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By Andrew Ganz

Three years after General Motors stopped importing its then-Swedish division’s products to China, Saab says that it is officially on its way back to the rapidly-growing market.

The Spyker-owned automaker announced today that it will return to China in July thanks to a new joint-partnership distribution deal with China Automobile Trading Co. Ltd. Saab anticipates selling its entire lineup in Japan, including the recently-unveiled Mexican-built Saab 9-4x crossover.

China Automobile Trading Co. has helped Volkswagen, Chrysler and Ford import cars to China in the past. Foreign companies are required by Chinese law to partner with a domestic firm if they want to operate within the Communist country.

Saab anticipates selling as many as 5,000 cars in China through 10 dealerships initially, but it is also planning a local assembly plant that could push that number up to 50,000 units. Saab sold just 860 cars in 2008, when GM last marketed the brand in China.

The automaker says that it talked to several potential partners, including Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corporation, the local firm that bought Saab’s old designs late last year when GM tried to liquidate the brand.

The news pushed Spyker’s shares up 33 percent on the Amsterdam exchange. It is not clear if Saab’s distribution deal will also include Spyker’s expensive supercars, as well. Spyker has also said that it also intends to find distributors for Saab’s cars in Brazil, Russia and India.



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Saab signs deal to re-enter China

Saab Automobile will begin working with China Automobile Trading next year to distribute its cars, including the 9-5 sedan and 9-4X crossover, in the world's largest automobile market.

The two have reached an agreement for Saab to return to China in July, the carmaker, based in Trollhaettan, Sweden, said in a statement Monday. Returning to China is part of Saab's plan to return to profitability and sell 120,000 cars globally by 2012.

General Motors, which sold the Swedish carmaker to Spyker in February, halted imports of Saabs into China and Russia in 2008 during the economic crisis. Saab plans for Chinese sales between 2,000 and 5,000 cars a year initially and aims to add local production to increase deliveries to 50,000, the carmaker said in October.

"Long term, we have plans to make cars in China," spokesman Eric Geers said Monday.

Saab will initially have around 10 dealers in China.

Read more: Saab signs deal to re-enter China | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101221/BUSINESS01/12210344/Saab-signs-deal-to-re-enter-China#ixzz18kpEFfhR

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