In Sweden, Saab is always a topic, and the brisk media work of NEVS is the target of some article. Last week, the business paper Dagens Industri made a particularly tough decision about what the Chinese buyers of the plant in Trollhättan are saying. An interesting article that brings the dreams of electric mobility back to reality.
“Saab bygger nytt luftslott” was the headline. Which of course sells better than a headline like: “NEVS is building a new castle in the air”. Because the company in Stallbacka, if we take it seriously, goes by the name “National Electric Vehicle Sweden” and only the products, if you had any, would be called Saab. Since the Swedes are crazy about acronyms, bulky names create brand names like IKEA, SAAB or the phonetically uninteresting NEVS.
But back to the facts. NEVS is still working on a new logo that will visualize the future of the brand and its products. Since NEVS can not provide a conclusive business plan 100 days after the acquisition of the plant, it was reason enough for Dagens Industri to shed light on the known plans. Or better to dissect these visions with relish and classify them as unrealistic. The Saab factory in the Stallbacka has a maximum capacity of 190.000 cars per year. According to NEVS spokesman Mattias Bergman, one intends to use these. Not 5.000 or 10.000 cars are the target. And 80% of production should go to China.
If one assumes that it will be electric cars - the conventional drives are unconfirmed - then, says Dagens Industri, one should look at the sales figures for electric cars in China. The Chinese regime believes it will have an impressive 2020 million electric cars on the streets by 20. In order to achieve this goal, vehicles with a pure battery drive are heavily subsidized.
Nevertheless, the real numbers disappoint. In 2011, 5.655 electric cars were registered in China. In the first 9 months of 2012 only 3.009. In August 2012, 12.347 electric cars were on the road across China. The breakthrough is a long time coming, and it looks more like a long march of up to 20 million vehicles. "Not even a communist regime can force people to buy electric cars”Says author Hakan Mattson.
In the USA we see the almost same picture. Although the number of vehicles sold by 56.000 seems quite high, it also includes the plug-in hybrids. Pure electric cars are 24.000. Also Nissan, with the Leaf quite well on the way, runs the optimistic forecasts far behind. The target was now the doubling of last year's sales figures. Instead of 9.679 vehicles, one would now like to scratch the 20.000 brand. The plan was 500.000!
Let's look at the numbers in Sweden - the basis of NEVS - then it gets even worse. 236 electric vehicles have been sold so far this year. If NEVS, as announced by Bergman, wants to drive full capacity in 2017 and deliver 80% to China, then every Chinese electric car is a Saab. Because the market researcher Pike Resarch expects sales in China of 2017 battery cars in 150.000.
Against this background, the plans of the Chinese are unrealistic, according to Dagens Industri, and hard to believe.
Admittedly, DI has always been particularly Saab-unfriendly, and at least there NEVS seems to be continuing the old Saab tradition. But with their statements and a lack of a business plan, Chinese investors keep giving a head start. Bad headlines in Sweden's leading business newspaper? Themselves to blame ! After 100 days, the grace period is over, and you should finally start delivering facts if you don't want to completely lose credibility. Are vehicles with conventional drives coming or not? Or one stays with the electric cars, which is likely to cause the business model to fail.
Because the prognoses have been cashed in worldwide and the enthusiasm for electronics burns on a small flame. The economic crisis in old Europe and the subdued growth in other countries do not encourage experimentation. Companies like Fisker also feel that it is difficult to build cars with batteries. Fisker supplier battery maker A123 is broke after burning $ 249 million in government funds. The company, which was built with taxpayers' money, has now been bought by the Wanxiang Group, a large auto supplier from China. Until the takeover is complete, Fisker will have all production on hold. The Chinese at NEVS will at least be spared this disaster. Because with your own battery production you are independent of external suppliers.
But there is another point that should give us pause. Fisker has invested more than a billion dollars to date in several financing rounds and is still a long way from establishing itself in the market. One billion ! As a start, mind you! In order to rebuild a brand and be successful in the long term, it should be 4 to 5 billion euros. Then you can count on the first income. That might give you an idea of what you need in Sweden, or more precisely in Trollhättan, in order to realize the electric dreams.
Image: Oliver for saabblog.net