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Saab and Hummer safe for now

GM's woes have caused Hummer's local sales to take a battering down to 54 per cent compared to 2008.

GM-Holden chairman and managing director, Mark Reuss, says Saab and Hummer, two of the poorest performing brands locally, says the company is keeping tabs on what's happening overseas regarding the future of the Swedish and American pair.

"We'll wait and see on those brands," he says.

"Those two brands are for sale right now and we'll work with whoever the buyer is of those brands here in Australia."

However, Carsguide understands a consultant has been brought into GM-Holden specifically to see how Saab and Hummer fit into the company's overall "fit and mix" operations going forward.

Local sales for both brands have slowed to a trickle this year on the back of the speculation over their fates and the woes of General Motors. GM is cleaning out more than half of its brands.

Last week it signed a tentative deal to sell Hummer to a Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co and announced Magna as the preferred bidder for Opel/Vauxhall with the giant Italian car group Fiat also in the running. Pontiac will close down by the end of next year and Saab is on the blocks.

IndyCar team owner and Detroit businessman Roger Penske reached agreement last Friday with GM to buy Saturn. The deal could be finalised within three months. GM established Saturn in 1985, aiming the brand at customers who would have chosen low-cost European or Japanese cars.

Under the deal GM will continue to build the Saturn Aura, the Vue and the Outlook on a contract basis for Penske Automotive Group, the second-largest car retailer in the US. The agreement will save more than 350 car dealers and 13,000 jobs at Saturn, GM said.

Although details have not been revealed GM is believed to sold off the brand for between $US100 and $US200 million.

Penske also sells the Smart cars in North America.

The two bidders for Saab are believed to be Swedish sportscar maker Koenigsegg and US investment group Renco. A decision on that deal is likely within two weeks.

After the halcyon days of the 1990s, Saab sales have largely tanked because of a lack of new models and clear identity of how the Swedish carmaker fitted into the GM empire. Locally, Saab dealers sold just 1158 cars last year and in the first five months of this year they have sold just 186 cars, a massive 60 per cent slump over the same period last year.

Hummer's local sales too have taken a battering because of the ongoing GM woes. Dealers have sold 271 Hummers this year, 54 per cent down on the same period last year.

Many Saab and Hummer dealers are multi-franchised Holden dealers but industry analyst Tony Robinson, believes dealers will be nervous.

"If I was GM-Holden I would be looking at focusing on the core strengths of the company," he says.

Tengzhong is one of China's leading manufacturers of road, construction and energy industry equipment.

With Hummer in its portfolio it plans to expand into the premium off-road vehicle segment globally and help develop the brand in North America.