2011 Saab 9-5Enlarge Photo
The long, strange, saga of Saab may finally be coming to a close. Even though there's a shaky deal with Chinese investors in the works, GM has said that it will block any sale of Saab that involves the sharing of GM technology. As a result, Saab's reorganization administrator is once again pushing for liquidation of the company.
The Saab plotline has gotten so confusing in recent months that we'd probably all benefit from a CliffsNotes recap of the details. Here's a brief chronology:
1990 -- GM buys Saab, hoping to turn it into a robust, prestige marque. It never turns a profit.
2008 & 2009 -- Financial markets around the world collapse. GM begins shrinking its family of brands, downsizing from eight to four. Pontiac is shuttered (possibly to be resuscitated down the line.) Saturn looks like it's being sold to Penske, but Penske backs out at the 11th hour; Saturn also shutters. Chinese firm Sichuan Tengzhong expresses real interest in HUMMER, but Chinese authorities refuse to okay the deal; HUMMER goes down.
January 2010 -- After a long, drawn-out search for a buyer and threats of being sealed in a crypt, Saab is finally sold to Dutch holding company Spyker N. V., headed by Victor Muller. Spyker N.V. also holds supercar marque Spyker Cars.
April 2011 -- Reality begins to set in. Saab has been in limbo for so long that it has few new products to offer, and the company's ailing finances force production to a halt. Saab doesn't even have enough cash on hand to pay workers. Lingering economic woes across much of the world aren't helping.
June 2011 -- Spyker N. V. (Saab's holding company) changes its name to Swedish Automobile, despite being headquartered in Holland. This isn't super important, except for nomenclature later on.
July 2011 -- Saab aims for a comeback, promising three new models and announcing a pending investment deal with Chinese firms Pang Da and Youngman.
September 2011 -- Saab files for bankruptcy protection, hoping to stave off creditors until it can hammer out the aforementioned deal with Pang Da and Youngman.
October 2011 -- That deal with Pang Da and Youngman? Still in the air. Saab secures a $70 million investment from American firm North Street Capital -- which, as it turns out, has just bought Spyker Cars from Swedish Automobile -- but that's not enough to keep Saab afloat for long. The man in charge of Saab's reorganization, Guy Lofalk, asks the courts to end the company's reorganization process, which would effectively throw Saab into the Swedish government's hands. That, in turn, would mean liquidating Saab's assets to pay its outstanding debts, which would be the end of Saab as we know it. Victor Muller stamps his feet loudly.