Family farms. They are the economic backbone of our country. If it goes well, they will bloom from generation to generation. Saab has always had these companies. And they still exist today, even though the brand no longer exists. In Bamberg the 3rd generation grows into the Muckelbauer car dealership. She is concerned about the present and the future. The right time to visit.
Lars Muckelbauer has been training as a mechatronics engineer in the family-run company since autumn this year. School, Chamber of Crafts, work in the company. Plentiful workload for a 6-day week. In addition to training, he takes care of the Internet and actively advises on sales. While I'm waiting for him, a customer is interested in the brand new Subaru E-Boxer. It will only be available from March 2020, but there are already two copies in Bamberg today. Do we want to go, Lars asks me? Of course we want!
I drive, Lars takes a seat in the passenger seat. He receives the driver's license on his 17th birthday in January, he has to wait that long. The E-Boxer is the first electrified vehicle from Subaru and our journey together is the right start to a conversation. In addition to Saab, Subaru has been the second mainstay of the muckelbauers and the car dealership a very successful sales partner of the German importer for several years.
The E-Boxer is a mild hybrid. The famous boxer engine works in conjunction with an electric motor that lets the Forester drive 1.6 kilometers purely electrically. Doesn't sound spectacular, but it is interesting and needs to be explained. The battery charges while driving and, if you trust the graphics on the dashboard, almost always. If there is enough juice in the battery, the combustion engine switches off and lets the SUV drive electrically. This mainly happens when you gently caress the accelerator pedal. In practice, everything is unspectacular, works up to a speed of 40 kilometers per hour. The philosophy behind it is clear. Emission-free through inner cities, residential areas and traffic jams. The E-Boxer works with Japanese precision, but is partly German. Some components of his technology come from a well-known supplier from Franconia.
The XV, the second hybrid model from Subaru, will follow in a few weeks. The electrification follows the climate discussion and the political will. Lars sees it as the future, but also with concern. They make the vehicles more expensive, Subaru leaves the usual price structure. Will customers follow suit?
We walk through the modern, Newly opened in 2017 Building. It is Saturday afternoon, there are no customers and no employees in the house. We deliberately arranged the appointment so that we could have time for a conversation in peace. A high-voltage workplace is set up in the workshop, as well as 3 lifting platforms with Saabs. Japan performs in sales, the Swedes do it in the workshop. A secure second mainstay, little dependent on the economic situation.
The Muckelbauer family is closely connected to Saab. The grandfather started with the Trollhättan brand in a neighboring town. Unfortunately he died early, his son Ralf had to take responsibility at a young age. He expanded and moved to nearby Bamberg. Lars grows into the 3rd generation in the business - at his own request, as he emphasizes. If he had wanted to do something different, his parents would have accepted it. Family is sometimes an obligation, but also a joy and an opportunity. Lars likes cars and dealing with customers. He does what he does out of conviction. You can feel it.
But for a young person he also has an astonishingly sober, business view. Many 900 are on the site for restoration. Lars says stable value, but procuring spare parts is worrying. Spare parts have to be searched intensively again and again, as years of experience and a good network to Sweden will help.
But back to the joy of the vehicles. There is the Turbo X. The perfect analogue counterpart to electrification. His key is quickly organized, the Saab wakes up, babbling warm. Great fun, a fascinating relic of the old days. We quickly agree that each TX has its own sound image. Saab is and will remain an issue in the 3rd generation. The family has been there for Saab since 1974 - and as long as the vehicles have been around. Muckelbauer has a large range of spare parts for customers of the small cult brand. Components that are rare in Sweden from time to time are in stock. You simply owe it to the mostly long-standing customers.
How does Lars see his future? He will complete the training, his father already involves him closely in every decision. You can never start early enough. The master school is compulsory, a subsequent course of study is not excluded. Let's see! The auto industry is on the move. He experiences this every day, the changes are rapid. As car dealer you are particularly close. Manufacturers are repositioning themselves, customers are changing their buying behavior. Predicting what will be in a few years is certainly the greatest challenge. All of this worries him a lot, I can feel it.
There are some ideas besides the current business. An additional mainstay as security to further develop the company in the long term and make it immune to the uncertainties of the future. Lars is there with the heart and mind. He is sure to enjoy what he does. But he already feels the responsibility that will one day rest on his shoulders.