Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Saab has not paid production workers since March. Production workers were paid on June 27.
Starved of product, parts and showroom traffic, some beleaguered U.S. dealers are planning for life after Saab.
Saab auto production has been halted since March when unpaid suppliers stopped delivering parts in Trollhattan, Sweden. Last week, the Swedish government initiated collection proceedings against the automaker at the request of several suppliers.
Swedish Automobile CEO Victor Muller urged dealers to keep faith and said he is close to securing bridge funding that will tide Saab over until mid-October. That's when a promised 245 million euro ($352 million) payment is scheduled to arrive from Chinese auto distributor Pang Da Automobile Trade Co., he said. He said the money will restart production.
"I am working day and night to get this done," Muller told Automotive News on Friday. "I am very confident I will be able to pull it off, but we don't need anyone to throw in the towel now."
But a major Saab-exclusive dealer who has sold just one unit since June 1 said he is negotiating with other manufacturers to replace Saab in his dealership.
"I'd like to sell my Saab franchise, but it has almost no value right now," said the dealer, who asked not to be identified. "To go from a top 10 dealer to crickets in the showroom -- it's a sign."
And Lynn Thompson, a Springfield. Mo., dealer who sells Saabs, Cadillacs, Buicks and GMCs, is having trouble selling his three remaining Saabs in stock. The two 2011 9-5s and a 2010 9-3 convertible on his lot get little traffic, and prospects who do take an interest are skittish about warranties and parts availability.
It has been tumultuous since General Motors sold the Swedish automaker to tiny Dutch exotic carmaker Spyker Cars in February 2010. In May, after a handful of failed attempts to obtain emergency funding, Spyker reached agreement for China's Pang Da to take a stake in the company and provide funding to restart production. Spyker later changed its name to Swedish Automobile NV.
Saab Cars North America President Timothy Colbeck said he is in frequent contact with U.S. dealers. "We remain confident in our future," he said.