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by Jay Traugott
Proof that the Chinese still see the potential profit in Western automotive brands.
Yes this is actually happening, at least on paper. As we all know, boutique sports car company Spyker bought Saab from General Motors in the hopes of reviving the struggling Swedish brand. Long story short, it didn't happen and Spyker is now suing GM for leaving Saab in such a sorry state of affairs. Before this, Spyker was looking for a partner to build Saabs but GM killed a potential deal with Chinese automaker Youngman out of concern of its platform technology becoming accessible to a Chinese brand.
Although it seemed that Spyker's efforts to revive Saab were as good as dead, today it's been announced by the automaker that they've just formed a new, yet unusual alliance with Youngman. The deal still needs to be finalized at Youngman's end, but if approved it will see that company invest €10 million in Spyker. A joint venture called Spyker P2P will then be created where Youngman will contribute an additional €25 million, giving it a 75 percent stake in the partnership. Spyker will have the remaining 25 percent and will then return the favor by supplying Youngman with the technology of its D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV concept along with Spyker trademarks.
Following all of this so far? This joint venture hopes to have the D8 SUV on sale by the end of 2014. If all goes well, then more models will come of the deal - and this is where Saab fans should find themselves pleased. A second joint venture was also announced, called Spyker Phoenix, in which Youngman will supply Spyker the rights to the Phoenix platform. If you recall, Saab debuted the Phoenix concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show as an all-wheel-drive gasoline-electric hybrid. Saab was previously developing this platform independently from GM for the next 9-3, but then sold it to Youngman last year for a much-needed cash infusion.
In return, Youngman will also handle production start-up costs for vehicles to be built on this platform, of which a range of models will be based on. These models are what could become new Saabs. Yes, this is a rather unusual, even radical joint venture, not to mention complicated. However, both companies seem intent on making this whole thing work. It is risky, but its success could not only see the Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris reach production (along with an increased output of other Spyker models), but also the return of Saab. Production could even take place in both Europe and China.
Youngman CEO Pang Qingnian stated that "With this agreement, many of our original intentions with the Saab brand will still take shape and we are excited to help Spyker further develop its vehicle model range with the SUV and vehicles based on Saab's Phoenix platform." Could this be the official return of Saab? We'll just have to wait and see to find out.