Saab: only the name to survive?

The Chinese manufacturer Beijing Automotive, who had been backing Koenigsegg to buy Saab, says it might still be interested in parts of the business. General manager Wang Dazong said, "For us, I don't see a need to buy a plant. I don't see a need to buy a building. I don't see a need to buy a robot. So what's left? You figure it out."

Ok, so let's accept his challenge. Clearly, one thing that is left is a name. Chinese manufacturers are well aware that a name like "Beijing Automotive" would take years and a huge amount of money to establish in the minds of western consumers. It has taken Hyundai nearly 30 years to go from oddball to mainstream, and the Chinese don't want to wait that long. Beijing was also complementary about Saab engineers, who could no doubt give the Chinese some advice.

However, what the Chinese really want is not available from Saab. They want the Intellectual Property that comes with an advanced car manufacturer, but Saab does not have much of that. Its platforms come from General Motors – Saab only adapts them for its own purposes. The last time Saab developed an all-new platform of its own was the Saab 99 in 1967, so it is a pretty safe bet that not many of those engineers are still around.

Beijing may do an MG Rover and wait for the company to officially go bust so it can pick over the carcass without having to worry about any of Saab's liabilities.

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