It could have been the picture of the year. In December, NEVS showed the clip of a self-driving car on Instagram, which rolls through the scene by chance. The driver, with remote control in hand, walks next to the vehicle. How progressive! But just 14 years too late. IT pioneer already presented in 2004 Anthony Levandovsky an autonomously driving motorcycle.
The motorcycle in front, Levandovski dives behind with the remote control. The recording became famous, went around the world and Levandowski became a legend. Today he is an authority when it comes to autonomous driving. This little scene shows where NEVS is today and what the situation is in Trollhättan.
At the end of the year, there was a lot of news from the company. For China you have now the License received for distribution. NEVS could now start, and CEO Tilk celebrated the receipt of the last outstanding license as a milestone. The value of the company has increased as a result, the financial situation has improved and more money is now flowing from China to Sweden. Sure that's true, but the thing has a little downer.
No production before summer 2019
Production in China is still not running. After the dates announced at the end of 2017, summer 2018 and the end of 2018, summer 2019 is now on the agenda. By then at the latest, a body concept that is now 17 years old should roll off the production line. NEVS relies on fleet operators, not private customers, and on the lowest possible price. € 22.000 is the targeted amount for a NEVS 9-3 EV. Before deducting the abundant subsidies with which the Chinese government is fueling the state-ordered electric car boom. The production of components is scheduled to start in Trollhättan in early 2019, but will not create any further jobs.
No battery factory in Trollhättan
It remains with only 700 employees in the old Saab factory, and also other, big plans are off the table. The alleged parts owner of NEVS, GSR Capital, set the ambitions for a battery factory in Trollhättan on ice. After the sale of Nissan's battery business to GSR non-payment had burst, then cut the end of the year, the plan of a Swedish battery factory. For NEVS a setback, own battery production could have been a competitive advantage.
Working on your own legend
It does not look good for Trollhättan. Prior to 2020, NEVS is excluding production in Sweden, even though the dream of manufacturing in the old Saab factory is not quite over. In an interview with Affärsvärlden NEVS founder Kai Johan Jiang spoke about his 6-year struggle, his gray hair, and the disappointments. About how he hoped to find more technology in the company. This is pretty grotesque and sounds like someone is working on their own legend. With the purchase of the Saab properties, NEVS only acquired 10% of Saab's own patents. Other interesting technology and advance developments were sold to Gothenburg, remained with GM and Opel, or with the insolvency administrators.
After more than 6 years of setbacks, a long-term bankruptcy and no production, it is difficult for an observer to remain an optimist. In China there are now 400 startups for electromobility, NEVS is just one of them. The competition is tough, China scores with innovation and courage. And NEVS wants to compete with a body concept whose design was created almost two decades ago.
The Saab heritage is maintained in Gothenburg
I always associated the seriousness of NEVS with a few names. Employees who were in charge of the last Saab models that then left Trollhättan were hired by other companies. A few years later they were back, surprisingly. Your decision to switch to NEVS and your stamina in recent years were not always understandable to me. But the proof of a seriousness that gave me hope and could ultimately have led to success.
Discipline and perseverance can go a long way. Sometimes dreams and visions fail because of reality. The employees, who for me were an indicator of reliability and the future, left Trollhättan in the last few months of 2018. To where the majority of former Saab developers have been drawn. Towards Gothenburg.