dinsdag 1 november 2011

Surprisingly, Saab Soap Stops

Yes world, and all Saab fanatics, I am sorry on behalf of the Dutch for cocking about with your favorite Swedish manufacturer which doesn't produce flat-pack furniture. Allow me to give a brief overview of what went wrong and who is to blame for it.

I'm desperately trying to avoid turning this post into a Victor Muller rant, yet it is largely due to him and his overoptimism that he is now left with nothing. It all started so well in 1999, he acquired the rights to the Spyker name and presented a beautiful retro sports car with proper engineering under the bonnet. This went reasonable for the first five years, also issuing a spider version which also raced (not quite successfully) at Le Mans. Problem number one is that this car has been produced till 2007, and by the time the production discontinued, Spyker didn't have the money to build any new model.

So far, so....reasonable you might think. Well, no. Around 2004/2005 Victor Muller went a bit mental, he started suffering from megalomania. All of a sudden the small car company, building a very small number of cars and only producing one model had to acquire world fame and should be as well known as Ferrari, Porsche etc. So what they did was buying an unsuccessful, overpriced F1 team, and acquire expensive Ferrari engines that didn't fit properly in the designed chassis. Don't ask me where the money came from (never ask that in the case of Spyker), but the point is that it costed more money that they could ever afford and were pretty rubbish for the whole 1 season they ran their team. Luckily they found Vijay Mallya to buy the team (be it for far less than what they bought it for) and were able to continue building a few cars and showing off concepts that would never be produced.

After another few unsuccessful years without any profit, Spyker found out that Saab was for sale. After Koenigsegg did not get permission from GM to buy over Saab (what a dream team that would have been), Spyker bargained like only the Dutch can and got the go from Detroit. With more non-existent money and obscure shareholders the minute Spyker acquired Saab for about 400 million dollars. More than double what the F1 team costed and that for a car company which has not earned a profit since the 1980s, good one Vic.

Saab never got running properly under Dutch command, Spyker was left with a huge debt after the acquiring of Saab, and daily business consisted of pleading for more loans from the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank. As Saab did not turn profitable within a year, Muller started taking his company apart, he sold Spyker to Vladimir Antonov for just 15 Million Euros. He planned to sell the factory in Trollhattan and hire it from the possible buyer, just to get money for a moment. Everyone saw that this car company was in trouble and it came as no surprise that production has ceased in april of this year. Luckily  the Chinese came along and fancied a go at a Swedish car company. More on that in a following post.

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