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GM Is Selling Saab To Spyker Cars 264

Posted by kdawson
from the joy-in-trollhatten dept.
johncadengo writes "General Motors said today that it has struck a preliminary deal to sell Saab to Spyker Cars, a tiny Dutch maker of high-end sports cars, saving the Swedish automaker from what seemed like certain extinction after previous bids for it collapsed. A previous bid from Spyker was rejected by GM in late December because GM was uncomfortable with Spyker's Russian backers. The biggest investor in Spyker is the Russian bank Convers Group, which is controlled by Alexander Antonov. In March, Mr. Antonov was shot seven times and reportedly lost a finger in an attempt on his life in Moscow. No arrests have been made. His son Vladimir, 34, is a top executive at Convers and the chairman of Spyker." GM is taking a bath on the deal, financially speaking.
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GM Is Selling Saab To Spyker Cars

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  • by Blowfishie (677313) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:19PM (#30912874)
    This isn't nerdy at all... Have Slashdotters turned into bankers?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:33PM (#30912954)

      Nerds buy geeky cars. Saab is a geeky car. At one point they had sodium inside the valves for cooling. They had standard turbochargers whey you couldn't get turbocharges. They had heated seats and a rear windshield wiper, again not normal for the time. And I have a Saab.....

      • Geeky indeed (Score:5, Informative)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:14PM (#30913184) Journal

        Nerds buy geeky cars. Saab is a geeky car. At one point they had sodium inside the valves for cooling. They had standard turbochargers whey you couldn't get turbocharges.

        At one point they also had 2-cycle engines (you had to add oil to the gas tank every time you filled it up) and, if you did it right, you could get the engine running backwards, giving you a car with one speed forward and four in reverse. If that ain't geeky, I don't know what is. You could probably win a lot of bar bets with it.

        Sodium-cooled valves isn't all that geeky, though. The 292 CID V-8 in my 1964 Ford F-150 pickup had them, as do a lot of other heavy-duty vehicles.

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Saab is a geeky car.

          I don't even understand the concept of a "geeky car".

      • by starbugs (1670420) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:22PM (#30913232)

        It's a 'nerdy' car.

        The new owner of Saab gets shot 7 times, then has the guts to buy one of the most under-performing brands in automotive history.

        A Klingon coming to earth would buy a Saab.

        And if you say anything bad about Saab, he would make you wish you were Ferengi looking at Saabs' last quarterly statement.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by magarity (164372)

          As cool as Saabs are, a Klingon coming to Earth would have to drive one of these [wikipedia.org].
           
          A Minbari might drive a Saab, though,
           
          Sorry, is it OK to cross compare SF universes like that?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by starbugs (1670420)

            As cool as Saabs are, a Klingon coming to Earth would have to drive one of these (Rambo Lambo) [wikipedia.org].

            But then they would seek out and destroy all the other '300' LM002s, so that no-one else gets to drive one.

    • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecransNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:56PM (#30913088) Homepage

      This isn't nerdy at all... Have Slashdotters turned into bankers?

      Just stick around for a while. Somebody will come up with a good car analogy to explain all of this to you.

      • This isn't nerdy at all... Have Slashdotters turned into bankers?

        Just stick around for a while. Somebody will come up with a good car analogy to explain all of this to you.

        Yeah its like if you make a front drive car but with a longitudinal engine so the front overhang is 1/3rd the length of the body and then you sell it to people who like using the brakes....

      • by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:22PM (#30913230) Homepage Journal

        See, it's like if Saab were to be sold, and an exotic car manufacturer saw opportunity where GM pillaged and neglected the company for 20 years, and bought the company seeing that the "quirky" nature of the car is that the design makes sense, since the ergonomics are designed around performance-oriented driving and safety, which makes them different. How's that for an analogy? ;)

        Seriously though I'm excited this deal went through. GM bean counters held Saab back and it is rumored they used Saab to cook their books, by "over billing" Saab for GM-manufactured engines, shifting profits and losses around for tax and stock price advantages. It's disgusting that the Saab-designed engine's best configuration has not been allowed to go into the 9-3 and 9-5, but instead went into the Cobalt SS at 260hp (but the engine internals and turbocharger are good for >300hp reliably with minor mods). Also GM beancounters position it against BMW and Audi, and it would do well, except with power output (especially in the XWD models) and with GM's choice of interior coatings (the rubberized paint that peels all too easily) and the inflated MSRP (which no one ever pays for a Saab), why would anyone step into the showroom?

        Here is what Spyker needs to do to turn Saab around:

        1. Keep MSRPs where they are on the Turbo X, but fix Trionic 8 engine management and boost power output to compete with the 335i and 135i power output.
        2. Go RWD and XWD in the new 9-3
        3. Lower MSRP on the base "touring" and "comfort" sedans to what people actually pay for them (well under $30K) and institute "no haggle" pricing across the board
        4. Improve the interior panel coatings (paint). Spend the extra few cents GM would not spend and get rid of GM's choice of prone-to-peeling coating.
        5. Advertise the cars heavily. "Born from jets" needs to promote the ergonomics which are designed around the driver, safety, and better engine options GM bean counters would not allow need to be introduced to put some performance behind the implied promise "Born from jets" implies. Saabs are only "quirky" in that the ergonomics are unusual because they are more natural and centered around driving.
        6. Shitcan the dealers with poor customer service.
        7. Bring us Aero X!

        I love my 9-3. I hated Saabs until last year when I had to drive a friend's (he insisted). I fell in love with it immediately and ended up buying one. Sure, the power output may be somewhat (read: a lot) lower than I'd like but the car is a blast to drive, and it performs a heck of a lot better in the real world than the numbers would imply, However, numbers sell cars, so they really need to bump up the HP and Torque output.

        Spyker can do it. I hope they turn Saab around just like BMW turned around when BMW was about to tank.

        I'll definitely be buying the new 9-3 if/when it comes out.

        • by KlaymenDK (713149)

          I'm totally with you on all of your points -- except "2. Go RWD".
          Are you mad!? Whatever happened to your opening statement of SAAB being all about "performance-oriented driving and safety"?No sir, rear-wheel drive is only for sports and race cars, as well as for American cars, Mercedes and BMW (who seem to think that all their cars are sports cars?). XWD is quite another matter, of course.

          I'm very glad to see SAAB once again in the hands of a manufacturer that actually loves cars (rather than only their bot

      • by S.O.B. (136083)

        Just stick around for a while. Somebody will come up with a good car analogy to explain all of this to you.

        I'm waiting for someone to make a computer analogy to explain why selling Saab to Spyker is a bad idea.

    • by sootman (158191)

      Because Spyker makes this [wikipedia.org] (which was featured in the Jet Li/Jason Statham movie War.) Car nerds are nerds too.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It's just a car analogy, that's all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by technohead (536309)

      Classic Saab's are the ultimate nerd car, they were designed by vikings and hand built by trolls!

      *** FULL DISCLOSURE *** I'm a computer programmer who drives a 20 year hold Saab 900 T16 Turbo convertible ;-)

  • good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stokessd (89903) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:20PM (#30912884) Homepage

    I used to want a 900 back in the 80s, then GM bought them. I hope Spyker can undo the damage GM has done, and turn the cars into something I would like again.

    Sheldon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by characterZer0 (138196)

      I am sure the new owner will be better than GM. It is not hard to come up with better ideas than "lets slap a sunroof on a WRX wagon and call it a 9-2 and sell it for many thousands more!".

    • Re:good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pete6677 (681676) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:11PM (#30913162)

      The problem is, there is no place in the luxury market for Saab. When people want a luxury car, they think Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, etc. They have long since forgotten about Saab, Cadillac or Lincoln. Brands that don't evolve will die off. Saab needs to be taken off life support.

      • With cars being so generic these days I wonder if there is a market for "eccentric" or "different" cars? The problem of course is doing it in sufficent numbers to be economic, but computerized logistics and crowd sourced marketing may make a difference.

      • Re:good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:42PM (#30913348) Homepage

        Lexus and Audi were awful in the 80s and early 90s, but cleaned up their acts to get them to where they are today.

        Mercedes has always done a good job with their super-high-end models, although their entry-level luxury sedans (ie. the C-Series) have always been mediocre at best. They were also among the last to cave and admit that rear wheel drive cars don't make sense for the vast majority of the population (something that Saab were among the first to do). Front wheel drive makes far more sense if you live anywhere where it might possibly ever snow, while Audi discovered that AWD offers the best of both worlds.

        If nothing else, the automotive industry needs extra competitors in the marketplace, given that the number of brands has slowly been whittled away over the years with no serious new entrants into the mainstream industry in quite some time. Saab have the manufacturing facilities, engineering talent, brand heritage, and penchant for unconventionality that could potentially make them a (minor) force to be reckoned with in the marketplace. The notable outcry that resulted when GM announced it was killing the brand is proof enough that there is still plenty of interest alive in the company.

        • I owned an 85 audi quattro and I still consider it better than my current BMW 5 series so am I missing something (other than perhaps nostalgia)?. The only major problem with it was the display electronics and AC died in the late 90s, compared to my Taurus which the entire thing nearly disintegrated after 6 years.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by NJRoadfan (1254248)

            I owned an 85 audi quattro and I still consider it better than my current BMW 5 series so am I missing something (other than perhaps nostalgia)?. The only major problem with it was the display electronics and AC died in the late 90s, compared to my Taurus which the entire thing nearly disintegrated after 6 years.

            Display electronics? Either you lived in Europe or had a eurospec urquattro. US cars received analog gauges, Europe got the talking digital dashboard (that usually broke). Ironically the AC compressor was pretty much the only part of those cars Made in the USA. The hoses usually leaked all the freon out after a few years.

        • by soundguy (415780)

          Front wheel drive makes far more sense if you live anywhere where it might possibly ever snow,

          The position of the drive wheels is irrelevant. What makes the difference is having the engine on top of the drive wheels. The VW bug and Chevrolet Corvair were excellent snow cars, as was the Olds Tornado/Cadillac Eldorado. All enjoyed the engine-over-drivewheels advantage and they all existed decades before front-wheel-drive became the default configuration for most cars.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kenshin (43036)

        My dad was a huge Saab fan. If they returned to their pre-GM roots, he'd buy another.

        Because they're luxury? No. Because they were solid cars, good for wintery conditions, and fit tall people quite well.

        • "... and fit tall people quite well."

          Eh, no. I'm 2 meters tall (6,5 feet), my dad has a '98 Saab 9-5 and I don't fit comfortably. Not enough headroom.

          Which is a shame, because it's a great car to drive.

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        When people want a luxury car, they think Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Lexus, etc.

        Nothing ever changes.

        Hyundai will someday make good and reliable cars? HAH!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsa (15680)

      Well, I don't trust this Victor Muller guy one but. His track record is abonimable. He first fired Maarten de Bruijn, who was the designer of the Spyker cars and the founder of the company because Maarten Maarten had a more conservative idea about money making than Victor had. Then Victor started a Formula 1 adventure that drove Spyker to the edge of bankrupty. And now he has borrowed 400 million euros to buy Saab, an amount of money he will never be able to pay back if you ask me. He has no experience at a

  • A bath? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Upaut (670171) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:24PM (#30912898) Homepage Journal
    Correct me if I am wrong: In all of my financial learning, it is not "taking a bath" When you sell a product more for more then simply retiring the brand. In fact, you gain a profit if you now do not have to handle the termination of all the employees....

    This is something, instead of nothing. I call it a win.

    True, they would of been able to sell it for far more if they had not completely devalued the brand, but they have no right to complain on that fault.....
    • Re:A bath? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tsalmark (1265778) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:35PM (#30912968) Homepage
      The problem is the big three have a strange habit of buying high and selling low. "Taking a Bath" often if not usually is taken to mean selling lower than you bought.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AuMatar (183847)

      If you sell something for less than you buy it for, its a bath. They lost large amounts of money on buying Saab. This may be a better choice than stopping production entirely, but that doesn't mean it isn't a major fuckup overall.

  • Did kdawson worry that we might think GM executives would have to take a bath literally?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:33PM (#30912956)

    Spyker has 130-odd employees and builds around 40 cars a year.
    Saab has 34,000 employees and builds around 100,000 cars a year.
    Neither of them make money.

    - Who is kidding who with this particularly peculiar "takeover"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Superior European thinking will make this work! You heretical bastard! What you say? Did you call me Commie?!
    • To be fair, most of the players in the automotive industry haven't made any money in quite a long time.

      • There's more to the auto industry than Detroit.

        Toyota and VW were making huge profits before the financial collapse -- they will probably be joined by Ford and possibly GM when the global economy recovers.

        • by smash (1351)
          Ford/GM were bleeding cash like stuck pigs LONG before the GFC. It's because (with a few exceptions that are not mass market) they make bad cars in an inefficient manner.
          • True. I'm bullish on Ford because they've finally adopted a business strategy of selling higher-margin, higher-quality products worthy of their first world cost structure. It might take a decade for people to catch on, but IMO there's a good chance Ford will become the American VW, if not the American Honda.

            GM ... I'm not sure if they've divorced themselves from the idea of "sell the most cars, make the most profits", despite the fact that "sell at a loss, make it up on volume" put them in bankruptcy court.

    • Kind of like what happens when you mix Swedish and Russian vodka :/

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @01:01AM (#30913750)

      Spyker has 130-odd employees and builds around 40 cars a year.
      Saab has 34,000 employees and builds around 100,000 cars a year.
      Neither of them make money.

      - Who is kidding who with this particularly peculiar "takeover"?

      Some of those 130 Spyker employees are high-level management. So let's reword it:

      Saab is being bought by a Russian bank, who is installing Spyker executives as its management.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BuR4N (512430)
        The Russian company Convers (controlled by billionaire Vladimir Antonov) was bought out before the purchase was made by an Dutch investor (via. the Spyker CEO Muller), because it was one of the deal breakers for GM. Cant find a English article to back it up, but it was all over Swedish TV last night.
    • by kimvette (919543) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:16AM (#30914140) Homepage Journal

      Let's see:

        * GM is run by beancounters who landed GM where they were last winter
        * Spyker can't produce enough cars and needs production facilties; which Saab factories provide in spades
        * Saab needs passionate management, not an owner who will just take the best engineering Saab produces for other products, leaving Saab with crap to work with.

      Given how badly GM has mismanaged Saab, it is amazing just how good the 9-3 and 9-5's track records are. They are extremely reliable (2003 9-3 teething issues aside; pretty much expected with any new car model), they are the best in their class for crash testing, are very comfortable, can achieve well over 30mpg(combined.. My best full tank to date is 36mpg) when driven conservatively. Handling is really good (the passive rear wheel steering helps!), it has the only stability control system and ABS I don't hate, and braking is incredible.

      Saab can turn around. Look at what BMW and Audi have done; both have been at the brink of failure in the not so distant past.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Spyker builds 40 crappy cars a year but manages to stay alive due to verv good marketing.
      Saab builds 100,000 good cars a year but nearly died because GM destroyed the brand.
      Combining them can go two very different ways.

    • by MrMr (219533)
      Two thoughts on that: When Saab isn't required to buy substandard GM gear at inflated prices it may turn out to be profitable yet.
      And obviously SAAB doesn't need to be profitable, if they manage to restore a bit of the brands credibility, that in itself will increase the share value enough to sell it back to GM with a profit.
    • by EJB (9167)

      It will give Saab employees a little bit more time to search for a new job.
      That's all.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:38PM (#30912988) Journal

    The biggest investor in Spyker is the Russian bank Convers Group, which is controlled by Alexander Antonov. In March, Mr. Antonov was shot seven times and reportedly lost a finger in an attempt on his life in Moscow. No arrests have been made. His son Vladimir, 34, is a top executive at Convers and the chairman of Spyker.

    In Soviet Russia, you WILL buy our car! It doesn't cost an arm and a leg ... yet.

    ... because in Soviet Russia, you don't own a Spyker, Spyker owns YOU!

  • It is tangentially connected to someone getting shot?

    • by hoggoth (414195)

      > Is this headline news only because
      > It is tangentially connected to someone getting shot?

      No, it's news for nerds because it is rumored that Vladimir Antonov, son of Alexander Antonov, the power behind Convers Group, the biggest investor in Spyker Cars owns a computer...

      Wait for it...
      .
      . ... that runs Linux.

      There, Slashdot relevance in 5 degrees of separation!

  • by smash (1351) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:48PM (#30913056) Homepage Journal
    ... saab arises as new competitor to GM...GM loses. Again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:53PM (#30913068)

    From a better source [aol.com]:

    "But three crucial issues remained (and still remain): Spyker must deliver the cash, the Swedish government must guarantee a loan, and Spyker Chairman Vladimir Antonov must leave the company."

    Many more details [saabsunited.com]:

    "The Antonovs were not allowed to start a branch of their Baltic bank Snoras in Britain.The British financial supervisory authority rejected the application, due to the Antonov's nasty reputation for being reluctant to cooperate with the authorities and their general uncommunicativeness.

    It is still unclear why the oligark Vladimir Antonov was gunned down and seriously wounded in Moscow in March. But the Antonovs have operations in the harbour in Kaliningrad (former Königsberg), which is notorious for being controlled by the Russian mafia. Kaliningrad is one of the main harbours for shipping guns and drugs to western Europe. In Russia, it is assumed that the attempted assassination is linked to a struggle for power over the operations in Kaliningrad.

    No Russian journalists dare to comment on the Antonovs on camera, but off the record they claim that the family has links to shady arms deals.

    The Antonovs own a bank in Panama, known as a tax haven. It is not unusual for wealthy Russians to use banks in tax havens for money laundry operations, according to TV4."

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:15PM (#30913190) Homepage Journal

    So how does this work in car analogies? Do I have to find a computer analogy instead? ... does not compute.

  • I have a SAAB 900NG (post-GM). It's basically a Vauxhall Vectra with a SAAB look-a-like bodyshell and a large number of strange design faults compared with the Vectra. It's really expensive to get parts for it here in Australia despite sharing many of them with some Holden models. Apart from having a very large boot it doesn't really have a lot going for it. Its handling and performance aren't really up to much - I've experience far better in much cheaper cars. Frankly in hindsight I wish I hadn't bought it
    • by dingen (958134)

      That's why Spyker wants to bring back the '80ies glory of Saab. Maybe that will work, maybe not, but at least Victor Muller is a lot more passionate about the design of the cars than GM will ever be.

      I'm looking forward to what Saab will bring from 2012 onward, because that's when Spyker's influence will start to show from Saabs in the showroom.

  • OK, let's see how many readers get that pun...
  • GM isn't losing shit really, I am, since I paid to bail their asses out and their making retarded decisions that even Timmy knows better than to make.

    They didn't even bother to SELL their 3rd most profitable brand, they just terminated it.

    These people need to be exterminated. They draw massive freaking salaries and have 0 accountability. Its time to pull out the tar, feathers and nooses. This time we hang the right people though.

    • by Dmala (752610) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @01:31AM (#30913908)

      They didn't even bother to SELL their 3rd most profitable brand, they just terminated it.

      In their defense, there really wasn't much to sell of Pontiac other than the arrowhead and some trade dress. Basically all of the technology in modern Pontiacs came from other divisions. And unlike some of the divisions they decided to sell, *if* they found a buyer for Pontiac, all they'd be doing is creating a competitor on their home turf competing in their core market.

    • They didn't even bother to SELL their 3rd most profitable brand, they just terminated it.

      Pontiac was their third best selling US brand, but if you look at the figures, that was mostly on the back of rental fleet sales.

      If you know Pontiac's actual profitability, you are ahead of 99.9% of people who don't work for GM accounting. Frankly most of their lineup has been junk for years and its totally believable the brand was structurally unprofitable and a total write-off.

      (I'm aware Pontiac has had some exceptional reviews recently, but the general consensus was they were selling cars like the G8 an

      • by soundguy (415780)

        There hasn't been an "exciting" Pontiac since they stopped making Pontiac engines. My '64 GTO was essentially a Chevelle with a nose job, but it came with a pretty hefty Pontiac 389. I eventually yanked it out and stuck in a 421 Tri-power engine from a Catalina. I also owned a 67 GTO with a 400 and a 67 Firebird with a 326 (which I replaced with a 400)

        Of course gas was 33 cents a gallon back then...

  • If Benny from ABBA had been called Sven, then ABBA would have been called SAAB. Jerry

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