February 25, 2005

GM says Saab is not for sale

Frankfurt, Germany – General Motors angrily dismissed a Swedish newspaper report that it is trying to sell its loss-making Saab division.

“The rumour is totally preposterous,” General Motors Europe spokesman Tony Cervone said. “We have stated any number of times over the past several weeks and months how committed we are to the Saab brand and to the people in Sweden.”

The Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported that GM had contacted several Chinese firms, as well as Renault and Nissan, as potential purchasers, quoting what it called “a source with good links to GM”. But GM officials have gone out of their way lately to say that they want to keep Saab as one of the company’s few global brands, and an entry level into the premium car market.

However, they have also said that Saab needs to boost sales and broaden its product range. GM is cutting its European workforce by one-fifth to stem losses in the brand, which last made money in 1999. Dagens Industri said Saab has lost about US$2.9 billion in the 16 years it has been part of General Motors, and staff cuts in recent years have made it impossible for the brand to develop and sell the volume it needs to be profitable on its own.

GM is due to announce in March whether it will build its next-generation mid-size car at the Saab plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, or the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim, Germany.

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