STOCKHOLM (Bloomberg) -- Saab Automobile, the carmaker owned by Spyker Cars NV, has agreed with the Swedish government to set up a venture to develop transmissions for the auto industry.
Saab and Fouriertransform AB, the Swedish government's venture-capital firm, will staff the company with about 50 engineers from Saab's powertrain division, the companies said Wednesday in a joint statement on the Fouriertransform Web site.
The venture, which will be formed at the start of 2011, will develop transmission systems, such as gearboxes, for Saab and other carmakers, the companies said.
“This step, together with other initiatives, will drive down our break-even point and improve operational efficiency as we work towards becoming a profitable, independent company,” Saab CEO Jan-Aake Jonsson said in the statement.
Saab, which General Motors Co. sold to Netherlands-based Spyker in February, aims to become profitable and sell 120,000 cars globally by 2012. This year it targets sales of 30,000 to 35,000 cars.
The new company will be called VICURA and be based in Saab's hometown of Trollhaettan. Saab currently buys its manual gearboxes from GM and its automatic transmissions from Aisin AW, a unit of Aisin Seiko Co.
American Axle, BMW
Fouriertransform received 3 billion kronor ($440 million) from the Swedish government in 2009 to revitalize the country's auto industry. It had invested 313 million kronor in nine companies before the Saab deal, according to its Web site.
“For Sweden and the Swedish automotive industry as a whole, it is vital to maintain and further develop high competence” in the field of transmission development, Fouriertransform CEO Per Nordberg said in the statement. “That is exactly what these skilled former Saab engineers will offer.”
The venture is Saab's latest agreement as it reorganizes as a smaller, independent carmaker after 20 years under GM control. In September, it set up a venture with American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. to make electric all-wheel drive systems and electric and hybrid drivelines.
That month it also signed a deal with BMW AG for the supply of gasoline engines from 2012.
“This is a positive step for Saab,” Aleksandar Zuza, an auto analyst at IF Metall, the industry's main union, said by telephone. “It's moving in the right direction for them, they're being innovative in trying to find new opportunities.”