Hope is always ...

The past weeks at NEVS have been eventful: open house during the Saab Festival in Trollhättan, new partners, symbolic groundbreaking in China. According to the official version, the plant should be ready by 2018. The start of a success story? Maybe ... The reactions so far? Acting strangely… The backgrounds are exciting, even for readers who have put NEVS on the “ignore list”.

NEVS 9-3 EV. From 2017 from China.
NEVS 9-3 EV. From 2017 from China.

The Swedish press is not interested in what is happening. Maybe journalists like me are doing. You hear what's going on, you are amazed, you are incredulous at the speed NEVS shows ... and you are left perplexed. In a bad mood, and because NEVS has not yet forgiven the antics of recent years, one could assume that a new Chinese company will be created here. That we won't like, that we don't care.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple, and above all it's difficult to keep track of things. First the location in China with details that a blogger friend from Beijing has put together.

The China Connection…

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

NEVS has launched two new companies in Tianjin. On May 15, one month after the end of the reorganization, the National Automotive Technology Development Co. (NATD) was registered. Managing Director is NEVS Head of Technology Stig Nodin - he brings over 30 years of Saab experience. 90% of the shares are held by NEVS, 10% are held by a company belonging to NEVS partner SRIT. NATD will set up a research and development center for “New Energy Vehicles” in Tianjin.

On June 18, NEVS, SRIT and Zongyou found Green Investment. The latter belongs to NEVS co-owner Teamsun, the National New Energy Automobile Co. Ltd. based in Tianjin. 50% of the shares are held by NEVS, 10% by SRIT and 40% by Zongyou Green Investment. The president and managing director is Kai Johan Jiang - the purpose of the new establishment: the production of electric and hybrid vehicles. Attentive readers will have stumbled across the name Teamsun ...

One day later, on June 19, according to our source, Beijing Teamsun Technology Co. Ltd., an IT service provider, will take over all (?) NEVS shares that were previously held by the investment company of the city of Quingdao. Teamsun pays (?) 638 million yuan, around 102 million US dollars or 91 million euros. We remember: Quingdao was originally supposed to pay US $ 220 million for 22% of the shares.

From Germany, we cannot determine whether the information is correct or whether the transfer has been completed. NEVS had announced at the festival that it had won a new shareholder whose identity would only be revealed when "the money is in the account". Quingdao is still listed as a shareholder on the company's website.

NEVS would then have the following shareholder structure since June 19: National Modern Energy Holding, owned by Kai Johan Jiang, holds 48%, Tianjin 30% and Teamsun 22%. Thus - which could be important for the further role of the NEVS founder - Jiang would no longer be majority owner.

The official timetable calls for the completion of the plant and development center in Tianjin in 2018 - which seems strange. Qoros and Geely set up factories in around 12 months. The on-site timetable sounds more conclusive. The plant is scheduled to be in operation by mid-2016, with vehicles coming onto the streets from 2017. Which brings us to the point. What the hell is NEVS building?

Guaranteed no Saabs! A brand name from the retort is used for the market in China. Similar to BAIC, the National New Energy Automobile product will be based on Saab 9-3 technology. The 9-3 EV has not yet received a license for on-site production. There are regulations that are not yet met. So the minimum range of 300 kilometers, energy recovery in city traffic.

Who is late ...

... punished by the market. There is a lot of political will behind the NEVS story, that is clear. The 9-3 EV could cause a sensation as an inexpensive European-style electric car in China, since it has barely devoured development costs. However, the days of major growth are also over for the auto sector; Whoever starts as a “no-name” provider from a retort under a brand name may get a bloody nose. See Qoros!

More important is the fact that NEVS will first enter 2017 or 2018 the market. As of 2017, state subsidies in China are reduced by 20% per year, and 2019 by 40% with respect to year 2016. From 2020 there should be no support for electric cars anymore.

A question of money ...

The Bank of China has granted NEVS a loan guarantee of 10 billion yuan = 1.4 billion. But: a guarantee is not cash, it can be tied to specific requirements. We do not know the details. One thing is clear: the game is played according to rules that we do not know. And there is a lot of politics involved. What has happened in the last few weeks, what will happen in the near future, should be seen against this background.

Before NEVS are big tasks. The factory in China, the production start to make the 9-3 EV ready for the market. Then the big construction site called Trollhättan. Everything costs a lot of money that does not exist. The maturity of the shareholder deposits for the new companies in Tianjin is on the 30. June 2017 terminates. No funds will flow before this date; NEVS can only finance its China operations with loans from the Bank of China.

We understand: the current NEVS construct is at best an interim solution. The big litter is coming soon, the round of the change of shareholders is not over yet. He has just started.


Beyond the Asian enthusiasm, there are things that provide more food for thought. During the Saab Festival, the attentive observer watched former achievers of Saab Automobile AB. It was no coincidence that they were in Trollhättan; her professional path now leads back to the stablebacka. Not with a loud roar, more quiet and unobtrusive. Exciting ! And beyond new Chinese partners who are developing software for NEVS and the new vehicles in the future, they are working together with top names in the German supplier industry. All this is not published. Understandable, because which manufacturer wants to look at the cards.

NEVS, laboratories, test benches and development capacities are well booked. An economic basis for Trollhättan is provided by the engineers, whose number is now being extended by additional 40 positions. Good news. But, that's the point for us as Saab fans: as we like to twist and turn it: it will not make a shoe out of it.

The big, the important things are unclear. Long-term financing, Saab trademark rights, the entry of additional shareholders, possible capital increases. Everything unclear. So far, electric mobility has not been a success story. Companies that have opted for it enjoy a high mortality rate. There are plenty of great examples of failure. Fisker, A123, Think, Better Place. Everything is in motion at NEVS - in every respect. Hope is always, surprises are guaranteed in every way.

23 thoughts on "Hope is always ..."

  • Yes, yes!

    Of course, the loss of authenticity and cultural peculiarity also manifested in consumer goods and commodities takes place everywhere. This is certainly not a Swedish but a global phenomenon.

    And yet it is this dwindling category of products that has the greatest appeal to me. It's easy to see if they've been designed (designed and constructed) as well as made within a single cultural space.

    I prefer such an authentic product of other provenance, rather than the identity-less globalization scrap of originally German, Scandinavian or otherwise established brands.

    Example kettle. As a tea buyer, I have worn many over the years. Most recently the most expensive ones from Philips and Krups, and shortly after the warranty expires. It was not until an Italian company designed and manufactured in Italy that it gave me peace of mind and for a number of years it has served its job as casually as a vacuum cleaner by Nilfisk or a hair clipper by Moeser.

    The high identification of local workers at the parent plant with one product will replace at least half of the quality management that will be needed if I pull through a production facility as a contract manufacturing facility in a foreign country with casemated low-wage slaves.

    I think that value chains are also value chains. Such a thing does not stretch around the entire globe without it threatening to break somewhere (be it in quality or in social terms).

    I do not know yet what it will be, but my next car will be one again if possible, in the aforementioned sense.

  • NEVS can be quiet theme on the blog. I also respect different interests and especially the coverage of Tom.

    I see the development from the point of view of a previous SAAB driver and potential buyer of a current everyday vehicle. Chances are less than zero that NEVS could be the manufacturer of my next vehicle. The existing SAAB customers have been shown long enough that they are completely irrelevant. You do not have to be surprised if one day they are gone. As of today, I see nothing worth waiting for.

  • But NEVS now basically owns Saab's birth cities. The trademark rights no longer - but one can already ask the question, what is more Saab than NEVS today?

  • NEVS is not SAAB and therefore completely irrelevant.

  • Rather, a shuttle Airbus will be set up between Trollhättan and the new location so that Saab employees can brief their new Chinese counterparts.

  • Hello Herbert, very well written! I feel exactly the same way, everything that was dear to me is expensive! But tomorrow I will still buy my 4th Saab, a 9-3 x! Greetings from Switzerland

  • Does not that happen everywhere ?! Where is 100% Germany or something in there today? That's just how it is in this beautiful, globalized world. Nevertheless, I still like today's products from Sweden, even if they no longer have the urtypische.

  • Once again a comprehensive article that points from the here and now to the uncertain future ...

    That one does not know how much that has anything to do with SAAB at all or at some point could have made its creation an ambiguous compulsory task and hard work. That was certainly not the blogger's biggest pleasure.

    Nevertheless and that's why: Thanks Tom!

    What used to associate me personally - and probably many others - with the two Swedish automobile brands and other Swedish or Scandinavian products, and still connects them a bit, is also a cultural appreciation. Just the impression that in Scandinavia Scandinavian and other typical Scandinavian ways in the technical development, construction, design and manufacturing went.

    For example, the Hilleberg tents, which were previously made in Sweden, the once ingenious and now mercilessly outdated 6 × 6 system from Hasselblad, really good tools, designer furniture and lamps as well as unbreakable vacuum cleaners from Nilfisk were part of an independent Scandinavian culture of goods and goods that A to Z and in all areas of life.

    Not only SAAB automobiles but this Scandinavian way as a whole has been suffering for more than two decades due to changes of ownership, relocations of construction and production abroad as well as bankruptcies under clear signs of dissolution and global dilution.

    So I'm not so sure whether I would like to read more about Volvo here? But I also have no constructive suggestion as to how the blogger and reader's enjoyment could be increased in a different way in a world that is becoming more and more arbitrary and more uniform ...

  • When an investor takes over a company, they can do (almost) what they want with the product. Getting involved with Chinese dragons is very difficult from my European point of view. Asians have a completely different view and outlook on life than we do. But the same applies as always: who pays orders !! NEVS can work with the factory, respectively. of what is left do what you want. If there is no more capital there is no more going anyway. The most important thing is to care for our vehicles and not to (completely) forget SAAB ......

  • Sorry, it's getting too Chinese for me. We are talking about a new plant in China - why not use the existing capacities in Trollhättan first? With which product anyway? A made in China electric car? Run by a management with no experience in the auto industry? Practically from Zero to Hero? Guys, that's # cheese. The cart is being driven against the wall in a similar way to Qoros. A few Chinese with a little money who have some kind of vision ... but have no idea about the profession. I hereby dismiss, I deny this Chinese construct, which only aims to buy European (Saab) DNA.

  • The timing is certainly not optimal. Currently there is a big gap in the electric car market between all the short-range cars (theoretically up to about 200km, ie Leaf, e-Golf, i3, B-Class ED, Kia Soul) and the only really long-distance electric car model S.

    In Norway, 2015 18,4% electric cars were sold in the first half of the year, here Saab was traditionally strongly represented in the past, in Tromsø in northern Norway there is still a dealer who does not own 2 alongside Saab. Mainstay has. A Saab in the size of the 9-3 with 350 km theoretical range priced between an e-Golf and a model S 70D would have certainly sold very well.

    This gap will probably not exist in 2-3 years, besides the model 3 there will probably be the next Leaf generation and the Chevrolet Bolt on the market (and at least the model 3 also has a very well developed network of charging stations than Plus).

  • Hello Tom, very much praise for your reports. I agree with Greif 08, I would be happy to read something about the Volvo brand. Then I would have 2 flies hit with 4 valves and about both of our favorite brands everything from one source :-)

  • What it has to do with Saab will show the next few months. At some point the parties will have to show their colors, then we know if NEVS remains relevant. Until then: Saab is what we make of it, respectively what is in our carport or at the door 😉

  • This is more than just a substance for a business crime. The skepticism outweighs, even if things seem to go in the right direction here!

  • Thank you! Well, the other Swedish brand ... I also see what's going on there, and it annoys me a bit ... Not because I have a problem with that, but because I would like to write about new cars. I'm suffering a little, but I don't want to change the course of the blog just yet. But nothing is impossible 🙂

  • As always typical NEVS, something is happening, but everything in the fog. And from a Saab fan point of view, do we like what happened? Does this have anything to do with Saab automobiles at all, except that the whole thing happens in and around the former Saab factory? And if something else should come that might have the name Saab on the hood, do you want something like that? Does NEVS want to have anything to do with the previous Saab customers at all or are they being ignored as before? Questions about questions, a lot of fog and nothing tangible, just NEVS as usual. Saab is what parks in front of the door and as long as that is so, Saab is also Orio. NEVS is something that sooner or later from Sweden, or will disappear completely from the scene.

  • So Tom, I have to say, hats off to you and your energy! I didn't even begin to have that energy. I love Saab and it will stay that way. But I also like a living brand and think it's a shame that you don't want to include VOLVO here. I find the development there very interesting.

  • In addition to the lack of funding, our friend in Beijing sees a big problem in the holdings, which will make it hard for KJJ to assert his interests. It lacks the clear leadership position, really enters a car industry, then it will not be satisfied with possible 48%. Either the story fails, or there is a massive (and necessary) capital increase associated with an additional shareholder.

  • I'm sorry - this article doesn't exactly evoke an optimistic mood in me. Companies that are founded at short notice and then move shares back and forth arouse all sorts of things in me, but unfortunately no trust. And then the phrase “And there is a lot of politics involved”. When was that not the case in China? And what happens when politics is no longer in the mood, or in the mood for something else?

    With the best will in the world, I cannot read any good signals from these facts (by the way, well researched, despite everything ...) from my previous experience with NEVS. Too often big things were announced and accompanied by a corresponding lack of drum roll (silence until everything was settled), which turned out to be a very small solution in the end.

  • Names would be of interest, I understand. At the current stage, everything about NEVS seems quite fresh to me, after careful deliberation, I decided not to mention German companies, and the automotive industry is reading along. In my eyes this is - surprisingly - positive, although I have a skeptical attitude ...

  • A really exciting article, Tom! With me he brings just as much exclamation marks as question marks. Probably every reader goes like this. NEVS is a big construction site, I had the impression for a long time and today it was confirmed. The mix on the blog is correct, from time to time NEVS NEWS is quite okay.

  • Sweden…

    Most interesting passage!

    The return of some so-called former service providers of SAAB Automobile AG makes it possible to conclude that a positive development has begun.

    More details, which (German?) Players are still in the background here, would now be of great interest - so let's continue to be patient.

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