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”.
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…
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.