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Ford, GM Nearly Un-Swedened: Saab, Volvo Sales Near?

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2009 Volvo C70

2009 Volvo C70

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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 9-3

2008 Saab 9-3

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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?

[Automotive News, Detroit News]

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Comments (4)
  1. "get over it....."

    I don't see why there is this big apprehension over selling car companies to the Chinese. Obviously they have an auto industry that sells product, but what they need is to cross-pollinate with other manufacturers that have spent engineering hours designing safety features. I think the Chinese SHOULD buy at least one of these makes, since they need this expertise the most. The Chinese also need more skin in the intellectual property arena, and buying existing (valuable) brands is a sure way to drag them in that direction. This reticence reminds me of the whole "Japan is eating the world" paranoia of the late 80's.
     
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  2. "think global"

    R2dad, if you view the Chinese as just another player in the world economic game, then sure. But at the risk of sounding too political here-- Profits ultimately go to the parent company, and there's a big difference in global welfare if a U.S. group gets the company (or even a Swedish one) versus a Chinese one. Japanese companies don't compare; they started their operations here from the bottom up. I don't see how having top-drawer control of existing companies go from the U.S. to China can be desirable for us.
     
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  3. "If anything"

    I anything I was expecting Toyota or Huynday to be interested in one od those brands.
    Why Toyota? Pick up extra volume to ensure #1 Manufaturer spot. Also, wjynot use Saab as upscale sporty Scion quirky kind of thing? Toyota would be your bread-n-butter, Lexus - luxury snooze-mobiles. Saab would be somthing fun to drive with a soul (let them go whild)...
    OR Huynday (or even Subaru) would get it to spin off a luxury brand. It might be wrong time for that now, but H is doing a Genesis, so instead of spinning out a new brand, try to use an established one?
     
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  4. "Toyota not stupid"

    Can not see what Toyota would get out of it? It will be No 1 without, has lexus so no need for luxury brand and had Scion for youth, SAAB addds nothing. A chinese brand makes more sense as no one in their right mind (and there a lot who aren't in their right mind) would buy a chinese branded car, SAAB gest them a quick entry into Europe and other markets with a known name. Hyundai might be interested but would think Saturn is a better mix for them if they where to go down the expansion market in brands.
    Mazda should consider buying Volvo though as they share platforms and would give them leverage intot he luxury market.
    Sorry but why are you Erik worried about a unprofitable european brand going to China, doesn't harm the US and does Good for GM as it never made a profit to return to the US in the first place.
     
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