Over the last few weeks, General Motor’s European divisions have been locked into a kind of suspended animation.
GM Europe (GME) and Saab – as well as much of the rest of the automotive industry - are waiting for tomorrow’s unveiling of GM’s masterplan for survival.
That should come on Tuesday at 10pm our time (5pm in the US) and just after Wall Street has closed for the day.
Not unreasonably, GME and Saab fear the US government may rule that any future bailout funds for General Motors must stay in the US, which would effectively cut its European division adrift.
Klaus Franz, head of the GME works council, said: "There’s no future with GM. We can only see any prospects with a divestment."
To try and head off a staunching of funds from Detroit, German union bosses are lobbying the German regional governments to take substantial stakes in GME, in the same way that Lower Saxony owns 20 per cent of Volkswagen.
However, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, says she won’t discuss any rescue package until the GM plan has been unwrapped.
Meanwhile, over in Stockholm, the situation is rather more fevered. Talks between GM and the Swedish government are said not to be making significant progress.
GM wants the Swedish government to guarantee a loan to Saab of five billion Swedish Krona (around £500m) from the European Investment Bank.
This will be used partly to shift production of the new 9-5 back to Sweden and to fund some future product development. It can’t, though, be used as cash to prop Saab up.
However, the Swedish government are concerned that GM wants (in the absence of a buyer) to cut and run, making Saab effectively independent. The Swedish government is worried that an ailing Saab will then become its problem.
Saab may only build fewer than 150,000 cars per year but, in a country as small as Sweden, if it collapses the impact on the country’s economy will be far greater.
Some commentators claim that Saab’s failure could also undermine Volvo cars, Volvo’s trucks, Scania and the wider domestic supplier base.
So, we can be sure that the lights will be burning in both Berlin’s and Stockholm’s government buildings when the GM viability is finally revealed around midnight tomorrow.