Volvo and Saab could be enjoying--is that the right word?--their last days in the U.S. auto industry, if the latest reports from across the globe are accurate.
At Volvo, a sale by Ford Motor Company to a company not in North America is getting closer. Automotive News says that the car company has put on hold some financial negotiations with the Swedish government while it examines several sales scenarios involving parent company Ford. Automotive News' sources tell it that bidders were being toured around Gothenburg headquarters and given management presentations. China's Changan Auto says it's not among those bidders.
2008 Saab 9-3Enlarge Photo
Meanwhile in Trollhattan, Saab has attracted interest from bidders around the world. The bidders may or may not include Chinese automaker Geely; the Detroit News says Geely is interested, but Geely itself said in a stock filing it would not bid on Saab nor Volvo, for that matter. Then a secret source told the News that it would indeed bid for Saab, but told the paper in that uniquely oblique Chinese way that guarantees nothing.
Ford and General Motors have been angling to sell their Swedish brands since last fall, when the financial crisis hit the auto industry like a 35-mph barrier hits some notably unprepared Chinese-made vehicles. Volvo is being prepared for a sale by assuming control once more over its product and financial decisions, and by requesting a $266 million loan from the Swedish government in case it needs backup financing. Saab, meanwhile, has been actively on the block while GM hacks away at its global enterprises to return to its core U.S. brands in its ongoing, Federally-backed restructuring.
Our plan? Sweden buys both companies, shrinks the workforce, eliminates the near-complete product duplication and sells the single brand and a single plant to a single interested automaker. Sugar daddies still exist in the auto world, as Fiat's Sergio Marchionne seems to prove. What's a single Swedish girl got to do to get some attention around here?