One year later
One year ago, the production of the 9-3 Aero Sedan started in Trollhättan. It could have been the beginning of Saab's comeback. Where we would only stand 12 months later, one could not guess even in the worst nightmares.
A personal review, with pictures and videos (Thanks to Dominik for the clips), from a blogger's point of view.
02. 12. 2013 Morning. Mark and I are at the Frankfurt airport. Our Lufthansa flight will start in the direction of Gothenburg. We are in a good mood that day, the Saab restart is imminent. We are on a mission, we are Saab.
The gods will have delighted in having enjoyed themselves over our heads on this and the following days. Because what began auspiciously should not end well. At the time, we had no idea of that, on our way north.
02.12.2013 afternoon Västragötland / Trollhättan. After we have landed in Landvetter, we drive via Udevalla towards Trollhättan. In an Audi A6 rental car, which spoils our fun a little. The sun sets early at this time of year and when we get to the Stallbacka it is already dark. In the press center there is a Saab 900 Turbo as an exhibition vehicle, and the lights are still on in the management offices. “A good sign” ... we think and check into the hotel. Not without starting a little tour through Trollhättan afterwards.
03.12.2013 morning Saab factory / Trollhättan. The show is on. NEVS drives the suppliers through the city in VIP buses, and they clearly make an effort to be a good host. For lunch you are invited to the best restaurant in Trollhättan. The common press group, to which we also belong, is less comfortable. We have to wait until the press center opens in the afternoon and pass the time with a tour around the factory premises.
The sun is shining, Trollhättan shows off its most charming side, but it's bitterly cold that day.
03.12.2013 afternoon / press center. Children's birthday! This goes through my head when I think back to what happened a year ago. Like children opening their presents with shining eyes, so it is on this day in the Stallbacka. Good mood, beaming faces, big eyes everywhere. Only the gifts have grown. A whole car plant, a brand that is making a comeback. Incredible. And the gods laugh.
Kai Johan Jiang and Mattias Bergman deliver their Power Point presentation. Visions, missions, promises. All this with a lot of charm and commitment. The sympathies fly towards them. The Chinese ambassador is there, a representative of investor Qingdao kindly orders the first batch of electric cars. A minister, no longer in office, radiates with all other participants to the bet. A group photo with very important guests should ensure the memory of a big day.
We were all wrong.
Because we wanted to believe what we meant to see. Because NEVS delivered the perfect show. Back in December 2013, NEVS was no longer a healthy company. There was already on 18 September 2013 a pre-production, in dark halls, without public. Only with the bloggers from SU, and even then the attempt to secure the promised funds from Qingdao.
The start of series production in December was the last, desperate attempt to meet the demands of the new shareholder and to show ongoing production. In return, to get 220 million US dollars from China into the accounts. To do this, NEVS built a Potemkin village, to put it mildly.
Power Point presentations are patient beings. They tell, if you like, of supply chains and expansion plans that only exist on paper. If the background to the partnership with Qingdao had been known at the time, everyone involved would have treated the matter as very delicate. A short time after the start of production, unflattering details came to light in Qingdao that cannot be a topic on the blog today. A door was closed for NEVS in China.
Perhaps in December 2013 would have helped us all with a simple math problem in classifying the realities. GM paid 25 million dollars for 600% of Saab exactly 50 years ago. There were two production plants for this purpose, including an engine plant, a transmission plant, two series, an international distribution network, plant branches and an aftersales division.
A quarter of a century later there is nothing left of it. Only one plant in Trollhättan that is at a standstill. If it had been paid, US $ 220 million for 22% of the shares would correspond to an enterprise value of one billion. A fantastic deal for the NEVS owners, too fantastic. Too bad ! We really should have done the math back then!
21 thoughts on "One year later"
Happy many of us who still own and drive a “real” SAAB Made in Sweden. I also think that a third comeback of the car brand is not possible. But I like to be positively surprised. Enjoy the pre-Christmas season anyway.
So I'm not a fan of NEVS either and you can say what you want but you have managed to get back to production. Nobody could guess how the financial situation was going. We were all happy that it started again and has not become a logistics center from the factory. No one suspected that it would end so quickly.
It's not the same anymore anyway ...
A “Saab” whose nameplate no longer says Saab Automobile AB, whose chassis no. does not start with YS3 ...
Maybe a little pissed off, but that's it ?!
It's like Tom said before, there is no Saab story, but a NEVS story ... And my heart doesn't hang on NEVS, at most on Trollhättan ...
THANK YOU for this review.
SAAB did not deserve such a (final) crash landing! I'll wait ... 🙂
hello Tom, thanks for the good post.
Be glad that you did not fly 1 year later, then you would still be sitting at the airport in Frankfurt hoping for things at the LH
We would have also driven or run ... The LH could never have stopped us 😉
Great the view of reality ... even if there were some who calculated and honestly didn't understand 😉
But good Volkswagen also buys Rolls Royce and then stands only with Bentley because you did not pay attention to the situation of naming rights, so far, sometimes nothing surprises me.
Let's hope for Mahindra and the miracle Saab!
“Only” Bentley is good. Customers didn't care that the boxes were now called Bentley and no longer Rolls Royce. BMW, on the other hand, first had to sink billions before they filled their oh-so-great name with a background.
Whether that would be the same with Saab, I do not know, because Bentley was already an established brand at RR.
Very good contribution, thanks Tom!
Hopefully there will be good news about Saab soon.
I keep my fingers crossed.
So sad . But there is still hope.
Well, that's how it was a year ago ... the (unfounded) optimists accused the realists of pessimism. If they had remained realistic then this “you couldn't know that” would never have existed. But the same thing is repeated in the current negotiations.
Some believe that there will soon be new Saab with old virtues rolling off the assembly line….
In northern Germany they say “Klugschieter” in a nutshell. Klugschieter always foresaw the course of events in retrospect - but only in retrospect, if something unforeseeable happened at some point.
Real repeats imomentan only the permanent Schwarzseherei
with some commentators.
If, in fact, it is the Mahindra Group, which is the new major shareholder here, it would not be possible to present any serious disadvantages regarding SAAB's future, even on closer inspection.
Please not again ...
There is no need for insults or a renewed flare-up of the old and, in the best sense of the word, passion-led debate about optimism.
Incidentally, your definition of “Klugschieter” (“in retrospect”) does not apply to those who already saw things differently at the given time and were or will be tackled harshly by Detlef Rudolf then and now.
Tom has beautifully and factually pointed out in his article that the NEVS-related optimism was also based on a wishful thinking that clouded the judgment.
"Because we wanted to believe what we meant to see."
I would like to be able to hear the other voices, please, without them being crushed by you with an outcry against the “nonsense”.
Dear Detlef Rudolf, I said right from the start that that couldn't be any good. Therefore, nothing with subsequent “smart shit”. The general problem is that some of them are unwilling or unable to take off their rose-colored brand glasses. If there are three new Saab models that sell in five years, I have no problem in saying that I was wrong. However, I'm pretty sure I don't have to. Other, financially much better positioned automakers than NEVS / Saab are currently having problems and not because their customers are hoping to finally be able to buy a Saab again ...
My recommendation, not only entertained with Saab drivers. Then you realize pretty quickly that people appreciate the Saab brand very well, but they do not miss it. A car producer as well as any other company that competes can only survive if they sell their product profitably. By the way, since 1948 Saab has never had it before!
That I have a completely different view of things, is well known.
Let's just agree that we should wait quietly (but also without unfounded black markings - conversations with any people who don't miss SAAB automobiles, I don't see the reason) for the next few months.
Recalculating is important, but here, in my opinion, the city of Qingdao is the one most to shake hands with.
Promise to take a share in the investment and then nothing to deny? With quiet trom disappear and throw all already signed contracts in Muehl?
And that under Chinezen? Insane and unbelievable.
"And that under Chinezen?" .... in practice this should not happen that seldom.
Very nice written Tom, but it makes deep sad. Who would have guessed. Now it is time to hope and fear again, yet we should not give up hope. What will 2015 bring?
It can only get better, actually 😉
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