Made by NEVS. Visit to the NEVS R&D Center (2/2)

The NEVS R&D Center has 16 different departments. We visit 4 of them and are on our way to the test benches for engines and drive units. This section is particularly secret, because the future is already running on the test benches today.

NEVS wind and air tunnel.
NEVS wind and air tunnel.

About 30 years at Saab.

Ronnie Hermansson gives us a very warm welcome and floods Mark and me with a number of ideas about what would be interesting and what we could see. He is the unrestricted master of the test benches for engines, transmissions and actually everything that forms a drive unit. The laboratories in his department test not only combustion engines and hybrids, but also drive trains with electric motors.

18 employees work here. We hear that they are the best of the best who have already been with Saab. The pride in Ronnie's voice cannot be ignored, and it tells us about a long Saab tradition, a lot of experience, and the future. He has been with Saab for 34 years and somehow we bloggers like him from the first moment.

There are press events where marketing and press officers have the floor. Mostly there is a very special, filtered view of things to hear. This appointment at NEVS is different. Unconventional and courageous because our contacts are engineers and developers. Unfiltered just. They talk to us openly, always with a lot of humor, and in the background the pride of the work and the history is always felt. We travel from department to department, drawing the bow from the 80 years into the future. In the year 2020 or 2025 maybe.

An electric drive unit for a NEVS EV runs on one of the test stands. The test stand can be heated to high temperatures, and it is also possible to simulate the deepest Scandinavian winter with minus degrees. Another test stand for transmissions checks their resilience, special machines allow simulation at various angles of inclination.

Saab, Ronnie tells us, has a very long history of testing, you have to add. As a small manufacturer, the money was always scarce. And testing on the test track has always been costly. Therefore, component-by-component testing has been carried out intensively in the development laboratories for decades, long before the vehicles hit the road. This past experience is now leveraging NEVS.

Wind and climate tunnel.

The test benches and the work there are top secret areas. The future is there, and for this reason the Nikon is not being used. We move on through the building of the development center. Our next destination is the wind and climate tunnel. It was put into operation in 1987 and corresponded to the Saab philosophy of testing as extensively as possible in the laboratory at an early stage.

Climate and wind tunnels are almost at the bottom of the site, only the material testing laboratory is further away from our starting point. On the way there we pass a parking lot with screen, NEVS test vehicles drive past us. It is late afternoon, and you can feel the bustle in all departments.

The wind tunnel runs 16 hours a day and is also very heavily booked by other brands. Another manufacturer is testing today; this part is of course closed to us. We inspect the test stand and are then allowed into the empty tunnel. The heaters on the ceiling can heat the canal up to 50 degrees, they were still in operation minutes ago, and we are greeted with warmth like summer. It is also possible to lower the temperature to -35 degrees, let the Sahara sun shine, ignite snowstorms or wind speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.

There is a program that shows rain on German autobahns, city traffic in Los Angeles, or Swedish country roads. In short, I'm quite impressed. The system is almost 30 years old, but still state-of-the-art. In the coming year the “electric sun” on the ceiling will be renewed. The investment is necessary because the control technology has to be replaced.

From history to the future.

The Climate and Wind Tunnel is a piece of Saab history and NEV's future. The automatic climate control of the Saab 9000 and its successors has been developed, tested and improved over and over again. In the 9000er it was probably the best air conditioning of their time. Electric cars from Trollhättan, tested for all climatic conditions on this planet, will form the future. And that's exactly what our next appointment is about.

Mark and I walk back from the wind tunnel via the outdoor facilities of the development department. Various test vehicles are still chasing across the site. We say goodbye to Thomas, who has led us the afternoon. With Ulrika we now meet Christian Bromander, Director Mechanical & Electrical Architecture. He worked at BMW for more than 10 years before moving back to Sweden in 2002.

Since then he has experienced a lot. Work for Saab Automobile, for the liquidators, for Lean Nova. Conversations with potential buyers, the beginning with NEVS. If you want to understand the future, you also have to know the past. So let's talk about the old times. About the never-produced Saab 9-3 SUV, which prevented GM on the home straight. The Saab hybrid, which was not allowed to come. 2011 / 12 about the grim, hard winter time when Christian was alone in the huge building because work had to be completed.

At some point during the conversation, my penny drops. In the many conversations that afternoon and now here with Christian Bromander, one always revolves around one topic. One was never allowed to prove one's abilities, was always thwarted. And then it comes, the bowl set. “Now, with NEVS, we can show what we can do. If it goes wrong, there are no more excuses. "

The lateral thinkers

It quickly becomes clear to me in conversation that something very exciting new is growing up here. A lot of Saab was felt in the laboratories. People who have dedicated decades to the brand and whom I find likeable for this reason alone. But it's not just the car people. Clever minds from many other industries come together at NEVS. From IT, from the furniture industry. Furniture? Yes, of course, to bring in new materials and external ideas. Thinking outside the box is a must at NEVS. It reminds me of the “Lunatic Factor”.

The Lego kit

The key to the future should be the Phoenix E architecture. The name is the only thing in common with considerations that began during the Saab Spyker era. Phoenix E is new, completely developed by NEVS, and Phoenix E is revolutionary. Because the Lego construction kit, as Christian humorously calls it, allows NEVS, as a small producer, to cover many vehicle classes.

Graphics show us how the kit works, which parts have to be flexible in order to be able to efficiently produce a sedan, hatchback, SUV or compact car. I learn, I understand. Above all, I now understand why it takes time for the new products to be ready. Once the kit is in place, NEVS can develop an unbelievable number of different models and launch them on the market in a very short time.

It's easy to explain using the example of a steering wheel. To construct a single steering wheel is enough if you do it right. It can be produced in an infinite number of designs and variants, so that you can fulfill absolutely every customer request. The person at the wheel will never assume that from the developer's point of view it is always the same part. Sometimes with 2, sometimes with 3 or with 4 spokes. Brilliant !

Keep it simple

Keeping things simple is a big challenge. Especially in this industry, where a variety of options are available to the buyer. NEVS is on the way. Phoenix E defines things clearly and simply and yet is extremely flexible. Phoenix E is designed for autonomous driving right from the start. A topic that is really getting going at the moment. And NEVS is in it, right up to the fully autonomous level 5. The Trollhättan Lego kit is also designed for electric cars, hybrid and conventional engines.

Are you planning a plug-in hybrid or a combustion engine at NEVS? No, says Christian to us. NEVS will only build electric cars, but there is strong interest from customers who would like to use NEVS technology for conventional drives as well.

Then there is the topic of “shared mobility”. It's kind of in my stomach and I can't quite cope with it. In human history, property has always been important and desirable. My house, my yacht, my car - or something like that. And earlier what it was my horse, or my horses. So why should future customers get excited about sharing their cars?

Christian Bromander, Director Mechanical & Electrical Architecture and Press Officer Ulrika Hultgren. Entrance NEVS R&D Center.
Christian Bromander, Director and Press Officer Ulrika Hultgren.
NEVS is premium

The answer amazes me to some extent. It will be desirable to drive a NEVS. Just as the neighbors are reflecting on the new leasing vehicle in the present, so will it be with “shared mobility” in the future. Just a little more intelligent.

There will be providers in various segments. Higher class or in the wood class. But who can be picked up by a NEVS, which must be simply successful. Or, to put it more clearly, he has to be able to afford it. How about that, Christian asks me, if you are picked up every morning by a clean, freshly washed vehicle, and the favorite reading (on request in analog format) is ready?

Yes, how about that? I would like that. A lot. Because NEVS takes things from me, for which I hardly find time. Or those that are annoying. In the future, I will pay no car insurance and no more taxes. I do not need workshop appointments, I do not need to wash or vacuum a car. Because that's what NEVS cares about. I only pay if I use the vehicle. And for my free time and hobby, the analog Saabs are in the garage. Or I drive with a NEVS EV convertible on the weekend in the mountains.

Does NEVS see itself as a premium? Yes, NEVS will be premium.

We thank Christian Bromander for his time, the conversation and the many informations. Seriously, there is still so much to talk about with him. But today the flood of information kills me, I have to first classify and process what I've heard. With Christian and Ulrika we make a farewell photo in the foyer. In front of the historic Saab electric car, which once again has a symbolic character.


The blog is an autoblog. No business or car magazine, and Mark and I are not journalists. We are actually amateurs who like cars - preferably when they come from Trollhättan and wear the Saab logo. In the future possibly also if they are from NEVS. Because they should also be from Trollhättan.

We will see !

During the visit, we weren't interested in judging things and then making a comment. Instead, talking to the people who work for NEVS every day was very important to us. These impressions of the moment are a thousand times more meaningful than presentations in any press conference.

Quite frankly, we thank NEVS for the trust you have placed in us. We didn't see a secret prototype, but the uncensored walk through the forbidden area was worth so much more. I can now understand why things take time, I understand why people from Gothenburg commute to Trollhättan every day and not to Hisingen.

The way is still a long way for NEVS and not without imponderables. There are hurdles. The production license for China will be one of them. In a few years we will know where the journey of the proud, creative and ambitious lateral thinkers from the Stallbacka will ultimately lead. Until then, we will continue to support NEVS. We will be back. 2017. If we may ...

20 thoughts on "Made by NEVS. Visit to the NEVS R&D Center (2/2)"

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    It's funny, NEVS wants to be “premium”, apart from the fact that the term is overused, nobody connects NEVS “premium”. This is China and it might work there in China too. Here in Europe the idea is absolutely ridiculous.

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    Thank you for this "Warming Welcome" report in the possible new time. From the description I feel the enthusiasm for the work and the “allowed to think” ideas and the opportunities that open up from them. EXCITING.

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      “Being allowed to think” sounds like a good atmosphere and a lot of spirit.

      I was happy to read at this point. Especially for the ex-Saabers among the NEVS people. They know it differently under GM ...

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    Thank you for the first-class report! Finally positive news from Trollhättan! You are doing an excellent job!
    As a fan of electric mobility, NEVS would be a real alternative for me!

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    Thanks to Tom and Mark, a really exciting report
    with saabigen side remarks. You became very good
    Ambassador of the German Saabgemeinde. Many Thanks!


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    This report is Champions League! I really cheered. Thanks for that! A huge compliment must also go to NEVS. No other manufacturer would do that. That may also be due to the fact that there are no current vehicles. But keeping your potential customers warm this way is absolutely the right way in my eyes. Maybe there will be a repeat in 2017 and maybe then we can already take a look at new products. Perhaps…

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      Thanks, Mark and I are very happy! We tried to capture the atmosphere at NEVS and transport it to our readers. Apparently we succeeded.

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        That is very successful! Top class!

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        Yes, that was very well done.

        For me, it's true that user behavior has changed dramatically since 1 year.

        The constantly congested streets and futile, unproductive hours spent on the street have led to an adjustment.

        I have started to digitize as much of the activities as possible for which I used to drive around Europe with the SAABs at all times of the day and night. This has already led to a reduction of> 1/3 of the driving workload. If I could let some of the rest drive autonomously, this would be a further increase in productivity and quality of life.

        The direction of thought is correct. Whether it needs NEVS and whether NEVS is early enough is another question. In a few years we know more.

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    Hey Tom and Mark,
    great - thank you for your visit to Trollhättan and the great report :).
    Anything but ordinary ...

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    And what are the many people who have retired from professional life according to their age and still want to find their own progressive car in the garage?

    In the future, this group of people will tend to be larger than smaller and all vehicle manufacturers should not forget these mostly wealthy customers - so the topic of shared mobility should not be overestimated! Even among younger consumers there will always be people who prefer their own car.

    Neither will NEVS do themselves any favors with nodding and slapping - from my point of view, shared mobility could at best become a success story parallel to conventional practices. But nothing more.

    Nevertheless, it is nice to see that NEVS is apparently making tremendous progress towards a new beginning in Trollhättan - we hope that there is something for everyone in the future!

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      There will be vendors for every price range, and therefore for every purse. Another new brand has spoken of wanting to offer very cheap flat rates. More about that soon.

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        With taste I meant actually also the possibility of the purchase of vehicles. If it really only amounts to shared mobility, NEVS would finally be out for me.

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    Your report inspired me and I am very much looking forward to the future. You write as vividly as if I was there. Thanks again.

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    Tom and Mark; Thank you for this “flight” into the future. It looks better and better and we are excited to read more information about NEVS. What impressed me the most is that there is still this Saab atmosphere to be able to think differently and thus develop something completely new. Hopefully, NEVS will again be a brand that Saab has always been; Genius.

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    Well, you've certainly got a great insight.
    When reading comes enthusiasm, to a point.
    Autonomous driving and shared mobility.
    Shall I really believe that a freshly washed me NEVS picks him up in the morning? Here? In the Pampa, 20km from Bremen? I think even in Bremen City it will not come to that, not in 10, not in 20 years. This works a maximum in Berlin, Cologne and Munich. Or Paris, maybe London.
    Honestly, annoying me all the Zukunftsderflänkel currently.
    I want a car with which I can drive to work and back, to the supermarket and on vacation. No networked Science Fiction mobile that sends data about my heart rate to the nearest satellite and asks me how I am today.

    And yes, I want to wash my car myself, even change the wheels and annoy me if something is broken. And not just click on a button in any APP so that a new one comes by.

    Real old school, right?

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      That is probably the beginning of a long discussion for the coming years. I like my old, analog Saabs. No question, their care is a luxury I indulge. But a modern car, now that there is no more sawing than new cars, does not affect me. I could well imagine a NEVS flat rate. 2, 3x a month, when I go to Frankfurt or Nuremberg. Since it would make sense to drive and book via flatrate.
      The question of infrastructure is exciting. We'll see what's coming, also for us “pampas”.

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        There will probably be no definitive answer to this question right now. But their answer revolves in my opinion, a single aspect: Is the cheap high-performance battery or not? When he comes, the previous model of ownership of cars will continue. If not, the vehicles must import their additional costs through additional work for several users.

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      I have very similar thoughts. Great report, but ...

      I like everything I read there? Are the NEVS ideas for mobility realistic? Envy factor?

      That means it has to be expensive: "Look, I can afford NOT to own a car."

      So that would be the CarCloud from NEVS. Like Adobe's CreativeCloud. Adobe has been spitting on me with several emails a week since it was first introduced. “Attention, attention 40% only this week!” And that goes on week after week, after week ...

      Exciting, but it will probably take years until we know whether NEVS can sell people a car economically successful, if these ONE car could have apparently cheaper.

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    Great report! Thanks for that! And keep it up.

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