Saab Seeks Partner to Help Develop New 9-2 Model

Saab Automobile, under its new owner Spyker Cars NV, is involved in talks with three other automakers to forge partnerships designed to reduce its model development costs.

Spyker CEO Victor Muller said, “We’ve had discussions with three carmakers.” In particular, Muller said Saab is seeking a technology partner that is also willing to make a financial investment in the development of an updated version of the Swedish automaker’s classic 92-model.

Muller said he was not at liberty to identify the three automakers being considered as partners due to non-disclosure agreements.

The announcement comes in the wake of wider first-half losses for Spyker stemming from its $400 million acquisition of Saab from GM last February.

New products are crucial to Spyker’s $1 billion recovery plan for Saab. Earlier this summer, two people familiar with the matter said that Germany’s BMW AG was exploring the possibility of sharing its small car components with Saab.

The promise of a refreshed and expanded model lineup also helped Sypker secure 400 million euros ($509 million) in funding from the European Investment Bank earlier this year.

Saab had predicted that it would sell between 45,000 and 50,000 vehicles in 2010 but recently lowered that forecast to 45,000 units.

Saab’s plan to revive the 92 model wasn’t included in Spyker’s business plan and has necessitated the need for a manufacturing and / or investing partner. The original 92 model, which was sold from 1949-1956 and featured a distinctive teardrop design, is considered a classic and has been commemorated on postage stamps.

In an interview this month, Muller said he expects to see a huge increase in Saab’s sales volume once the resurrected 9-2 subcompact is introduced and added, “That will be my finest hour if we bring back the Saab 9-2.”

In May, Saab introduced the redesigned 9-5 sedan and re-established its supplier and dealer network which now includes 50 countries. Saab is licensed to use General Motors Company’s engineering for the 9-5 through 2014.

Current models in Saab’s lineup include the 9-5 sedan and wagon as well as sedan, convertible and wagon variants of the 9-3. Saab plans to launch an all-new 9-3 within the next two years.

Through its partnership with lithium-ion battery-maker Boston Power, Saab also plans to launch a test fleet of 100 all-electric 9-3s.

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