AutoGuide News Blog
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.
Arguably autonomous cars are the next major hurdle facing both automakers and supplier companies. It seems like the entire industry is working on self-driving vehicles, including Volvo.
Volvo is not usually known for building lust-worthy performance machines. Generally their products are safe, solid and secure, important attributes to be certain but they’re hardly the stuff dreams are made of. However, the addition of performance-tuned V60 and S60 Polestar models is spicing things up for the Staid Swede.
April 14, 1927 marked the first mass-produced Volvo ÖV4 model to roll off the Volvo Lundby factory of Göteborg, Sweden. Now, 2012 marks the 85th anniversary of Volvo cars.
To celebrate the occasion, Volvo president and CEO Stefan Jacoby will join Volvo Group president and CEO Olof Persson to drive a restored ÖV4 past the Lundby factory gates once more to commemorate the company’s history.
According to Stefan Jacoby, the ÖV4 is “a fantastic car, but it’s easy to see how much has changed over the last 85 years.”
A lot has changed indeed as Volvo sold a very modest 300 vehicles on its first year of production. Last year the company sold about 450,000 cars in 120 countries with the United States as its single largest market.
These photos were snapped in Sweden, as the new model looks to test out its chops in the cold weather.
Earlier reports stated that we’d be seeing a significant styling change in the new S-Class, so maybe that’s why parts of the car are still under wraps. Expect the usual high-tech goodies on the S-Class, and the Mercedes Magic Ride suspension system.
The new S-Class should also be available with diesel, hybrid, V8, and V12 options, offering an engine choice for just about everybody.
GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Spy Photos
It was only a few months ago when we reported that the Koenigsegg Agera R had set record breaking times in acceleration runs from 0-200 mph and 0-300 km/h (0-186 mph).
Now these figures have been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, and it has named the Agera R as the fastest accelerating production car in the world.
The famous record keeping organization reported that the Agera R went from 0-300 km/h in just 14.53 seconds. The 0-300-0 km/h run took just 21.19 seconds to compete, which is another record. The stop from 300-0 km/h took a very devilish 6.66 seconds, proving this car could truly be the son of Satan.
It also went on to claim the 0-200-o mph record with a time of just 24.96 seconds. The test runs were performed at the Angeholm Airfied in Sweden by Koenigsegg’s test driver Robert Serwanski at the wheel.
To fully enjoy these performance numbers, watch the video below:
After much back and forth over the past months between Swedish Automaker Saab and Chinese suitors Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., it seems like funding for Saab is very much back. The Chinese companies have both agreed to buy the Swedish automaker, providing the company with some much needed short and long term liquidity.
The details of Pang Da and Youngman’s agreement are an initial commitment of EUR 50 million to fund Saab Automobile while in reorganization. Next, the Chinese investors will then provide at least another EUR 600 million in funding to restart production and to settle the company’s debts and liabilities, allowing the company to concentrate on matters moving forward.
However, the condition that broke the agreement in the past may cause an interference again. This deal can only become a reality if the Chinese government chooses to give its seal of approval.
According to Saab’s restructuring plan, production will resume in Sweden and Mexico while considerations for assembly in China will be addressed as well. Immediate targets for Saab include the introduction of the 9-4X crossover and the 9-5 SportrCombi wagon. Saab aims to sell up to 55,000 vehicles for the year 2012. In 2010, Saab only managed to move 32,000 vehicles.
Pang Da and Youngman are optimistic that Saab has what it takes to become a profitable company. While 2012 will be a transitional year of reconstruction, the Chinese hope that Saab profitability will return for 2014.
Volvo Cars plan to discontinue production of the Volvo C70 convertible at the Pininfarina Sverige AB plant of Uddevalla, Sweden, by 2013. Established as a joint venture between Italian design house Pininfarina and the Swedish Automaker since 2005, the plant is responsible of building only the C70 model and employs 600 workers for the task.
Volvo CEO Stephan Jacoby explained that while the plant produces high quality vehicles, it isn’t cost effective at current levels of production. “A Car manufacturer of Volvo’s size cannot, from a financial standpoint, justify a plant that manufactures one single model in the low volumes we have today… The production capacity in Uddevalla is only utilized to 65%.”
According to Volvo, the 600 workers of the Uddevalla plant will be moved to other facilities after its closure. However, there has been no word on the C70′s fate. Once the Uddevalla plant is closed, Pininfarina and Volvo will end their joint venture, shifting plant ownership solely to Volvo.
GALLERY: Volvo C70
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]
There was a time, some 35-odd years ago, when the only engines found under the hood of a Volvo were four-cylinder units. Some were naturally aspirated, and some were boosted via a turbo-charger.
However, due to the demands and pressures from customers and share holders, Volvo started producing five-cylinder, six-cylinder engines. They even got Yamaha to design and build them a V8.
But that is all about to change for its future. According to industry sources, Volvo will not be employing any engine larger than a four-cylinder by 2020. Volvo is looking to develop a line of three-cylinder and four-cylinder motors. To get extra power, they will be turbo-charged, and diesels are also on the menu card.
This new engine line is dubbed VEA for Volvo Environmental Architecture. The idea is to reduce green-house emissions via smaller, lighter engines.
These new engines will start appearing by 2013 in a Volvo model near you.
[Source: Automotive News]
It was just yesterday when we reported that Saab was seeking government protection against bankruptcy, but now it seems like this step has failed.
A Swedish court has rejected a protection and voluntary reorganization plan, citing that it does not believe any steps the automaker makes will help it to recover.
Saab is “disappointed” with the ruling and is filing an appeal to overturn this decision. If the appeal is rejected also, this would very well be the end for Saab as an auto manufacturer. This would certainly be a very sad end for what was once a thriving company credited for making cars like the 900 Turbo (pictured).
OK, so this Volvo isn’t exactly capable of hauling any loads down the Motorväg, but it still makes for an exciting comparo… or at least it did until we found out the Ferrari was “just” a 360. (Yea, we’re snobs).
Either way, Swedish racing legend Boije Ovebrink felt up to the challenge, lining up his hybrid Volvo truck, named ‘Mean Green’ against a Ferrari at the annual Trucking Festival in Mantorp, Sweden. Who won? Was it even close?
GALLERY: Mean Green Drag Races a Ferrari
Watch the video after the jump:
Debt ridden Saab is to apply for court protection from its creditors in a bid to stave off bankruptcy get again. For months, the automaker has struggled to raise finances to pay off suppliers, and as a result, has halted production. Saab was rescued from bankruptcy last year by Dutch owner, Swedish Automobile (formerly Spyker), as former owner General Motors prepared to shut the company down
Saab has declined to comment on the issue but, spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs said that the company is continuing to work on raising the necessary funds. The Swedish automaker’s most recent statement said, ” Saab Automobile AB is now working on other options to secure bridge funding which would allow us to stabilize operations, finalize negotiations with suppliers on payment and delivery terms and restart production”.
If Saab obtains a court creditor protection order, it would place the company into a process of corporate restructuring. Under this process, which Saab entered in 2009 after GM made clear its intention to cease funding the company and exited later that year, the company is granted temporary protection from creditors while an administrator and management seeks to restructure the company into a viable business.
[Source: Automotive 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]
Sweden’s regulators started the collection process against Saab Automobile after the struggling automaker failed to meet a Tuesday deadline to pay two suppliers.
”We’ve just begun by looking at what kind of bank accounts they have and what kind of collateral there might be” in the process that started Wednesday, Tommy Barkman, a case worker at the state agency, explained in a telephone interview with Automotive News.
Saab was to pay Kongsberg Automotive, a Norwegian manufacturer of car-seat parts. The Swedish automaker was also supposed to pay Infotive AB, a Gothenburg, Sweden-based consulting firm, a combined sum of $633,000 to avoid proceedings. The majority of that amount is owed to Kongsberg, Hans Ryberg, a division chief at the enforcement agency, said on Tuesday. Another $792,200 is owed to more suppliers in a weeks time. Over one-hundred debt claims have been filed against Saab with the collection agency.
Production came to a stand still in late March when the automaker could not afford to continue production, and the Trollhattan factory in Sweden has not been operational since early June. Usually the collection agency takes one to three months to complete the collection process, but this can be avoided in Saab pays off the debts owed.
[Source: Automotive News]
Typically a Saab news story nowadays is either to do with financial woes or plant shut downs, however, thanks to the company’s recent injection of investor cash, both these issues will be dealt with by the end of August.
With plans to move forward, Saab is now talking about the future, with an eye on its past.
According to Tim Colbeck, President of Saab North America, the company might drop the 9-3 name and revive the 9-2 name for its upcoming 2013 model.
The 9-2 was a popular model produced by Saab back in the 1940′s, and while it was resurrected shortly in 2004, it was nothing more than a slightly re-skinned Subaru WRX wagon.
Saab’s CEO Victor Muller is a huge fan of the original 92 and their chief designer Jason Castriota has already shown five possible designs for a future model.
Given Castriota’s design flair and Muller’s love for modern-retro designs, a modern day 9-2 could make its way into showrooms. Afterall, Saab cars were once popular because they were stylish, functional and affordable. That recipe can work for them again.
[Source: Automotive News]
Another week and another episode in the Saab drama is upon us. Now news comes that this ailing Swedish brand has halted production on building any new cars until Aug. 9, 2011.
The delay is caused by suppliers, who want Saab to clear its debt with them before they provide any further parts. Saab has just secured an $81.2-million funding so it can produce cars once again.
Saab, which is owned by Dutch and Chinese company Swedish Automobile has said: “Saab Automobile continues its discussions with its suppliers on materials supply and commercial terms and is close to reaching agreements.”
It also commented that some of its suppliers need time to manufacture adequate amounts of parts to supply to Saab, leading to a delay of one month from today.
All these delays are not playing in favor of anyone holding shares in Saab,. Company stock is currently down 0.4% and any further delays can hurt its market value even further.
Saab is doing its best to pull itself out and support its workers. The Swedish automaker recently received a recent cash injection, and the company has finally paid wages to its workforce, some of whom had waited months to get paid. Some of the money it recently raised came from the property sale and leaseback that finally got the approval of the Swedish government.
Due to the nature of their shareholders agreement, any decision made by Saab has to be approved by the Chinese regulatory authorities which include Pangda (a parts distribution company) and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. It also has to get an approval from the Swedish government, former owner General Motors and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
A 40.1-million deal with a consortium headed by Hemfosa Fastigeheter had already been approved by Sweden’s Debt Office and the EIB.
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’s ongoing drama will remain at a standstill for another two weeks. Saab’s Trollhattan factory in Sweden, has not produced vehicles for most of April and May because of issues regarding paying suppliers. The factory bounced back in late May, but was quickly forced to stop production when part supplies ran out yet again.
“There will be no normal production during weeks 25 and 26 (June 20th-July 3rd),” Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs said.
In the last few weeks, Saab made agreements with two Chinese Car companies, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co and Pang Da which, if approved by Chinese governments, will solve its mid and long-term financial issues.
“We are still negotiating with all suppliers and we need to get everyone on board at the same time,” Gustavs said. “The weeks of 27-29 (July 4th-24th) are planned to be normal working weeks”.
Saab has spoken with Swedish property company Hemfosa on a sale and leaseback deal for the Swedish plant. Hemfosa was prepared to pay around $46 million for Saab’s properties. If this quick sale goes through, Saab will have the finances to restart production.
“There is nothing new that we can communicate,” Gustavs said on its building sale plans. “That is still being negotiated.”
[Source: Automotive News]
The drama involving Saab is on-going and doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.
It seems every time the company starts production, something will cause the production line to stop, whether its money related or parts supply related, and often both.
Saab was hoping to have some stability back in their lives after signing a $110-million deal with Pang Da, a Chinese parts firm, but that wasn’t enough. Now, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., which is another parts distributing company in China, is taking an equity stake in the company as part of a distribution and manufacturing joint venture.
This new deal is reportedly worth $195-million, and will give Youngman a 45% stake in parts manufacturing in China, while Saab N.V. retains 45% and Pang Da 10%.
Even this deal is still subject to the approval of the Chinese government, so this drama is still far from over. Stay tuned.
Since “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” have been canceled, soap opera fans can turn to Swedish car-firm Saab for their weekly dose of drama.
Saab has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the last year and a half. General Motors almost left it for dead when a take-over deal with Koenigsegg broke down, only to find a last minute savior in the Dutch car company Spyker.
Ever since Spyker took over, Saab has had escalating problems with paying bills and keeping the production line going, with the company on the brink of bankruptcy almost every month.
Now with a new Chinese investing partner (Pangda Automobile Trade Co.), Saab now seems set to begin production once again next week, after a seven-week delay.
While Saab waits for the Chinese authorities to fully approve the Pangda deal, Spyker’s CEO Victor Muller says he is confident Pangda will obtain the necessary approvals to get the deal done.
Saab currently owes $47.2-million to Swedish suppliers, and almost the same amount to foreign suppliers. To say Saab is in a big hole is an understatement.
We hope they can get back on their feet and start producing cars like the iconic Sonnet and the 900 Turbo once again.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab parent company Spyker held talks with parts suppliers Thursday, in a bid to restart production that has been halted over a dispute regarding unpaid bills.
The scandal has been a blight on Saab’s efforts to re-structure after a tumultuous year of teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. “We’re expecting that we could resume normal production early next week,” Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told Automotive News. “A lot of work is going into strengthening the financial position of the company.”
The head of Sweden’s parts suppliers organization could not put an exact figure on the debt but said it was in the “millions” of Swedish kronor. In the mean time, Saab’s plant remained deserted as workers expressed hope that they could return to their jobs starting next week.
[Source: Automotive News]