The new deal for Saab

GM spent months dithering over whether to sell or wind down Saab. Given they had lost a fortune on the brand over the last twenty years, and they need the money to pay back the US government, it’s a fair question to ask why they delayed. Maybe because they needed to find a buyer strong enough to get the money together, but weak enough to pose no threat in the future. They aren’t easy to find. Have they found one in Spyker NV?

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Which way for vehicle commodity prices in 2010?

While doom and gloom faced auto makers sales and marketing staff in 2009, their colleagues in purchasing and money management should have been upbeat. Key commodity prices collapsed between June 2008 and January 2009 enabling astute buyers and money managers to lock in low prices for the whole of the year.    Steel and plastics prices were both down 65% on 2008; aluminium dropped 50%. Even crude oil prices – averaging $90/b in 2008 fell to $60/b in 2009. Depending on when they made their contracts – or how well they hedged  – car makers could have made spectacular material cost savings  per unit in 2009.      Motor vehicles use four essential input commodities: steel, aluminium, plastics and oil. They all have one factor in common: volatile prices, whose impact auto makers try to minimise by hedging,  purchasing and volume. In 2009 the price collapse worked in their favour. But with 30% of global vehicle capacity still unused, lower volumes and relentless demands for cash, can auto makers cope as 2010 shapes up to be one of the most difficult auto markets to forecast?     

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