General Motors denies $3 billion Spyker suit
General Motors previously stated that the $3 billion lawsuit had no merit but in a recent filing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, GM claimed that as the former owner of the Saab brand, they had the right to make the decisions that they did regardless of the impact on Saab and Spyker. General Motors refused to approve the sale of the Saab brand to Chinese investment firm Zhejiang Youngman Lotus, stating that if the deal went through without their approval – the American automaker would stop providing technology along with ceasing production of Saab vehicles built at GM plants.
Spyker’s massive lawsuit against General Motors which includes $3 billion in compensatory damages alone in addition to seeking interest, punitive damages and legal fees as part of the suit. Considering that Spyker is as broke as a joke, the company cannot afford to proceed with a lawsuit of this type but an anonymous third party has agreed to fund the legal proceedings in exchange for a portion of the settlement. Youngman Lotus has refused to comment on whether or not they are the “third party” footing the bill for this ridiculous lawsuit but considering that Youngman is still planning to work with the Spyker brand – it would make sense for the Chinese firm to want to help Spyker skim a cool three billion out of the American automaker’s bank account. Chinese firm Pang Da, who was another company interested in investing in Saab and Spyker has publicly stated that they are not funding the lawsuit.
Spyker claims that GM’s refusal to approve the Youngman deal or to pull technology and production assistance was not valid because Saab had developed their own new vehicle platform that would not require GM technology or production. At the same time, that would be a future vehicle and current (at the time) models from Saab were either heavily based on existing GM vehicles, designed with heavy doses of GM technology – or both.
General Motors claimed that as the previous owners of Saab and as the provider of large of amounts of technology and production volume – it had the right to either refuse a sale to Youngman or refuse to continue to support the Saab brand if the sale to Youngman went through. If Spyker was so confident in their new in-house designed Saab platform then they could have sold the Saab brand to Youngman without caring what GM did because they wouldn’t need the production or technology support. However, the fact that the Saab deal fell apart based on GM’s refusal to share technology with the Chinese firm shows that the Saab brand was more dependent on GM than Spyker would let everyone believe. Spyker continued with in their statements that one of their final agreements with Youngman excluded use of proprietary information and intellectual properties (especially regarding new technologies) but GM has countered, stating that the deal did not specify anything of the sort to protect GM’s new technology from getting into the hands of the Chinese firm.
One thing that no one is considering in the epic saga of the Saab brand is that the Chinese government had the final say on whether or not the sale of Saab to Youngman would be allowed. The Chinese governmental department in charge of overseeing this type of transaction had already stepped in to prevent another company from buying Saab in the past so there was no guarantee that the Chinese government would allow Youngman to pull the trigger either. The Chinese government had not previously allowed a company to make a substantial investment in a variety of automakers including both the Saab and Hummer brands – leading many in the industry to believe that the government would have never given the green light to a Chinese firm purchasing the struggling luxury brand.
The bottom line is that Spyker bought a dying Saab brand and when they were unable to continue paying the bills, the company completely fell apart. The inability to save the Saab brand shows why Spyker has never been more than a low production race car builder and with their crushing failure resulting in company bankruptcy – this massive lawsuit seems like nothing more than a desperate final effort to save their own company after making some very poor business decisions.
Saab has been purchased by a consortium of foreign investors named National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) with the intention of producing an all-electric version of the Saab 9-3. It will be interesting to see if that ever happens.