Trollhättan. It is the 23. February 2011. Since 11: 00 o'clock the small town on the Göta Älv celebrates the first Independence Day of the brand. The Saab 9-5 NG sports trolleybus has world premiere, the 9-3 Convertible of the Independence Day Edition makes a damned desire for more. Everything was done right, and yet everything was wrong. Behind the scenes, the catastrophe began.
It stayed on exactly one Independence Day. One year later, the factory gates were closed, and another year later the site was occupied by Chinese investors. And that's how it is today. The Saab logos have disappeared, and for tourists in transit nothing reminiscent of the coolest car brand Sweden has ever produced.
The risky bets on the future.
But there is a lot of life in the good old Saab brand. Just different, more unconventional, maybe even more exhausting. The world has changed since the 23. February 2011 changed. I write about the car world, politics I deny myself on the blog. Digitization is a topic of the future and with it the change for the car industry. Temporary use and new transport services will shake up the industry. Property will disappear more and more and new providers will give the old industrial giants sleepless nights.
How come out where we'll be in 5 or 10 years? Nobody can predict it, but the industry is afraid. Before what comes, and above all, what you do yourself. By the year 2020, new, all-electric models will be launched in North America through 100. This is reported by the Automotive News. Behind it hide billions in investments and a risky bet. Is the customer really ready or was the electric car hype only hotly written by the media? A tormenting uncertainty. In China, the party is the development. By subsidy or, if necessary, by decree. In North America, consumers have the freedom and may decide. Do you feel in the rural areas of Idaho the desire for online cars with apps, batteries and electric motors? Or do you stay with Chevy pickup? An exciting question!
Not quite as speculative, but exciting was the development of the Saab brand in recent years. Sure, there are fewer and fewer vehicles. The environmental bonus, which allows you to swap older vehicles for a new diesel, sucked many great cars off the road in the last quarter of 2017. The group from Lower Saxony made, again, to the disposal of automotive cultural assets earned.
7.000,00 € for an old Saab, which would otherwise be worth only half, was too tempting for some owners. Too bad. The stock shrinks, the Saab community also. But it's just as a Saab dealer put it a few weeks ago:
There will be fewer, but better cars.
What the development would be in a nutshell. Saab drivers are free, they have been really independent for years. Independence Day 2.0, so to speak. Unplanned, and certainly not meant before 7 years ago. Unusually in a mature economy, where everything is annoyingly down to the smallest detail commercialized.
Whoever drives Saab, does so consciously. He often invests a lot of money in an old car and has long stopped asking for the time value. He drives Saab just because he wants it. Not because he rejects the future, but because he wants to drive in the here and now an analog, individual car. Because he just feels like it.
Independence is not easy. But exciting.
The alternative Saab system works, and it is also good as a business model. There are, over the republic, a dozen or so workshops that operate sustainably. With success, because something is happening. I see expansion, an expansion of offers, new solutions. It speaks for the health of the market, which is developing as it was not always expected.
Where there is a gap in the spare parts supply, there is someone who fills them. Not always immediately, but in the medium term. And there are some lucrative gaps. Orio Sweden lets her, without any need. There, sales and earnings go back. Not dramatic, but with a certain continuity. The reason is obvious. Fewer cars, fewer sales. But unfortunately also, because you allow gaps in the range. And because you do not recognize opportunities. On the other hand, the new business areas are not developing as well as hoped.
Several workshops have disappeared in recent years. Not without reason, but also because the Saab world has become more exhausting - and the customer more sensitive. More susceptible to nuances, as is often the case with minorities. There were new customers with other providers. For those who live Saab and where one feels well cared for.
The weights in the Saab world will continue to shift. Anyone who relies on restoration and value retention, has set up well as a workshop. The scene will become even more individual and demanding. Fewer cars, better cars. Saab as a statement, as an attitude to life and everything that goes with it. The willingness to invest in your own dream aaa will increase. Where every Saab can be a personal dream car, regardless of the model.
Saab drivers are 7 years after the 23. February 2011, really independent and free. They are not obligated to anyone, bound to anyone. You do not need an app or an electronic key on your smartphone. They do not leave a data trace of several terabytes per day. The system does not have to reboot after an update, it works analog and reliable.
Independence can also be exhausting and sometimes not easy. If you have to wait for a workshop appointment 3 weeks or need to get parts for his classic himself. But independence is something special in our commercialized world. And somehow typical Saab.