Skeptics Sound Off On Small Saab-Spyker’s Viability

#Fiat, #9-4x

If the town of Trollhattan is throwing a parade to celebrate Saab’s salvation, industry analysts -- including Fiat’s CEO -- may rain upon it.

Asked about the merger during an industry event in Stockholm, Sweden, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said the new company -- which merges two niche automakers into one -- may have trouble playing in today’s automotive industry.

“Marginal players will continue to be marginalized,” Marchionne told Automotive News. “We cannot build on hopes and dreams.”

“It would be nice to see it survive,” said Nick Margetts, an analyst with JATO Dynamics, “but it would be a first for a brand of Saab’s size to go in the hands of a company that is not a major player.”

Although Saab is a relatively small company, it looks like an absolute juggernaut compared to Spyker. Saab employs 3400 people and in 2009, built just under 30,000 vehicles. Spyker, on the other hand, has about 100 workers on its payroll, and cranks out about 40 hand-built, $200,000 supercars a year. Trying to amortize costs for a mass-production vehicle is something Spyker has little experience with, and given Saab’s niche audience, is already somewhat difficult.

Other analysts worry about what financial stability -- if any -- Spyker can bring to Saab. Spyker has never seen a profit since its inception in 2000, and lost 8.7 million Euros ($12 million) in the first half of 2009. Spyker is said to have a market value of less than $85 million -- although it’s already pledged GM some $74 million in cash to acquire Saab. Saab itself has seen its fair share of headaches. Sales for 2009 fell to 39,903 cars (compare that figure to the 94,751 cars sold in 2008), and posted a 400 million Euro ($560 million) loss.

Officials at Spyker and Saab point to the new 9-5 sedan and the 9-4x crossover as models that can help rejuvenate Saab, but it’s still uncertain if two models alone can solve all the brand’s problems and help keep such a specialist automaker afloat. It may well be possible, but it’s quite the high-stakes financial gamble.

Source: Automotive News

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