Saab and Mahindra - the nightmare that never became real

Nightmares reflect unprocessed events and can come back again and again. Saab affine people know the Christmas nightmare. It haunted Trollhättan in 2009 and 2011. First, when GM wanted to liquidate the brand. Two years later, when Saab shot himself in the direction of Valhalla.

Saab Mahindra nightmare

Saab and Mahindra

In the midst of the dramatic events was always one company: Mahindra. The company from India always played along, but always stayed discreetly in the shade. The first attempt to take over Saab began in 2009. It failed, the offer wasn't cheap enough. The next attempts followed in 2011 and 2012.

While Saab was still on the shopping list, Mahindra & Mahindra was inexpensive in 2010 with 75% of the bankrupt Korean manufacturer Ssangyong. Did the Indians plan to form an international automobile company? The speculation was present, it seemed justified. But neither in 2011 nor a year later did Mahindra access Sweden.

And there was blurring that left room for guesswork. In the summer of 2012, a short time before the property in Stallbacka went to NEVS, some containers left the old Saab factory for India. The parties have agreed not to disclose the content. It is possible that the last developments were sold to the Indian company. Because NEVS only took over a fraction of Saab's intellectual property.

Four attempts

After 2009, 11 and 12, the last attempt to acquire Saab and the factory followed in summer 2014. NEVS was in trouble and seemed ready to take over for little money. In the meantime, the rights to the Saab brand name, the actual core of the company, had also been lost. The basic condition for entry was the renewed approval for further use by Saab AB.

The press gave up optimistic, the request was made to Saab AB. And once again nothing happened. The subject disappeared from the media, and Mahindra from the stallbacka.

Ssangyong nightmare

In the years that followed, Mahindra continued to work on the idea of ​​an automobile company. In December 2015, Pininfarina was freed from the clutches of the creditors, and one may well ask what would have become of Saab had the Indians bought it?

The answer? A nightmare, for sure. The development of Ssangyong since 2010 is strikingly reminiscent of Saab under GM. The liberating leap forward and no major investments were made. According to a tried and tested manner, from the Lexicon of Failure, the Koreans in Indian ownership continuously only supplied technology at the penultimate level.

Products like the Tivoli and Korando were visually pleasing, but remained in a price-sensitive, low-income segment. There was no attempt at higher positioning. The fact that the Saab slogan “Anything but ordinary” was borrowed for marketing in Germany did not bring any exclusivity either. The situation became more and more toxic, and that summer Mahindra made the idea of ​​separation public.

In June 2020, the Indians started looking for a buyer who had not yet been found.

The provisional end of Ssangyong also followed the tried and tested GM model. On December 14, the repayment of a loan for 54.44 million US dollars failed. A sum that is of no importance in the auto industry and is only suitable for topping up the postage account. Mahindra refused to help and on December 21, Ssangyong went bankrupt. A Christmas nightmare for the employees. The restructuring should make the company attractive for potential interested parties, the further development is open.


It seems to be much more brilliant for Mahindra at Pininfarina. The company may be small enough for the ambition and willingness to invest of its owners. The Pininfarina Battista, currently the only product, is an electric hypercar developed in collaboration with Rimac was developed. A maximum of 150 pieces should be built.

The Battista is completely in the tradition of those Italian masterpieces that can only be called a car to a limited extent. It ties in with the times when the Pininfarina company designed automotive legends for Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and other manufacturers. Here, and only here, Mahindra seems to be proving a lucky hand.

As a service provider, Pininfarina builds and designs vehicles for Chinese manufacturers and is obviously doing well there. Evergrande Auto, owner of Saab Fragments in Trollhättan, is also on the customer list. Pininfarina's CEO is Per Svantesson, a former manager at Volvo Cars and head of purchasing at NEVS.

It's good when you know each other.

With footage from Pininfarina

6 thoughts on "Saab and Mahindra - the nightmare that never became real"

  • blank

    @ Aero-93,

    that will be so. I would love to know how this market (hypercars) will have developed in 10, 20 or 30 years.

    The dissolution of just one of the larger collections (e.g. through heirs) has almost the potential to trigger a small glut. Some include up to 50 hyper and sports cars - up to 6 Bugatti alone.

    I'm not at all sure whether every hypercar of the last and next 20 years has built-in value growth that is always above inflation.

    Rolls Royce once had a trailer. There were well-kept used cars for 'n Appel und' n Ei, because they couldn't keep up with the comfort and performance of new cars without being considered classic.

    If you look at the performance of some cars today (+/- 3,0 from 0 to 100 are in series production and no hypercar in the world can do that better), then the whole genre of hypercar seems to me to be in a situation similar to that of the British Luxury cars ...

    Maybe it's even worse? Who wants to sit in a hypercar for a 7-digit price when teenagers from the pickup next door happily wave for three seemingly long (or even 8 to 10) seconds from 0 to 100 or 200, make faces and press bare butts against the window and stream the whole spectacle live with your iPhones?

    Measured against this scenario, Rolls Royce found it relatively easy to reinvent itself and its own right to exist.

  • blank

    Thank you again for all the background information that you can only get here. I rarely see a ssangyong here. I know a Saab dealer in the Czech Republic who has also been selling Ssangyong for some time and he has reported that they are selling very well with him. So the bankruptcy now surprises me a little, but just because a dealer sells well doesn't mean anything.

  • blank

    Pininfarina was Peugeot's in-house designer for years, and wonderful vehicles like the 404 and 504 coupes / convertibles were built there. For me the 504 Coupe is one of the most perfect cars that could be bought for reasonable money, resp. still.

  • blank

    150 vehicles on offer worldwide ... they will be available for sale (!). And be put away or something.
    Others should decide whether the world needs such a vehicle. In the circles in which this vehicle is supposed to be at home, people may think (and act) differently on this topic anyway.
    Otherwise, I'm glad that SAAB was spared another drama.

  • blank

    Unfortunately, reality can hold a candle to this nightmare.

    With all the necessary respect for VM & NEVS. With all thanks for the Saab, who saw the light, but much less than what happened after GM
    It was hardly possible either.

    I lack the imagination to imagine a nightmare that would make reality appear comparatively rosy.

    I can think of a lot more things that could and should have run better under VM and NEVS. But afterwards you are always wiser and many of us are wishful thinking, at least I am, with Saab for many years.

    Maybe it could actually have been worse? If you have the necessary imagination, you may find some consolation in the article. Not me.

  • blank

    Mahindra was so long ago - almost forgotten. Every € invested in Ssangyong would have been better spent at Saab. On the other hand, my nerves wouldn't go along with a second drama.

    So it's better that nothing came of it. Especially after what I'm reading here.

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