GM to end Saab operations

LONDON — General Motors on Friday threw in the towel on its Saab brand, saying it was unable to reach a pact to sell the Swedish automaker and will now wind down operations.

GM had been in talks with Spyker Cars but could not reach an agreement. GM had earlier tried to sell Saab to another sports car maker, Koenigsegg Group.

GM said it's now going to wrap up Saab operations. It said on Dec. 1 that it would shut Saab down before year's end if no suitable buyer emerged.

"We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner. This is not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process. Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers," said GM Europe President Nick Reilly.

GM is focusing on Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC — and several regional brands, including Opel/Vauxhall in Europe. That move is part of the automaker's new direction after receiving billions of dollars in U.S. government aid and a subsequent trip through bankruptcy court this past summer.

As it slims down, GM tried to sell its Saturn brand. But the deal to sell Saturn to Penske Automotive Group fell apart this fall, and GM is now winding down Saturn as well.

GM did reach an agreement in October to sell its Hummer brand to Chinese firm Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp.

Saab will continue to honor warranties, while providing service and spare parts to current Saab owners around the world.

Saab Automobile AB last week closed on the sale of certain Saab 9-3, current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling to Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co.

Saab was originally founded in 1937 to make airplanes for the Swedish Air Force before turning into a carmaker that reached a sales peak of 133,000 vehicles in 2006. GM bought half the company in 1990 and the rest in 2000.

The Saab brand has been in free fall as GM has vowed to focus on its other car brands. In November, GM said it sold 371 Saab vehicles, down 57 percent from a year earlier.