Spyker & Chinese Automaker Youngman To Form New Company, Of Which Youngman Will Own 75%
A very complicated story coming out of the luxury auto world this week, with the news that the 11-year-old Chinese carmaker Youngman — which made a high-profile late bid for Saab and was rumored to be courting Lotus last year — plans to buy a 30 percent stake in the American-owned Dutch auto brand Spyker for around US$12.5 million. Together, Spyker and Youngman plan to create a new joint venture, of which Youngman will control 75 percent, to build an ultra-luxury SUV reminiscent of Spyker’s D8/D12 Peking-to-Paris concept and put it on the market by 2014.
The anticipated price tag for this (Spyker-branded) ride? An estimated quarter of a million dollars.
But the story doesn’t end there. In addition to its super-SUV venture, Youngman plans to build a second JV dubbed “Spyker Phoenix,” which will build high-end vehicles based around Saab’s abortive Phoenix technology. Though, as Car and Driver notes today, the outright sale of Saab to Youngman had been partially blocked because GM was uncomfortable with the idea of Youngman having access to GM technology in older Saab models, the Phoenix technology — being all-new — is fair game. However, details remain scarce at the moment, with a company press release simply stating that the planned Phoenix cars will be positioned at a higher segment than the Saabs had been, and that they “may be manufactured in Europe or China as the case may be.”
Though we’re intrigued by the concept renderings of the Spyker/Youngman SUV and curious to see what comes out of the Spyker Phoenix JV — if anything ultimately does come out of it — this is certainly one of the more confusing auto arrangements to emerge in the post-financial-crisis industry. As Car and Driver puts it:
This whole arrangement is, for lack of a more precise word, bizarre. The Americans and Dutch who had invested in Spyker the sports car company still maintain autonomy in the production of a few sports cars, but end up as minority partners in the SUV project. We’re not even sure what Spyker, which has an incredibly lean operation, can contribute to Spyker Phoenix. Nor does Youngman have fantastic in-house engineering; the firm outsourced development of an entire line of vehicles to Lotus in the U.K. Meanwhile, Spyker is in the midst of suing GM for $3 billion related to the collapsed sale of Saab.
Who needs this drama? We just want cars with quilted-leather interiors and exposed shift linkages.
Spyker execs themselves admit that the planned SUV/Phoenix ventures will take an exceptional amount of time, money and energy to get going. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller said this week that Spyker and Youngman “will need to recruit a large numbers of former Saab engineers familiar with the Phoenix technology as well as invest ‘hundreds of millions of euros’ to get the project off the ground.”