It's been almost 8 years since black December when the lights went out in Trollhättan. Not much has happened since then. Evergrande's entry brought new hope at the beginning of the year, but at the same time new uncertainties. Where do Trollhättan and NEVS stand within the group that is being formed, and what role can and may one play in the coming years? And, of particular interest, will there still be a vehicle that was developed at Göta Älv? The attempt to search for clues that 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 be designing 15 new models, and the question arises of who still needs developers and designers in Trollhättan. Is anything still moving at Göta Älv?
Phoenix-E is alive!
It is astonishing, because although there is a platform in the group with the architecture of FEV-Benteler, NEVS continues to work on its own solution. The Phoenix-E platform lives on, as technology boss Frank Smit in an article 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 remains unclear. It is also unclear when and whether the first NEVS model could be launched at all. You still don't publish a schedule. But Smit reveals that one will continue to work on that 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
One of the few things that is halfway concrete is the production of the Sion by Sono Motors, which is scheduled to start in the second half of 2020. The project is still barely tangible and its contours are disappearing in the fog. You can neither report a pre-series production nor prepare for homologation. The Munich startup is waiting for another round of financing, which should run in early 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%.
It is certain that this will be done. The only question is how quickly and not whether. Whether a second platform will have its right to exist within the group can be provided with a question mark. The theoretical, because never really used, possibility of developing a modern vehicle with Saab throwback could also be a thing of the past, even if more than 3 billion US dollars flow into the Stallbacka.
Everything should be put to the test, including the brand name “NEVS”. Perhaps the names on the buildings will change again and Trollhättan will become the first location for “Hengchi” in Europe?