To say that Saab has had a tough time the past couple of years is like saying that Alaska is slightly chilly in the winter. Since the recession hit in 2008, Saab has teetered on the brink of collape, but fans will be happy to know that a new infusion of cash has put the company back on its feet. Probably. For now.
To recap: Saab was one of four brands that General Motors sought to unload in the wake of the Great Recession. After a range of suitors came a-knocking, Swedish outfit Spyker Cars put forward an offer that seemed viable, and after months of hemming and hawing, the deal was signed in January of 2010. Even though the final price was a sliver of the $600 million or so GM paid for the brand in 1989, GM breathed a sigh of relief, since sales of HUMMER and Saturn tanked at the last minute. (Pontiac was never on the table and was shuttered.)
But since the handoff, Spyker (now known as Swedish Automobile, despite being headquartered in Holland) hasn't had an easy go of it. Cash has been tight, and less than two weeks ago, the company couldn't even pay its employees. In May, there were rumors that the company was on the brink of folding altogether, when Swedish Automobile announced a memorandum of understanding with Pang Da Automobile Trade Co., Ltd. (Pang Da) and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., Ltd. (Youngman). The two Chinese firms were offering a total investment in Swedish Automobile of 245 million Euros.
The latest: While folks in the U.S. were celebrating Independence Day, Swedish Automobile announced that its proposed tie-up with Pang Da and Youngman has become a binding contract. Employees and Saab fans are elated, but we should point out that the cash isn't in place just yet, since the agreement has to be approved by a range of regulatory agencies -- including those of the Chinese government, which was responsible for the failed sale of HUMMER to Sichuan Tengzhong.
But wait, there's more: Swedish Automobile also announced that it had brokered a deal with Zhejiang Youngman Passenger Car Group Co., Ltd. to create three new models -- the Saab 9-1, Saab 9-6X, and Saab 9-7.
No details about those models were released to the public, but Youngman's CEO Mr. Pang Qingnian had this to say: "The Saab '9-6X' and Saab '9-7' will be key to enhancing the prestige of the Saab brand to an even larger group of customers in China and the US, while the entry level Saab '9-1' will appeal to urban motorists around the globe." Sounds to us like there's a crossover, a sedan, and a city car in the works.
For more details and theories about the three new models, check out Viknesh Vijayenthiran's post at our sister blog, Motor Authority.