Saab to announce deal with Hawtai Auto later today
Published May 3, 2011
Beijing based Hawtai Auto are about to have their name splashed onto the automotive big screen later today when they announce a surprise deal Saab. The deal has certainly been a surprise to most industry analysts, as it was largely expected that Saab would sign with a better known automaker, Youngman, Beijing Auto and also Jiangsu Yueda were being talked about.
The Swedish auto maker has been ailing for some time, but the deal with Hawtai is expected to be a brief savior for Saab, the company as it is currently known was founded in the year 2000 giving it a relatively short history of just 11 years, but during that time Hawtai Auto has shown some strong development as an automotive company and is finding its feet in the market, its recent B11 sedan launch is expected to be a major push forward for the company, they plan to follow up the cars launch with the production of the Boliger SUV, which is styled on the Porsche Cayenne.
It immediately appears that Hawtai are a minnow in the automotive industry, so where does their funding originate? As with most Chinese automotive companies, Hawtai is owned by a powerful parent group that saw the automotive industry as being the next big developing industry and rushed to invest in it, Hawtais parent company is the Hawtai Group. The Hawtai Group are involved in a myriad of different businesses, their net worth is 13.6 billion RMB and is classified as one of Chinas top 500 companies, their main industries include paper making, chemicals, supplying electricity and heating, forestry and also international logistics.
A press conference has been announced at 3:30pm for today in which Saabs CEO, Victor Muller and Hawtai Autos CEO Mr. Richard Zhang will announce the new partnership. What the partnership will include is currently unknown, but it could be an initial partnership that sees Hawtai investing in Saab and then a later full on partnership for Hawtai and Saab in the Chinese market, which could be a powerful money maker for Saab. Their current Chinese market plans are to be based on importing cars into China rather than making them locally, which means for expensive products due to high import taxes, this will make Saab less competitive with other luxury marques such as BMW, Mercedes and Audi which have extensive local production facilities.
Hawtais major gamble for the next decade has been on the development of its diesel engine series which are based on VM technology, but updated and modified for their own purposes. Hawtais main diesel engines are now clean diesel engines, the engines will be marketed under an independent brand called OED, the engines are: 1.5L three cylinder engine producing 74Kw/200Nm and also a 2.0L inline 4 diesel engine producing 110kw of power and 300Nm of torque, a 2.5L producing 115Kw/360Nm, a 2.8L producing 120Kw/400Nm and a range topping 3.0L V6 diesel producing 184Kw of power and a tarmac tearing 500Nm of torque. Hawtai also purchased gearbox technology from ZF which they are putting into production themselves, two are four speed autos but a six speed auto is also in development.
Brief overview of Hawtai history:
Their first factory was set up in Shandong Provinces Rongcheng City where they put the first generation of Hyundai Terracan into production under their own name, the model was released onto the market in 2001.
In 2002 Hawtai set up a deal with Hyundai to build coaches in Yanbian, just off the North Korean border.
In 2003 Hyundai and Hawtai produced the Hyundai Terracan in Rongcheng.
In 2005 Hawtai-Hyundai produced the Sante-Fe SUV in China.
2006 saw the establishment of Hawtais own OED engine range which includes technology bought in from Italian engine company, VM.
2008 saw the founding stone in Hawtais Ordos manufacturing plant in Inner Mongolia, the factory will be capable of building 300,000 diesel engines per year, Hawtai also started work on developing its own high end sedan series.
2009 saw the concept launch of the B11 diesel sedan at the Beijing Auto Show and in late 2010 the model was put into production before being launched in 2011.