Cats must be Swedish. At least only cats seem to have more lives than Saab, which has been dead, more dead and completely dead in the last few years, only to return once again perhaps, courtesy of Mahindra & Mahindra. The latest resuscitation is reported by Bloomberg, which says that the Indian vehicle manufacturer is interested in at least a part of Saab, as is an unnamed Turkish company, said to be aided by the government of Turkey which wants the country to have an automobile manufacturer of its own.
Mahindra & Mahindra is familiar to Americans as the manufacturer and importer of tractors for the U.S. market, as well as off-and-on plans to bring pickups to the America, with latest rumors centering on building trucks in Alabama.
According to Bloomberg, “Mahindra, based in Mumbai, is in the process of trying to set up meetings with the two court-appointed administrators who are overseeing Saab’s bankruptcy to possibly buy parts of the carmaker or the whole company…”
A takeover by the Mumbai-based Mahindra would emulate that of Tata’s purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover, both of which seem to be flourishing under their Indian ownership. Mahindra would bring more capital to Saab than Dutch sports-car maker Spyker Cars, which completed purchase of Saab from GM in February, 2010. The first post-GM Saabs rolled off the production line in Trollhattan, Sweden, almost exactly a month later.
Spyker Cars later changed its name to Swedish Automobile NV.
Mahindra has experience at large scale automobile production and marketing, much more so than Victor Muller, who when he bought Saab from General Motors, brought enthusiasm and boutique sports car manufacturing know-how but was short on capital resources needed to run a car company.
Turkey, meanwhile, builds cars for major international companies, including Hyundai and Toyota, as well as Ford, the Transit Connect for American consumption made in the Middle Eastern country. Owning Saab outright, however, would lend prestige to the country but if they were able to make a go of it.
We’ve lost Cheetah and Kim Sung Il in the past few weeks, and at its bankruptcy declaration on December 19, Swedish Automobiles seemed to have met its end as well. Saab fans should take heart, however. Mahindra has the resources to rescue Saab; the Swedish company might once again land on its feet. But indeed just how many lives does Saab have left?