Step by step. Toward the future.

In Europe, people are debating whether the electric car will be a future or only a temporary solution. In China, the question is finally answered by the party, and electric mobility will play a key role for a greener, smarter China.

Saab factory in the winter sun
Saab factory in the winter sun

The electric car boom

This year, 600.000 EV's are expected to be re-registered in China. The segment is booming, and a large number of new models and brands are entering the market with power. Because the current year is only the prelude to a much bigger thing; The steep ascent could continue in the following years. A new era of gold digging is gathering, every market participant wants to secure a piece of the cake.

To get a feel for the boom, here is a snapshot from the past 7 days:

Shanxi Tongja Auto announces the Kissun brand. Kissun Auto, specializing in "New Energy Vehicles", will sell small electric vans in the future. Market leader BYD dreams of the US market and delivers the first all-electric double-decker bus for London.

Zotye E200EV
Zotye E200EV

Zotye will delight customers from April with the compact and successful E200 EV. Hawtai, Traded as Saab savior for a few days in 2011, will bring the iEV230 sedan in March and the xEV 260 SUV next month. Zhiche car, Founded in 2014 as an EV manufacturer, shows the study of a purely electric SUV with the name "Hello". BAIC announces an electric supercar developed with Spanish partners for the Beijing Auto Show in April.

A lack of new electric cars is obviously not in China. Starting with the low-priced low-speed electric vehicle, through transport solutions, mid-range sedans with a range of around 300 kilometers to the inevitable electric SUVs, everything is there. New developments and new companies sprout up like flowers in spring. Who in China needs an EV from Sweden?

China does not need NEVS. But wants NEVS.

The latest news in the list of amazing things is the collaboration of NEVS with the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). It is about the purchase of electric cars, NEVS is the preferred supplier, and cooperates in the development of charging technology and infrastructure. With 1.87 million employees, the SGCC is the world's largest publicly owned company and plays the key role for future electric mobility in China. The size ratio NEVS - SGCC is that of mosquito to elephant. One may ask the question, why a company that sets the rules of the game cooperates with a small mosquito.

The answer comes from the view of the situation of the Swedish vehicle industry. In Södertälje determines VW, Volvo is Chinese, the former Saab plant in Trollhättan also. The Swedish west coast has become the gateway for the Chinese, even though they loudly complain about a lack of cooperation, enthusiasm and appreciation of their commitment. Only the Volvo commercial vehicle group is still Swedish and struggling with ever new austerity programs and layoffs for their future. And apart from Koenigsegg, the future of the country's most important industry will be determined abroad.

That it came to this is a consequence of the politics of the last few years. The situation in Sweden does not make everyone happy. There are reminders, even if the country has done well with investments from China so far. Because the Chinese strategy has changed fundamentally over the years. In the past, ailing European companies were bought, the factories dismantled, the knowledge was taken and production was transplanted to Asia. It has been learned that this was too short-term. Today you come to stay. The Volvo Story shows how it's done. Knowledge is no longer transferred, it is shared. Chinese engineers cooperate with local expertise. China is developing from the world's workbench to a global China AG.

For the labor market on the Swedish west coast, development as a Chinese bridgehead in Europe is encouraging. Qualified employees are in demand, the cooperation with SGCC will further fuel the situation and create additional jobs at NEVS.

The future of Trollhättan is written in Beijing, anything is possible. Since the end of the reconstruction in April 2015, it is step by step towards the future. The list of cooperations entered into is impressive and the financial possibilities stable. Maybe NEVS will start a steep climb from 2017. The existing orders and the new models from 2018 make this seem possible..if the financing continues to work and the partnerships prove to be solid.

Are we interested in the development at NEVS? The theme is reminiscent of learning vocabulary for school education. Dust-dry, emotionless, but it has to be. It is the basis for more. So fight for every sentence, weigh the words. It would be more convenient to ignore the topic. But the Saab lettering is still emblazoned at work. That alone is commitment enough.

12 thoughts on "Step by step. Toward the future."

  • blank

    Good review article. Two small perceptions of pictures; 1) SAAB is still clear and visible on the THT plant. 2) Why do small electric cars look so ugly?

    • blank

      I can't understand why most electric cars (no matter what size) must look so horrible. Toyota Prius and Mirai, Opel Ampera, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 etc. are not small cars. Innovative technology, but the design is a catastrophe there too. May be a matter of taste ...
      That it works differently shows Tesla with the Model S.
      I think the manufacturers think EV needs to stand out from normal cars in some way. It's okay - but please do it in style!

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    Not only the acceptance of the buyers will decide. A car has to be practical and fit into the personal requirements. Of course, it depends on the future offer. A pure EV I could present to me at the time only as a second car for the city and the surrounding area. And at least you should have enough space to get some crates at the beverage market. Since we are currently fast in the area around the 30.000 €, which is simply too expensive for a second car. Plug in hybrids currently provide about 50 kilometers of range, which is certainly sufficient for a tour of the city. However, the choice is still very limited here. I think if Mr. Jiang does not fall out of favor with China's party officials again, NEVS will have a bright future in China. But they do not need the name Saab for that. For Europe, the price and range still have a lot to do to get out of the niche business. Since I see no big boom of EV's in the foreseeable future. If nothing else comes from NEVS than just pure EV, then they are on the right track in China. Until the time is ripe in Europe and the rest of the world, the name Saab will not necessarily be necessary for NEVS. As Thylmuc writes, cars are not purchased for namezets or factories, but for their utility and execution and quality and, ultimately, value for money. I think it's just too late to sell people an EV as a Saab. One should have maintained the brand presence faster with transitional products. What do people think today when they hear the name Saab? If there was a survey on this subject, I'm pretty sure most of the answers would not be called electric cars, but rather terms like Turbo, 900er or touring car would fall. New company, new product, new name, why not?

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    I know other ways. Toyota has released a fuel cell car that has a wider range than EVs. They were faster than Mercedes. As we know Toyota, they will push into the markets that have not been given priority by the Chinese and thus Nevs. If that succeeds (especially in the US) like the Prius as a hybrid, it will be tight for EVs of the Chinese outside the Chinese market.

  • blank

    The electric car as a temporary solution? I have not heard that yet. Where to? Immobility? After intensive study of the topic, I see no alternative. Oh, even a fuel cell car is an electric car, only without a large battery, but with lower efficiency. Whether a concept wins and which one will result from a mix of battery developments including price, electricity costs and practicality.

    Needless to say, we should be interested in the future of NEVS, at least those who believe that cars are designed and built by humans, not by name tags on factories.

    Despite major problems - but only with the batteries - the electric car for me is the long-term future, and we Saab driver may ask us if we prefer to buy this in the end of Tesla, BMW, Toyota or the dear people from Trollhättan.

    • blank

      In Europe, plug-in hybrids could play the bigger role and it will be the acceptance of the buyers who decides. A fuel cell car is not necessarily perceived as an electric car, under an EV many readers understand a vehicle with batteries, and this refers to article, statement, and situation in China.

      • blank

        Thanks for the additions. However: A hybrid drives with fossil fuels. _This is a temporary solution. What happens if oil is no longer used after completion of the energy turnaround?

        After much back-and-forth calculations, it became clear to me that agro-fuels can not be produced sufficiently. Not even remotely, not even ruined the entire planet and all austerity measures.

        Even methanol recovered from the air will not come.

        To make that clear, a calculator and a few key figures from Wikipedia etc.

        The future will be electric or immobile.

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        Complementation: In fact, I believe that in general energy use, ie conversion into, for example, electricity or hydrogen and storage / transport, will be the biggest topic of the next decades. And there are in particular two fields of research that need to be addressed, namely:
        Fusion energy as an alternative to wind and sun; because it can be generated more reliably.
        Battery technology for storage. Higher energy density at a lower cost.

        And with research, I do not mean a few million here or there. Otherwise, any future US government will take over for the Europeans again and we will lose the next key technology, processors, operating systems, RAM and mobile phones. I'm talking about something like the Apollo Energy Program. This would cost 2009 billions of dollars at 120 prices. Something of the order of magnitude.

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    The time factor will play against NEVS in Europe. 2018 new cars, which I do not believe in, would be market launch in Germany 2020 or something. Around 10 years, after the last new cars were at the dealer? Can you forget completely. Until then, the brand is history and NEVS fails to have anything to do with the art for years.

  • blank

    Hi Tom,

    a better snapshot is not possible. The late developers of SAAB AB should not decide too late with regard to the naming rights - a delayed or even negative decision (complete denial of naming rights) would only be a hindrance to the enormous feats of NEVS.

    The direction taken by NEVS would have had rather positive effects on the SAAB AB itself if the name SAAB was released. As a so-called brand (automobiles + aircraft / armaments), SAAB would again have a greater degree of recognition worldwide with all the associated advantages - also for SAAB AB itself.

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    It is very remarkable how NEVS is going, somehow it works with the financing and the contracts / cooperations / declarations of intent certainly fill entire folders. But since 2012, i.e. in 4 years, no product has been put on the wheels. In 2018 it will be 6 years - maybe. In my eyes, an absolute negative record. (But a very good article on Monday from Tom 😉)

  • blank

    Thanks for this comprehensive view!
    Good for the region in western Sweden ..., good that some Chinese top performers have "learned".
    What remains are the "ifs":
    Quotation: The present orders and the new models from 2018 make this seem possible..if the financing continues to work and (if) the partnerships prove to be solid.
    Whether the favor will continue like this, who knows….
    Let's wait and see, and use our SAAB's!

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