Rumors and Chinese standards

A rumor. And what one! On Friday it spread in the media at lightning speed. According to the content, NEVS would build cars again in Trollhättan - and that as early as the 2nd quarter of 2018. A story too good to be true. The local newspaper published it exclusively as a paid article.

NEVS Trollhattan
NEVS Trollhattan

And also international, renowned magazines like the Automotive News jumped on the train. By this time, of course, the rumor had already been cashed in a long time ago. The trigger, a misleading Bloomberg interview with NEVS founder Kai Johan Jiang, was long since corrected. There, car parts that NEVS plans to manufacture in Sweden became complete cars.

The rush of light in which history went around the world showed two things. On the one hand, that even reputable media in an extremely hectic world accept messages unchecked. A demand at the source, reinsurance no longer takes place. On the other hand there is the Saab phenomenon. Actually a nonsense that it still creates the brand in the headlines. A miracle is longed for, and one still feels the hope of the impossible.

NEVS dismantles plants and transports them to China

The reality, however, is as dreary as it is Swedish winter days. Cars can no longer be built in the old Saab factory. NEVS, chronically undercapitalized, dismantles tools and parts in the bodywork and paint shop and takes what is usable to China. In an interview with Saab legend Olle Granlund a year ago, we came to exactly this point. He expected the Chinese to dismantle the Stallbacka. But I objected. After all, who would dismantle old, used tools that have already been used for several 100.000 vehicles in order to use them for a new production in China?

That was once, I thought. Many years ago. When Stone Age Communists bought German factories and shipped to China. The Zündapp production landed in the 80er years also in Tianjin. History does not repeat itself. But do it!

Granlund was right. I'm wrong.

For the old Saab factory, the end has now been reached. Nobody will be able to press the magic red button anymore, nobody will start a production anymore. The situation has been settled and nothing more will happen in this decade. Unless a miracle happens, change hands or whatever. But miracles rarely happen, even around Christmas time.

China wants to dominate the global mobility market. That is the stated goal. At Volvo, the Chinese are reacting cautiously. But they are aggressive. After Volvo, London Taxi, Lotus, shares in Proton, a Scandinavian bank and the new brand Lynk & Co came into the Chinese shopping bag. The appetite for more is far from satisfied. Geely should make advances to Daimler and would like to join as a major shareholder. Daimler defends itself. Yet…

Chinese relationships

But Chinese trees don't always grow into the sky. NEVS is reminiscent of the brute tour of the 80s and tries it with old tools and partly old technology. The return of the former traditional brand Borgward is not much better. The formerly proud logo sticks to Chinese products, reborn as the undead. The comeback in China stutters, the brand burns a lot of money. Sales stagnate, contrary to the market trend. Borgward owner Foton may have misled and is negotiating with investors. A complete sale is not excluded.

In Germany, except big announcements, so far nothing to see. Sixt was supposed to market the first Borgward BX7 in December, and the site for the assembly plant in Bremen has still not been bought. Also the investments in Stuttgart falter.

The reason should be the authorities in China, which control the money transfer abroad. They monitor the outflow of foreign currency abroad. A fact that we know, but which is surprising at Borgward. In contrast to NEVS, a company with a partially private ownership structure, Foton belongs to BAIC. And BAIC is a Chinese state company.

13 thoughts on "Rumors and Chinese standards"

  • My theory is:

    NEVS moves to China

    Trollhättan is being sold

    SAAB AB (have announced an entry as an automotive supplier) takes over the factory

    Schrittb1 has already been reached

  • The question will be what will really be shipped to China in the coming months. NEVS will try to reduce costs wherever possible and use equipment from the stablebacka. Tianjin is far from finished yet, it will be exciting 2018. The challenges are:

    - Completion of the plant with press shop and painting line
    - Conversion of the present, non-binding orders into binding orders with delivery specification and price.
    - Start of series production

    Items 1 and 3 will require a lot of liquidity in just a few months. And so far, they have reliably failed because of much lower hurdles. If you can do it, you are a small step further.

  • I think a few things are mixed up here, that NEVS is not fulfilling our hopes clearly ...,

    The tools for pressing body parts are molded parts weighing tons and the cost of a sheet metal part is in the hundreds of thousands of euros. Depending on the desired amount of sheet metal parts, these are built into the appropriate press machine for hours, shifts or days and then shape the sheet metal parts. And I think these parts + devices for transport and painting for the pressed (and later welded) components will be brought to China. 1. because they are expensive, 2. because they are easy to dismantle and transport and 3. because the 9-3 will probably never be built again in Sweden and the tools are simply no longer needed there (except for our spare parts!).

    The other point to transport finished cars was probably the earlier plan, as Tom has written. But it does not work because there is no Chinese 9-3ev. So the press shop had to be built in China. You can also break down presses and move, but this is a very different effort than just take the tools and takes much longer because the presses are then mostly overwhelmed by the manufacturer. Also newer presses have a better economy.

    Incidentally, or are also in D pre-painted bodies for final assembly drove through the area.

    And about what, if ever, in China ever petted off the tape I pronounce myself when the time comes. Fact is that even brand new premium vehicles have functional flaws that I do not know about my SAABs.

  • Very interesting what you ask here; Where do the metal spares come from? Orio delivers who these tools go to China? Maybe very interesting to put this question to Orio.

  • Hello Mr. Hürsch,
    you can not get it any better.
    Greetings to all Saabfahrer.

  • Interesting facts about pressing ...

    But how much value NEVS attaches to the SAAB heritage has already been seen in the fact that spare parts business and service were not continued / not taken over.

    It will be seen, if any and if so, under what conditions Orio will be able to offer body parts in the future which will then be Made in China.

    And the hope that one could “only” disembark the pressing tools does not open up to me at all. It makes no sense at all to laboriously pack fully painted bodyshells and body parts, protect them against scratches, load them multiple times and unpack them manually after a complex transport chain in Trollhättan.

    No, if NEVS ever builds cars, then firstly, it's done entirely in China, and secondly, these cars have absolutely nothing to do with what would be a true SAAB 2019 or 2020 model year.

    Please take a look at the SAAB story. Functionality, suitability for daily use, economic efficiency, safety, quality and technical innovations are hallmarks of the developmental history. NEVS is there, to say the least, more than enough.

    In contrast, the company's financial and growth vision is insatiable. Manufacturing and sales are fully geared to the low cost of production, government benefits and the growing market in China.

    The Swedish workforce can neither hope for production at their home location, nor can we hope for a car that could be of any interest to a SAAB driver ...

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Well, the tools in a press shop are just the shapes for the sheet metal parts and if I want to form the 9-3 in the press shop in China, I'll take the tools and the sparse shots for the paint job. Does not mean so much and seems to be far from being able to mine machines. Rather that probably the local press shop is almost finished. The change of the pressing tools is a matter of minutes incl. Starting the presses after the change. Since I can not see so much Schimmes, except that then the 9-3 is no longer built in Sweden and the Orio must probably press the sheet metal spare parts in China in the future. To rebuild the tools for the body (9-3 = transition model) would be economic nonsense. Even in D, the pressing tools (belonging to the vehicle manufacturer) are only made available to the suppliers and are collected and stored after the model has run out.

    Still, it's a shame that there is nothing new for Sweden, actually the factory would be useful for contract manufacturing, ... doesn't a Mr. Musk have problems building a certain model in series?

  • Typically NEVS, making noise so everyone knows they still live. Terrible club. ,

  • So the hope of the Chinese reality bursts.
    However, anyone who wants to conquer the automotive world with these old production platforms does not open up to me.
    Interesting article, thanks Tom.

  • Logically, one would like to begin with the production of electric cars (initially NEVS 9-3) in the most promising market for this - namely China. So you need the appropriate tools for this and get them there.

    With good business development and, if necessary, increased demand for environmentally friendly vehicles in Europe, Trollhättan could probably become interesting as a production location for new model series with new tools.

    The previous approach of NEVS does not really surprise me.

  • Don't shoot the messenger ...

    As always, thanks also for these messages!
    Not unexpected anymore, but not nice, but interesting and well written again.

  • Well, now the cat is out of the bag. As in the past, the Chinese are only interested in the Knoff Hoff Western technical superiority. Even if the production facilities of Saab are already old, they are still good and better than Chinese in-house developments (see crash tests with Chinese in-house developments) This was all about knowledge transfer. Then nothing.

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