Saab is sold and enthusiasm looks different. NEVS is the new owner of Saab Automobile AB, Saab Tools AB and Saab Powertrain AB. The purchase price, allegedly 1.8 billion crowns, is said to have been paid in cash on Friday. We will find out the exact amount by November at the latest when lawyers file their statement of account before the District Court in Vänersborg. The echo from the press and many fans is not exactly friendly. Too bad?
Let's look at the facts. We have a company called “NEVS”, about which we know little, with Kai Johan Jiang, a founder and CEO who spends most of his time in biomass and battery manufacturing and whose financial background is equally unclear. In addition, Karl-Erling Trogen, a former Volvo man, yes, of all people, Volvo, is involved. His first official act yesterday was a hearty statement to Youngman that NEVS is the true owner of the Phoenix platform.
And we have little facts and almost no answers to open questions. NEVS intends to hire 75 staff in the first step, and has made offers for it. NEVS may not use the griffin, but the name Saab. And at the turn of the year 2013 / 14, the first electric cars will come off the production line.
The use of the Saab name was also one of the few glimmers of hope yesterday. Saab AB, owner and guardian of rights, has restrictive rules when granting licenses. We can assume that the NEVS backgrounds were thoroughly examined and approved. There was a second ray of hope that might be important. But later.
But what about the big factory in the Stallbacka, how does NEVS want to produce there even more cost-effectively with the expected small quantities? What about the Saab Know How? Leading in the field of multi-fuel engines and turbo technology? What about the global sales network that still exists and the after-sales subsidiary in Nyköping, which has a better track record every month?
And what about Saab history and loyal customers? Saab has, and that's the really amazing story, a strong and loyal fan community. Put us new cars to the dealers and they will be bought! Maybe an electric car as a second car, but please a combination for daily use and as a replacement for the old Saab 9-5.
The questions are open and we cannot find any answers at the moment. Our friends in Sweden still believe that something follows and that NEVS is not the complete solution. There is the question of vehicles with conventional drives and people keep talking about the well-known Indian company. If you really want to be the legendary Phoenix at NEVS and not crash landing, then you will have to get a partner on board! A possible collaboration between the Indians and NEVS was announced a few weeks ago, and today it seems more logical and more important than ever.
Otherwise, NEVS could become a Spyker-style adventure and the Phoenix more an Icarus. What is missing to survive long periods of thirst is a strong partner with an industrial background. An automotive startup costs a lot of money. Fisker Automotive has so far invested a total of one billion US dollars, not Swedish Krona, to bring the first product to market. More rounds of funding are ongoing, and there will be plenty of money left until you can be profitable.
At NEVS I do not yet see these muscles. Okay, I'm happy for Trollhättan that there are new jobs. I am pleased that the brand at least in the approach gets a future perspective. I am also pleased that the Saab logo on the work in the Stallbacka will continue to shine. But I want an answer to open questions, and we want to see a concrete business plan. And we do not want to go up and down like Spyker.
NEVS is since the 01. September owner of Saab. The company would be well advised to use the time and flag. Now 18 months working quietly and then show a new product, in the expectation that it will be received with enthusiasm, that would be wrong. Still stands the dealer network and the fan base. But dealer networks and distribution structures can be used for other brands, and the base can turn away. Blogs can decide that the time is too bad to write for unclear relationships and nebulous strategies, everything can turn very fast.
What is left of the Saab Spirit? Are we all youngtimer drivers and fans of a brand with a great past? Will we grow old with our great cars until we get them out of the garage for a veteran meeting? Honestly, I do not know the answer.
We give investors at least one chance, everyone deserves it. We'll watch what happens over the next few days and weeks and our blog team will then decide how to proceed on this platform. In the worst of all cases, it's just a youngtimer blog with a few weekly posts, in the best case we'll write about a start of production in 18 months.
There was a glimmer of hope yesterday evening. Karl-Erling Trogen gave an interview to the Svenska Dagbladet. This had recently published a really damning assessment of the Saab situation by Jonas Fröberg, and the Trogen interview was probably a quick replica. After all, the press work seems to work, which is not unimportant. Karl-Erling let it be understood that NEVS is in negotiations with other lenders, who then acquire shares in NEVS. Who the parties are, he could not and did not want to say. The statement shows, on the one hand, that Trogen is not a dreamer and that it is clear that more partners need to get on the boat. On the other hand, it could be the trail to India and to new Saab with internal combustion engine or bio-power technology.
To throw the gun in the grain - as the saying goes - is still too early. But our patience is running out and we want facts rather than phrases. And please, very soon.