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.
A number. A number says a lot, and it can document the failure of the past few years in Trollhättan. So let's play with numbers.
A million Saabs were traveling around the world in 2012. In the year that NEVS got the keys to the Saab real estate in Stallbacka, acquired some intellectual rights and has wanted to be a car manufacturer ever since. So 1 million. A million people who drive Saab and who like the brand. Maybe there are more. If you add your partner and family, maybe friends too. Then it's 3, 4, 5 million. But let's be fair, the 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:
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 in 2012 was the opposite. And it's amazing, it was hard to accept. Instead of seeing the chance, the story came with the electric car. Of course, as we know today, NEVS had not acquired any rights to Saab's e-car technology. Although that was just the obvious thing to do. Perhaps the insolvency administrators didn't want to sell these to the Chinese either, or they were with GM. The fact is, however, that customers and dealers were left behind right from the start, castles in the air were built and to this day China has only produced 1.000 electric cars. The trademark rights were gambled away with speculation, and when GM has buried Saab, NEVS later stuck 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 Trollhättan's and Saab's industrial history is full of them. The Saab saga is past, now final. Evergrande has different claims than to revive a small, failed brand that hardly anyone knows. The future is in a different league.
Nevertheless, and precisely because of that, it is good to be angry. If you look back on the ignorance with which the NEVS founders went over the valuable substance of the brand in 2012. Perhaps, and here is a place for conspiracy theorists among the readers, Kai Johan Jiang and Co were just placeholders for a story that begins now. A China saga, who knows.
Anger is helpful and needs an outlet. You write an article about it, let it out. Or go into the forest, scream loudly, that should help too. But then it's finally good. As I said, fractures hurt. But breaks are what make life exciting. People who have breaks in their CVs are usually the more entertaining contemporaries than those who glide through life without problems.
In Sweden a chapter has finally come to an end. Perhaps that's a good thing, because times are fundamentally changing right now. Maybe, if Saab had survived, it would no longer be the brand that fans love. Let's let go of the past. The future can be exciting, and the desire for something new is good for you.