Last week, NEVS lost the rights to use the Saab brand. Saab has thus left the circle of active manufacturers, at least for the time being. The Saab Saga and NEVS are now going separate ways. In future, we will therefore only be writing on the blog about NEVS - no longer about Saab when it comes to National Vehicle Sweden AB.
No drama, no surprise, but a normal process. Trademark owners usually protect themselves by granting licenses for use through certain clauses in the contracts.
In the event of bankruptcy, or if the licensee does not meet his obligations, the rights of use automatically expire. This keeps the brand away from damage and prevents misuse. A positive step by Saab AB, which I welcome. The small cult brand has been through a lot in recent years, the fans have suffered. NEVS has still contributed a lot. At least that is now coming to an end.
NEVS and the company's lawyers will have calculated the implications of the application and will have accepted the loss of trademark rights.
No longer Saab - irrelevant for NEVS.
For the NEVS owner and management, the Saab dream is either the last winter's snow. A comeback attempt that is a single log of failure that has been on the history since Thursday. For NEVS, apart from any Saab romance, it's all about protecting the investment and getting out of the Swedish adventure with as much revenue as possible. There are no funds to make a new start on your own. The bags were not nearly as deep as promised. They are empty!
The first step is to sell 50% of the development company and the Phoenix platform to a new owner: Dongfeng. This is followed by the sale of the remains: the plant, the rights to the 9-3 and the remaining 50% of the platform and engineering company that has already been partially sold.
If our information is correct, then founder Kai Johan Jiang wants to keep a small share of NEVS, even to save face. The future industrial leadership and alignment will be adopted by others; where Trollhättan and the factory control is uncertain.
The media response is a clapper for 24 months of secrecy.
NEVS has put everything back to zero in the last week. The last 24 months are almost lost time. The work on the Phoenix platform was already discontinued in December 2013, the alleged existing supply chain for the 9-3 is a mirage. All this comes to light in Sweden, NEVS has lost its bonus and now pays for continued secrecy.
Commentators are calling for the bankruptcy law to be tightened in order to prevent companies like NEVS from having a chance of obtaining state money in the future. Only Dagens Nyheter, who is close to the Social Democrats, said on Friday that she heard cheers in Trollhättan. All other media saw a panic attack at NEVS or just sheer despair. Even the local newspaper only spoke of a small step in the right direction, not without pointing out the mammoth task that lies ahead of the potential buyer.
Does the Saab brand come back to Trollhättan?
If the NEVS plan works - the chances are at least in the beginning - and if both sales go off stage, then a new owner will eventually move to Stallbacka. He may be called Mahindra and he may be interested in leading the Saab brand into a new future.
For the Indians, the episode with trademark rights will not be a problem. Saab AB is closely linked to the subcontinent via Saab India. Long-term partnerships with several companies in the Mahindra Group, including Tech Mahindra, indicate a relationship based on trust. Licensing to an Indian majority shareholder - presumably just a formalities for Saab AB.
If Mahindra does not get a move, the work could go to other interested parties. Or NEVS goes bankrupt. Because there is no product that you could sell, at least not under the name Saab - and which you will not get back in the current situation.
Griffin instead of Saab?
On SU it was discussed on Friday how important the brand name was. There they think that the brand doesn't matter. The same location, the same product, so renaming would not be a problem. Maybe in Griffin instead of Saab ...
Strong Tobacco. People buy products because they like brands. Brands convey stories, longings, promises. Brands are image, tradition. Sometimes they reflect the attitude of the owners. Who is one? Hasselblad buys, he does it consciously. Who buys a Porsche - too. Likewise people who drive a Saab.
Even the Swedes, who, according to a Swedish journalist, are fond of trying to kick themselves, are more realistic about this than they are on SU. A poll among readers of Auto-Motor Sport Sweden gives NEVS no chance.
The Saab saga is not over! The brand is too good to just let go. What's coming - is open! We can only wait and see what happens in Sweden again. Our motto also applies: “Saab is what is at the door”. Or what we can do with it together.
Finally three things! Orio AB takes care of our vehicles, the help desk in Trollhättan and the warehouse in Nyköping. This is more Saab than NEVS ever was! We shouldn't forget that. We will of course continue to follow the fate of NEVS, the company that could once have become Saab. What becomes of the factory and the people in Trollhättan does not leave us unaffected.
And of course we wish the NEVS CEO Mattias Bergman and his people the necessary bit of luck in the negotiations. Even if NEVS is not Saab.
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