It could have been the picture of the year. In December, NEVS showed up Instagram the clip of a self-driving car that rolls randomly through the scene. The driver, with remote control in his hand, runs next to the vehicle. How progressive! But just 14 years too late. Already 2004 presented IT pioneer Anthony Levandovsky an autonomously driving motorcycle.
The bike ahead, Levandovski dives with the remote control. The recording became famous, went around the world and Levandowski became a legend. He is an authority today when it comes to autonomous driving. This little scene illustrates 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
The production in China is still not running. After the announced dates at the end of the year 2017, summer 2018, year-end 2018 is now the summer 2019 in the agenda. At the latest then an 17 years old bodywork concept should roll off the production line. NEVS relies on fleet operators, not on private customers, and at the lowest possible price. 22.000 € is the target amount for a NEVS 9-3 EV. Deducting ample subsidies, with which the Chinese government fuels the state-owned electric car boom. The production of components should start at the beginning of 2019 in Trollhättan, but create no more 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 talked about his now 6 year-long fight, his gray hair, and the disappointments. About that he hoped to find more technology in the company. That's pretty grotesque and sounds like someone is working on his own legend. With the purchase of Saab properties, NEVS acquired only 10% of Saab's own patents. Other interesting technology and pre-developments were sold to Gothenburg, stayed with GM and Opel, or with the insolvency administrators.
After more than 6 years of setbacks, bankruptcy and no production, it is difficult for an observer to remain an optimist. In China there are now 400 startups for electric mobility, NEVS is just one of them. The competition is tough, China scores with innovation and courage. And NEVS wants to enter the competition with a body concept whose design was designed almost 2 decades ago.
The Saab heritage is maintained in Gothenburg
I always associate the seriousness of NEVS with a few names. Employees who were in charge of the latest Saab models, who then left Trollhättan, hired at other companies. A few years later, they were back, surprisingly. Their decision to change to NEVS and their perseverance in recent years has not always been understandable to me. But the proof of a seriousness that gave me hope, and ultimately could lead to success.
Discipline and stamina can do much. Sometimes dreams and visions fail because of reality. The employees, who were an indicator of respectability and future for me, have left Trollhättan in the last months of the year 2018. Where the majority of former Saab developers have gone. Towards Gothenburg.