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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
It might be time to start saying “buh-bye” to Italian automotive design house Bertone.
German sports car maker Wiesmann has filed to dismiss insolvency proceedings from earlier in the year.
Comebacks are all the rage these days. Like Marshall Mathers, the Coda EV is “back, back again,” arriving on sale for customers who missed out on buying one before the company went bankrupt.
Despite the city filing for bankruptcy, the 2014 Detroit Auto Show will continue unaffected.
Top 10 Automotive Stories of 2012
With a heavy heart the staff of AutoGuide.com say goodbye to 2012, along with its triumphs and tragedies. We await the New Year with open arms, and welcome its promise of a better world.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 was a year of the dragon, and it proved to be the stuff of legend, but thankfully it wasn’t a fire-breather. The Mayans were flat-out wrong; their doomsday prophecy was about as accurate as Bernie Madoff’s promise of a sound investment opportunity.
Still, the year brought other significant stories. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland discovered a subatomic particle consistent with the legendary Higgs boson. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, passed away, and in a brutal political battle Barack Obama won a second term as president of the United States.
Of course the automotive industry made its share of headlines throughout the year. Here’s a rundown of the Top 10 stories from the past 12 months.
Bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems was scheduled to go up for auction today behind closed doors at a Chicago law firm, but the list of bidders is likely to cause trouble.
Bold and ambitious, Victor Muller founded Spyker Swedish exotic sports cars before purchasing Saab, believing in its return to past glory under his leadership. Confident in his abilities, Muller’s gamble on Saab put Spyker in danger as well.
Following Saab’s devastating bankruptcy, Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan for short, formerly Spyker Cars N.V.) have announced that there are talks on the possible sale of Spyker as well. On the other hand, if Swan chooses to keep Spyker, then the company faces the difficult challenge of securing funds. However, if Swan is unable to raise capital or if a suitable buyer cannot be found, Spyker will likely suffer an unfortunate fate similar to Saab.
Plans to sell Spyker were hinted in the past as financial firms CPP Global Holdings and North Street Capital showed interest in the Swedish boutique automaker. But, inexplicably, both deals fell apart without any statements issued or information disclosed. Meanwhile, Spyker is also carrying debt held by Tenaci Capital BV, controlled by Victor Muller himself and wealthy Russian, Vladimir Antonov. Making matters even more serious, four of Swan’s supervisory and management board members, Hans Hugenholtz, Maurizia La Noce, Alex Roepers, and Rob Schuijt have resigned after disagreements with Victor Muller. Seeking nothing less than a Hail Mary pass, Swan issued 2.5 million shares to seek more investors. Despite the effort, existing shares of Swan have fallen to €0.22.
While the Spyker was never a popular marque, its sports cars are a celebration of spirited driving, luxury, and attention to the smallest detail. As time and money runs dry, we may soon witness the end to Spyker’s brilliant and short existence.
This news will surely anger anyone who currently owns a Saab that had some warranty left on it. However, General Motors is coming to the rescue, sort-of. GM is reaching out to those who bought a new Saab before February 2010. These cars were marketed and sold under GM’s ownership of Saab.
In a statement by GM’s spokesman Jim Cain, he said; “In the event Saab cannot or will not fulfill its obligations to administer the warranty programs with its U.S. and Canadian dealers through Saab Cars North America or otherwise, GM will take necessary steps to ensure that remaining warranty obligations on Saab vehicles marketed by GM in the United States and Canada will be honored.”
This act of kindness is very surprising, because GM doesn’t even like covering warranties on local-made products it considers was built by “old GM.”
So if you own a pre-2010 Saab, you’re in luck. However, for anyone who bought a newer Saab, it’s probably time to invest in a good used car warranty program.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Despite being officially declared bankrupt, Saab still has organizations willing to snap up the remnants, as the former Swedish carmaker goes into liquidation.
It’s probably not surprising, but considering the money it’s already put out to try and save Saab, China’s Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. Ltd, is still interested in acquiring what assets it can, which, according to a spokesman, primarily concerns the Phoenix platform which would have formed the basis for the next generation 9-3, along with other technologies that didn’t hinge on General Motors (part of the reason for Saab’s bankruptcy was GM’s refusal to allow Youngman to acquire the brand, fearing technologies it had invested with the Swedish automaker could end up in Swedish hands).
Yet another suitor comes in the form of the Turkish government. While it is very unlikely Turkey would want to build Saabs per se, the country already boasts a number of assembly plants belonging to foreign automakers, but until now hasn’t had a real domestic brand. If the government is able to acquire Saab assets, including the much valued Phoenix platform, then the Saab 9-3 might live on after all, though under a different name.
Given the twists and turns that have occurred with Saab since its independence from GM, what happens next at this point is anybody’s guess.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Saab‘s clock is ticking quickly to find a way out of bankruptcy with just a “very few days” left to find a loan. Unfortunately, General Motors has been playing a vital role in blocking Saab from selling any of the company to a Chinese automaker, forcing Saab to try to find a loan.
Since Saab can’t sell all or part of the company to any of its interested suitors, Saab has asked their Chinese partner Youngman for a generous $803 million loan. Saab is basically looking for a way to avoid having to get approval from General Motors, since they refuse to give it if it involves shares of the company.
But they better act quick as Saab’s creditor protection could be lifted as early as next week, forcing them into bankruptcy.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Saab has officially been struggling for two whole years now, since its problems first came to light in December, 2009.
With time, it has seen some positive developments, but things don’t look any better for the foreseeable future.
A few months ago, Saab had received a court order that prevented its creditors to push the company into bankruptcy. It would use this time to reorganize. However, Saab’s owner – Swedish Automobiles NV, has said that Saab and its creditors have just five to six days to submit their views to the district court in Sweden. The court will decide whether to end the reorganization and push the company into bankruptcy.
Despite attracting two major Chinese companies (Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. & Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobiles) to invest in Saab, there have been delays in getting the necessary payments from the Chinese, and production lines have been sitting still for almost an entire year.
Saab previous owner, General Motors also has some objections. Most of the technologies found in current Saab vehicles is licensed from GM, and it does not want to support a sale of Saab that could hurt its own position in China.
GM currently builds the 9-4X for Saab in Mexico. If GM pulls the plug on their deal with Saab, it would be impossible for the company to survive in its current form.
Stay tuned, as this drama is far from over just yet.
[Source: Automotive News]
According to Inside Line, Saab may be ready to re-start production at its factories in as little as 8 weeks, after being sold to two Chinese automakers for $142 million.
While Saab was valued at $660 million this summer, both Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. managed to purchase the company at a rock bottom price after a number of other deals failed to materialize. Chinese companies now own both Saab and Swedish automaker Volvo.
Saab’s Swedish factories have been idled since March, but could be up and running in as little as 2 months. The company claims to have 11,000 vehicle orders on the books, and may even bring the 2012 9-5 SportCombi station wagon to this April’s New York Auto Show if all goes smoothly in the upcoming months.
[Source: Inside Line]
The administrator in charge of the Saab bankruptcy proceedings has told a Swedish court that the process must stop.
“The money is not enough to continue the reorganization,”said Guy Lofalk in an interview with Reuters. “Now, an application [to terminate the reorganization] has been mailed. It should be on the court’s desk tomorrow.”
Lofalk said that the $70 million investment from North Street Capital was insufficient, and that the two Chinese companies looking to buy Saab have failed to reach an agreement with Saab’s owners.
Saab’s owner, Swedish Automobile, said that it would fight the request and attempt to have Lofalk removed from his position.
[Source: Automotive News]
Narrowly escaping bankruptcy and liquidation for the 17th time (ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration), Saab has confirmed receipt of a 70 million Euro payment from Chinese investor and automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.
Far from a magic wand that will make all of Saab’s troubles go away, the automaker continues to operate in its restructuring phase, with the funds being used to simply keep the ship afloat during that time. Swedish law doesn’t permit companies to take out new loans during a restructuring phase, a law both Saab and Youngman have managed to avoid by signing an agreement back in September, and now claiming the funds have been available for several weeks.
Saab continues to await further investment by Youngman and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co., both of which are subject to approval by the Chinese government won’t be decided on until October 14th at the earliest. Saab has given no indication of when it hopes to open its Trollhattan assembly plant.
Saab‘s museum collection of historically significant vehicles was seized by Swedish authorities from the company’s museum. The Swedish Enforcement Office took possession of the museum and other contents, including 13 exhibits, 22 engines and six workshop tools.
Saab is said to owe parts suppliers more than $31 million in overdue payments, and the Swedish government is moving to seize Saab’s assets. Saab was said to have been readying to sell off its museum collection, but was granted protection from creditors, enabling them to hold off attempts to seize assets.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Sweden’s debt agency is claiming they have successfully investigated a handful of Saab bank accounts with some success. On Friday, the agency uncovered $796,291 which is enough to cover debts owed to the first four companies waiting for payment.
The debt agency has contacted other banks holding Saab accounts in order to understand exactly where the Swedish automaker stands. The money found only covers a quarter or major debt owed to other companies, with the total amount owed, being much higher. The agency has stated that 23 claims have been posted against Saab, with a total value of nearly $8,000,000. The debt agency is still investigating accounts, but Saab may either be forced to pay off its loans or be pushed toward the court to claim bankruptcy.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Poor Saab can’t catch a break. Last week Saab’s European supplier were putting pressure on the Swedish automaker to declare bankruptcy, and this week the car company has pulled out of next months Frankfurt auto show, due to a lack of finances.
A Saab spokesperson explained that the car-maker will concentrate its resources on restarting production at its factory in Trollhatten, Sweden.
Saab was forced to end production in late March because of financial issues. The Swedish automaker has been trying to raise more funds and has stated plans of restarting manufacturing in a few weeks, however the car brand has said this for months.
“Whilst it would be desirable to be at the show to help further Saab’s global presence, it is not considered an appropriate use of resources at this time,” a posting on Saab’s Inside Saab blog stated.
[Source: Automotive News]
Swedish Automobile, owner of financially-stricken Saab, is being pressured by European suppliers to declare bankruptcy, hoping the threat will pressure the automaker to pay back debts.
Saab production came to a halt in April, with suppliers refusing to deliver components because they were not being properly paid. Spanish auto panels maker Matrici S. Coop prepared a bankruptcy request, after being owed $2.8 million by Saab.
Lars Holmqvist, head of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers said, ”Some companies are waiting and having no answer. Now, some have heard that other companies have been paid partially. Then they are getting very upset. They realize there is no other way but to try to demand bankruptcy because obviously then Saab pays.” Lars also explained that he had been contacted by some German companies that were owed more than 5 million euros each. They too are also interested in pursuing the process to demand Saab bankruptcy.
Saab spokesman Eric Geers explained, “We know the situation we are in. We are working very hard to resolve this and to get a more stable financing in place.”
Earlier this year Saab’s employee union threatened to push the automaker to the bring of bankruptcy over unpaid wages to workers.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Norway-based electric car maker Think has been acquired by one of its investors, Russian businessman Boris Zingarevich, who plans to relaunch Think.
The electric automaker has filed for bankruptcy for the third time last month after failing to secure finances to continue operating. The automaker released a statement today, regarding a court-appointed trustee choosing Zingarevich as the winning bidder for Think’s assets. The assets will also include Think North America and Think U.K, which are separate entities and had not filed for bankruptcy.
This move has created a new Norway-based company called Electric Mobility Solutions and rescued Think from shutting down. The company has plans to restart production of the Think City electric town car in the first quarter of next year. The Think City is a highway-capable sedan, made with a plastic shell and has a range of around 100 miles. The price of the City EV is projected to be around $35,000 and targeted towards urban commuters.
“With the potential of working with the leading American automotive lithium-ion battery maker and Europe’s top automobile engineering and manufacturing company, I believe we could have exactly the right combination and value chain to ensure that the brand will be increasingly competitive in the worldwide electric vehicle market,” Zingarevich said in a recent statement.
[Source: Car Tech]
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]
Evidently, the third time wasn’t the charm for Think, the Norwegian manufacturer of small electric vehicles. The company has gone bust for the fourth time in its 20 year history. Think attempted to restructure, but was ultimately not successful.
“We needed some additional funding and although we had interested investors they were not able to come to table quickly enough,” Think spokesman James Andrews said to Automotive News Europe. Think will either be sold or have its assets liquidated.
Production of the Think City, the company’s sole model, was suspended in March. Just 1,043 were sold in 2010. Think was sold by Ford Motor Co in 2003 and has sold ever since. Think operates in North America, but its future is in doubt due to its reliance on the firm’s Norwegian operations.
[Source: Automotive News]