Following weeks of well-founded speculation, General Motors has signed a memorandum of understanding to sell its Saab division to Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg Automobile AB. Neither party indicated a dollar amount for the deal -- which is set to be finalized by the end of the third quarter. However, GM's statement confirmed that it does include an expected $600 million funding commitment from the European Investment Bank that will be guaranteed by the Swedish government. Additional support will be provided by both principals to help underwrite Saab's ongoing operational and product development costs, which include the upcoming launch of its new 2010 9-3X, 9-4x and flagship 9-5 models. Part of that assistance will come in the form of GM continuing to supply Saab with both platform architecture and powertrain technology for an unspecified time period.
GM Europe President, Carl-Peter Forster characterized the sale as a significant step in the reinvention of GM and its European operations. "Saab is a highly respected automotive brand with great potential. Closing this deal represents the best chance for Saab to emerge a stronger company. Koenigsegg Group's unique combination of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and financial strength, combined with Koenigsegg's proven ability to create world-class Swedish performance cars in a highly efficient manner, made it the right choice for Saab as well as for General Motors."
Based in Angelholm, Sweden, and currently employing 45 people, Koenigsegg is best known for building its own line of superbly hand-crafted exotic performance cars. Its product mix includes the CXX and its biofuel-capable sibling, the CCXR -- aka the world's first "green" supercar. Both of these mid-engine two-seaters are powered by a custom-designed twin-supercharged V8 that develops 806 horsepower on gasoline in the CCX and up to 1018 horsepower when fed by E100 ethanol in the CCXR. And both carry pricetags in excess of $1.2 million and have top speeds in excess of 250 mph. The next project on Koenigsegg's to-do list is a four-passenger, all-wheel drive gullwing coupe called the Quant. Fitted with two electric motors that develop 512 horsepower and offering a range of 300 miles with a projected 20-minute recharge time, it has the potential to revolutionize the EV world. Worthy of note, Saab has the kind of facilities necessary to produce this type of vehicle.
Throughout its 15-year history, Koenigsegg has proven remarkably successful when it comes to fulfilling the desires of a limited number of well-heeled enthusiasts. Finding a way to bump both the sales figures and bottom line of the perpetually unprofitable Saab operation may prove to be a far more daunting challenge.