Bluestime Vol.1

When October in Västragötland gets wet and unfriendly, it's time to get on the plane and escape to friendlier regions. Especially when negotiations are laborious and slow. Like NEVS CEO Bergman, who flew east last week.

Saab Bluestime - with Saab 9-5 NG and Saab 9-4x © 2014
Saab Bluestime - with Saab 9-5 NG and Saab 9-4x © 2014

A smart decision, because he was spared the farce of speaking at the national auto industry conference. Against the background of the current reporting in Sweden, any speech about Saab would have been a kind of self-harm. Regardless of whether it was urgent negotiations, an excuse or just the blues - Bergman saved a lot.

I was only blog-enabled in the last week, mails were not answered, calls were not made. We have some catching up to do, and the question is currently in the air: what's going on in the north? It's about Saab trademark rights and the attitude of Saab AB.

A few days ago my favorite journalist Jonas Fröberg published an article about his view of things in terms of trademark and usage rights. A wonderful, if not decisive, point in terms of NEVS 'negotiations with potential buyers. Even if in the Stallbacka you pretend that you have everything under control. But you don't have that ...

The view back: Bloggers back mirror
The view back: Bloggers back mirror

Saab AB and Scania AB jointly watch over the Saab brand name. When the plant and the remains of Automobile AB went to NEVS in 2012, the parties raised some concerns. Scania refused NEVS the Greif, at Saab AB it was decided, mainly to support the industrial site Trollhättan, to grant NEVS the rights of use subject to certain conditions. The new NEVS-Saab logo had to be different from the Saab AB trademark at first glance. The traditional colors were off the table, NEVS chose the black background with silver lettering.

At the same time as the reconstruction began, NEVS lost the rights of use and, if Saab AB has its way, should not get them back either. At least not as long as the future construct around NEVS includes a relationship with Dongfeng. The Chinese group is also active in the armaments business, it provides the Chinese armed forces with mobility, army trucks carry the Dongfeng logo.

Saab AB's defensive stance is understandable, it has to protect the brand name. Let's think of BAIC as a negative example. The state-owned company plays with the Saab name, Ursaab and Viggenfighter are unabashedly used to advertise BAIC products. What if Dongfeng posts a commercial for military trucks ... and advertises Saab DNA in the opening credits? The Chinese state has the peculiarity of using its army as an argumentation aid when citizens fail to appreciate the blessings of the system. Products that roll against peaceful demonstrators are bad for the image. Keeping Dongfeng at a distance is the least you can do in Sweden. As long as Dongfeng is involved, Saab AB will no longer release the license to use the trademark rights, says Jonas Fröberg. Point.

If the story with Mahindra was correct or - better said - still up to date, Mahindra could take advantage of the good relationship with Saab AB and intervene. So our thinking. But the opposite seems to be the case, according to Fröberg. Mahindra does not want to burden the long and deep relationships with Saab through this conflict and is reluctant. Which, he writes, could explain why everything takes a little longer.

Without Saab trademark rights, Plan A from NEVS is no longer worth a cent, Plan B is just pure desperation anyway. NEVS would be over sooner or later. Saab AB could take this risk because the 300 jobs at NEVS are irrelevant. Bergman is not in an easy position, and he actually has no ally on his side. Whoever wants to buy something can calmly wait to see what happens. If the reconstruction fails, an insolvency administrator moves in. Dongfeng and Mahindra, or whoever, buy whatever leftovers they choose from the rummaging table. With this background, only NEVS is under pressure. Nobody else.

The question arises for us whether the license for the Saab trademark rights will even be granted again? Or have we reached the end of the Nordland saga? The answer is simple. A company like the one that started with NEVS in 2012 would no longer have a chance today. Looking back at the development of the last few months, that's a good thing. My nerves would have been happy if they had been spared that!

However ... if the right company comes with the right background, the Swedes will welcome it with open arms. Sweden also needs jobs and investments, and the country cannot afford to say no to that. As is often the case in life, it is ultimately just a question of money. Continuing Saab as a brand is interesting. Maybe not just for Mahindra, because I could imagine other investors by now. More about the mind games on the Saab topic tomorrow in Bloggers Bluestime Vol.2.

8 thoughts on "Bluestime Vol.1"

  • The best way to save your nerves: Even if it's hard to accept that there will be no Saab new cars, and if something still comes, then just rejoice and go to the dealer.

    • blank

      Hello Peter,

      if there were no more SAAB production for the foreseeable future, many dilettantes (GM, bankruptcy lawyers after Spyker, etc.) would have contributed, and in the case of GM, this would even be due to a particularly lousy scam (denial of licenses).

      The fact that all these characters with their Dllettantismus (in GM goes beyond that) just like that, would bother me in a final release of SAAB automobiles the most. Only in second place would be the no longer available replenishment
      of SAAB vehicles from Trollhättan - for us SAAB owners “the car”. A real alternative that really fulfills all the criteria would be really very difficult to find - for me, a SUBARU or possibly the upcoming “little” Jaguar might come into question.

      But as you mentioned right, supplies should come, then just rejoice and go to the dealer!

      • The Saab Automobile has passed through the hands of many pipes and dream dancers, is unfortunately true, but even more amazing is because it took so long to finish.

  • blank

    So completely I can not understand the mind games regarding the use of the brand name SAAB.

    At Dongfeng it is only about the rights to a largely fully developed platform - this platform is called the PHOENIX platform and will probably also be used for future SAAB models. But what does this have to do with Dongfeng military vehicles? I cannot accept this argument - even the Chinese could not construct a connection with their military vehicles. This cannot actually be the reason for the reluctance to grant naming rights - other things will ensure reluctance here. Perhaps SAAB AB would not like to have Dongfeng on board, because this group could also mean competition for the marketing of its own products to India if a close interaction with Mahindra would arise. I could imagine this as a reason for refusal - but here, too, NEVS would have bad cards to get the name SAAB back.
    The only thing left is the cancellation of the contracts with Dongfeng (if this is still possible) to make SAAB AB happy - for the future major shareholder who joins NEVS, it should then be a little more expensive, as he will cover the future costs the resuscitation of SAAB would almost have to shoulder alone!

    As is well known, SCANIA belongs to the VW Group and has nothing to do with the assignment of the brand name SAAB - to my knowledge SCANIA or the VW Group only has the right to object to the design of the emblem (griffin) and did not want NEVS to use an emblem which resembles the truck emblem.

    • blank

      I think the reservations with Dongfeng are only part of the story. Unfortunately, we are always served only fragments, which is really happening, and where the motives are, that remains largely hidden.

  • blank

    Nevs is dead pants, but that was already clear before. They are unable to lead or develop an automobile manufacturer. You simply have no idea about it. These are at best component manufacturers. It was a big mistake for the former administrators to give you the order. The automotive business is brutal and, in addition to know-how and long experience, needs enormous resources to survive and become successful. There is no room for startups with vague ideas and PowerPoint slides as business plans. No serious manufacturer will get involved in it, as long as these people have any say. Typically, the failed start-up entrepreneurs do not see and do not take the loss, but hope like already VM with ever new negotiations now on a good end. Although realistically, the definite end of Saab is coming, it's good luck for the brand and the region.

  • blank

    Clear thoughts always do well in these stormy times!
    Thanks Tom!

  • blank

    To solve the problem, NEVS would need more than just a good idea. Now I understand why we have to have a lot of G …… .. again. 😉

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