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Saab hits the skids again

Copping a belting: Saab 9-3 Convertibles are being recalled to fix a potential seat belt fault that prevents the belt from retracting.

Unpaid factory debts and Australian safety recall spell more storm clouds for Saab

13 Aug 2014

TROUBLES continue on two fronts for Saab, with a law suit over unpaid bills in Sweden and a safety recall in Australia the latest bumps in the road for the Swedish brand and its long-suffering customers.

Associated Press reports that the legal action over a debt of just 150,000 kronor ($A23,500) by an equipment supplier in Sweden has forced Saab’s owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), to send 250 production employees home just as they were due to come back to work after the annual summer break.

Hong Kong-owned NEVS, which bought Saab out of bankruptcy last year after a failed attempt by Netherland’s Spyker Cars to save the brand, admits it is having trouble with short-term financing, with only some component-makers being paid as it tries to secure another cash injection to keep production of the Saab 9-3 ticking over.

The case, brought by car parts test equipment supplier Labo Test, come to a head on September 8 when the parties are due to have court-directed negotiations.

Some pundits suggest the action might finally unravel NEVS and force it into bankruptcy unless it can pull another financial benefactor out of the hat. In May, NEVS announced it was having contractual issues with a shareholder, But NEVS has told Britian’s JustAuto that it is having negotiations with “two large OEMs” (original equipment manufacturers) in a bid to secure its future.

Speculation is that those companies are India’s Mahindra & Mahindra and China’s Dongfeng. The latter is production partner of the likes of Nissan, Honda, Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen in the world’s largest auto market.

NEVS plans to build electric cars at the Trollhattan plant to build electric cars, but need to make petrol-powered 9-3s first to generate cash flow to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Holden – the company responsible for Australian Saab imports during its last days under former owner General Motors – has issued a safety recall on 2724 Saab 9-3 Convertibles to fix a potentially faulty seat belt retractor.

The cars, from model years between 2004 and 2011 and built between July 31, 2003, and March 2, 2011, are prone to broken seat belt retractor cables.

This means the seat belts might not retract, increasing the risk of injury to an occupant.

Although Saab Cars Australia was placed in voluntary administration in January 2013, Holden remains responsible for cars sold under GM’s watch.

According to an official recall notice on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, owners of affected cars should contact Holden Customer Care on 1800 632 826 to arrange repairs.

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