2021 is not 2011 and NEVS is not Saab. The worried look to Trollhättan is of course due to a kind of Saab sentimentality. But the future could grow out of the Saab artifacts, and the possibility for that is not even that low. Even if a lot is still open at the moment. The Stallbacka could have a real chance.
In recent years there has been a lot of wishful thinking, one thought of Trollhättan. Saab sentimentalities that you cultivate and cannot easily get rid of if you know the people personally who designed, drawn or produced your own car. Year after year, NEVS has moved further away from what Saab was once all about. But there are still former Saab employees on their wages and when you walk through the buildings you can find artifacts from the old days everywhere.
The course in the Stallbacka has long been determined from China. The own (earlier) ambitions have shrunk to a minimum. Now the management is relying on software development, the great visions of yore have long been driving down the Göta Älv. As it stands, NEVS owner Evergrande will no longer be able to finance his automotive adventure on his own. No one can predict whether an investor will take over the almost completely developed vehicles and the new plants, or whether the group will be broken up and only parts will go to a buyer.
Volvo would no longer be possible today
However, it is fairly certain that the future of the European Evergrande offshoots will be put to the test. A story like the one with Volvo, where a surprising amount of competence is still based in Sweden, is unimaginable today. China's industrial policy in 2021 is more nationalistic than it was in 2011
Large development centers would no longer be built in Gothenburg, but in Shenzhen or elsewhere in the People's Republic. It is therefore not very likely that NEVS will continue to exist as a development service provider for a Chinese group. Just as little as the entry of another large OEM in Trollhättan.
What spoke for Trollhättan in 2011 no longer exists 10 years later. The factory in Trollhättan was considered highly effective and modern in GM times. Now the wind is whistling through largely empty halls that were not in a good structural condition in 2011. The Saab plant is history, and partially dismantled. Anyone who wants to produce electric cars on a large scale today will shy away from the complex, historically evolved infrastructure that can be found on Göta Älv.
The possible future in the Stallbacka
But, that doesn't rule out the future. Because NEVS and the facilities in the Stallbacka still have assets to offer. The buildings with development and test facilities may be looking old. Likewise the test track at the factory. But they still serve their purpose, and technology has been continuously invested in, albeit cautiously. NEVS has made good money here in recent years, providing engineering services for other brands.
Trollhättan's location, on the edge of Gothenburg's automotive cluster, is ideal. The transport connections to the west are efficient, whether by train or via well-developed, modern roads. A port of its own and an airfield right at the plant, which may be on the up and will be expanded. German industrial locations and medium-sized cities dream of something like this. In Trollhättan the dream is a reality.
Is the Stallbacka going to be Swedish again?
The possibility that an automotive supplier could join NEVS is high. If the Chinese owners gave up the plant. In Sweden people are already playing more or less openly with this option and there is a list of companies that could potentially be interested in the capabilities of NEVS.
Vehicle construction need not necessarily be a thing of the past. Producing smaller series for electric car newcomers as a contract manufacturer would still be possible and the market would be ready for it. Valmet has demonstrated the transformation in Finland. From the Saab factory to an internationally successful service provider who not only lets cars roll off the production line.
An option for the future for the Stallbacka. At a time, maybe to China and Saab.