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Electric cars in SA

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Saab dragging Spyker into the red

2010-08-30 07:03

Dutch brand Spyker’s history tallies everything from cars to aviation and a sojourn in F1. Now its biggest challenge, saving Saab, may prove to be a financial suicide mission.

Earlier this year iconic Swedish brand Saab was saved from oblivion by some Dutch entrepreneurs.

Spyker, the erstwhile F1 campaigners and niche sportscar maker, bought the Saab nameplate from struggling US giant GM.

Since then Saab's launched the 9-5, announced a joint-venture small car project with BMW engine technology and promised a return to rallying.

Unfortunately, the current cash flow situation will first have to be reversed.

Spyker shares have taken a hammering since the company took over Saab.

As the first quarter losses of R1.3bn were announced in Amsterdam on Friday, Spyker boos Victor Muller tried to paint a picture of optimism.

Muller has promised Saab will turn a profit by 2012. At a production output of 120 000 units Saab is barely breaking even. It plans to sell only 45 000 cars this year.

If Muller hopes for a Saab profit, the new 9-5, even if it proves successful in the US market (always a strong retail environment for Saab) needs a supporting act within the company’s product portfolio.

A key issue therefore is how swiftly the new 9-3 can be homologated and brought to market. Until then the Swedish acquisition is sure to be a significant drain on Spykers balance sheet. The Dutch company says it still has a R2.2bn pile of cash to burn, which gives Saab two years to get its house in order or risk being closed – for good.


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