Saab Production Venture With GM ProceedingBy Bill Visnic May 19, 2011
The financial trials of Saab Automobile AB have shut down production in Trollhattan, Sweden, the company's sole assembly plant, for six weeks, but there still is a place Saabs are being built: Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. The General Motors Co. assembly plant is contract-building Saab's all-new 9-4X midsize crossover (above), which shares its underpinnings and most powertrain components with GMs Cadillac SRX luxury crossover and a Saab spokesperson told AutoObserver that the ongoing financial maelstrom that led suppliers to suspend parts deliveries to Saab's assembly plant in Sweden has not affected assembly of the 9-4X at the GM plant in Mexico.
Although GM would not comment on the situation, Saabs spokesperson confirmed that production of showroom-ready 9-4Xs at the Ramos Arizpe plant began last week, as scheduled. The 9-4X is earmarked to be in U.S. Saab showrooms sometime next month, the company said at a media event last week. The 9-4Xs starting price is $33,380 (plus $825 destination) for a front-drive model using the base, GM-supplied 265-horsepower 3-liter V6. The top-of-the-line 9-4X, the all-wheel-drive Aero powered by a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 (similarly supplied by GM and recently suspended for use in the Cadillac SRX), starts at $48,010 plus destination.
The current prices are about $1,000 less than Cadillacs SRX, suggesting that for now, Saab may be accepting a lower margin. The company expects the mix to be 60-percent dominated by the mid-level 3-liter Premium available in front- ($37,250 plus destination) or all-wheel-drive ($40,245 plus destination) with 25 percent of production going to the base model and 15 percent to the highline Aero. There are just three option packages and a handful of standalone options, including a trailer-towing package and a panoramic moonroof.
"The 9-4X is a game-changing car" for Saab, said acting CEO and chief executive of Saabs owner, Spyker Cars NV. How many customers we lost to Audi (because of the lack of a Saab crossover), who knows, he said. Muller added that By October, 2012, when an all-new replacement for the entry-level 9-3 is launched, Saab will have the broadest portfolio of new products since the company originated in 1947.
Although GM apparently did not adopt the hardline stance of Saabs suppliers in Sweden, the situation in Europe got more grim today, despite the reports from Europe said earlier this week that funding from Chinese auto distributor Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. Ltd. had been transferred to Saab. Pang Das cash infusion, along with funding from various other sources, would be sufficient for Saab to get current with suppliers and resume production sometime next week, Saab said.
But in a move perhaps calculated to press the situation, global supplier Lear Corp. announced today it is laying off 160 employees located at Trollhattan plant and the head of the companys Swedish division said the prospect of Saabs new funding didnt change Lears decision to furlough its Saab-related workers, Dow Jones reported. The wire service Reuters said, however, that some Saab suppliers in Sweden have agreed to resume parts deliveries to the Trollhattan plant.