Fans and supporters of Saab recently threw an impromptu demonstration earlier this week in Detroit, Mich. to sway General Motors into keeping the Swedish automaker alive, but the embattled automaker has something else to deal with amidst dismal sales. North Carolina-based Bank of America has a clause in its auto financing rules that prohibits customers looking to buy a Saab (or Isuzu) vehicle from getting financing. Earlier last year, the wording of the vehicles that the bank does not finance specifically called out the Saab and Isuzu models, but it has since been changed to state any make or model that is scheduled to be eliminated.
Isuzu doesn't even produce passenger cars anymore and Saab's sales figures are already bad (selling just 8,680 cars in 2009 - a drop of almost 60 percent), but Bank of America's rule could prove to be most problematic as GM tries to close down its Pontiac and Saturn divisions with attractive rebate and purchasing incentives. Ironically, while it is certain that the Pontiac and Saturn brands of GM are heading to that quiet dealership in the sky, Saab's fate has been up the air for the better part of the last year. It isn't clear how or if this is affecting the lending practices of other banking institutions, but it's likely not to go unnoticed following the recent trend of increased amounts of vehicle repossessions and decreased residual values for these brands.
After talking to a Bank of America employee, there is still financing available for Pontiac and Saturn vehicles although there is 'usually a restriction' on how much the bank would lend out on those vehicles. Following its bankruptcy proceedings last year, GM announced that it would close Pontiac and attempt to sell off Saturn, HUMMER and Saab, but only HUMMER was able to attract a willing suitor in the Chinese-based heavy-duty truck company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company. Saab and Saturn each had promising buyers lined up last year, but both deals eventually fell through.
As for the official fate of Saab, GM announced on January 8, 2010 that it had hired a company, AlixPartners, to supervise the wind down of the 62-year-old automaker which is expected to take 'several months.' Following a handful of promising purchase proposals that failed to materialize, GM began the wind-down process of Saab despite receiving more purchase proposals recently.
According to the GM press release, 'GM also confirmed that it has received several proposals for Saab and is continuing to evaluate these proposals. This evaluation is not affected by the appointment of AlixPartners.'
This news leaves the recently redesigned Saab 9-5 as probably one of the best Saab cars never to be produced. Fans of the sleek and stylish 2010 Saab 9-5 need not worry as it rides on GM's Epsilon II platform and could arrive as the next-generation Chevrolet Malibu with minor interior and exterior changes. Other vehicles to utilized the Epsilon II platform include our 2010 Car of the Year, the Buick LaCrosse, the sporty 2011 Buick Regal and it will also underpin the aforementioned next-gen Malibu and the upcoming Cadillac XTS which are both expected to debut at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week.