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The Koenigsegg-SAAB deal falls through

Just a few weeks ago, the future of SAAB seemed assured, as enthusiasts recognised the promise implicit within a proposed merger with super car maker Koenigsegg. Negotiations had reached an advanced stage and many saw the takeover as a 'done deal' but a set of unforeseen developments recalled Henry Bollingbroke's situation in 1727: 'fortune turned rotten at the very moment it turned ripe'

It seems that Koenigsegg consortium have pulled out of the deal, citing delays as the main reason but also, a key condition (that the stakeholders were to comprise Swedish/European investors) was not met, as we learn that Koenigsegg were in partnership with Chinese concern Beijing Auto. GM are clearly very determined that their technology is not sold 'on the cheap' to emergent far eastern buyers.

With an exciting new 9-5 model waiting in the wings, this is a critical time for SAAB. The future that looked so very rosy just a few weeks ago is now in jeopardy, for there is a distinct possibility now that GM will simply wind down operations in SAAB, leaving us to fear more sad media headlines like 'Over: production at Longbridge ceases' that accompanied the demise of Rover cars here in the UK.

What next? The rumour mill works overtime

Those of us who do not let optimism be eclipsed by the cynicism of advancing years can only hope that GM will review their decision to sell SAAB by December 31st 2009 or close forever by pinning their hopes on resurgent sales promised by the new 9-5 and the recently introduced 9-3X by persevering with the brand.

Small Dutch specialist car maker Spyker have expressed an interest in acquiring the company but business analysts are generally doubtful that the consortium have either the experience or financial means to mount a serious bid. Meanwhile, in the background, SAAB have already lost no time in striking a deal to sell the old model 9-5 tooling to Beijing Automotive Industry, BAIC, who, are also keen to acquire the pre (2006) facelift model 9-3 tooling too.

At present, full details of this deal are not known and it remains unclear whether rights to any of the existing engines are included. Of course, there is historic precedent for this - GM sold the Buick V8 engine design to Rover back in the early 1960's when it became redundant in their own lineup. This move was sheer genius on Rover's part, for the aged overhead inlet side exhaust 3 litre straight six had reached the limit of its development, despite the work of Harry Weslake on improving the output.

Readers will be aware that the current 9-3 (9440) range does not use any of the petrol engines used in the 9-5 cars but these were developments of the B204/234 units which can be traced back to nothing more exciting -or problematical- than a Triumph Dolomite engine. This presumably falls into the realms of SAAB's property and despite the wishes of the parent company, management probably feel well within their rights to sell what they regard as their intellectual property. The diesel engines are a different matter entirely and it is unlikely that even the old 2.2 engine will feature in any Chinese built version (or development) of the old 9-5 tooling.

At present much remains unclear and in a situation where speculation prevails over facts that can be verified, we can say no more. As more details emerge, this article will be revised and updated in an attempt to keep readers up to date with developments.




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