Reader's contribution from Oliver to the Saab event in Trollhättan and to the situation in the Saab city.
Actually we had to cancel Sweden for the rest of the year with a heavy heart from the diary. Only in March was again planned a trip to the far north. But sometimes coincidence plays into the cards. This time in the form of a Saab event that we did not want to miss: Saabsunited invited to the 2. Oktoberfest.
Last year we were there too. In sunny weather and temperatures up to 24 degrees the journey in the Viggen Cabrio was a real and unexpectedly beautiful extension of the North German summer. Since we had so many nice memories of the event 2011, we could not resist. Spontaneously ferry and hotel for the extended weekend trip to Trollhättan were booked.
We took the ferry in Kiel on Wednesday evening and docked in Gothenburg on Thursday morning with a blue sky and bright sunshine. This time the old SAAB 900 Sedan (built in 1981) was our travel agent of choice. Shortly beforehand, he did a thorough check-up and was ready for the trip to his old home. He transported us through Sweden extremely comfortably and reliably.
Especially on the Swedish country roads it is really fun to drive this SAAB. You realize: here he is at home!
Ok, an 8V turbo without APC and an aged Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic isn't particularly economical - and it's not necessarily a dynamic car. But it didn't matter. On the contrary. It is a comfortable cruiser and we wanted to be “decelerated”.
We drove the Gothenburg - Trollhättan route with planned detours, along the coast and over the many small and large islands. This feeling was immediately there: Vacation in Sweden! This calm. Look into the endless expanse, over the deep blue water of the archipelago, the colorful forests of the Swedish “Indian Summer”… Wonderful!
At the center of our trip was the Saabsunited Oktoberfest. We looked forward to the friends, to many interesting discussions with nice Saab drivers.
First it went to Saab-City. Although every time I visit Trollhättan - the last one was changed at the end of March this year, when the SAAB Museum reopens - the view of the orphaned factory in Stallbacka is always a bit depressing. In the middle of the huge parking lot, where hundreds of new cars were waiting to be delivered to dealers all over the world in the better years, stood a row of (partly) dismembered cars. Many, but also, who looked "normal". Whether new or already used, one could not recognize.
Unhappy also the mighty blue-silver pylon, which once proudly bore the logo with the griffin. Today, instead of the round logo, an unworthy silver foil sticks to the column. After all, the name SAAB is still omnipresent.
In this regard, the VOLVO-Aero Corporation was hit worse right next door. The lettering on the factory halls has disappeared, you can only see the SAAB letters when you drive over the high bridge and look at the industrial area. The VOLVO lettering has also been blurred on the surrounding street signs. Unlovingly and provisionally, mostly with black tape that looks like a black ribbon ...
With the SAAB in Trollhättan: Of course, the obligatory photos had to be taken again. The sedan in front of the factory gate, the sedan in front of the lettering on top of the factory building, the sedan in front of the SAAB lettering at the entrance to the Stallbacka ...
I think the Swedes have become accustomed to the somewhat crazy photo sessions of the Saab drivers.
Just in time for the Saab event on Saturday, Trollhättan left the beautiful weather. It was getting cold, windy and rainy. The uncomfortable weather can not deter a true Saab driver. So a lot of them came in the graphitvägen 4, where ANA (formerly SDCC) had loaded with interesting bargains for parts shopping. Insanity offers - if you would drive a new 9-3 or 9-5, really great stuff at very reasonable prices. But for me - my youngest SAAB is from 2000 - this year was nothing. Unfortunately.
The used parts market that was there last year also did not take place this time. That would have compensated me for the lack of shopping at ANA. But then I saved a lot of money. You always buy parts that you don't actually need at the moment - but it is sooo good when you have them - in case you need them at some point. You never know…
Well, back to the event:
Of course, the event also included the fact that ANA offered hot prices for new and used cars. Interesting cars were parked in the yard, opposite the now empty old building complex at the “ANA roundabout”. Among other things, a brand new 9-5. Just 400 km on the speedometer. It could make you weak ...
At 16 p.m. we went to the museum. A very promising round of talks was waiting here, which I will not go into further because, disappointingly, due to the poor acoustics, hardly anything could be heard. So we left the group - to have a look around the Saab Museum undisturbed and almost alone. Always a dream! It's good that this unique collection has been preserved and that it was not scattered to the four winds by the auction last year!
However, it became extremely exciting when Mattias Bergmann, the announced representative of the NEVS, gave a lecture on the future of SAAB at NEVS. Bergmann told a lot of interesting things - and also quite optimistic positively sounding.
Not necessarily positive, in relation to the “Spirit of SAAB” as we have known it so far - and which many of us are so keen to get back. But NEVS, whose parent company National Modern Energy Holding Ltd. is (100% owner of NEVS), has been intensively involved in the generation of renewable energies since 2004. And you are quite ambitious when it comes to the Elektro-SAAB project. The “vision”, as they call it themselves, of NEVS: becoming the world's leading manufacturer of electrically powered vehicles.
In any case, something is moving in Stallbacka. They have been active for 5 weeks after the contract was signed. Since then, around 100 employees have been hired. The press shop, even if it is obviously “only” rented at the moment, runs to press body parts. Bergmann announced almost pathetically: Production is again in Stallbacka! Which triggered a somewhat euphoric applause from the guests present. You could tell that everyone was feverish for positive reports - no matter how small ...
NEVS plans to launch the Electric Vehicle-18 “EV-9” in 3 months on the basis of the 2012-1 (MY 1). Later there are plans to develop an EV-2 on the Phoenix platform modified for electric vehicles, the rights of which NEVS also acquired, according to Bergmann.
NEVS is building on three cornerstones for the future with the SAAB brand name: Design and Production in Sweden. The innovative technology will come from Japan. China is contributing to its ability to implement a progressive initiative for sustainable transportation solutions.
The aim of the SAAB electric vehicles is initially for 80% of the Asian market, mainly China and Japan. But in a graph, the countries USA, Germany, France, Spain - and to a tiny extent, which Bergmann should not have missed, Sweden - are called.
At the top of the business plan of NEVS obviously with a manageable development effort, by using the 9-3 as a basis, to quickly generate revenue or profit, before venturing into other waters - such as hybrid solutions. Although hybrid is currently not an issue for NEVS, so Bergmann.
The NEVS representative had fairly sovereign answers to visitors' questions. If not always those who were satisfied or happy with the SAAB community present.
When asked about the usability of an EV-1 in the rural expanse of Scandinavia - with long distances and few charging options - a Norwegian does not want to hear that NEVS is primarily concentrating on the densely populated Asian market, whose conurbations need to be relieved and offer optimal terrain for EVs due to the shorter distances and better charging options.
And even a British SAAB fan, when asked what NEVS would do to support the many Saab clubs and the large, strong and loyal Saab community, only got an apparently less satisfactory answer: one had to First concentrate on the new core business and the establishment of the “new” brand and its products before you can become active here. NEVS is aware, however, that Saab drivers are characterized by a very strong brand loyalty. Bergmann even presented a survey graphic on which the brand loyalty of Saab drivers ranked higher than other premium brands.
It was noticed that “Mr. Diplomacy ”from NEVS has signaled at the end of almost every one of his comments that NEVS is very important to the SAAB community and that SAAB's good reputation worldwide as a premium brand and the“ Spirit of SAAB ”are very much appreciated. That is also one of the reasons why one wants to use this excellent brand name.
When asked about the future availability of an electric SAAB, for example in Sweden, the answer was positive / neutral: Of course, you also want to serve the European market with EVs, but for the time being only in more homeopathic quantities. In response to the many questions relating to a hybrid solution that sounded obvious to most of those present, he said that the focus of NEVS was primarily on the pure e-segment. But the door would be open to other options.
I got the impression that NEVS wanted to let us know that you want to establish yourself before you can spray a little bit of “Spirit of SAAB”. In any case, I found it impressive that NEVS answered a very small group of people (approx. 130) - who will probably not necessarily belong to their target group in the foreseeable future either.
However, somehow the feeling that NEVS had temporarily passed something of "us", the classic Saab driver, forced me to get lost. But not without announcing that SAAB and also the plant in Trollhättan will continue to exist. Although without the gripper, even without the vehicles, as we knew and love them so far - but certainly with the old and good name SAAB, which will continue to stand for innovation, design and premium in the future.
Perhaps in a few years, when hybrid and electric vehicle technology has developed and also established itself in Europe, there will also be a new SAAB for us again ...
Anyway. We have to wait and see what the future holds. Waiting to see what NEVS can actually do, how it will be in the future around the Trollhättan production facility.
For me personally, the statements of the NEVS representative Bergmann have taken some tension out of the matter. The fear - or more the secret hope that the 9-5 or the 9-4x maybe still be built, that there will be the 9-5 but still as a sports suit, has settled at least for me for now.
But on the other hand, the rumor mill continues to cook on a hot flame. And especially at an event where many SAAB insiders are, you can hear particularly interesting:
The name Mahindra & Mahindra is mentioned again and again.
There is even talk of the "de-GMization" of the existing models - supposedly it would not mean so much effort because many parts come from suppliers such as Bosch anyway, the design after the bankruptcy of SAAB back to the Designer should have fallen. In this regard, check the legal situation ...
I dare to doubt that such an effort for a vehicle such as the 9-5 is still worthwhile. Because eliminating all GM parts takes time. And if you count on the timekeeping of the automotive industry, the new is already getting old in the meantime, even if Saab drivers there are painless. But the classic Saabfahrer alone is not enough as a potential buyer to survive. That's what the past has shown.
All of these rumors are not necessarily good. After all, they are fueling hope again and igniting the most insane discussions. But on the other hand, such discussions are also attractive. We can let our imagination run wild. And what would we be without our SAAB imagination ...
As already written above, we will have to wait (again). As Tom always says so beautifully: The story of SAAB is far from over. And I think that the SAAB story is still good for absolutely EVERY surprise ...
Pictures and text: Oliver for saabblog.net