Bring Them Back: Five Automakers We Want To See Make A Comeback
The auto industry can be a ruthless business. A handful of automakers have witnessed this first-hand and, far too often, the consequences have been devastating. In the best of cases, a company can weather the storm of mediocrity until it finds its footing again, whether through its own perseverance or simply getting a lifeline in the form of another automaker. Volvo knows this more than anyone now that it’s thriving under Geely ownership after years of uncertainty. That said, not everybody is as lucky as Volvo. Countless automakers have bitten the dust over the years for one reason or another, be it because of managerial ineptitude or simply not being able to keep up with its rivals.
This list is an ode to those companies. It’s made up of automakers whose returns to the industry we pine for to this day. It’s not a guarantee that we’re going to get our wish and see these brands get resurrected, but we can still dream. Either way, there’s nothing to lose as far as wishing upon a star is concerned, right?
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Mother’s Day Video Special: Son Surprises Mom With Dream Car, Hits Us In The Feels
Happy Mother’s Day, TopSpeeders! Have you called your Mom yet? Maybe you took her out for brunch? Perhaps you baked her some delicious treats? Whatever you did to show your appreciation, I’m sure it was just fine. However, the guy in this featured video went above and beyond. You see, he spent roughly a year saving up to buy his mama her dream car, then tracked it down and gifted it to her in this emotion-filled video.
The car in question appears to be a Saab 99 from the mid ‘70s, coated in a deep shade of orange. The whole thing looks surprisingly clean, down to the polished chrome trim. Even the interior is spotless, including the oversized steering wheel and upholstery. Regardless of the car’s condition, Mom seems overjoyed by the present, and it’s a heartwarming moment for all involved. And as a side note, kudos to Mom for having such a unique taste in automobiles!
Could Saab Be Making A Dramatic Return To The Auto Industry?
The cautionary tale that is Saab still serves as a reminder to everyone in the auto industry about the fickle nature of the business. The once proud Swedish automaker closed shop in 2010 and has never been heard from since. But a new report from Swedish newspaper SvD Naringsliv could point to the return of the Saab name in the industry. The only caveat is it’s not going to be the same Saab that folded six years ago; it’s the aviation and defense company Saab Group, the same firm that split from the automaker in 1990 after General Motors bought the latter.
See, as much as Saab the automaker was a failure since the brand split, the Saab Group has thrived as a military contractor, developing aircrafts, missiles, computer software, and radar systems. The company’s expertise in these respective fields is a big reason why the company is looking at making a push to enter the auto industry and have the success its old partner failed to get on a consistent basis.
Don’t expect this Saab to start building cars anytime soon though because the company is specifically looking into autonomous driving technology with the idea that it could adapt its “Gripen E” radar to self-driving cars once that market has matured into something that could revolutionize the auto industry. According to Saab, Gripen E is a revolutionary radar system that can handle information more than the conventional systems that are being developed by automakers. The software’s capability is largely tied into its circuits being made from Galliu nitride, which can handle extremely high power loads, something that’s going to be expected for radars that will be used by self-driving cars in the future.
Saab’s interest isn’t just being thrown around as a possibility; it’s actually already had discussions with a number of European automakers about a possible venture down the road. CEO Hakan Buskhe also said that it’s already making preparations to start a new company by the first quarter of 2017, one whose sole purpose would be to assemble the software solutions it needs to make as it begins to make its move towards the auto industry.
Think of this new development anyway you can. The point is that the Saab company that saw its business thrive is banking on being a major player in the rapidly evolving self-driving car business. Only time will tell if it’s going to succeed, and that “success” will be largely tied into how self-driving technology evolves. But it is nice to see the words “Saab” and “cars” being mentioned in the same sentence again. It’s been a while.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Discontinued in 2012 as Saab was filing for bankruptcy, the 9-3 sedan made a surprising return in 2013, when the brand was revived under National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) ownership. But instead of launching the third-generation model that was in the works before Saab went bankrupt, NEVS started building second-gen cars at the company’s Trollhattan production plant. Identical to the 2012 model, the "new" sedan arrived in dealerships without the trademark griffin logos and with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-banger under the hood.While NEVS is undoubtedly working on a modern replacement for the 9-3, the next-generation vehicle won’t be launched for at least two more years. Instead, the Swedes are reportedly looking to reintroduce the 9-3 SportCombi and have already confirmed plans to offer an electric iteration of the current sedan.
The EV is still not ready to go into production, but NEVS has just unveiled the prototype that will become an actual Saab product in the near future.
Click past the jump to read more about the Saab 9-3 EV Prototype
We all knew that the Saab deal was done, in principle, but all of the final details were still being hammered out. A big sticking point was the fact that Saab’s new owner, NEVS, wanted the rights to use the “Saab” name, but needed approval from Saab AB.
As expected, that is now all in the past, as NEVS and Saab AB have reached an agreement to allow NEVS licensed usage of the famed name. However, NEVS was not able to procure a license to use the half-lion, half-bird Griffin emblem that Saab was also famous for. This means all new Saab vehicles will either have a new emblem or just a decal that reads “Saab.”
A strange development in this that has almost fallen through the cracks is the fact that NEVS has also secured the intellectual property rights to the aborted Phoenix platform. The odd thing about that is that Youngman just entered a deal with Spyker to manufacture a car based on the Phoenix platform, which Youngman purchased the license to use back when Saab first went under. This means that there may be two cars running around in China bearing almost identical styles, but different names and completely different drivetrains. Strange...
What would be even more odd in this dysfunctional triangle would be if NEVS contracts Spyker and Youngman to manufacture the Phoenix to attempt to save a little production cost. That’s highly unlikely of a situation, as NEVS also secured all of Saab’s tools and its extremely high-tech Trollhattan plant and testing labs.
Get your popcorn ready for this one, we smell a lawsuit coming up at some point...
Click past the jump to read NEVS’s press release.
We seriously lost count of how many times Youngman was blocked while trying to purchase Saab before it was finally awarded to a lower, but more “suitable” bidder. Finally, after numerous swings and misses, Youngman has found a suitable partner in its automobile-manufacturing venture. Ironically, it is with the company he was originally blocked from buying Saab from, Spyker.
Spyker and Youngman have just inked a framework deal that assigns 29.9 percent of Spyker’s stock to Youngman. In turn, Youngman will pay €10,000,000. Of the initial investment, €6.7 million will be used to pay for the 29.9 percent ownership, while the remaining €3.3 million will act as a shareholder loan. The entire deal should be completed within 45 days of the signing of the deal, as that is the time frame that Youngman has to pay the deal in full.
In this deal, the two companies will form a joint venture called Spyker P2P B.V. (Spyker P2P) Youngman will contribute an additional €25 million to this venture and take 75 percent share hold in it. Spyker’s 25 percent share hold comes in the form of technological contributions. Spyker P2P will use this technology to develop the Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris super sports utility vehicle (SSUV). The $250,000 SSUV is set to launch in 2014 and Spyker P2P B.V. will use its technology to help launch additional models.
A second joint venture, dubbed the Spyker Phoenix, will see Youngman contribute the Phoenix platform technology that he bought from Saab and fund 100 percent of the venture. This will net Youngman an 80 percent share hold on the Phoenix and give Spyker 20 percent — we assume this share is for Spyker manufacturing the car.
This is certainly a great big mess of numbers, but essentially, Youngman is giving Spyker a ton of money and Spyker is providing its technology on one vehicle and, we assume, the manufacture of the other vehicle to gain minority share in said vehicles.
We’ll keep a close eye on this one and let you know if it actually ever pans out or simply fizzles away.
Click past the jump to read the full press release.
Just when we thought that the Saab saga was reaching its closure, a new wrench gets thrown into the mix. When NEVS purchased Saab’s assets a little while ago, we were under the impression that this sale included the rights to the “Saab” name and logo. According to reports coming out now, this is not the case.
Apparently, the sale of Saab only covered the failed Swedish automaker’s physical assets. The truck-building company, Scania, and Saab AB still own the rights to the Logo and the “Saab” name. For NEVS to legally use the name, both Scania and Saab AB will need to sign off on the usage, and the companies are reportedly in talks about how to handle this.
We would assume that Scania has no issues at all and just wants a piece of that Saab resurrection pie. Saab AB, on the other hand, still runs Saab’s line of parts, which was not included in the bankruptcy. Saab AB could benefit by using this opportunity to negotiate their way into new dealerships when NEVS starts rolling out new electric-powered Saabs. Saab AB also has to consider protecting its brand image, and it NEVS completely botches this revival, it will make Saab AB look bad as well.
We’re confident that a deal will be struck between the three companies to allow NEVS the rights to the name and logo, but Saab AB will likely have a heavy hand in how the name is used.
As always, we’ll keep you updated as additional information comes to the surface on this seemingly endless Saab saga.
As Saab closes up its latest chapter, which included bankruptcy and many months or “We’re sold, wait, no we’re not” turmoil, we were left wondering what happened to the 900 (ish) Saabs that got held up at port whenever the failed car company filed for bankruptcy. Well, now that Saab has been liquidated to the point that only the 900 cars remain, we now have an idea what’s going on with them.
According to reports, all 900 cars will be auctioned off to varying companies and exporters. Only 300 of these leftover Saabs will make their way into dealerships and the dealers have the option to either put them up for sale at a 30- to 50-percent discount and sell them or strip them down for parts. Obviously the most profitable game would be to strip them down, but it may take a while to sell off all of the parts. So we may be in for some super-cheap Saabs hitting what remaining Saab dealers there are.
The majority of the leftover Saabs will be auctioned to exporters and rental companies. So, for an American to snag up one of these Saabs he has to either find a dealership close enough that actually wants more stock on its lot or pick one up after the rental car company is done with it – AKA after it has been thrashed to within an inch of its life. Who buys a used rental car anyways?
According to the inventory report, there are 67 company cars, which include a 1960 Quantum IV and a `70 Sonnett III, over 450 9-5s, 400 9-3 sedans, 60 9-3 wagons, 12 9-3 convertibles and 28 9-4X crossovers.
So thus closes another part of the Saab saga. Now we just have to see what NEVS can do with the bankrupt Swedish automaker.
few days ago, we let you know that several sources were reporting that bankrupt Swedish automaker, Saab, was finally sold to Hong Kong-based, Sweden-registered renewable energy company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). This in turn booted Youngman out of the bidding war for the third time, but we had not yet seen any official reports. Well, we now have all something official.
NEVS’ boss, Karl Johan Jiang (interesting mixture of names) announced at a news conference that NEVS indeed won the folded automaker and that NEVS will indeed use the “Saab” name on its cars. NEVS was awarded the Saab factory, its tooling company and the 9-3’s architecture, which is odd, as BAIC purchased the intellectual rights to the 9-3 several months ago. We assume that BAIC got the drivetrain rights and Saab retained the underpinnings and body.
NEVS also let us know that we will not be without a new Saab vehicle on the road for much longer, as NEVS is currently developing an EV car based on the 9-3’s architecture that it was awarded and that car should be released in the next 18 months. Sales will start in China, then eventually move worldwide.
Unfortunately, NEVS’ bid did not include the 9-4x or 9-5 rights, so other than the 9-3, Saab will be starting all over again with brand new models, if it ever gets off of the ground. Given the Saab 9-3’s somewhat sporty nature, we expect to see a higher performance EV made of it. It definitely won’t be a screamer, like the Tesla Model S, but also not as slow as a Nissan Leaf.
There should be loads more information coming down the pike in the next 18 months, and we will update you as often as we can. Until then, congratulations to NEVS and the “Saab” name for making it through this long saga.
We reported just a few days ago that despite twice being bumped out of the bidding war for Saab, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, reentered the bidding with a $552 million bid. Apparently, this was still seen as an unsafe bid and the Chinese firm was again stuck with the highest bid, but no car company to show for it.
This time around, it looks as if Saab has finally found itself a home. Sweden-registered and Hong Kong-based firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, has been awarded the folded automaker and what’s left of its assets, according to a Swedish newspaper. The winning bid is estimated to be between $208 million and $250 million. That is less than half of the last reported bid by Youngman, which really shows that the Chinese firm was either demanding the parts operation, which the NEVS AB deal does not include, or just not seen as a trusted bidder.
The deal is expected to be finalized and pen is expected to hit the “Sign Here” line in about a week, if the reports are accurate. After that, NEVS AB can take complete ownership of what’s left of Saab, which is little more than an S, a pair of As, and a B. We are not aware of NEVS AB’s plans with Saab, but we can say with a lot of certainty that it will involve alternative fuels (i.e. electric, hydrogen, hybrid, etc.)
We have yet to receive official confirmation on the deal, but this looks to be the real deal, FINALLY. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available on the ongoing Saab saga.
The Saab saga continues…
Just a few weeks ago, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile – no, not that Lotus – was pushed out of the bidding ring for Saab due to what Autoweek called “Chinese bureaucracy” and the fact that there were some worries about the Chinese firm coming up with the scratch needed to finalize the deal.
This allowed a group of Chinese businesses, headed up by an alternative energy firm, to swoop in and take the lead on bidding. It looks as if Youngman isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel just yet, as according to Bloomberg the Chinese firm has just entered in a new bid of 4 billion kronor ($552 million) to purchase the bankrupted Swedish automaker.
The true test here is if this bid is even accepted. Youngman’s first bid was flat out rejected by GM. The second bid went belly up for similar reasons, we can only assume. So what makes Youngman think that this bid will receive a stamp of approval?
Even if Youngman succeeds in purchasing Saab’s remaining assets, what exactly does it plan on doing with the folded automaker? Most signs are pointing to Saab moving toward alternative energy sources to attempt to spearhead that market early on with a recognizable name. That’s all well and good, but the intellectual rights of the 9-3 and 9-5 are owned by BAIC, which leaves the company the rights to just the 9-4X SUV.
This lack of vehicles to base new ones off of means that whoever wins this relatively low-budget bidding war will essentially be building the company from scratch. Fortunately for the winner, the “Saab” name is well known and was once a fairly popular brand.
We will continue following the Saab bidding war and keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed all but inevitable that Saab would be saved by a massive takeover bid from Chinese mega-company, Youngman but unfortunately, the company recently confirmed that it has pulled out of its multi-billion dollar bid to purchase the flailing brand. However, if the latest reports are to be believed, Saab may not be dead just quite yet.
Little known Swedish firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden is said to be behind the latest bid to purchase Saab’s remaining assets for an undisclosed amount. But if previous speculation about GM shooting down Youngman’s billion dollar bid for Saab is true, then we can only imagine how much this new deal must be worth.
If NEVS really has struck a deal to purchase Saab, then it’s likely the firm has ambitious plans to turn Saab into an electric automobile producer, to help inject some life into the brand. What’s very interesting about this latest bid is that NEVS is actually owned by none other than Karl-Erling Trogen, the man once behind the operations at Volvo Trucks.
Although all of this sounds very promising, we have serious doubts that NEVS bid will be accepted if previous, unsuccessful attempted acquisitions are anything to go by.
Just days ago, we brought news about how Swedish Automobile - which used to consist of Saab and Spyker – was dissolved, as both companies went their separate ways. The only difference between the two is that Spyker is still a viable business while Saab is still crippled with debt with absolutely no known development currently taking place.
Chinese mega-company Youngman put in a multi-million dollar bid to purchase Saab in its entirety from GM a few months ago, but General Motors swiftly denied the offer and once again Saab’s future was left in limbo; the same position which has faced the company for the past few years. Even with Youngman’s promise of putting upwards of $1.5 billion into developing new Saab models over the coming years, GM still wasn’t swayed, but to our surprise that didn’t put Youngman off in anyway.
As a result, Youngman has put in yet another bid to purchase Saab, this time for the sum of $470 million at current exchange rates. In addition, the $1.5 billion promise of development still stands, so in total Youngman is willing to spend almost $2 billion to prop up Saab which currently has a debt of around $2 billion, so it sounds like quite a reasonable offer to us.
However, don’t for one second think that this offer will be accepted, as Youngman also has to compete with Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra who have also reportedly put at least one bid into the acquisition of Saab.
In all honesty, we’re not really sure why so many companies are fighting over Saab, as the brand’s reputation has been tarnished massively over the past few years. Nevertheless, we hope all the bidding parties well and hopefully Saab’s debt saga can be put to rest soon enough.
Back in 2009, we reported that little-known Chinese car manufacturer Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd., which fortunately goes by the acronym BAIC, officially purchased the intellectual rights to the Saab 9-3 and 9-5. It was a rather odd transaction, to say the least, as few people knew what BAIC’s plans were with these rights.
Well, BAIC has officially come forward to let us all know the plan. There are two BAIC cars making their debuts at the Beijing Auto Show, which opens to the press on April 23rd and the general public on the 27th, one of which we know is based on the Saab 9-3.
The Saab 9-3-based model is dubbed the C70, but that is about where our knowledge stops, as BAIC has kept a pretty tight lid on the happenings on at their office. We can speculate that the C70 will feature a Saab engine, likely the 210-horsepower 2.0-liter used in the final 9-3.
The larger BAIC C80K is the most likely home for the high-output Saab V-6 from the defunct 9-5. This model has a little more info available, as BAIC teased us with a few images of the upcoming vehicle. From what we can tell from its outside, this vehicle appears to be designed to compete with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, and maybe even Bentley, but that 3.0-liter V-6 wouldn’t hold a candle to those makes. This makes it a possibility that the C80K’s engine is an in-house build.
Really cool, yet potentially dangerous, features on the C80K are the B-pillar-less suicide doors. This looks really cool, by giving one wide open entry with both doors open, but could potentially weaken the structural integrity significantly. We also know that the C80k will measure in at 205 inches long and 75 inches wide.
That’s about all we know right now about these new BAIC models, except that they will only be available in China. We will pass along more details as they come along.
There’s no doubt that Saab as a company has been running on fumes for the past couple of years, teetering that bankruptcy line more than any other automaker has in recent time.
But if there’s one silver lining to the malaise the company is embroiled in, it’s that some of their cars are still being represented in the world of auto racing. One in particular is Flash Engineering, which recently unveiled their new Saab 9-3 TTA race car that’s set to compete in the Swedish Racing Elite League this year.
The 9-3-turned race car comes with a dynamic wide body kit to go with a vented hood, a new rear diffuser, and a larger rear spoiler, making it primed and ready for some hardcore racing action.
According to Jan Nilsson, Flash Engineering’s Managing Director, the motivation to enter the Swedish Racing Elite series with a Saab 9-3 was to finally see how it stacks up against its local rival, Volvo, out on the track. “I have longed for 40 years to see the fight between Saab and Volvo on the race tracks," he said. "It becomes reality this summer and my biggest dream is to get all Saab fans to the TTA races to cheer us on.”
While we think that it’s a race that will get turn some heads, we think it’s a little more of a big deal to see a Saab vehicle compete in a racing environment despite the company’s well-chronicled financial struggles. Here’s to hoping for a good showing from the guys over at Flash Motorsport.
Updated 03/23/2012: Flash Engineering has unveiled today a first video for their Saab 9-3 TTA Race Car featuring a first test session. The test was a first run, at the Alés track in France, where the front was not completed, the final car is going to look different.
We knew something was going on when a Swedish newspaper reported that Volvo was looking into purchasing Saab from Spyker, but the deal didn’t exactly go down like they had stated. Volvo won’t be purchasing the Swedish automaker, but as of June 15, 2011, the Spyker/Saab pair will now be known as Swedish Automobile N.V. (SWAN) after both companies were purchased by the Chinese Pang Da Automobile (Pang Da). Pang Da gave Spyker new life by filling its veins with a €65 million investment for a 24 percent stake in the company.
In a previous statement, Victor Muller, CEO Spyker Cars and Saab Automobile, said: "Based on our discussions with Pang Da we are confident about the possibility of Pang Da obtain regulatory approvals necessary to formalize the transaction. I am very eager to create a solid company with Pang Da, first in the distribution and subsequently in the manufacture of Saab cars in China. It must be stressed that the prepayment Pang Da and sales of Saab cars imported are not subject to approval by the NDRC. The first advance of 30 million has been received by Saab on Tuesday."