Saab meets Mahindra

The news situation in Sweden is not very productive, which gives us time to think outside the box. Mahindra is traded as a prospective shareholder or owner of NEVS-Saab. Unconfirmed, but the business press in Sweden sees a high probability.

Saab meets Mahindra © 2014
Saab meets Mahindra © 2014

Mahindra is also present in Germany. Not as in some southern European countries, with their own pickups and SUVs. But with the brand Ssangyong, which was acquired by Mahindra majority before 4 years. The oldest Korean manufacturer is considered a four-wheel specialist, but its existence in the German market is below the perceptual limit. Fewer than 1.000 vehicles, more than 100 German Ssangyong dealers were able to bring 2013 to the customer.

Ssangyong - the niche in the niche

The model range consists of four vehicles. There's the Actyon Sport, a pickup designed to be a lifestyle truck without being particularly chic and attractive, and the needs of the actual pickup clientele have been ignored. There is only one wheelbase, one cabin version, a much too short cargo area.

The Rodius is a 9-seater van, inexpensive, practical, robust. With all-wheel drive on request. Even if Ssangyong speaks of the “new” Rodius. He is old and has only had a facelift. People with a lot of space and a limited budget like the Rodius. There is no cheaper way to get around with 9 people on board.

The Rexton sees itself as an off-road vehicle, not an SUV. Officially, Ssangyong speaks of the Rexton W, also an oldie in the program that has been refreshed again and again. And finally, as the most modern model, there is the Korando, A compact SUV, with a pleasing, Italian design. Fits in the market like Kia Sportage, Opel Mokka, or Hyundai iX35.

To give me an overview, I leave for Mainz. The Saab center Mainz is also a partner of Ssangyong. Carsten Scholl is already waiting for me and taking the time to tell me more about Ssangyong. First, though, I have to take a look at the Saabs in the showroom before plunging deep into the ssangyong theme. And there is also a quick look for readers.

So, that was the promised dose of Saab, back to Mahindra and Ssangyong. Since its acquisition by Mahindra, Carsten Scholl reports, all models have been gradually reworked. Completely new, under Mahindra direction developed vehicles are in the pipeline and will come in the next years on the market. 2013 has released Mahindra a billion euros for the development of new engines and platforms at Ssangyong.

The import to Germany takes place via the Alcadis Group. A Belgian importer who, in addition to Ssangyong, also sells Suzuki, Isuzu and Hyundai in several countries. The German branch is located in Kerpen, and with managing director Ulrich Mehling, a former Saab Germany boss is on board. Which also explains the increasing spread of Ssangyong among Saab partners.

How does the Rexton drive?

It's time to drive a ssangyong after a long preface. I'm interested in the Rexton. A real off-road vehicle, left over from a time when all-wheel-drive cars were still built for the field. And not for the best parking in front of the hippest trendy place in the city. He could be the grandson of the Defender and offers with a price starting from 25.000,00 € much car for the money.

The engine, a 155 hp diesel developed by AVL, runs pleasantly quietly. The five-speed automatic, still a legacy from the Daimler license period, shifts smoothly. The power steering is designed American. You direct the car with one finger. You can like that, but you don't have to.

I like it and as we roll over the country road there is a view of the interior. Everything seems routinely processed, the fits are right, nothing rattles or squeaks. There is no room for criticism in this regard. The left elbow reminds of the age of the Rexton. It has almost as little freedom of movement as in the Defender. The Rexton is just a classic off-road vehicle.

A vehicle for the niche, which is unfortunately only allowed to pull 2.6 tons after the last facelift. Okay, for foresters, forest owners and people chugging around in the horse trailer, that could be a big minus point. But otherwise the ssangyong gets some sympathy from me. He is a solid and honest character with utility. Like that.

But what about the SUV from Ssangyong? How is the Korando, the latest model and the bearer of hope for increasing quantities.

The Korando

Ssangyong vehicles have been known as Korando since 1983. Derived from “Koreans can do”, self-confidence raises expectations. It is best to deduce from the corando what Mahindra does and what does not. The small SUV was only recently revised, and since both versions are available in the Saab Center Mainz, I can see what is going on.

Clear is the desire for more value. The current Korando comes within striking distance of the competitors. If on the steering wheel a signet of Hyundai, Kia or Opel, it would be believable. Inside everything looks good, feels good. The equipment is extensive, and you can have, among other Bluetooth and USB in series. The optional leather seats exude a touch of luxury.

However, things like Xenon, navigation system or assistance systems are neither for money nor for having a good word. A disadvantage that should not bother the current buyers of a Korando. They shop for the cheapest possible price, not a brand.

Mahindra & Saab?

The visit to Mainz makes me a bit baffled at first. But with every kilometer between the state capital and me, the view of the situation becomes clearer. On the credit side are the vehicles from Ssangyong. They are better and more sympathetic than expected. But if Saab was already in the niche, then Ssangyong builds the niche in the niche. Around 145.000 vehicles have produced the Koreans 2013, distributed on 4 quite different model series. And of the 4 series, 3 are very clear niche products.

The brand has no image, at least not in Europe. The level of awareness is hardly measurable. The entire offer has to be completely renewed in order to keep up. Ssangyong is, in my eyes, a big building site. While Saab at least knows what the brand stands for, Ssangyong's profile is fuzzy. It should be reliable all-wheel drive cars. Character, steadfastness, reliability, says the manufacturer, characterize a Ssangyong. Aha! But who thinks of Ssangyong when you think of all-wheel drive? First I think of a Japanese brand, one from the USA, then one from England, then one from southern Germany. But Ssangyong? Nothing.

Mahindra has a lot of work to do with Ssangyong to get the brand on the road to success. This requires liquidity and ties up human resources. Can - and that's my question - Mahindra build Saab and Ssangyong at the same time? And are there synergies between the two brands?

Maybe I am wrong now, and if so, then I would be glad of the error. Because, of course, as a Saab fan, I want a future for the brand and a good owner. A success story, like Tata at Jaguar and Land Rover, that would be to my liking. But the mind does not signal a green light. Mahindra already has a challenge to overcome and will be busy with Ssangyong for years.

In parallel, to send Saab into a bright future, Indians need an inexhaustible pool of human resources and lots and lots of money. The best thing is a cash deposit, like Dagobert Duck. But Mumbai is not Entenhausen. Or?

Text & image:


42 thoughts on "Saab meets Mahindra"

  • The Feng Shui bonds are unfortunately visible everywhere in the vehicle design. No wonder when you see the sales figures in China. Volvo has strengthened the design department with Skoda chief stylists in order to tie in with the old design icon times. However, it will take at least a year for prototypes and several years for new cars for “Back to IKEA” to take effect. The tools for the new series have long been ordered. After all, SAAB “GM-Dank” has no such problems.

  • You mean a SaabYong a la GM? That would be death ..

  • That's true, the interior is very! succeeded and they even hired the band “Be the bear” for their commercial, who also wrote the song for the 9-4x.
    But they have finally adopted the exterior design of Europe.
    And I've been wondering for a long time why the Swedes haven't dared to take their new hosts aside for a moment and explain to them that the penetratingly placarded “Husky Edition” doesn't make your mouth water in this country.

  • If I look at what the Chinese are doing at Volvo (see new XC90, a dream of the interior), I wonder why NEVS does not work out that way! They will find the right partner!

  • Citroen doesn't even manage to install a sunroof in their “luxury” car c5! Hahaha!

  • Hi Alda
    What do you smoke ?
    All jokes aside - the way you see it, it would turn out to be a giant shoe.
    Only who would tie this shoe over today?

  • Obs!

    Swedish SAAB Group
    works for over 5 years with Mahindra in the armaments area cooperates and would block with the possible entry of Dongfeng with NEWS the naming rights SAAB.

    The fact that the Swedes recently visited the Kokums shipyard with police officers and secured the state documents for the submarine construction of Thysen-Krupp with “gun at gunpoint” shows how the otherwise cautious but often lost in the last decades Vikings now behavior.
    Kokum has also been bought at a “special price” from SAAB.

    The cooperation Mahindra-SAAB would stand with the common vehicle production on completely different levels like the GM or even NEVS.
    The plant in Trollhätten continues to be under the care of the Wahlenberg companies. The former SAAB Cars developers mostly work for engineering companies with SAAB involvement or even in aircraft construction.

    Mahindra can rely on Swedish help and staff.
    SAAB is and will remain SAAB, stop with Indians and South Koreans in vehicle construction. Ssangyong has brand new 1.6 AVL turbo engines in the pipeline - these could even be installed in good, further developed SAAB 9-3 from 2015.

    The new Ssangyong CUV could be “SAABED”.
    The Phoenix platform will be used for new Ssangyong models.



    Future SAAB “Crossover”.
    Two Carl Gustavs (1xAT, 1xAP) with automatic loading on the bonnet,
    Radar and subsonic wave absorbing plastic body,
    Active and passive IR and radar controlled retractable 40 mm Bofors with 360 ° / -20 ° .. + 90 ° swivel range in the boot.

  • Is it. The gentlemen of GM have the pressing tools and everything you need so transport away. What happened to it, unclear. So any continuation of the product is impossible, who has a 9-5 NG, which should take good care of it

  • Is not a comeback of 9-5 II not excluded ?! (GM licenses)

  • Individuality and independence with Citroen, I do not know. For me, Citroen tried only to jump on the train, but in my eyes, because of lack of image goes wrong. (Mini, Fiat 500 etc.)

    I agree with the 9-5II! The goal should be to resume production of the 9-5II as quickly as possible (possibly with facelift) and also to build the new 9-3. Thought anyway, that would be close to market and then you started again to build the old 9-3.
    The two vehicles would be the cash cows and then one more convertible would gradually be brought onto the market. That would be enough for the beginning ... But it doesn't seem that easy? 🙁

  • The future will tell whether PPE is on the safe side. I want it, as I want it for Saab. However, NEVS builds an “old” car, or built it, in order to keep the plant running and to keep the manufacturing competence in THN. That should be recognized and the approach wasn't entirely wrong. Don't always see everything negative ...

  • You can not compare that with each other. PSA is out of the woods and has a reliable partner with Dongfeng whom you have been working with since 1992. PSA continues to build a whole range of models and develops new ones, some with revolutionary propulsion technologies such as Hybrid-Air.
    Sorry, but Saab builds, or better built, the facelift, the facelift from the facelift of a scrap car, that's a joke. If they had been able to continue building the 9-5II, I would have seen some light there

  • Mahindra may be thinking of patch engineering as many other brands do.
    I'm thinking of SAAB for Europe, USA, .. and SsangYoung for Asia.
    So the saloons, station wagons, and convertibles from SAAB and the SUVs and off-road cars from SsangYoung each under a brand for the respective region.
    Korando (Asia) = SAAB X-4? (Europe) and SAAB 9-3 (Europe) = SsangYoung ?? (Asia).
    Such a procedure is not rare and you could use synergies and thus save money.

  • Oh please, let's just take a look what makes Dongfeng as a new shareholder in the troubling PSA history. Without money from China and without money from the state, the lights go out. And give the NEVS people the chance to maybe lead the story in the right direction. The approach would be there at least.

  • What does a Citroen Cactus have to do with Saab? Is it the outdated 5 gearbox, the egg-shaped steering wheel, or the fact that you can only open the rear windows? Soory, but I do not see anything there. Except perhaps that Citroen goes with the Cactus in the segment of cheap small car, the Saab has left at the latest with the 99.

  • Citroen, however, suits Saab better than this Ssang Yong. What do the ugly plastic bombers have in common with a brand that likes to see itself on a par with Mercedes and BMW? Well, both of them recently sold outdated junk ...
    Anyone who believes in the great resurrection of Saab probably also believes in Santa Claus ...

  • I do not compare SAAB with Citroen, but the feeling of individuality and something special! SAAB has always attracted attention with its special shape, as was the case with Citroen! Only those had the PSA group in the back and could afford to build unpopular cars. But now the French automotive industry is struggling and you can not afford any more mistakes! If SAAB ever woke up from his sleep then something special must come again, just like a citroen cactus.

    When I drove around for a few days with an old SAAB 96, everyone turned their heads to SAAB and the funny thing was that nobody knew what that car was! So it's up to the shape and there would be something retro again :-)

  • If you talk about drunks then look to Sweden, they have been doing this for a long time and that's why SAAB had to go down! Sorry I do not want to advertise Citroen here but just wanted to throw some food for thought into the round! But exactly your reaction is the reason why it does not work with SAAB! Only with something special SAAB can assert itself again!

  • Comparing the Citroen Cactus to a Saab seems like a joke to me. The only parallel I see in it is that the Cactus is an attempt at a “right to exist” ... that could also be related to the situation of Saab ... but nothing more!

  • It can be that the negotiations end positively or negatively - to ramble about Mahindra nonsense, I consider self-importance!

    In addition, we don't want to advertise Citroen here in the blog - what's the nonsense?

  • I'm slowly wishing for a worthy finish for SAAB! Because this ingenious brand deserves dignity! But honestly, what is this ssang-yong and mahindra nonsense? SAAB can only be SAAB and I've been driving SAABs since I was born, from 99 to 9-5! SAAB was a family tradition and after 7 SAAB's it is unfortunately over! Just as the good old days won't come back, SAAB won't come back either! Out of this passion, I wish that everyone still cherishes and cares for their SAAB (if you can afford it financially) as long as possible!

    Take a look at France and marvel at the Citroen Cactus! It is just such an idée fix which SAAB has missed and not only the missing money!

    If you have the chance, then drive this Citroen Cactus! It's like driving a SAAB 96! A little nasty but identical to the good old days :-)

  • wow an interesting story!
    Thanks for the great report!
    Saabige greetings!

  • AVL produces only small series, tuning and special motors. 16 cylinder for example. Otherwise only services around the drive technology.

  • The Fa.
    As Saab center in Krefeld also Ssang-Yong and even (my other brand) Subaru under one roof.
    I bought 2012 my 9-5II Turbo4 Aero again.
    We recommend!
    Driving from the station to operating in a ssang-yong, model Rexton was surprisingly pleasant.
    I've already thought about this brand myself ...
    SAAB and Ssang-Yong = fits.

  • More precisely, only the development center. That's all very confused.

  • Yes, hopefully, the hanging part lasts too long.

  • Well, hopefully, Mr. Bergman will soon come back with good news from India.

  • I would say that it doesn't fit in the showroom yet. But, to be fair, there are still no vehicles developed by Ssangyong / Mahindra. And the new interior of the Korando is really promising. If Ssangyong keeps going, things will get interesting. I also think that the dealers are currently struggling with the Saab - Ssangyong balancing act. The clientele is too different and the switch between mentalities is a challenge for every salesperson.
    However, if you look 10 years into the future, a new automotive group could emerge with Saab - Ssangyong that has potential.
    Mahindra is the market leader in commercial vehicles on the subcontinent. Presumably one can afford the expansion with this background, how well filled the “war chest” really is, but is speculation.

  • QDAniel.
    Thank you. I had something in the back of my mind. I was not sure and therefore did not convert and made no comparison eg to VW.
    Greeting André

  • Billions in the US are billions, or $ 16,7 billion

  • Another question. Is it true that Mattias Bergman is currently in India? This gives room for speculation.

  • Hello Tom.
    Thank you for your report about SsangYong. I still have one question:
    What impression did you leave that SAAB and SsangYoung were in a showroom? Does this fit or does it seem rather disturbing of the vehicles, or does a brand act like a foreign body?

    Otherwise I could imagine that Mahindra has money for both tasks (Saab and SsangYoung). Because SsangYoung and Mahindra & Mahindra both do not build above-average cars and of course the money cannot come from there. But Mahindra & Mahindra and SsangYoung are also “only” part of the MahindraGroup. If we can believe Wiki and their own homepage, then the MahindraGroup had a turnover of approx. 2013 billion US $ in 16,7!

    With sunny regards from Oldenburg


  • The combination of Niesche and Niesche makes sense, especially in terms of development - SAAB develops and shares the platforms with the others - the goodwill of Mahindra & Co would increase - but it still costs a lot of money and that has to be but also to be earned again. On the other hand, it sometimes sounds like a comeback of the 9-4X. But I don't want any more comebacks, I want something new and something SAAB-like special. I also need space. What I would have always wanted from SAAB - for a new station wagon - would be a well thought-out alternative to the VW T5 bus (SUVs are facing market saturation and mini-vans are the better family carriages / company vehicles anyway - the margins are good here and the numbers are manageable ). Otherwise: take a look ... GOOD SUCCESS!

  • No Mercedes engines anymore. That is past. The current diesel are developed at AVL in Austria for Ssangyong and drive very pleasantly. Apparently there is an own engine plant in Korea.

  • SsangYong is likely to be the heavier construction site. SAAB has an existing base (WIR) and strong social media (BLOG). Is only a question of money storage

  • Lookup: Looks like Ssangyong only installs Mercedes engines and has no engines of its own. And even Saab has no more engine plant. And now? Exclusively electric cars?

  • Hui, I bought my current 9-5 last year in March! Were they already Ssangyong dealers? That would be rather a bad sign, because I would not have noticed.

    As far as resources are concerned, this is not development aid where Indian managers need to fix the store. It takes money and some strategic decisions, and otherwise cars can be designed and built in Trollhättan, as well proven. Possibly. even ssangyongs. And certainly also electric cars.

  • Think the Ssangyong is for the suv division and Saab for sedan, station wagon and convertible. Engines can be shared. If Mahindra had enough money, that could become something. For me it sounds logical and successful in the long term. I would wish. Saab does not have to be recreated, it just keeps on running.

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