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 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.
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.
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.
Things seem to be much more glamorous for Mahindra at Pininfarina. The company may be manageable enough for its owners' ambitions and willingness to invest. The Pininfarina Baptist, currently the only product, is an electric hypercar developed in cooperation 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