By mid-way through next year, the safe, boxy Swedish Volvo brand--actually owned by boxy American automaker Ford--will be owned by China's biggest private carmaker, Zhejiang Geely. The sale has been in the works for a while, but it appears a final sale for roughly $2 billion in cash will be cemented early next year.
The juxtaposition of Ford's sale of Volvo with GM's inability to find a buyer for Swedish carmaker Saab gives auto-commentators another opportunity to favorably contrast the two firms. (As the Wire covered here, Ford has enjoyed lingering goodwill in the press since avoiding a bailout.) Here's what else you need to know:
- A Big Step Toward Honing Ford, writes Chris Shunk at Autoblog. Shunk reports that Volvo was concerned that its new owners wouldn't have sufficient resources, but that Ford will continue "to work closely with the Swedish automaker post-sale." The plus side for Ford? "The sale will also go far in achieving Ford's goal of divesting itself of its non-core assets so the Dearborn, MI-based automaker can concentrate on matters closer to the Blue Oval's heart."
- Saab Should Have Survived Instead, says John LeBlanc at The Star. LeBlanc laments that Volvo, not Saab, found a buyer given Saab's superior engineering. "If you're a driving enthusiast, or a fan of interest cars, you have to think the wrong Swedish car brand is being shown the door. Because based on its engineering, styling and driving élan, if I had a choice, I'd pick Saab as the lone Swedish survivor."
- China Achieving Goal of Global Brands A Reuters team compiles a timeline showing Chinese companies' long waltz with Western car brands. Due to the crisis, "big brands" have sought to "restructure to ride out the recession [while] the Chinese look to raise their global profile." These talks included Opel, Saab, Volvo, and more.
- Puts Saab's Closing in a Poor Light, reports David Jolly in the New York Times. "General Motors, meanwhile, is still working to dispose of its own Swedish carmaker, Saab. G.M. said last week that it would shut down Saab, which is based in Trollhattan, after negotiations to sell the company to Spyker Cars, a tiny Dutch automaker, fell through. ... Ford was the only Detroit carmaker to avoid bankruptcy this year, with G.M. and Chrysler bailed out by taxpayers."