Anyone for a copy Bentley?

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The Chinese have done it again!  This time it is a company called Hawtai Motor Group, which, as well as making the copy baby Bentley (just look at the nose), has just purchased a significant chunk of the tottering SAAB company in Trollhattan in Sweden.  (SAAB, made by the trolls perhaps?  Maybe that’s where they went wrong?)

Having been cast off by GM, then taken up by the Dutch group Spyker, which was only a very short term fix, SAAB Automobile has now inked a strategic partnership with the Chinese motor company Hawtai Motor Group that will not only help the struggling Swedish company revive production at its stalled home factory but also get the brand into manufacturing in the huge Chinese market.  The production had stalled because SAAB could not afford to pay its suppliers.

Baby Bentley? Baby Bentley?

Hawtai has agreed to buy a stake of up to 29.9 percent in SAAB parent company Spyker Cars NV in return for the rights to build and distribute Saab vehicles under joint-ventures in China, as well as share technology.

The Saab-Hawtai tie-up was announced in Beijing by Saab chairman Victor Muller and Hawtai vice-president Richard Zhang.

Announcing the deal, Muller said, “The partnership with Hawtai allows SAAB Automobile on the one hand to continue executing its business plan since we secured the required mid-term financing subject to meeting certain conditions, whilst on the other hand it allows Saab Automobile to enter the Chinese car market and establish a technology partnership with a strong Chinese manufacturer.”

In other promising news for SAAB, former major shareholder in Spyker, Russian bank owner Vladimir Antonov, has been given clearance to invest in SAAB from Sweden’s National Debt Office after previously being disallowed following claims he was connected with Russian mafia.

SAAB’s latest partner, Hawtai Motor – a partner of Hyundai in China until last year – is best known for its SUVs based on Santa Fe and Terracan platforms, both of which are still sold under those names in China.

With capacity for 350,000 vehicles a year at two plants, Hawtai is one of China’s smaller motor manufacturers, but it is backed by the large Hawtai Group industrial conglomerate that has interests in a wide range of industries, including paper, chemicals, electricity, forestry and logistics.

Founded just 11 years ago, Beijing-based Hawtai Motor recently launched a new large luxury sedan, the B11, joining its mid-sized sedan, the B21.  Both are powered by a choice of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

While Hawtai has been sourcing petrol engines from Mitsubishi and fellow Chinese motor company SAIC, it claims to be Asia’s leading clean-diesel engine producer under the OED sub-brand.

As well, Hawai makes ZF-based, old-tech five-speed manual and four-speed transmissions at its factories.  A six-speed auto is said to be in development.