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Saab's days may be numbered

A sign outside of a Saab dealership in Miami.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Swedish carmaker Saab says it doesn't have enough money to pay its employees. Production there has been halted for a few months already because it couldn't pay suppliers. And it seems like a deal with a couple of Chinese firms is a little too late.

Jay Nagley is managing director of the consultant firm Redspy Automotive and he's with us now from London. Hi Jay.

JAY NAGLEY: Hi.

CHIOTAKIS: So, if I wanted to buy a Saab, do I need to do it, like, very fast?

NAGLEY: Well, there will be plenty in stock from unsold Saabs in the fast, but make sure you get a great discount because there isn't a huge demand for a car company that's going bust.

CHIOTAKIS: Did Saab put too much reliance on Chinese firms trying to save it?

NAGLEY: Well, China is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Every car company that's in trouble goes to China, thinking they can get a few hundred million to keep themselves going. Kind of, once they arrive in China and start doing the rounds, you think, "That's a bad sign."

CHIOTAKIS: Saab used to advertize having been born from jet engines. I remember that. And the company of course famously had high standards of engineering. So why couldn't it make itself a success?

NAGLEY: In a sense it wasn't allowed to. When General Motors bought it, the bean counters in Detroit said, "Oh look at the money we could save if we used Opel platforms from the other parts of the GM empire and put Saab bodies on top." And people turned around and said, "Why would we pay premium prices for a mass-produced General Motors car with a different body when we can call a genuine premium car from Mercedes or BMW or Audi?"

CHIOTAKIS: So how much time do we have with Saab?

NAGLEY: I think we're talking weeks rather than anything longer. It's a big like a wounded animal, you keep looking at it and think, "Oh, it's still moving."

CHIOTAKIS: Wow. Jay Nagley, managing director of the consultant firm Redspy Automotive. Jay thanks.

NAGLEY: Thank you.

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