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Saab shutdown would doom new 9-5, 9-3 models

Tue, 12 Jan 2010

The new Saab 9-5 sedan and a proposed replacement for the 9-3 will be killed off if General Motors Co. winds down its Swedish subsidiary, AutoWeek has learned.

The new 9-5, a longer-wheelbase version of the Opel Insignia and the Buick Regal, is poised to go down in the annals of automotive history as a major rarity--a design that was fully tooled for production yet never got built.

"If Saab closes, the new 9-5 and 9-3 will go and the cost absorbed in the winding-down charge," said Nick Reilly, boss of GM's new Opel/Vauxhall operation in Europe.

That charge is estimated to range between $72 million and $145 million (50 million and 100 million euros), Reilly says. Avoiding that charge is one of the driving forces behind the continuing attempts to sell Saab.

Reilly also confirmed that GM isn't looking for a payment for Saab. "We're not trying to get any money for Saab; it's costing us to keep it open," he said.

As of Tuesday morning, GM was continuing to talk with Dutch supercar maker Spyker through its owner, Victor Muller, plus a consortium of Luxembourg-based financiers including Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.

But GM also announced that two two legal officials had been appointed in Sweden to wind down Saab.

By Julian Rendell