Saab, Chinese Partner to Add Three New Models
Financing the model expansion for the long-troubled Swedish automaker is its new partner, China’s Youngman Automobile Group.
Saab, with its technical savvy, will design and develop the new models, which are likely to be built in China, although the partners did not announce where the cars would be built.
Saab’s 9-6X and 9-7 are expected to enhance the Saab’s prestige in China and expand the automaker’s customer base in the highly populated nation. The entry level compact 9-1 will be designed to appeal to car buyers in crowded cities world-wide.
When owned by General Motors, Saab produced a midsize utility vehicle, called the 9-7X, from 2005-2009 that was derived from the Chevrolet Trail Blazer and built by GM in Ohio. Saab also planned a 9-6X based on Subaru’s Tribeca until GM sold its holding in Subaru.
Saab has been interested in building a 9-1 compact for years, and unveiled the 9-X BioHybrid concept hatchback at the 2008 auto show in Geneva with the idea of putting it into production by 2010.
Saab’s new owners are Pang Da Automobile Trade Company, the largest automotive retail distributor in China with more than 1,100 dealerships, and Youngman Lotus Automobile Company, a subsidiary of Youngman Automobile Group based in Jinhua in Eastern China.
The two Chinese firms paid $355 million to acquire a 53 percent interest in Spyker Cars, Saab’s Dutch-based parent, which in June changed its name to Swedish Automobile.
Saab’s partners also said that their latest agreement allows the Russian billionaire banker Vladimir Antonov to return.
Antonov had owned 30 percent of Spyker and served as its chairman. Earlier this year, Spyker agreed to sell its luxury sports car holding for $44 million to a British company controlled by Antonov. However, it’s not certain that he will be invited to invest in Saab’s new Chinese enterprise.