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Saab Maker Says New Asian Shareholder Will Aid Turnaround
By Niklas Magnusson
Dec 1, 2014

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, the investment group that bought the assets of Saab Automobile two years ago, said it’s found two Asian investors that may help fund its revival of the Swedish car brand.

An Asian carmaker agreed on Nov. 30 to buy a majority stake in Nevs and finance the company’s operating costs until the deal is complete early next year, the Trollhaettan, Sweden-based company said in a statement today. Nevs also said it’s in talks with another Asian manufacturer on a joint venture to develop new vehicles.

Nevs, a Chinese-Japanese investment group led by renewable energy power-plant builder National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd., sought protection from its creditors in August after struggling to deliver on a target of producing 120,000 cars a year by 2016. That would have come close to the Saab brand’s 2006 peak of 133,000 autos.

Talks with the two Asian manufacturers have “intensified significantly in the past few weeks,” Nevs said today. It didn’t identify either company.

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported on Aug. 5 that Nevs was in talks with India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (MM) and China’s Dongfeng Motor Corp. on funding, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the talks.

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And two more get sucked into the money pit...
 

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And two more get sucked into the money pit...
Probably. However, Mahindra has stated previously that they were on the hunt for a Western/European brand and this seems like their best opportunity to snag one. They've also said that, if they were to obtain such a brand, they'd be "in it" for the long haul. I don't know if they'll have the patience to do it, but it sounds like they're saying the right things.

Whomever ends up with the brand, I wish them luck.
 

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What exactly would Mahindra be buying? GM still owns the technology that Saab has used for the past decade. Saab never made its own engines. Saabs were effectively 100% GM content - and GM never agreed to give any of that up - only the older stuff that GM didn't want anymore. And NEVS does not have any rights to continued use of the Saab name or logo. So, I ask again, what is Mahindra buying other than a pretty modern former GM plant that is tooled for GM cars?
 

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Uh huh...

Tombalas makes a good point. The Saab that exists today could never be a full-line automaker. They've been stripped of their most valuable assets.
 

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SAAB should change their name to Phoenix - they been reborn so many times I've lost count.

shame too - I saw a "new" 9-5 in the wild a few weeks back and it was gorgeous!
Agreed! 9-5 is gorgeous.

I really don't care anymore. Let Saab die in piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
SAAB should change their name to Phoenix - they been reborn so many times I've lost count.

shame too - I saw a "new" 9-5 in the wild a few weeks back and it was gorgeous!
Agreed! 9-5 is gorgeous.

I really don't care anymore. Let Saab die in piece.
I've seen a handful of 9-5s (and 9-4Xs) around in North Jersey over the last two years, and I have to say: It still looks fresh and attractive. I don't know if that's because both models were well designed, or if it has something to do with the fact that we just don't see too many of them on the road, but either way, kudos to Jason Castriota and his staff for their work on both products.
Saab has so much potential, but it's such an uphill battle at this stage.
Agreed. However, if Mahindra is the winner and they are patient with the brand, I have a feeling they could pull off a re-launch of the brand in the long-term. Mahindra wants a Western brand and has considerably deeper pockets than NEVS, Spyker, or any of their partners. So from a financial standpoint, they'd be the most logical winner.

However, whether or not the newly revived company looks anything like the Saab we knew is going to be another story.

Remember, Mahindra is a conglomerate, but their focus in passenger cars has been mostly in SUVs and trucks. They own SsangYong (which, with the exception of the Chairman sedan, also makes primarily SUVs/Crossovers) and have a partnership with Renault (I think they sell a version of the Dacia Logan in India).

Other than that, I don't know if they have many sedans/coupes/etc that they sell. In taking over Saab, they'd definitely have a good brand to build off of; but will they essentially change the character of the brand? That is to say, as Mahindra is good at SUVs/Crossovers/Etc, will the revived Saab have an SUV-heavy lineup? Will they invest in sedans and convertibles for the brand? Or will Mahindra merely do what SAIC/Nanjing has done with MG and make it a "cheap/everyday brand" (as opposed to MG's historical position in making sporting cars)?

If I were running Mahindra, I would pair SsasngYong and Saab together. The report earlier this year outlined that SsangYong was looking to change their name and identity in hopes of selling cars in North America and other markets. SsangYong's management feels that the name has been tarnished and that there is a misconception that the brand is "Chinese" (after former owner SAIC supposedly stole some of their I.P. before cutting the brand free). In doing so, they're investing in new products for world markets. That investment could be amortized over two brands if they were smart about it. If the engineering is feasible, I would come up with a core platform(s) and use them for both brands, but with each tweaked to their particular roles. The renamed-SsangYong would focus primarily on the entry-level/lower-end of the market and Saab would focus on the mid-range/"near-luxury" end of the market (even if they are successful, there's no delusion of Saab combatting Benz/Audi/BMW). This would allow them to develop vehicles jointly, cut costs, and permit them to sell the vehicles through a shared dealer network around the world.

Just my two cents for what it's worth.
 

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If I were running Mahindra, I would pair SsasngYong and Saab together.
An interesting idea, although as you noted SsangYong mostly builds affordable SUVs/trucks while Saab has built more middle and upscale sedans/wagons. Regardless SsangYong will need almost a completely new lineup if they still want to get to the NA market this decade.
 

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Does that mean we'll get those Mahindra pickup trucks that were promised?
 

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How can this still possibly be going on? Why don't they just buy DeLorean or something? At this point SAAB's cars are just as fresh.
 

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That's not true, and the 9-3s that were briefly sold under NEVS were powered by the Saab turbo-four from the 9-5, not the Ecotec.
Saab didn't make that engine - GM did. As I understand it, Saab historically contracted out engine assembly. Saab certainly designed its own engines, but never had the volume (or interest) to fabricate them itself.
 
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