Last week, Jonas Froberg in his column at Svenska Dagbladet once again thought about the future of Saab. He is Saab fan but has a realistic view of Trollhättan. The message from the 18. September, the day on which NEVS produced the first car, he understands quite clearly. Saab is on the way again.
The location is ambitious. Saab 2.0 is planning a plant in China, funded by a joint venture owned by 50% NEVS and 50% of Qingdao. And Saab plans the comeback of the 9-3 with conventional propulsion, the construction of an electric car and the construction of the 9-3 successor on the Phoenix platform. All this, says Fröberg, requires a lot of investment.
And then there is the CEO, who has been wanted for a long time but not found. Mathias Bergman is now acting CEO - a man who is actually a PR consultant. Fröberg then asks a few simple questions in his article and comes up with an amazingly simple answer.
But first the questions. How does NEVS want to sell a (hopelessly) obsolete car? How do you want to get a positive cash flow? The answer, at best: Chinese money.
Or, quite strikingly expressed: money marries impoverished nobility. Presumably Fröberg is right and I agree with him. Except for the thing with the outdated car. I do not think so. Realistically, Saab is a long-term investment for the Chinese. The fact that NEVS does not expect a positive cash flow internally in the next few years has already leaked out in the past. What speaks for the sense of reality of investors.
Saab is not an isolated case, everything speaks for a state-controlled swarming towards the auto industry. The change in the automotive landscape in Europe speaks for itself. Volvo owner Li Shufu paid for his Gothenburg investment with money from state banks. Dong Feng - the company is developing in Trollhättan and wants to join the PSA Group - is semi-public. BAIC, the group acquired Saab licenses in 2009 and wanted to take over the entire brand from Victor Muller in the following year, is state-owned. At NEVS, too, the money will not only come from Kai Johan Jiang. Without state funds, which flow in whatever way, the development of the brand would not be financed for him either.
Saab is impoverished nobility. A traditional brand that has slipped with great pride towards destruction. Money meets big names, it could become a success story. If the NEVS Investment has the goodwill of politics, and one can assume that much is possible in the future. The new edition of the Saab 9-3 is then just a finger exercise to get the life cycle of the brand back on track. New cars for dealers, demonstration cars, leasing, used and year-old cars. A functioning supplier base, a breathing factory. The foundation to write a success story.
Presumably we will be able to see the new version of the 9-3 this year. Optically and technically revised. In the German press one will write again of an old car, and a certain professor will certify Saab no future chances. That there is a long-term plan behind it and that one could think ahead in Trollhättan is not considered. But the real test for NEVS is still missing.
Because only the following models on the Phoenix platform will show whether NEVS can build cars that bear the name Saab rightly. Swedish engineering meets Chinese money. That could work. Qoros is now showing how European knowledge with Chinese production and money throws a considerable debut on the market. But NEVS has a huge advantage. Qoros is the new beginning with a white sheet of paper. Saab is automotive history, rich in legends. The name Saab sounds better than any newcomer's art name. At least in this area old nobility beats the novice today. Times are getting more exciting again!