NEW YORK - General Motors Co. said yesterday that it is killing off another well-known brand - Saab, a quirky line of cars known for angular roof lines and ignition keyholes between the front seats - after talks with a Dutch would-be buyer collapsed.
Separately yesterday, GM said it repaid $1 billion of its $6.7 billion in bailout loans to the U.S. government, and $192 million to the Canadian government. The automaker owes the Canadian and Ontario governments about $1.4 billion.
GM, Dutch automaker Spyker Cars and the government of Sweden, where Saabs are made, were in discussions as late as yesterday morning. Spyker said the sale was too complicated to complete quickly. GM declined to elaborate on why the deal failed.
GM bought a 50 percent stake and management control of Saab for $600 million after it split from truck maker Scania in 1989. It bought full ownership in 2000.
Even after the GM takeover, Saab remained associated with Sweden and its history of making safe, reliable cars. But GM never made money on the acquisition. Industry analysts said Saab lost its distinctiveness in the crowded market for luxury cars under GM, which stripped it of its angular design.
It's the third time this year GM has failed to sell an unwanted brand. In September, auto-industry magnate Roger Penske scrapped plans to buy Saturn. GM is phasing out Saturn.
And last month, GM halted a deal to sell the European Opel brand to a group led by Canadian auto-parts maker Magna International Inc. GM will keep Opel.
GM did successfully sell Hummer.
Also yesterday, GM ended production of a class of V-8 engine it has made for 51 years. Its Tonawanda, N.Y., plant halted production of the latest variation of the "big block" engines.
Its end puts about 150 employees on indefinite layoff.