A Chinese-Japanese investment group agreed to buy Saab Automobile and convert the bankrupt Swedish manufacturer into a maker of electric cars.
The first vehicle under the plan will be based on the company’s 9-3 car, and the model will go on sale early in 2014, purchaser National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB and Saab’s bankruptcy administrators said on Wednesday in a joint statement. The parties agreed not to disclose the transaction price.
The purchasing group is led by Japanese investment firm Sun Investment and Hong Kong-based renewable-energy power-plant builder National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd. Competing suitors for Saab included Jinhua, China-based Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, which was in talks since at least February and made a revised bid exceeding 4 billion kronor ($567 million) as late as 8 June.
At a Saab automobile factory. Photo: Bloomberg
Saab, the maker of the 9-5 sedan and 9-4X crossover vehicle, hasn’t built cars since last year following an initial production halt in March 2011, and it filed for bankruptcy in December. Trollhaettan-based Saab has been unprofitable for most of two decades, and General Motors Co., which acquired full control of the manufacturer in 2000, sold it in February 2010 to Dutch supercar maker Spyker NV.
The Saab administrators said early in 2012 that a half- dozen parties had shown interest in buying the company.
The Swedish carmaker has hovered near bankruptcy several times, including in 1989, the year before GM bought a 50% stake. The US company, seeking to stem losses, planned in late 2009 to shut Saab, as it did with the Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac divisions in the US, until Spyker chief executive officer Victor Muller persuaded it to sell the brand to him. After sales peaked at 133,000 deliveries in 2006, Saab sold just 31,700 vehicles in 2010.