On Sunday the election takes place for the Swedish Reichstag. The countdown is running. The Social Democrats, full of hope, have fallen behind in recent surveys. Stands but the mood of our friends in Trollhättan for all of Sweden, then a change of government would be due.

Saab plant Trollhattan © 2014
Saab plant Trollhattan © 2014

Reason for a short, not really representative atmosphere in the city at Göta Älv.

Years of crisis leave their mark

2009, 2011, 2014. Three different years, three times reconstruction in the stablebacka. 2009 with GM, 2011 with Spyker, 2014 with NEVS. This does not only scratch local pride, it is showing effects that can not be ignored anymore. Vacancy in the shops, a high unemployment of youth. The city suffers. With her the surrounding area and the smaller neighboring communities. In Lilla Edet, a few miles further, the center is deserted. The community now wants to implement a development plan and fill the vacancy, three empty shops on 50 meters, with small business.

Growing tourism, seen by many as a solution, does not seem to work. "For this we would have to change the opening hours”Was the helpless last sentence in an editorial in the regional newspaper. Of course, nothing happened. Trollhättan is an industrial city, the transformation into a tourist destination has not even begun.

Too bad for a region that I like very much, that has charm… but that has been on the way down for many years. There is no end in sight. Under GM, Saab shrank to 3.500 jobs, and Spyker also ended these jobs. In winter 2011/12 there was a small ray of hope that could have ended the downward slide. Two car manufacturers were interested in the plant. One already lost interest after the first inspection, the investments seemed too high. The second would have guaranteed 2.500 jobs and the continued existence of the Saab brand. In return, however, shorter company holidays and fewer vacation days are required.

The insolvency lawyers, trade unions and politics decided against it. Trollhättan got for it NEVS.

Victor Muller - a hero, and where does NEVS stand?

Has NEVS arrived in the heart of Sweden? The best way to find out about the relationship with the current men in the Stallbacka is to talk to Victor Muller. It is still highly regarded in the city today. Because he is the only one who had the courage and tried to save Saab. So the opinion on site. The community seemed to be on a mission under Muller. "Saab, independent, strong and free". That didn't work, as we know. But as I said, he tried it. After all !

And NEVS? If you turn the conversation to the new owners, you will at best get a helpless shrug. In the worst case, some sentences that you do not write on the blog.

Muller was one who could win people. Who proved backbone in the worst mess, stood in front of his people, explained the situation. And then people sent home with a good feeling to the families. You did not forget that. That's not the case with NEVS. Nobody explains, nobody talks. From the beginning. NEVS does not have a face or identification, there is no one who excites people for a mission.

The past was better.

"Everything was better under GM, even under Spyker," say the unions. Back then you were closely involved, at least knew where you were, even if the news wasn't good. Under NEVS you get the news from the newspaper, said a few days ago a trade unionist for TTELA. Now that NEVS has gone into reconstruction with government funds, the situation has not changed. Less information flows than ever, the employees remain alone with their worries. NEVS is also the cold face of international investors.

Not everyone in Trollhättan I've talked to in the last few days is happy with the reconstruction. Actually, you want a reboot, without NEVS and without the management, which you do not trust much. But with another company that can do it.

NEVS 9-3 on offer, 0 approvals in August 2014.
NEVS 9-3 on offer, 0 approvals in August 2014.

Is it fair or are you doing NEVS wrong? I myself cannot judge it, 1.200 kilometers further south. However ... it seems not only in Trollhättan that one thinks this way. Coordination with the wallet is ongoing, the result is no scope for interpretation. All over Sweden, NEVS 9-3 limousines have their tires squared, even high discounts do not entice them to buy. In August, not a single new NEVS car was registered.

Meanwhile, prices for Saab 9-5 NG leasing returns are on the traders' list. A car that was hard to sell in his home country two years ago is now in fashion. The last big Saab built by Saab Automobile AB. A piece of Sweden is being rediscovered.

The Chinese are there - a little bit.

Hardly any of our friends bet on NEVS and a future. There, what is to be sold is to be sold in portions. Here the platform and the development company, there the production. Whereby considerable doubts are expressed under the hand. NEVS is said to have gone into negotiations with too high demands, far from reality. And the stories of Dongfeng and Mahindra? Hope, but also doubt, uncertainty - not open, but still noticeable.

Dongfeng delegation and T-Engineering at Saab Bil Museum. Picture: T-Engineering
Dongfeng delegation and T-Engineering at Saab Bil Museum. Picture: T-Engineering

Dongfeng after all, is in Trollhättan site, has become the parts of Saab Powertrain AB secured. And has a good reputation in Sweden. Dongfeng awards research contracts to universities, maybe one day a European development center will be established in Trollhättan. They don't want to build cars there, that seems certain.

The thing with the Phoenix platform? Oh yes, maybe, but not at any price. Because you have the engineers who have developed that already under contract.

NEVS is bricking - the inner circle is said to have sealed itself off more than ever in the past few days. The only thing that comes out is that you want to get the brand name back as soon as the first partial sale is completed in three weeks. One is already in discussion with Saab AB and the withdrawal of the name rights would have taken place at the worst possible time. The ensuing unrest in the community and among dealers did not please. Clear ! But what was expected?

Saab Saga Reload or not.

Is the Saab saga finished? In Trollhättan you are not sure. The optimists, who are currently in the minority, expect a continuation. They see a completely new beginning, combined with a radical change in the ownership structure, as the most likely solution. Nobody dares to think about resuming production with the 9-3. The pessimists see the end reached. Cars built in Trollhättan will no longer exist. I admit that after years of continued setbacks, it's hard to stay optimistic and believe in a bright future.

Maybe a little detail on the edge. People who work very closely with NEVS see the situation as much more relaxed than anyone else I've had contact with in recent weeks.

Made by Trollhättan

Trollhättan and its residents have always reinvented themselves. Because the region is rough, life has always been hard. That makes you inventive. They pulled ships up the Vänern at the waterfalls, operated iron hammers, built turbines, steam locomotives, electric locomotives, airplanes, aircraft engines. From the small provincial town came vehicles that had loyal fans worldwide and a big name. This story was also full of breaks ... and brilliant ideas. And it always went on. Somehow. One thing is certain, the city has once again reached the crossroads.

A new government led by the Swedish Social Democrats could spark off what Trollhättan needs. In the US, Tesla wants to build its gigafactory. Electric cars and 6.500 new jobs. The contract goes to the state that provides the most funding.

In Trollhättan is a modern, flexible car plant. NEVS has invested well there, which is recognized. With the Social Democrats, I hear, a support program would be possible that could bring new industrial jobs to Trollhättan. Against high youth unemployment, against vacancy, against lack of prospects. Interesting for investors from all over the world. Sunday is election!

Text & pictures:

14 thoughts on "Trollhattan"

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    Hopefully the new social democratic government will help Saab to clean up ...

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    Who actually saved Opel - wasn't that the “Merkel” government?

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    ... how was it written earlier in a post, ... for some Victor one who tried, ... how many of us tried something? Without VM I wouldn't have my 9-5NG AERO xwd in the garage, without GM, not the 9-3cab and the 9-7x without the italoTrolle, no aero9k all cool cars, and I'm waiting for new cool cars! … .What I've never understood …… why a global company like GM doesn't want to have a development department with 3.500 employees ????? ... and who also built safer, faster, and comode cars ?????? ... ... well, wait ... but what does GM do without engineers ... ????

    Anyway, SAAB is what's in the garage!

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    Wow, what a great article, thank you Tom, all of this makes you very thoughtful ……………….

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    Öffz, the sale of the development department is almost through? What's the crap? Will you then buy the development performance? With what kind of money? That one just got for sale? This is no longer a carmaker, but a financial push.

    Here, people who have made a financial mistake, their sheep is to bring dry. Insolvenzverschleppung?

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      50% should be sold, I think ...

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        I agree. So it was announced. Lets see what happens.

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    Half serious addition to the nice little policy digression: Historians will argue later, which was worse for Europe: the plague or neoliberalism.
    If Saab still exists then only because the Social Democrats have won ...

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    The confidence in NEVS has reached the bottom of the list after the bankruptcy. Confidence can only be summed up with a new shareholder from the auto industry.

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    Very good overview, thank you!

    Unbelievable that 2011 / 2012 had an interesting one that guaranteed 2.500 jobs and it obviously failed on vacation and working hours.

    Unbelievable. I have no great hope that there will be Saabs again. Definitely not with NEVS, with another owner ... unlikely.

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      In all large companies (with the exception of poorly managed government institutions), the number of employees depends on the needs -
      You can not guarantee that in advance. This looks more like a dubious prospect.

      If it works out with the more than € 100 million for shares in the development company, the first step in the reconstruction has already been taken - then contract 2 should not be long in coming. Based on the information so far, I am very confident that this will also work - M&M is going through with it.

      There is really no need to be in a great hurry here because new models are not yet ready for sale anyway - it will be months before the first E-SAAB is in the price lists.

      So, with patience in the next round!

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    NEVS 9-3 on offer, 0 approvals in August 2014.

    This blog entry is a step in the right direction. I am also determined enough not to buy any NEVS product in the future. I see the damage to the brand name “Saab” rather harmless. NEVS investments in the plant or not, but one cannot identify with this company in any way. “My Saab” shouldn't be built anymore either ...

    Perhaps the “worst” owner since the plunge. By now too many see it like me (“NEVS out!”). That is why the NEVS Saabs are flat out at the dealers. I fully understand that!
    As mentioned, then prefer a 9-5 NG with which one can still identify.

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    The new majority shareholder should finally come out of cover - after months of negotiations this should actually be possible.

    After all, negotiations for the proportional sale of PHOENIX have now been finalized for 3 weeks now - congratulations to NEVS from Northern Germany!

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