Auto blogFri, 10 Oct 2014
Saab parent company National Electric Vehicle Sweden refuses to go down without a fight. After a recent trip to court, the company is emerging with an extension on its reorganization until November 29. According to Europe Online Magazine, there's also an appointed committee of creditors and union representatives to monitor NEVS' restructuring process.
NEVS still isn't giving up hope of saving itself, and the company claims there are has two potential strategies for getting back on its feet. The main plan is to "finalize the negotiations with the two Asian automotive manufacturers," according to a press release. Those firms still aren't identified, but Mahindra may be involved. According to Europe Online Magazine, one of the businesses is looking to take partial ownership of NEVS, and the other is considering some sort of cooperation with it.
If that plan fails, the second option is to take advantage of the factory and become a contract manufacturer.
Just hours after confirming to Autoblog its intention to recall 97,540 vehicles in the US (117,651 in North America) for a possible manufacturing defect in the chassis control module of several models, General Motors is issuing two more campaigns that affect another 379,401 units in the US (524,384 in North America).
One campaign covers 290,107 US examples of the 2010-2015 Cadillac SRX and the 2011-2012 Saab 9-4X because the "rear toe link adjuster lock nuts" may be improperly torqued. If not up to spec, the toe adjuster link could separate and allow the wheel to shift while driving, making the handling unstable. GM says that it knows of three crashes and two injuries as a result of this problem. Dealers are inspecting the nuts and installing a new link assembly, if necessary. Autoblog first reported about this potential issue when it showed up on a list of recalls from Transport Canada.
The second recall is for 89,294 examples of the 2013-2015 Chevrolet Spark in the US manufactured from January 17, 2012, through July 29, 2014. According to GM, "corrosion can cause the secondary hood latch striker to stick in the open position." If this happens, and the primary latch also isn't engaged for some reason, the hood could fly open while driving. About 13,000 of these affected Sparks are at dealers and are being held until repaired. The fix requires replacing the hood striker. GM isn't aware of crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by this problem.
For a fleeting moment a few weeks ago, the news from Saab-owner National Electric Vehicle Sweden appeared almost positive. The company had its reorganization plan approved (a day after it was denied), and the automaker was actually showing a real, running vehicle, albeit one with a top speed of 75 miles per hour. But those tiny crumbs of potential goodness have been swept away because NEVS has announced layoffs of as many as 200 factory employees in September "due to lack of work."
Workers probably shouldn't get too eager to return to the factory either, because company's "decision to re-start production will be further delayed" by an unspecified amount of time, NEVS says in a press release. To begin assembling cars again, the company needs to find long-term funding and a new majority owner. Those seem like two very steep hurdles for the embattled automaker to clear.
Despite not producing cars since May, NEVS still claims it's negotiating with a new owner, possibly Mahindra, but according to Reuters, the Swedish company owes about 400 million kronor ($56 million) to creditors. According to its layoff announcement, getting rid of these workers is one step in the business' reorganization plan to be presented on October 8. Scroll down to read its full release.
The Nordic countries are known for their beautiful fjords, blonde-haired populace and bitter cold for a good portion of the year. The hours spent indoors during the dark, cold season apparently gives a lot of time for some crazy brainstorming. Tire store chain Vianor is highlighting the Traktor Terror in a new video. If Ken Block is the master of Gymkhana, then these guys know all about Farmkhana in their custom, turbocharged tractor.
According to the YouTube description from Vianor, the tractor is a 1956 Volvo BM Terrier with an added roll cage, adjustable front suspension and extended frame. The engine is thoroughly Swedish, and it's based on a Volvo 940 Turbo with a Volvo 240 head and Volvo 740 intercooler. However, it uses a Saab turbo Prospark ignition and fuel system. All told, the setup is claimed to make 225 horsepower and is capable of a top speed of 60 miles per hour.
That's not crazy power, but this tractor can certainly put it down. The farm machine has no problem smoking those big rear wheels and drifts easily.... although, it may be a tiny little bit unstable (hence the roll cage). If nothing else, this looks like the world's most fun way to be a farmer, that's for sure.
What a difference a day makes. Thursday, we reported that current Saab parent National Electric Vehicle Sweden had its application for creditor protection denied by the Swedish court for being "vague and completely undocumented." But NEVS was back in court on Friday, and this time the application was granted. However, the story continued to get weirder as defense contractor Saab AB allegedly revoked NEVS' rights to use the Saab name.
NEVS did put out a brief press release confirming the court decision saying: "The District court of Vänersborg, Sweden, today August 29 approved the application for reorganization from National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB." The company allegedly has over 90 creditors, and according to Reuters, it owes them roughly 400 million Swedish krona ($57.56 million). The business says that it is in negotiations with two, unnamed companies to get additional funding.
Also, according to Reuters, Saab AB, best known for making fighter planes, has revoked NEVS' rights to the Saab brand name because the company's application for creditor protection gave the defense contractor that right. When NEVS bought Saab, it only acquired the automaker's physical assets, and had to negotiate for the rights to use the name.
The story of Saab is practically a Greek tragedy at this point. The quirky Swedish automaker that was once known as a pioneer of affordable turbocharging has been followed by years of news that just seemed to keep getting worse. At this point, maybe the brand name should be allowed to fade away into the ether and be remembered for the good times that it gave us.
Saab's latest predicament is that its parent National Electric Vehicle Sweden (or NEVS) has been denied protection from its creditors by the Swedish courts. According to Reuters, the judges called the business' financing plan "vague and completely undocumented." A company spokesperson told Reuters that it plans to appeal.
Seemingly in reaction to the court's decision, NEVS posted a press release on its website announcing that the company had applied "for a reorganization to create more time for the ongoing negotiations." The automaker continues to claim that it's negotiating with two global automakers to sell a portion of the company, possibly Mahindra, but the process is taking longer than it originally predicted. It seems a distinct possibility that this reorganization attempt is simply a way to buy extra time.
Poor Saab, it can't seem to get a break. General Motors couldn't seem to make a go of it, neither could Spyker, and now it seems that its latest owner is encountering some problems of its own.
That owner, of course, is National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a Swedish holding company owned by Chinese investors. NEVS recently restarted production at the Saab plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, and had some ambitious plans for the brand's revival, but it appears to have run out of cash.
This according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which discovered that NEVS is having trouble paying its suppliers. One such supplier, called Labo Test, has reportedly been owed some $22,000 by NEVS since February, and without payment, petitioned the Swedish government to place NEVS into bankruptcy proceedings. If that seems a little extreme to you over twenty-two grand, it would seem the parties agree, as the petition has reportedly since been withdrawn.
It's not unusual for there to be a lag between an automaker announcing a recall and the official documentation showing up on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. So it's no surprise that a recent GM campaign took about a month to appear in its official capacity. However, there appears to be some big differences between the two reports with potential safety implications.
In late June, GM announced that it needed to recall 181,984 examples of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7x from the 2005-2007 model years, plus the 2006 Chevy Trailblazer EXT and 2006 GMC Envoy XL. The new documents paint a slightly different picture with 184,611 needing repaired and different model years listed.
The reason for the fix is still the same, though. It's possible for fluid to contact the master power window switch module in the driver's door, which can corrode the part. Eventually this could cause a short circuit, leaving the buttons inoperable and potentially leading to a fire. But the new NHTSA documents add an important note: "A fire could occur even while the vehicle is not in use. As a precaution, owners are advised to park outside until the remedy has been made."
General Motors today announced a truly massive recall covering some 8.4 million vehicles in North America. Most significantly, 8.2 million examples of the affected vehicles are being called back due to "unintended ignition key rotation," though GM spokesperson Alan Adler tells Autoblog that this issue is not like the infamous Chevy Cobalt ignition switch fiasco.
For the sake of perspective, translated to US population, this total recall figure would equal a car for each resident of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming. Combined. Here's how it all breaks down:
7,610,862 vehicles in North America being recalled for unintended ignition key rotation. 6,805,679 are in the United States.
It's ironic that Saab's current vehicle architecture is called the Phoenix platform, because like the mythological bird, the company keeps returning from the ashes. That's right, the embattled Swedish automaker isn't completely dead yet. Again. Actually, it may be facing yet another buyout, and this time, the buyer may be from India.
Less than a month ago, the situation looked ominous for Saab. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the carmaker's current owner, temporarily shut down 9-3 production at its Trollhättan factory not long after restarting it in the first place. According to Just Auto, it laid off about 100 consultants allegedly linked to problems making June payroll, as well. At the time, Saab claimed that the measures were temporary, and it was negotiating selling part ownership to another automaker.
Those assertions might have some truth behind them, it seems. Indian newspaper The Economic Times reports that Mahindra & Mahindra and an unnamed Asian automaker are negotiating with NEVS to purchase part of the company. It claims that the Indian automaker sees Saab as an opportunity to add a premium brand to its business.