didn’t believe in "because we would be saddled with all the costs."

GM boss Ed Whitacre is due to meet with officials from the Swedish government, including State Enterprise minister Joran Hägglund, today.

According to the Swedish newpaper Dagens Industri, Eccelestone and Genii have until then to demonstrate that they can finance the deal with a cash fund rumoured to be of between £44 to £88 million. Meanwhile Spyker boss Victor Muller is reported to be in a ‘buoyant mood’, with an offer that he believes GM "cannot refuse".

Richard Bremner

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Comments
7

11 January 2010

My thoughts go out out to everyone who work for Saab whether it be at the factory or dealers or other companies that Saab use! It must be a terrible time for all involved not knowing what is going on and GM being a bunch of twats over this letting it drag on and on! I hope it works out for the best even with all the rumours going around that says otherwise.

11 January 2010

Ditto

I think GM are deliberately dragging their feet on this because they know that for everyday that closing of SAAB is in the press, continues to weaken the brand's image until finally the general consensus will be that SAAB is dead.

GM has never had a good word to say about SAAB and now they are dumping them the negativity has increased dramatically. GM has not said one single good word about the sale. They only maintain that the bids are not good enough, that cars may never get build. Don't bank on SAAB being saved, etc.

Could you imagine going into a dealership and the salesman saying to you. "Yeah you could this car but to be honest I'd rather sell it for parts cos it's old, not very good and it has cost me a fortune to to keep it in the showroom when I could have used the space to sell something else. However if you want to buy it then you need to give me more than list price for it because you have to show me you want it more than what it is going to cost me to strip it apart and haul it to the scrappys"

This is GM's selling tactics. Can you see a slight error in their strategy?

Is it me or can anyone else see that GM are doing everything possible to stop a sale and bury SAAB once and for all.

11 January 2010

Hilton, keep the spotlight and pressure on GM to rationalise its unwillingness to release Saab. There are good deals on the table, at least 3 of which meet and exceed GM's requirements, no excuses GM!

12 January 2010

Seems now now the Whitacre has just increased the asking price for SAAB buy $50 Million for no apparent reason. So now we GM saying that buyers are not financially stable but also expect them to stretch themselves further to need GM's demands. Looks like GM's continual moving of goal posts tactics are coming out of the woodwork again. They done it with OPEL, Saturn and even Christian von Koenigsegg is on record talking about GM eventually getting too greedy which is the main reason they pule out of the deal last November.

It's not just the 3,400 jobs in Trollhättan that are on the line here. There's also a further approximate 20,000 employed at dealerships through the globe and that's before you look at the knock on effect that will hit suppliers.

12 January 2010

I shouldn't have written this at 6 in the morning. nevermind

hyf

12 January 2010

Do GM know what they are doing?

Seems strange that the first new 95s and first Trolhatten 93 convertibles rolled off the production lines today. Are they just trying to get the best price or causing total confusion to customers , employees, suppliers and dealers?

12 January 2010

This gives not only GM bad press, it reflects badly on America as a whole- People will view American business practice as un-gentlemanly, callous and unethical. GM begs cap in hand to congress.Lucky congress didn't have the same approach to GM as GM does to SAAB. What message does this send out to car makers in China and around the world.They're not only jeopopardising SAAB workers and suppliers but potentially wrecking the reputation and profitability of their remaining brands. The fact they could have avoided all this negaitivity shows they're too insensitive and arrogant to care, which will be to their detriment in the long run. People in power so often seem to repeat such obvious mistakes- it must be the fact they're swaddled by yes men,to make so inured to all the bad press and ill feeling they're causing.

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