The gravediggers of Trollhättan

The last Saab is sold, and in Sweden an era came to an end. One could get the impression that NEVS celebrated this event in social media. There is no reason to do so, it is rather an event that should trigger grief and anger. A very personal look back. With a dose of anger in the stomach.

Saab factory 2012
Saab factory 2012

A number. A number says a lot, and it can document the failure of recent years in Trollhättan. So let's play with numbers.

1 million

One million Saabs were on 2012 worldwide. The year that NEVS got hold of the keys to Saab Real Estate in Stallbacka, acquired some intellectual rights, and wanted to be a carmaker ever since. So 1 million. One million people driving Saab and finding the brand good. Maybe there are more. If you include partners and family, maybe friends too. Then there are 3, 4, 5 million. But let's be fair, one million is enough for us today.

What is a customer worth? There are different statistics, depending on the industry. It is clear that it is better to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one. In the case of Saab, the customers were very expensive. Together with Alfa Romeo, the brand from Göta Älv had the highest cost per vehicle sold. Depending on the year, Saab invested between 2.500 € and 5.000 € in advertising and marketing per car, a peak. If we conservatively start from the lowest value, multiply it by the one million customers, then we get:

2.500.000.000 €

Two and a half billion euros as a dowry 2012. And maybe more. 3 billions, 4 billions, which one would have to take in hand to sell a million cars. As a newcomer, as an unknown brand. For marketing, advertising, presentations. One billion potential that 2012 lay as a gift in front of Kai Johan Jiang and his team. And you just threw it away. At that time, when there was still an international network of dealers, functioning after-sales and a functional cycle consisting of relatively new vehicles and used cars. Not to mention a modern factory that would have spit out new cars at the touch of a button, a functioning supply chain. Also, a lot of it was free, because it was simply present and hardly worth it in terms of value.

What happened to 2012 was the opposite. And it's unbelievable, it was hard to accept. Instead of the chance to see the story came with the electric car. Of course, as we know today, NEVS did not acquire any rights to Saab's e-car technology. Although that was obvious. Maybe the insolvency administrators did not want to sell them to Chinese, or they might have been with GM. But the fact is that you left customers and dealers from the beginning on the left, built castles in the air and has just made 1.000 electric cars in China to this day. With speculation you gambled the trademark rights, and if GM has buried Saab, then NEVS even beat the nails in the coffin.

And now? It celebrates the sale of the very last Saab on all channels, celebrates itself for its failure. The action Saab gravedigger is successful, one has the impression that it is an act of liberation for NEVS. Off Saab, away from the traditional name.

It can be. Breaks hurt, and the industrial history of Trollhättan and Saab is full of it. The Saab saga is past, now final. Evergrande has other claims than a small, failed brand that hardly anyone knows to revive. The future plays in a different league.

Still, and that's why, it's good to be angry. Reflecting on the ignorance with which the NEVS founders 2012 went beyond the valuable substance of the brand. Perhaps, and here's a place for conspiracy theorists among the readers, Kai Johan Jiang and Co were just stalwarts for a story that is about to begin. A China saga, who knows.

Anger is helpful, and she needs a valve. You write an article about it, let it out. Or go into the woods, shouting loudly, that too should help. But then it is finally good. Breaks hurt, as I said. But just breaks make life exciting. People who break their CV are usually the more entertaining contemporaries than those who glide through life without problems.

In Sweden, a chapter has finally come to a close. Maybe that's a good thing, because times are changing fundamentally. Maybe, if Saab had survived, it would not be the brand the fans love. Let go of the past. The future can be exciting, the desire for something new is good.

21 thoughts too "The gravediggers of Trollhättan"

  • It's true. Macabre I find that there is now apparently enough money there. That could have been used 2012. Today is over.

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  • Very good article, almost poetic!

    And written with a lot of heart and just anger. This anger also often stirs in me. Much of what I was good and expensive, expensive in the true sense of the word, there is no longer today or just a copy of what it was. At the top of the list are Saab and Lancia. (Revox eg is also very high up)

    Where did they stay, these great cars?

    Whats become of you? Lancia well, there is a big Ami box as Lancia expelled, just terrible.

    I drive these cars with a lot of passion and quite a big financial commitment. Why do I do this? There is really no rational explanation. What drives me? When I see all the uniform SUVs on a big parking lot on Saturday, I know why I love my Saab so much! They just stand out from the crowd and that suits me very much.

    Would that have been enough to keep Saab or Lancia alive? I do not think so. The big crowd just jumps to the mainstream, VW says hello. (But they also have a huge lobby behind them and have a limitless advertising budget, watching football is slowly becoming an ordeal, where to look VW, VW, ....)

    I am now in my arms and see if they are still all, the Saab and the Lancia. Certainly a small smile of joy flits across my face and that is very much worth to me.

    Good drive and greetings from the Black Forest.

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  • Unbelievable how much money was spent there.
    I would like to know how many people believe that NEVS will help me, at least I'm not one of them.

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  • @ Hans S. (& Tom),

    a very fitting comment on a moving article ...

    I am inevitably reminded of the slogan of a German mail order company with department stores claiming to the world that good things are still being produced, and for themselves, driving them out.

    And in fact, many years ago, I bought devices there that are still in use without complaint and reliably and that I had to regularly replace immediately after the expiry of the guarantee.

    My Saab is now competing for the crown of sustainability with other achievements and doing pretty well. What more do you want?

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  • Yes, that's the worlds run! Tom always writes as if you wanted to write that yourself. As I said, I'm happy with my 9-3II Cab, even if a new CIM is due now: Well and ...?

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  • “The future can be exciting, the desire for new things is good.” …… at the moment I have nothing new that could do good, at least in the automotive sector. On my last vacation I had ordered a VW rental car to be at least consistently calm, unfortunately the tick, ... only this car ..., was lost when I booked and it became a Nissan Juke, ... I have never looked like this before a car ashamed, actually you (I) just want to look away with this design!

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  • Remains as the last hope in this context only that promptly but really acceptable vehicles in Trollhättan roll off the tapes. Otherwise, the agony of choice among other manufacturers is getting closer. Unfortunately, as an SAAB enthusiast you will not find an 100% alternative - if it does happen, it would be a pity.

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  • Thank you Tom for the very suitable article. I think closing is good - that's why I ended my beautiful SAAB time privately. That's how I can always enjoy thinking about it. Everything good has an end!

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    • All beautiful things come to an end. But you have Saab in your heart and you never really get rid of the virus. Something always stays, even if it gets less. Thank you for reading the blog and the nice mail contact of the past!

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  • Thanks for the article and the insights

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  • Talk to me from the heart. What we have left are the vehicles. We should get them and drive as long as possible. Something like SAAB will not come back, that was probably unique. I hope that the blog will be around for a long time and Tom will not start his farewell round. It said a lot of melancholy from the post.

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  • Advertising

    So far, no comment goes deeper into this exciting aspect of the article. It is quite interesting that Saab holds together with Alfa this sad record.

    In the production and in the negotiations with suppliers, from cent amounts up to maximum three-digit euro amounts are optimized and negotiated, in order to come in total to a four-digit cost reduction.

    Up to 5.000 € advertising per vehicle is absolutely disastrous in a five-digit price segment!

    Although it is said, who does not advertise, who dies, but that's only half the truth and advertising is different too.

    You do not necessarily have to pay huge sums to agencies and the media. Saab could also have focused on an earlier launch of the 9-5 NG SC, giving a batch favorably to the Swedish police and taxi drivers and having a national presence on the streets and international media presence for free.

    Alfa is similar. A long-awaited station wagon has been causing speculation among motoring journalists for years. If he came, Alfa would receive a lot of attention for free and would have expanded its target group.

    The strategically meaningful and well-placed introduction of the right product at the right time can not replace even the highest expenditure and budget for advertising.

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    • The numbers to correct that come from the “best” Saab years after the full takeover by GM when they wanted to push quantities into the market at all costs. What it looked like after 2009 is unknown to me. I think there will be a lot of budget left.

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  • Either way, this peak per vehicle is a rather sad record. The smaller advertising budget of later years is contrasted by a shrinking production and falling sales figures. The relationship may not have been good ...

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  • What could not have been anything ?! It should not be, unfortunately! It was a lot of sites back then, not just GM, or NEVS. The Swedish government could have done something, too, and what about the Wallenbergs ?! Saab had many gravediggers and never got a chance.
    I am firmly convinced that Saab and his team at that time “solved” the issue of cars and the environment excellently and that they had the right answer ready in many areas. Design hits on top!
    The topic of Saab will not do it for me, but rather the opposite. My 9-3 I Convertible (though laughed at) I will make piece by piece to a collector's item, just for me :-)

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  • @ Gosh,

    the 9-3 l is not laughed at anymore. He has long been considered the most modern and youngest 900. Whether you like it or not, you can not just drive it for yourself.
    You will always meet a Saab driver looking forward to seeing you - and be it a former ...

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  • Now re-write this as: -

    Saab 9-5 is similar. A long-awaited station wagon has been speculating among motoring journalists for years. If he came, Saab would have received a lot of attention for free and would have expanded his target group.

    The most expensive and well-placed introduction of the right product at the same time can not replace the highest expenditure and budget for advertising.

    Saab 9-5 NG, Wagon, as success that was waiting to happen ...... ..

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  • My 1st main 9K was a 9K SE (Uk) version, with 175hp, B202, car full leather, car AC, etc. cost in 1988 £ 22,985.00 GBP.
    UK rovers were nearer £ 18,995.00p ....

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  • But, the buyer was rewarded with a superb machine, that would see off a Ferrari ......... ..

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  • Long lived reader of this forum and the forum prior. Love your passion. There's a virus thing about Saab's ... never really a car person myself and after I've realized this is the end. Nevs like anything Chinese is on excuse for the richer couple.
    Saab spooling on will make you enjoy my jetblack 2008 93 Aero wagon with most Hirsch and Maptun upgraded with updated pioneer sat nav stereo which looks and sounds good take off .... :) that is a 10 year old car
    Like you, what could have been very disappointing. Still see the designs now copied but without the same style. Saab's of today they were still and very well.
    Keeping the spirit alive under ... Melbourne, Australia. As Jeremy Clarkson once said, you can tell a Saab driver they just smile cause they know ... ..

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  • @Herbert Hürsch

    I like to share this joy. I was not aware that the status had already changed. Of course I think that's good, the more I'm looking forward to having found a car with a good base.

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