It's been almost 8 years - since the black of December, when the lights went out in Trollhättan. Not much has happened since then. The entry of Evergrande brought new hope at the beginning of the year, but at the same time new uncertainties. Where do Trollhättan and NEVS stand within the forming group, and what role can and should one play in the coming years? And, especially of interest, will there still be a vehicle developed at Göta Älv? The attempt to search for clues, which is not easy - and which today more than ever is characterized by uncertainties.
Only once as a reminder. In September 2019, Evergrande acquired the fully-developed chassis architecture 3.0 from FEV-Benteler, One month later, a far-reaching cooperation was announced Pininfarina, The Italians will design 15 new models, and the question arises as to who else needs developers and designers in Trollhättan. Is there anything going on at the Göta Älv?
Phoenix-E is alive!
It's amazing because even though FEV-Benteler's architecture has a platform in the group, NEVS continues to work on its own solution. The Phoenix-E platform lives on, as does technology chief Frank Smit in a post NyTeknik tells. In contrast to the Phoenix 1 platform, on which the NEVS 9-3 electric car is based, it is highly flexible and designed from the outset for electric mobility.
NEVS has been working on this for a long time. On my last visit to the development center, which was already 3 years ago, we were granted surprisingly very open insights. The platform enables the construction of almost all vehicle classes on a modular system. Although the possibilities would be almost unlimited, NEVS would like to limit itself to two different wheelbases.
The development status of the platform is not clear. It is also unclear when and if ever the first model of NEVS could roll at the start. A schedule is still not published. But Smit reveals that you continue on the Sango project works.
The project, an autonomous pod, is a priority and is based on an advanced derivative of the Phoenix-E platform. The work has been running since the spring of 2018, the result could be of interest to operators of autonomous fleets. However, almost all manufacturers now work with more or less emphasis on similar autonomous solutions.
The Sion of Sono Motors
Among the few things that are reasonably concrete is the production of the Sion by Sono Motors, which is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2020. The project is barely tangible yet, and its contours disappear in the fog. Neither can you report a pre-production or prepare for homologation. The Munich startup is waiting for another round of financing, which should start at the beginning of 2020.
But something is happening in the factory. According to our information, which does not come through the official channels but can be considered reliable, we prepare the contract manufacturing. Mind you only for the Sion and not for other vehicles that could come from NEVS or third parties.
More jobs for Trollhattan?
Officially, the production of the NEVS 9-3 electric car will pick up speed in China in January 2020. Trollhättan should also be involved in the added value. Components from the Saab plant for production in Tianjin, a three-digit number of additional employees at Göta Älv. You can hear nothing about it for a long time and that could have reasons.
It could be that the first NEVS product will never be launched. A speculative tweet from China indicates that the facts speak for their seriousness. The NEVS electric car is outdated. Base and design are two decades old. What Saab fans would love, that would meet with the SUV-affine audience on rejection. The time alone has made the plans for the electric car Saab based to waste, but it could still lead to more significant changes.
Not as sure as the uncertainty! Phoenix-E, the Sango project, the contract manufacturing of the Sion. It is the question of whether these projects will last. Evergrande plans to influence Trollhättan erhöhen and the percentage of shares gradually to expand beyond 80%.
That you will do that is considered safe. The only question is how fast and not whether. Within the group, a second platform will have its right to exist, may be provided with a question mark. The theoretical, never really used possibility to develop a modern vehicle with Saab reminiscence could also be a thing of the past, even if more than 3 billions of dollars flow into the stablebacka.
Everything should be put to the test, including the brand name “NEVS”. Maybe the names on the buildings will change again and Trollhättan will become the first location for “Hengchi” in Europe?