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Spyker, Youngman to build upscale car based on Saab Phoenix platform

Saab's stillborn platform will underpin a new Spyker sedan.

The stillborn Phoenix platform that Saab owner Spyker had hoped would save the now-bankrupt Swedish automaker will rise from the ashes to underpin a new, upmarket car, Spyker CEO Victor Muller says.

According to a release issued to the media today, Zhejiang Youngman will take a nearly 30 percent equity stake in Spyker and the Chinese firm will invest about $44 million into a pair of joint ventures aimed at producing a Phoenix-based upscale car initially aimed at the European and Chinese markets. An upscale SUV is set to follow, Spyker said.

According to Muller, the new car will "be much more of a Spyker, with some Saab traits. This will extend the Spyker brand downwards towards a very high premium model."

Spyker builds just a handful of ultra-premium sports cars annually, so the brand is a stranger to the world of volume production.

Muller admitted that "Saab suffered from being halfway between a Ford and a BMW, and that made it difficult to sell. We had the aspiration to be BMW." However, Muller said in a conference call with reporters today that, "this [Phoenix-based vehicle] is a car for affluent people.

Spyker and Youngman are hardly strangers; the Chinese firm was the lead bidder for a now-failed Saab takeover.

Under Spyker, Saab began development on the new platform, which would have been its first in-house vehicle architecture since the Dutch brand bought Saab from General Motors in 2010. However, Saab declared bankruptcy earlier this year after GM blocked Spyker's plan to sell most of the Swedish brand to Chinese investors. Spyker is currently suing GM for blocking the sale, a move that led to Saab's closure.

Not much is known about the Phoenix platform, which debuted at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show under the Saab PhoeniX (pictured, note capital X) show car, a two-door, hybrid all-wheel-drive sports car penned by Jason Castriota. The Phoenix platform was expected to underpin the third-generation Saab 9-3, a model that never made it to production. Underneath the concept car was a fully independent suspension made up of a HiPer strut gleaned from GM up front and an H-arm setup in the rear; it's not clear whether a Spyker/Youngman Phoenix platform would include the GM-sourced suspension technology.

It's also unknown how today's announcement will affect a Swedish-Chinese consortium's intention to acquire the Saab name.