Trollhättan. The future of the old Saab factory?

The long summer break in Sweden is coming to an end, so maybe the news-free time in the old Saab factory. After this leavingA month ago, ex-NEVS CEO Bergman announced it had become quiet.

Better days. Saab 9-5 NG in the paint shop 2010. Image: Saab Automobile AB

The ongoing peace and the flow of information flow hints at nothing good. Not for a startup that finally wanted to go public with products after 5 years. Behind the scenes everything else is harmony. If we look back on the difficult phase during the 2013 reconstruction, when there were still hopes for a Saab comeback, we will notice grave differences.

Service providers are switching to the competition

At that time only 1 (!) Employee left the company. Now the bloodletting is in full swing. After many time and project contracts were not extended, permanent employees are also leaving NEVS. It is top performers from middle management, such as those responsible for marketing, who turn their backs on the Stallbacka. Important employees from battery development, such as Pavel Calderon, have also finished with the Trollhättan topic. He is now in a leading position at the Swedish electric car startup Uniti.

These are indicators that make one doubt the further development. It has not looked like the future and construction for months. The smell of the creeping decline is spreading. A positive prognosis for the traditional Saab factory is hardly possible.

The auto industry is in the biggest upheaval in its history. The peak of new car sales should soon be exceeded. Shared economy, networking, new propulsion technologies, synthetic fuels and the threat of a burners ban will change the market from the ground up. Some in the industry trembles, because they invest in future scenarios, the uncertainty factor is enormous.

Bad prospects for the old Saab factory

Right in the middle is an obviously insufficiently capitalized Chinese electric car startup in Trollhättan. Without a new CEO and with a factory that is now in its 7th year of production. A strong investor or a new owner might change that. The hope of the NEVS founder is apparently based on this. But why should that happen?

The Saab brand name was once the biggest asset. He was lost. The once most modern car factory in Sweden is now outdated. The developers move on, it hardly remains an asset. The future, she appears uncertain again.

29 thoughts on "Trollhättan. The future of the old Saab factory?"

  • Hi Detlev,
    Saab has been producing environmentally friendly cars for a few years now: by those who do not buy a new (electric) car, but continue to maintain and use their old Saab. The CO2 footprint is the lowest. We should always keep an eye on the overall balance sheet, and a car that is used again does a lot better than a new one! Regardless of whether this new vehicle has gasoline, gas or electric drive ... In other words and perhaps a little comforting for everyone else: We should now give Saab an award for what is now the most environmentally friendly car company in the world

  • Who actually owns the rights to the old vehicle designs like the Saab Sonnet, 96, 95 or 900 I? If you would update the bodies to contemporary dimensions and safety standards and materials and then even with a new drive technology, such as Bosch http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/elektroauto-bosch-stellt-neues-antriebssystem-vor-15163550.html would combine, then you would have vehicles that stand out positively from the smoother standard commodity and for which there would be a market in my opinion.

  • How about a small series with great sports cars carrying the proud SAAB lettering. One could follow the SONETT tradition. A mass producer will not become this. It does not have to be.

  • Well-made environmentally friendly SAAB automobiles would be a real boon according to the unsightly “business models” of VW + Co. I believe that these vehicles will also find buyers. The SAAB brand would just have to be marketed more intelligently than among GM managers - they really have driven the cart in the mud. What does this have to do with sick ambition when you turn the lights back on?

    Certainly it works without the auto industry or SAAB automobiles - we can buy a great car from America or Germany. You can find it good - but you don't have to.

  • Denmark, Norway and Finland also do not have their own automotive industry. I think that this is the obvious yardstick for Swedish politics. Why should one measure oneself with such populous countries as the USA, Germany, France, China and Korea and develop a morbid ambition?

    The examples that it is without the auto industry are more numerous than the other way round.

  • Today, SAAB is an armaments company with niche products ...

    Products, whether on the road or in the air, are much more complex today. The technical similarity of aviation and road traffic is passé. In fact, there were times cars with aircraft engines and vice versa.

    Also, you can not just use up old paint, as after the Second World War. Why should SAAB or anyone else in Sweden build (re) build a car brand under these conditions?

  • As a SAAB AB with deep pockets, you should be able to compete with the “players” listed above - provided you have guts. Especially at NEVS, unfortunately, not only the guts are missing, but also the deep pockets.

    The only manufacturer with significant experience with e-automobiles is TESLA. So the market is still quite clear at the moment and, especially in business life, it's also about that much-said guts - Elon Musk had this guts.

    Sweden seems to have finally resigned itself to no longer having its own automobile manufacturer. Even Volvo has been part of a Chinese company for a few years. The general tendency towards China should not only make the Swedes very thoughtful - for some experts, a Volvo is no longer a real Volvo.

  • Well then there is hope again for the use of the brand name Saab if I interpret that correctly? And maybe Uniti will develop yet another certainly lucrative business model to make the way to retirement easier for long-serving Saab employees: Refurbishing old Saabs with internal combustion engines (hach - dream) ...

  • I believe that NEVS has achieved a lot in recent years. You have to look at that in connection with the size of the company. Hopefully, NEVS will survive and we can soon see how their electric cars and related services are being adopted in the Chinese market. After all, it's not surprising that the plant in Trollhättan is not important as a production facility for NEVS. After all, production (if I remember correctly) takes place in China. Maybe NEVS initially had the idea to continue using the Saab brand, but now that seems to be off the table. The platform, the beginnings of the 9-3 electrical project and Trollhättan remain as a site with much engineering expertise as what was important when buying the Saab-Cars remains.

  • Saab AB has shareholders who would certainly not be enthusiastic about such an idea, should management ever come up with such an idea. In business life I don't think it's about “guts”, but rather about whether certain investments can be profitable. I think Saab AB has enough to do in its existing business areas and is reasonably successful there. And there are already enough players in the new electric car industry, such as NEVS, Tesla, Chinese startups or even Deutsche Post (delivery vans), plus most of the established car manufacturers. So I don't see any rational reason for Saab to invest in the auto business.

  • Volvo had the XC60 at the right time, who could do a lot for the brand. GM would not have that Saab 9 3 SUV prevented, many things would have changed for Saab.

  • It is not that easy that you could explain it with luck or bad luck. There are already understandable reasons why Volvo was so much more successful than Saab. At least in Sweden (where I have lived since 2003), Saab has lost market share for many years. Volvo ran relatively well (but of course was in trouble when Ford wanted to sell the brand). Had Volvo not had the successful SUVs XC90 and then XC60, then that would have probably looked different (Saab SUVs, however, did not go well and the second, 9-4X, came anyway too late). But Volvo also had the volume models V40 / V50 and of course the V70. Saab has long had a reputation for offering outdated cars, and most people do not go along with it.

  • I've never been an advocate of battery electric mobility, and I'm not. I also believe, like Heiko, in a future with alternative fuels or electricity generation on the ground for e-mobility such as e-mobility. Eg fuel cell.
    However, what I cannot understand at all is why NEVS doesn't care about the current situation. Almost all politicians in Europe, especially our German Greens, prophesied prophetically the immediate switch to electromobility after the diesel affair. The political mood could not be better for an electric car manufacturer at the moment. They've been rooting around for 6 years now and nothing came of it. It would be the right time to go on the offensive here with new innovative products. Can you actually act even stupid. The rogue group VW shows how to do it. Bring out a new E-Golf and, on the occasion, because you have to pay anyway, grant a generous scrapping premium when you buy it.

  • I think 50 cars are too far-reaching - there are currently around 000 SAAB automobiles on the road worldwide! If only every second owner buys a new one, we would be ten times the amount you assumed.

    If the new vehicles on offer are of a high quality, former drivers from VW + Co. will probably also join them - the business practices of these groups have not been well received by many buyers for some time.

    I think the Swedes simply lack the guts - it's a shame that after the disaster caused by GM they seem so easy to come to terms with. Right now the opportunity for a new start would be more than favorable.

  • Detlef, you may be right. But what if the Saab freaks are all satisfied and maybe 50000 cars are sold? Does SAAB then get something from Audi, BMW or VW? I just can not believe it. Saab is over and will not come anymore, unfortunately. Maintain and cherish our great cars and keep up the Saab flag!
    Greetings from Switzerland

  • Dear PhiBo

    She has never been since writing the blog. Unfortunately. By the way: Uniti is in Sweden a brand new car factory on the green field. Key point: Industry 4.0. The nostalgic times of the old Saab factory are coming to an end. If no wonder happens.

  • Agree Detlef Rudolf to 100% !!!

  • Something completely new is needed here. NEVS has not managed to get anything going in 6 years. And the little electro hype that was there is going to crack anyway. Environmentally friendly combustion engines can only be the future. Alternative fuels instead of drives. It's just a shame about this work and the friendly SAAB brand.

  • "The future, it seems uncertain again."

    I agree with the last sentence, but I have to ask straight away: "Was she ever that?"

    If I think of the past six years, then much remains in the diffuse, first the sales process, which is rightly covered, then NEVS, which appeared nebulous from the beginning and squandered chance by chance to build trust. A little announcement here, then a letter of intent there. But otherwise there was only a lot of fog and a few vague comments.

    Maybe you should be sure, close the factory and tear down the buildings. Should someone be interested in building cars again in Trollhättan, he will certainly not do so in an outdated factory, possibly clearing away an investment obstacle (disassembly of the old facilities by a new owner) out of the way.

  • Not good news from Trollhättan ... but somehow I suspected such a development / settlement ... 🙁
    I want to hope that at least Ing.-Nowhow persists in Troll-City and lives on, outside of NEVS.
    The topic of the mobile future has never been so exciting but also open / risky ...!
    Thanks for the current info!
    : )

  • If SAAB AB had a little more guts, they would take the reins into their own hands again and manufacture environmentally friendly SAAB automobiles - there is supposed to be enough capital there and to compete against dishonest companies like VW + Co. would be an excellent one Time.

    Why one does not dare to implement this with regard to the SAAB history has not been revealed to me for a long time - with the Swedish industrial staff as well as with the still existing global SAAB community (and certainly a large number of new interested parties / consumers) a sequel is sure to trigger great cheers.

  • Well, by telling the public there will not be any car for sale, that the car will be provided when you need it at a fee. That is telling us, the buyers, that they are not interested in our money. And it is telling me that I'm not interested in there car.

    The car wants to be produced as a standard with no whistle or extra that I want. I can not pay extra for a car that suits me. During the rental period, you will want to know more about what you are looking for.

    If the staff feels the same way I do, they want to leave for a better company. They do not produce cars to be proud of. The will produce good (hopefully) cars. Whats the fun in that?

  • How good that things are running smoothly at Volvo (never thought to write that). They were just lucky and we were unlucky with NEVS. The constant search for new investors is just annoying. Nevertheless: Thanks to Tom & Mark for persevering. Even if you don't really enjoy this part!

  • Was to be expected. Bergman said months ago that more money is needed. He had once dropped the mask. That's probably why he said goodbye. Health reasons always sound better

  • Very, very sad for the Swedish (employees) workers there and also for the city and the surrounding area - especially after all the stories of recent years.

    Somehow I have no right opinion about the situation for Nevs himself. 🙁
    The “car brand” somehow doesn't affect me too much so far.

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