The times are getting more exciting! This time in a positive sense, because the Swedish business crime around Saab could develop into a Scandinavian-Asian success story. Could he really? We shed light on the facts and wonder what could become. And I'll be a bit speculative towards the end of the article. That too must be.
A new, innovative and green company is currently emerging in Trollhättan. Saab is reinvented again. After various phases, as a manufacturer of small cars, as a manufacturer of turbo and upper mid-size sedans under the Saab-Scania label and as a GM subsidiary, a new chapter is now being added. The mood of departure in the factory is palpable and palpable, Saab is back!
NEVS has a multi-stage plan, very targeted, with high investments. The first step has been taken, the line is running, the supply chain is in place. Now the after sales area is being set up in Trollhättan in connection with the former Saab Parts AB, today Orio AB. Negotiations are ongoing ... No contracts have been signed yet, but Orio would be the obvious partner. At the same time it is about the distribution of the new products. It is not yet clear which path NEVS is taking. The experiment, selling over the Internet in Sweden, is just one of many options. Establish your own sales in the long term - or act with a partner and their dealer network - all options are open.
Since NEVS also sent letters to former partners of Saab Automobile AB in Germany last Monday, it seems clear that traditional structures are preferred. What happens exactly we will see soon. Because one thing is clear: NEVS increases the speed, and 2014 will be an eventful year. Because the new company has little in common with the old, cumbersome GM tanker and is in comparison more a fast, sleek motor yacht.
Sometimes you get things told, even though you haven't asked the question. So also last week. In Trollhättan we heard that the first Elektro Saab was “very near”. For a company called “National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB”, the premiere of the first electric vehicle is likely to be more important than the production start-up just seen. Because what will come will be used to judge the future of the company. A subsidiary of State Power Holdings, which also includes NEVS, and which bears the name Beijing National Battery Technology, manufactures the batteries that will be used in the new Saab EV.
NEVS has a big advantage for its Saab brand because they use their own product and do not depend on suppliers. One factory is in operation, two and three are under construction. NEVS relies on Lithium Iron Phosphate technology (LiFePO4), which is considered to be particularly safe and fast to load. Even Fisker used this technology, but took the batteries of A123. As well as German premium manufacturers. When the supplier got into trouble stopping its deliveries, the temporary exit came for Fisker.
At least this drama NEVS can not happen. The Saab electric car has to be a convincing product. The signs are good. The batteries should take up less space than in the prototypes, the range with 300 kilometers should be convincing. It is one of the little secrets in Trollhättan that Japanese specialists in the plant care about lightweight construction and the use of new materials.
The premiere will take place in the next few months. Maybe at a car show in China, which would probably be, maybe also at the Geneva Motor Show. Nothing is confirmed yet. Like what is coming, then the perception of the brand Saab will change in the eyes of many interested parties. Electromobility is innovative, BMW is just what could go. Tesla, the benchmark for electromobility, is considered hip. Saab can be a bit cooler.
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Another step will be the “update”, which the 9-3 Aero Sedan will experience at the same time as the premiere of the sports combination. The 9-3 will be refined optically and technically, the number of pieces will increase continuously. NEVS has a clear direction, because there will only be sedans and station wagons at aero level. A high level of equipment, linear and vector are a thing of the past. We're not going to build 120.000 vehicles in 120 different versions, said NEVS CEO Mattias Bergman last Monday. I think that's reasonable. The “update” will also be the point where the starting signal will be given in Trollhättan to open up additional markets. It is exciting for us, because the question is whether Germany will be there.
Saab in Germany?
Germany is the largest and most important market in Europe. What is going on here is going all over the planet. The German Autobahn and Nürburgring are legends for everyone with a passion for cars. Is Saab coming back to Germany? Of course we asked. The answer was a "maybe". No no - no yes. To me that sounds like a yes, I consider the return - even without confirmation from Sweden - to be very likely. If Germany were included in the first step, we would be very happy.
Because we have dedicated dealers, a loyal community and in Eschborn a company that does not listen to the name Saab Parts, but where longtime Saab employees are passionate about the brand.
Convertible goes electric
We are waiting for the convertible. The last confirmed body variant will appear on the market after the sedan and station wagon. Why so late ? I have no explanation for it. Because I imagine electric mobility in a convertible, gliding silently through the summer, delightfully. It fits well with the new Saab slogan from “Pure Joy”, which can also be interpreted in terms of environmental compatibility and should not be limited to driving pleasure. A four-seater convertible, with no emissions, will further raise the brand's image.
There was something else! The revolutionary Phoenix platform. With the new generation of vehicles, NEVS will become a global provider. Says NEVS. In theory, everything is possible from a small car to a large 5-meter limousine. However, the clock is also running for the platform and there is a need for action. At NEVS, I'm sure, they know this problem and act accordingly.
Now comes the part I allow myself to speculate on. Yes, you also read with NEVS, and if I'm completely off the mark now, then you have at least a humorous start to the week in Sweden.
First two facts: NEVS invests a lot of money and time to make the Saab 9-3 “GM-free”. Modules are changed, suppliers replaced by new sources. If you use so many resources, you will not only build the model series for 2 years. But for a longer period, which makes sense when we put on the China glasses. Because in the main market of NEVS, the fastest growing market in the world, the 9-3 counts as a new car. BAIC with its derivatives based on the old Saab 9-5 shows that you can be successful with Saab technology, even if it is no longer completely new.
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In Sweden, one speculates in some magazines with an 9-3 successor 2015 / 16. I do not agree. My bet therefore: The first new Saab on Phoenix platform will not be a successor to the 9-3. Something else, maybe a little Saab, maybe a big one or an SUV. Or several models at once.
The schedule (for optimists)
As I am currently speculative, here is my schedule for further development. As I said, without any statement from NEVS, just the evaluation of things from Bloggers point of view.
- Spring 2014: SAAB EV
- Early summer 2014: Update SAAB 9-3 sedan and sports car.
- Summer / Autumn 2014: Saab back in Germany.
- Fall / Winter: SAAB 9-3 Convertible EV and conventional.
- Summer 2015: New model on Phoenix platform.
- Fall 2015: NEVS at the IAA ...
Pessimists simply add 6 or 12 months to my schedule, then that also fits. If my assessments in the Stallbacka have caused some amusement, then I can live with it. And even if I should be wrong, one thing has been clear for a week: Saab is back, the story continues, 2014 will be an exciting year!