The silent end of the alleged Saab rescuers

The fateful year 2011. A rumor made the rounds. Saab CEO Victor Muller let the contract with the state company BAIC burst in favor of Hawtai. But there is another variant. She says Muller built on the entry of scandal banker Vladimir Antonov and therefore ignored the BAIC degree.

Saab starts production in the Spyker era
Saab starts production in the Spyker era

Whatever it was, the answer could only be provided by Muller himself, but he was silent. Then as now, there is a huge number of car manufacturers in China. There are said to be more than 100, including brands that no one in the West has ever heard of. For a long time, provincial princes and industrial magnates considered owning a car brand to be beneficial for their own image. However, the quantities produced are usually manageable and the vehicles do not meet international standards. Competitiveness is a foreign concept and the central government in Beijing is a thorn in the side of the central government. For years she looked for a remedy, tried to force the merger into larger units or the closure of unprofitable plants. Without success - so far.

With the gradual elimination of subsidies for battery and hybrid vehicles in connection with an overall ailing market, the long-awaited adjustment now seems to be taking place. The bankruptcy wave is running and it also affects brands that made their big appearance in 2011 as alleged Saab saviors.

Suspected Saab savior Hawtai Motors

Up until the spring of 2011, hardly anyone knew Hawtai Motor. If anything, the Chinese were the producers of a rather brazen Porsche Cayenne Copy noticed. In May Saab Automobile AB signed a strategic partnership, a delegation visited Trollhättan, but there was never a close collaboration or the purchase of shares. In August, Hawtai turned away from Saab and towards Proton, a company that is now part of the Volvo-Geely Group.

Could Hawtai have saved Saab? Probably not, because Hawtai was definitely too small. 2011 produced the brand only 56.364 cars, with a possible capacity of 300.000 vehicles. 2017 reached an all-time high of 129.232 units. In spring 2019 another plant was planned in Kenya, in July one burst bond over $ 218 million, the company has filed for bankruptcy. Today nature takes back the Hawtai works.

Scandal-ridden Saab rescuer Lotus Youngman

Victor Muller & Pang Quinghua
Victor Muller & Pang Quinghua

At the same time as Hawtai, Lotus Youngman took the stage as part of the China Youngman Auto Group. Founder Pang Quingnian had made his billions with mines and had ambitious visions. In 2009 he wanted to build 10 car plants in China and develop vehicles with the help of Lotus. Only a small part of the plans became reality, and in Trollhättan Pang played an on / off game. Sometimes Youngman was inside, sometimes outside. Even after the bankruptcy, attempts were made to close the remains of Saab in 2012 erwerben, but failed. The plan followed, together with Muller and Spyker Premium vehiclee based on the Phoenix platform. The plan was not implemented because Pang failed to meet his financial commitments. In the years that followed, Youngman left a trail of blood on his European investments, which slipped into bankruptcy as Pang never met his financial commitments.

Youngman Lotus was never able to establish itself successfully in the Chinese market. In 2011, the year of the planned entry into Sweden, 35.335 cars were built. Four years later it was only 11.581, then the national manufacturers' association removed the company from the statistics because production figures were barely determinable.

The ambitious plan from 2009 to build 1.5 million vehicles per year was clearly missed. In the last few months, more and more companies in the Youngman Group went into insolvency, the trip into the car industry seems over. Pang Quingnian is considered scandalous in his home country. He has been blacklisted more than 20 times for "dishonesty" set. Saab would hardly have been in good hands with him.


12 thoughts on "The silent end of the alleged Saab rescuers"

  • The world also changed greatly after the 2008> financial problems ......

  • BAIC's also bought the old 9-3 and 9-5 rights from GM …….

  • Again, this is a very interesting and informative post with all the details.

  • It is exciting to see what became of these companies. In retrospect, probably not a good partner. It would have been difficult again at the latest with the diesel crisis and changes in mobility ideas.
    What is Rachel Pang doing now? 🙂

  • @ Tom,

    Thank you for the enlightening AW. It's a shame that it didn't work out with VM and BAIC ...

  • BAIC was the primary GM partner in China at the time. There would have been no problems, on the contrary. It was unofficially spread that a “pass through” from Saab to GM would have been desired. However, nothing came of it.

    The BAIC - GM relationship is also history. Now the Chinese are about to increase their stake at Daimler to 10% and get a place on the supervisory board.

  • Inquired (PS)

    How was that again with the licenses and GM? I remember it so that GM had VM in hand and would have rejected Chinese investors (such as BAIC) ...

    If it was so, VM had its back against the wall and BAIC's entry would have been the end for 9-4X and 9-5 SC anyway ...

  • Sounds like BAIC was the best option. But who knows what advances and false promises VM have been made by the black sheep?
    In this respect, I also enjoy reading about their failures with a certain pleasure. Thanks Tom.

    Of course it's a dulled pleasure. The thought of the extremely narrowly missed 9-5 SC and what else could have happened, resonates with ...

  • That is always the question. What would BAIC have made of it - and would we have liked it? Volvo is run on a fairly long leash and it hasn't harmed the brand. Would Saab have been so lucky too?

  • You can get really scared and scared if you read about the escapades of the Chinese state or sub-state companies. Can our Central European economic order really still exist against these communist / state capitalist companies? Know-how has already flowed a lot and now the jobs could go on like this.

    The current climate discussion in this country should give us food for thought, because many local “photovoltaics” really believe that they have done something good when they have “peppered” their roofs with solar cells. Unfortunately, we often forget that 80 - 90% of the photovoltaic elements come from the PRC and not from Europe. I'm afraid that will also happen with the “climate neutral” vehicles.

    Even VW has m. E. strategically overstated with its excessive commitment in China. Others could follow.

  • I don't think you can blame VM alone. Who knows what BAIC would have made of it in the end. Rather, the number of interested parties was manageable because Saab didn't really have a good dowry.
    I still think that VM was the only one who wanted to save and develop the Saab DNA.

  • I would say wrong decision. BAIC still exists and there would probably still be SAAB in some form if VM hadn't gambled. Too bad.

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