It's not easy to write about the Saab brand. For more than a year, Saab has stopped building cars in Trollhättan, and I'm not good at writing about the glorious past. Because life goes on, things develop and change. It is simply too exciting to ignore the future and stick to the past.
A delicate article in a difficult situation. And a very personal and open one. Because in the current situation, in this eternal hanging area, the topic is not very fun for me. I or we started - back then with friend Marco - to support Saab and to write test reports from the perspective of a normal customer. No products, no reviews, and in my circle of friends it is difficult to ask, and rightly so, if I seriously believe that there will ever be cars with a griffin again.
Now is the time for an optimal exit. Because in my lightheartedness I had promised to write until the factory gates finally closed. Voilà! That's on the 1. August the case. The former Saab employees, who still work for the administrators, have done their job for the most part. A new owner will be the landlord in the stablebacka. That's the end of the story, and it's time to take off your hat and turn off the Mac. But is she really told to finish?
What happened? A property changes owners, and car works that get a new owner, are nothing unusual. In the US, Fisker has just bought a GM plant, in the Netherlands Nedcar is changing hands for one euro, and there are some in Europe, some of which have empty or abandoned production facilities. And in the future, probably many more work will be added. Fiat has two factories too much, Opel either way, and PSA will also have to shut down one or two plants.
So there are works like sand in the desert, and the appreciation of these properties, as you can see from the symbolic 1 € prices, is quite low. So buying, renting, or leasing a car factory is not something that is particularly exciting. When NEVS can move into offices in Stallbacka by August 1st, investors will find a clean-swept factory. Press shop, paint shop, test benches, a test track and much more.
And now again the question, very concrete! Is this the right time to get out and lose the battle?
Rather, it's time to ask the right questions! While NEVS buys a plant and talks to Scania and Saab AB about the trademark rights, nobody in Sweden asks about the Saab crown jewels. NEVS has acquired rights to build the Saab 9-3 if the purchase price is paid to the administrators by the end of summer. But the 9-3 is, let's be honest, at most a bridge product on the way to the future. The real value of Saab doesn't lie there.
The new little Saab would have completely disappeared from the public eye. Let us remember ... Based on the expiring Mini, a Saab 9-1 should appear. Contracts with Munich were made, development work started. There is also the Phoenix platform, the basis for an entire product family. The little Saab and the Saab 9-3 successor are the real crown jewels of the Swedish car manufacturer. Only nobody speaks about it, at least officially. NEVS has neither acquired the Phoenix platform, nor registered interest in the Saab small car.
That the prototypes are forgotten in a corner of the factory, dusting away, that can be ruled out. Also that the half-finished pieces have wandered into a press. They are too valuable for that. Under the administration of the insolvency administrators the development work was not completely stopped, because the value lies also in the development team itself.
Let's look at the market! The automotive business is getting tougher. China increased its automobile exports by 6% in the first 28 months of the year. Geely alone exported 10.000 cars in June and this year the manufacturer will export 200.000 cars. It is the soft rumble of an avalanche that is looming and rolling inexorably towards us. This will affect manufacturers who see the car as a cheap means of transport.
In Europe it is Ford, Opel, PSA and Fiat. Building inexpensive cars on our continent will be increasingly difficult. The Chinese are now only exporting to the emerging markets and selling their cars at a low price. But the first “made in China” cars are already running in southern Europe and the Balkans, and the number is growing.
Europeans only survive those who are at home in the premium segment or have a strong image and who can earn a corresponding price for their products. These are companies that distinguish themselves over design or mass technology. Or, as marketers say, carry a certain unique story.
Saab could be one of those companies because the brand history is incomparable and the brand is too good to close the books today. The Saab story, I'm sure, has not yet been told! There are the Saab future values that nobody has talked about so far. The Saab 9-1 and the Saab 9-3 successor are the real objects that are at stake. The administrators will - sometime soon - bring the story to an end. Whether in August or September, nobody really knows. And then we'll see if the brand has a future.
I do not have to continue writing at any price. My life is full of interesting, challenging options, and even life after or without Saab would not be boring. But miss the finale now? No way !