More open questions than answers, fractions, fun, surprises. That was the year 2015 from Saab's point of view ... more interesting than expected - with excitement for the next 12 months. A brand that seems indestructible and a community that just wants one thing: drive a Saab!
Saab fun 2015.
Things can be so simple. What do you do if you don't get a new car? You build your own! And that was the craziest, but also the most consistent idea of 2015: Markus Lafrentz and his Saab 9000 SC project. It was so perfect that the 9000 station wagon could be mistaken for a production vehicle. At the Saab Festival in Trollhättan and the pre-tour from Kiel to Sweden, his Saab was the star.
The 9000 SC was a highlight in the Saab 9000 anniversary year. With the Anna project, we have written the 9000 back to the present and many fans rediscovered the first big Saab.
2015, that was also the year of the Saab community. Saab meet almost every weekend between Rügen and Berchtesgaden. The brand is pulsating, fascinated. There is no end in sight. The new year continues. If you like, you can spend your free time with Saab friends and with the fascinating vehicles from Trollhättan.
Saab fans 2015.
Saab is fun. Maybe because the vehicles are so pithy analog. Or, because Saab has given the world such ingenious turbo engines. Definitely, because you get to know people who have a lot of fun with Saab. A german-swedish couple impressed me a lot this year.
Marcus and Manuela Bergfeldt were always there where you can enjoy the vehicles from Västragötland. They gave us great reports on the Intsaab 2015 in Norway, drove a crazy pre-tour through half of Europe. The two are sympathetic, always in a good mood. For me they were the Saab couple of the year 2015, representing many other fans who keep Saab alive.
We've gotten used to the fact that Saab fans fill their brand with life, no marketing department or manufacturer in the background act. We have become self-sufficient with the years. That could have consequences for the future.
Saab drivers are sensitive. No other brand has had so many breaks. There are 2-stroke fans for whom reaching for the 4-stroke was treason. The Saab-Scania faction or fans who consider the 900 I to be the purest of all Saabs. Its engine also carries English genes. Then there are hatchbacks, people who reject GM, for whom a 9000 is a Fiat, and so on.
In a few years we could remember another break. As the rifts between the old factions disappear, Saab enthusiasts move closer together, a new break can be felt. The connection to what is going on in Trollhättan is disappearing. I can see it in how often an article is read, and I can feel it in comments and emails.
Indifference arises. Due to the apparent focus on electric cars and the cold shoulder that NEVS repeatedly shows Europeans. Saab is what we drive, what we screw on, what is on our doorstep. Should it be the case that somebody wants to repair this break at some point, he would find himself in a difficult position.
Which would have landed us at NEVS. For me in 2015 it was more a chronicler's duty than a pleasure to report on it. I no longer had NEVS on the bill, and wherever possible I had avoided articles about investors.
NEVS delivered the surprise 2015. End of the reconstruction, restart in the Swedish summer. Entry of further partners, strengthening of the financial basis. During the festival great hospitality for the international Saab community. And, you have to admit, without the open house in Stallbacka the festival would not have been what it has become.
Shortly before the end of the year a bang. Electric car for China 2017, 4 new models 2018. Press shop and painting line in Trollhättan should run 2016.
The development surprised. She made experienced commentators in the short term helpless. The leading Swedish magazines fluctuated between respect, disbelief and caution. Respect for Kai Johan Jiang, who persistently pursues goals. He has raised a median 3 million euro amount for his investment in shareholders. Disbelief because no one can understand the business model to 100%. Push body in Trollhättan, shipping to China, 2017 introduce a 15 years old body design as electric car?
With Chinese eyes, development makes sense. In the metropolitan areas, the administration enforces a huge market for electric cars until 2020. NEVS will only be there if you follow a tight schedule. In 18 months, shareholders and partners are anticipating the sprint through pre-series licensing to finished product. Trollhättan bodies are the minor problem until the new plant in China is up and running.
NEVS has a new headquarters in Beijing, and a few days ago they gave journalists a first look at the 2017er EV. You can see light at the end of the tunnel and benefit from the Nimbus Saab. Without the reputation of the Swedish brand, without their lettering on the stationery and homepage, one would have no chance. Now it's time to deliver. The coming months will be a big challenge for the Chinese investment in Trollhättan.
Open questions 2016
What does the development mean for the location Sweden? Long term jobs in Sweden, or primarily new jobs in China? How Swedish is NEVS anyway?
And will investors like 2016, will they follow in the footsteps of Saab? Or will we care less and continue to focus on our rolling cultural heritage from Trollhättan? I dare not forecast.
Maybe we should lean back relaxed at the turn of the year and the Focus read. He wrote in the last few days about old traditional brands, the 2016 could come back. Besides Wiesmann, Alpine, Horex and others, Saab is also on the list. The brand that would probably survive a nuclear war ... Macabre friendly formulated.
Nice prospects for 2016…