Mike Stevens | Dec 16, 2009

THE PAINFUL SALE of a struggling Saab has taken another step forward with General Motors confirming that China’s BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company) has acquired the tooling and rights to the current model 9-3 and 9-5.

BAIC will also receive access to some of Saab’s powertrain technology for use in future products.

GM has not released details of the financial agreement reached between the two companies, .

For now, GM retains ownership of the Saab brand. But with Koenigsegg now out of the running, GM keen to sell and time running out, Saab would appear to be bouncing around in a bargain bin waiting for a new buyer.

Meanwhile, Netherlands' specialist manufacturer Spyker is now tipped as the front-runner in bidding for the Swedish brand. Spyker has indicated that the sale of intellectual rights to the 9-3 and 9-5 models is good news in its negotiations with GM.

"The deal is an important milestone in BAIC's cooperation with Saab." BAIC said in a statement. BAIC, China’s fifth largest automotive manufacturer, will use its technical tie-up with Saab to develop its own future stand-alone models.

2008-saab-9-3

GM is offering the Saab brand for sale until December 31st, after which time the brand will be shut down, as Pontiac was, if a suitable bidder cannot be found.

“This arrangement is excellent for both parties, now and for the future. We have developed a good relationship with BAIC and look forward to working with them to integrate this Saab technology into their future vehicles.” Saab boss Jan Ake Jonsson said.

BAIC had initially agreed to become a minority partner in Koenigsegg's bid for Saab. The bid foundered and was withdrawn after the Swedish supercar manufacturer failed to win support from the Swedish Government to act as guarantor for a $US600 million loan from the European Investment Bank.

That setback has not slowed BAIC's interest in becoming a more global operation.

Fellow Chinese carmaker Geely is still placed as the top bidder for Ford-owned Volvo. This is a pattern that will grow in strength. Chinese manufacturers are working strategically to increase their presence in the global market place with technologically capable, international brands.

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