Hughw said it quite succinctly in comments to my open letter to Kai Johan Jiang:
Much as I appreciate Steve’s letter and all the comments from fellow Saabists, I fear it will have absolutely no impact with NEVS.
When I wrote that letter, I knew there was around a 0.5% chance of Mr Jiang ever seeing it. Maybe he googles himself. Maybe he has someone watching the web for content about NEVS/Saab. Maybe someone still at Saab from the old days showed it to him. However he might come across it is largely irrelevant because the chances he’d ever see it were very, very remote.
And the chances he’d act on any part of it? Even more remote.
As Hughw also points out:
If you’re going to spend millions of dollars, you probably do enough due diligence to know what you’re buying. I’m sure they know better than us what technology is sitting on Saab’s shelves, what technology is out there in the world, and what technology is coming on line.
I’d up those millions to billions-with-a-’b’ because that’s most likely what it’s going to take to produce car #1.
What Hughw points out so eloquently is that this is a company with a plan. I’ve already given words to the thoughts of many people in saying that I don’t understand how they’re going to accomplish that plan, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they have one and that none of us really know what it is.
And here’s the kicker – Any businessman in Jiang’s position who’s worth his salt won’t be altering that plan because a blogger in Tasmania, or a handful of pundits or commenters from other parts of the world asked him to consider them.
As much as I think it would be reassuring/wise for NEVS to be more forthcoming about their business plan, I also acknowledge that it’s their business and not mine.
I also know this – the future of the brand (that might be) called Saab may not be the future that Saab enthusiasts want it to be. Those people will have to make a decision of their own because no amount of pleading or self-expression is going to change the plans that NEVS will put in place for this company.
I’ve owned three Saab 99s, three Saab 900s, two Saab 9000s and two Saab 9-3s. Whilst I would never claim to speak for the Saab community, I’m a reasonably typical Saab fan circa 2012, with the added bonus of having done what I’ve done over the last 7 years.
I’ve grown up on turbocharged Saabs, I love the company’s capacity to punch above its weight and the tendency Saab had over many years to do things the way they thought was right. I would say that I’m passionate about Saab, especially the people who I worked with there and the city of Trollhattan.
Sadly, however, like many fans I’m also compelled to say that I’ve never bought a new one.
As a Saab fan, I grew accustomed to voicing my opinion about what was happening at the company. Saab had operated in such a distinct way, producing such a distinct car, that forming an opinion became an easy thing to do. Triggers for voicing that opinion in the GM era were commonplace and the advent of the blogging format provided a perfect vehicle for doing so.
In 2009, we went from voicing an opinion about Saab to fighting for Saab. The company’s pending extinction when alternatives seemed so close at hand inspired thousands of people around to world to act for this company. In 2010, when the outcome we sought was achieved thanks to Victor Muller’s tenacity and GM’s willingness to deal, we celebrated because the good side – our side – had won. Saab survived.
All of a sudden we were all very much invested in the future of this brand. Victor said they were going to return to building Saab-Saabs and we cheered. We had fought for Saab. We had argued with workmates, written to senators, shouted from rooftops and gathered together in the bitter cold of the northern 2010 winter. The company owed us, right?
Well, maybe you could argue that Saab in the Spyker era owed its fan base a good hearing.
This Saab? Not so much, I’m afraid.
NEVS are going to take Saab in a direction of their choosing, which is their right and their decision to make. As a Saab fan, I’m going to make my own decision as to how closely I’m going to follow what they do.
Personally speaking, I’m aware that the Saab that I know and love could be well and truly dead right now. Still, I’m going to follow what NEVS do simply because of the investment I have made in that factory with my own life. I love that place and I love what the people there can do.
I’ve never seen myself as a potential buyer of an electric vehicle and to be honest, I don’t see that in my future, either. I’m into cars because of the pleasure they give – aesthetic, mechanical, performance, visceral, aural – the whole shebang. I’ve never spent much time contemplating whether or not I could get the same pleasure from an electric vehicle. I just assumed not.
But I’ll follow, watch, wait and see. That’s my decision.
NEVS are going to do what they will do, with or without “us”. I’m quite sure that NEVS will be aiming to build their own clientele. They’d hope to bring a few of us along with them, but their product is going to be very different from the product the average Saab fan is used to. Their decision is already made and the consequences are unfolding even as you read this.
Every Saab fan’s going to have a decision to make at some time – to follow or to leave. It’ll be easy for some and harder for others, but one thing it won’t be is avoidable.
There’s no rush and no commitment necessary, but the final realisation that you’re a spectator in all of this might be liberating.