It is Sunday and quiet in the Stallbacka, the industrial area of Trollhättan. The sun is making its way through the clouds, it draws a delicate autumn light on the old halls of the former Saab factory. As if she wanted to cover her slow decline with a gracious light. It is quiet, very quiet even. Only from the former test track directly at the factory word fragments fly over.
But it is not a trial operation on the site. A sports event, a half-marathon, provides for that day for some life. But otherwise: emptiness and sadness. A few NEVS vehicles are parked in front of the former headquarters, and a lonely pile of brand-new Volvos is parked on the delivery area. Trollhättan in October 2018.
Trollhättan in October 2011
It's Sunday in Trollhättan, the Stallbacka is empty. The Saab plant no longer produces cars, the insolvency administrator has switched it to standby. A buzz of the huge plant is always present in the background. The factory is sleeping, but it would be ready. Could build cars, 150.000 a year ... if someone came and pushed the switch.
There is one 9-5 NG, two 9-4x and two pre-series sports suits on the visitor parking lot. They are waiting for the Saab Germany delegation to pick them up this Sunday. The dealer tour is on, one last fight for the survival of Saab and the factory. The keys for the vehicles are available from the security service. The Swedish autumn sun paints a beautiful light, covering the drama that has been going on here for months.
Saab Museum in October 2018
The Saab Museum. It's Sunday, the tourist season is over. A family and another couple stroll through the exhibition. Visits are snapshots, and on this day the mood is dull. The volunteer veterans are not in the mood for the few visitors, they leave them alone with their questions and interests.
In the middle of the exhibition is a NEVS prototype. Donated to the museum, the very last idea from the Stallbacka, which bears the Saab lettering. The end of a story that began in 1947. Actually, the 9-3 sedan with the eye-catching Turbo lettering should have been the start of a special series. The design was not implemented, the Saab trademark rights were lost, production never really got going. It stayed with the one draft that was soon forgotten and that only came back to the public at the Saab Festival 2017. There he is now. As a warning and as the end of a long story.
Saab Museum in October 2011
Things are bad. It's not just the Saab factory that's having problems. The historic Saab collection belongs to Saab Automobile AB. And like these, the Saab Museum is in trouble too. The halls at the Göta Älv are only rented, owners of the former NOHAB halls is the real estate company of the city Trollhättan. She has not seen rent for months. And also electricity, water, heating, everything is open.
What's next with the collection, which the Saab story since 1947 completely maps? Will the treasure survive and stay at the site? Or will the collection be distributed all over the world?
TTELA in October 2018
The local newspaper of Trollhättan goes a stony path. She has barely survived the bankruptcy of her publishing group, and the editors have endured a tough austerity program in recent years. Gone are the exciting years that culminated in 2010 through 2012.
The newspaper has shrunk to what it actually always was: the local paper of a small provincial town. The content is usually chargeable, even if you only reproduce a press release. The topics are different than in 2011. Today we mainly report on cats sitting in trees and waiting for courageous rescuers. Gladly also about moose. Those who desperately get lost in supermarkets, offices and front gardens in the hot, dry summer. Because they can't cope with the drought and the Kima change. Or dead moose. Because autumn is the hunting season, and because proud hunters are allowed to kill proud animals on these days.
TTELA in October 2011
Newspapers make opinions. And newspapers can also be sharp weapons. The TTELA is one. For months, the latest horror messages are stabbed daily from the Saab factory. When something goes wrong, when it crashes into the management, or when the suppliers go on strike. Someone then picks up the phone, informs the editors, and the message goes online.
Unfortunately the news usually hits. The daily horror from the Saab factory can be called up in real time, fast, the TTELA is the source of information for bloggers and Saab interested around the world. The views of the pages fast up, the advertising revenue bubble. It increasingly loses sight of the fact that one could damage the automobile industry and the city.
The soul of Trollhättan in autumn 2018
Every city has a soul. Trollhättan has always been an industrial city at its core. Not pretty, but located in a wonderful landscape. The city owes its existence to the waterfalls, where it all began. Iron hammers, blacksmiths - which later became an industry. Power plant turbines, airplanes, steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, aircraft engines, cars. Names like Nydqvist & Holm, Nohab, Saab and Volvo Aero - all are closely linked to the history of the city.
Trollhättan is not bad. Since the end of Saab and automobile production, many new companies have been added. Trollhättan is growing, new buildings everywhere. And yet: the soul - it seems lost. The automobile workers, the trade unionists, this rough but warm company, where has it gone?
Trollhättan has become smarter. The newcomers no longer work at workbenches. They come from IT, they are engineers, software developers. It's strangely quiet during the week. Trollhättan transforms to the sleeping city. Living in the favorable province, working in the metropolis. Commuter trains transport people quickly to the industrial suburbs of Gothenburg and Hisingen to Volvo. Hardly anyone commutes in the opposite direction.
And the future of Stallbacka?
The future, when the car factory in the stablebacka has one, is decided in China. In Sweden itself, the Chinese owners of Saab real estate no longer play a role for a long time. The TTELA does not have them as an issue, the national newspapers anyway not. Why, there is nothing to report.
The question of the future is open, perhaps Trollhättan has long since exceeded its industrial peak. As things stand, it seems unlikely that there will ever be another car production in the city. Young, Swedish startups like Uniti build innovative electric cars. But they do not need any dinosaur complexes like Stallbacka.