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Consumer Reports recently compared four luxury sedans in the January issue of the magazine, pitting the Audi A6 against the Infiniti M35h, Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec and Saab 9-5, with the refreshed A6 receiving an overall test score of 93, tying Infiniti’s M37 at the top of the charts. The previous generation A6 had scored a disappointing 79.
For the A6, Consumer Reports raved about how agile, comfortable, quiet and quick the vehicle was. The model tested was a 3.0T Quattro Premium Plus with a supercharged 3.0L powerplant with 310-hp. Consumer Reports was able to get 22-mpg out of the sedan, enjoyed the eight-speed transmission and found braking performance to be very good.
Mercedes-Benz’s E350 BlueTec received top honors for fuel efficiency with 26-mpg, while the M35h received an excellent road test score despite reporting that its power delivery tend to be jerky and abrupt. Consumer Reports also reported that the M35h’s handling and braking wasn’t as brilliant as the M37′s.
Lastly, and probably to no one’s surprise, Saab’s 9-5 was deemed disappointing and seen as a poor value.
Union employees working for Saab are growing impatient after the automaker said it could not pay wages to its workers because it had not yet obtained necessary short-term funding. The unions have threatened legal action that could end in bankruptcy for the automaker. The IF Metall and Unionen groups will send a formal demand for payment this Monday if their members have not received their unpaid wages. ”Then the company has seven days to react,” IF Metall representative Veli-Pekka Saikkala told Reuters. “After that there are two alternatives. Either we see that the situation can be solved, or we demand that Saab is put into bankruptcy.”
A rescue package for Saab has been set up by two Chinese car companies, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co, which would solve longer-term financial issues, however this still needs to be approved by authorities in China and Europe.
Bankruptcy is still very possible for Saab and “The company is in a downward spiral. The longer it takes, the tougher it gets. The longer it takes, the more potential buyers will leave,” said analyst Martin Crum at Dutch Broker AEK
Saab stopped production in April because of payment disputes with suppliers and only briefly restarted production for a week at the beginning of June. So far Saab owes at least $47 million to Swedish suppliers, and the longer the Trollhatten plant is at a standstill, the deeper the hole becomes for the automaker.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab will finally gain some stability, as the company will resume production tomorrow at its Trollhattan, Sweden, assembly plant.
The facility has been idle for about six weeks. Saab’s owner, Dutch automaker Spyker, has been unable to secure the much-needed financing to pay off its suppliers, but the automaker says it has reached agreements that will allow it to begin building cars again.
“Based on the information we have, it looks like we will start up production tomorrow,” spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told Reuters.
Tomorrows production will produce 100 vehicles instead of the usual 230-240 cars per day.
Saab and Spyker have been waiting for the Chinese government to approve a $110 million Euro investment in Pang Da. The Chinese distributor has already paid Saab 30 million euros for the opportunity to sell cars in China.
[Source: Left Lane News]
See, the new 9-5 Aero is one hot piece of Swedish luxury sedan, with just enough Born From Jets / Northern Europe detailing to make us forget most of it is from General Motors. Saab has updated its website with a new configurator that not only lets you play around with color and wheel options (no trim options just yet) — but lets you watch a whack of cool design videos featuring a smartly-dressed man.
If that’s not enough to get you excited about the at-least-$50,000 sedan, here are some more details: it’ll hit U.S. dealers in July, starting with the Aero sedan. The base price of $49,990 includes a 2.8L turbocharged V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque, plus Saab’s ecellent XWD all-wheel-drive system. In 2011, a four-cylinder variant will be introduced, with pricing slipping under $40,000.
Apparently General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson thinks the upcoming Saab 9-5 is so good, he doesn’t want to sell the Swedish automaker. In an interview in Sweden’s Expressen magazine he declares that he’d rather see Saab fail in bankruptcy court than sell off the brand.
The magazine cites an unnamed source within Saab, who says Henderson does not want the 9-5 as a competitor in the future. Internal GM testing has apparently shown that the car is far superior to a major competitor, the Opel Insignia – which the source says the Germans at Opel confirmed.
The article goes on to suggest that because of how good the upcoming 9-5 is Henderson would prefer to see Saab sold to Fiat along with the rest of GM Europe – an arrangement that could either see GM retaining a stake in GM Europe, or gaining a stake in Fiat.
We do, however, have a hard time believing that with Saab’s niche market status and small production numbers that any major automaker could see the company mounting a significant threat.