Once upon a time, Saab – then owned by Dutch supercar manufacturer Spyker N.V. – turned to Chinese automaker Youngman in an attempt to secure financing to remain afloat. Interestingly, now that Saab Automobile is no more, Spyker and Youngman are now partnering to develop cars -- including some built from a stillborn Saab platform.
“Since the regretful demise of Saab in 2011, we have been investigating the possibilities to continue our cooperation with Youngman,” Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker (and former Saab Automobile CEO), said in a prepared release. “With this framework agreement, Youngman and Spyker lay the foundation for an intense cooperation whereby we will pursue the objectives we each had in mind when forging our cooperation as partners in Saab.”
Spyker’s press release, issued this morning, actually details three business transactions with Youngman. The first – and arguably the most straightforward – involves a cash infusion into Spyker N.V. Youngman is purchasing a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker, which allegedly is worth $8.3. Youngman will then extend another $4.1 million in the form of a shareholder loan.
From there, the two automakers are establishing two separate joint ventures, both with the aim of producing vehicles. The first, named Spyker P2P B.V., aims to push the Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV – which was allegedly ready to launch back in 2009 – into series production. According to Muller, the company long hoped it could become another global model line for the Spyker brand, but “the funding never materialized.”
That situation seems to have changed. Youngman, which is ponying up 25 million Euro, will own 75 percent of the venture. Spyker, which owns the remaining 25 percent, is contributing the D8’s platform, engineering, and the use of Spyker trademarks. Spyker predicts the D8 should carry a price tag of $250,000, launch by 2014, and potentially give rise to other models derived from its underpinnings.
The second venture with Youngman, dubbed Spyker Phoenix B.V, is a bit more complicated. Spyker envisions this operation as a means to produce “a new full range of premium car models” based upon the Phoenix platform, which was developed to underpin the next-generation Saab 9-1, 9-3, 9-5, 9-4x, and 9-7. Spyker, however, doesn’t own rights to the platform. Saab Automobile did, and those rights were theoretically sold to electric car start-up NEVS earlier this year as part of Saab’s bankruptcy.
The solution? Youngman. The company was given a non-exclusive license to the Phoenix platform as collateral to a loan Youngman extended to Saab in 2011 that was ultimately never repaid. Spyker, which has only a 20-percent stake in this venture, plans on selling these vehicles under its own name, but expects Youngman to pony up all the requisite capital to engineer and produce them.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding around the Spyker Phoenix venture. It’s unknown exactly what it will produce (Muller hinted at everything ranging from sedans to SUVs, given the platform is allegedly scalable), or where it will build them – both China and Europe have been mentioned as possible venues. There’s also no firm timetable for launch, as Muller claims there’s still plenty of platform development work left to do.
There’s also some uncertainty over NEVS’ potential ownership of the Phoenix rights, but during a conference call held with media this morning, Muller insisted it’s a non-issue.
“We don’t need to [wait for NEVS’ reaction]. I made the deal at the time, so I know exactly what rights I had granted to Youngman at the time. I know exactly what [rights] they have and don’t have. If NEVS pays the receivers – which is very much in doubt – it will own the Phoenix platform as part of the assets they purchased from Saab.
“That doesn’t make the license previous granted null and void. That technology has been transferred, and Youngman can use that technology to its best abilities to develop new products.”
And if NEVS doesn't purchase those rights? Muller says there's "an opportunity" Spyker and Youngman may purchase the Phoenix rights from Saab's administrators outright. At this point, anything's possible, but as always, it's a wait-and-see affair.