Announcement imminent – NEVS buying Saab.

As I write this, there’s only an hour or so until there’ll be a press conference at Saab’s main gate in Trollhattan.

The winning bidder hasn’t been named, but as predicted it’ll be NEVS – National Electric Vehicle Sweden. They’re apparently interested in building hybrid and electric vehicles and it’ll be interesting to see what, if any product plans they’re willing to talk about at the press conference today.

It’s not going to be an easy ride for NEVS. They’ll have plenty of interested onlookers, but how many of those will be willing to buy? They’ll have plenty of naysayers, too. There’s no bigger political football in the automotive industry than electrification.

Like you, I’ll be observing with interest. I hope they maximise the use of the resources there in Trollhattan. It’s a wonderful city and I’m sure there are still a large number of very talented people there. I’m just really pleased at the thought of them getting a chance to do their jobs.

And of course, it’s a new start for Saab! That’s a wonderful thing.

I have my reservations about their proposed market segment, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve got planned. A Saab hybrid/electric will be the first one ever to arouse my interest.

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17 Comments

  1. Going to be interesting to see the business plan at some stage (hopefully) but not expecting as much openness as we came to expect/demand from the Muller era….my guess is much if this will remain shrouded in mystery so less amo for naysayers, maybe not a bad thing, but frustrating for those of us who will want a new model lineup within days of this announcement!!

  2. Who knows Steve, you may be invited back to Trollhattan and not make the move to Victoria after all? I now where they need you most 😉

    1. Came to make the same basic comment. Keep trying to stay abreast of all things Saab via SU, but the message is often convoluted and unclear. Was quite happy to again find your clear headed and logical prose. If NEVS is smart, they will tap you similar to how the last iteration of Saab attempted to do.

      1. Yes I must admit the guys over at SU have not shown great analytical skills recently – I saw a recent post which more or less suggested that the factory could be producing up to 250,000 electric cars a year…… The workings out of that kind of logic left a little to be desired.

        I am very happy that Saab could have a new lease of life however I am still skeptical of what we have heard of the NEVS business model, not least because currently electric cars do not sell in anything other than minuscule volumes and when they do sell they are generally unprofitable.

        Also it would be foolish to produce electric cars in Sweden then ship them to China therefore paying paying 30% import tax when they could be built far cheaper in China with no importation costs…. Frankly I smell a hidden agenda (and is this Japanese company just a Chinese shell???).

        One last observation is that by going all-electric NEVS have probably alienated most of the existing Saab customers which was to my mind a large part of the equity of the company.

        Anyway time will tell, for the moment I will try to keep an open mind….

        1. ******************************
          Frankly I smell a hidden agenda
          ******************************

          It’s going to be a large scam in the history of mergers and acquisitions in the automotive industry.

          Building EVs and hybrids to rival Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf? Way too late and doomed to be a futile exercise, especially in the international markets.

          The Chinese buyer’s target is the brand only: make some symbolic number of cars in Sweden (so as to qualify for the continuing use of the Saab logo), but at the same time license the use of the logo on cars produced in China (after all, licensed production in China was what Saab was exploring to do prior to the bankruptcy) which will be the bulk of the production.

          Let’s hope Mahindra will emerge to save the day.

  3. Just a thought; I think it´s time for something new. Turbo-charger is not a reason to buy a SAAB anymore, even if it is nice that SAAB has communicating “turbo” and “innovation” in the same sentence for so long. But it is still a 1970´s innovation. Today everybody has turbo, or at least has a spoken policy why not. IF you can make a car at least with a spec compareable to a diesel/petrol car, then you can call yourself a truly innovative car producer once again. We can, for example, ask ourselfs why there is still a mechanical transmission in our cars, when we know that weight distribution, car handling, packaging of components etc is vital. With 2-4 electric motors you can put the transmission whereever you want (just look at diesel-electric locomotives), you can fully computerize the power output on all wheels. If you want it powered by a fixed rpm diesel and/or a battery pack, that is a question how successful you are in the development. I must say I believe in NEVS as a buyer. It will take time before we see any result, but I think the timing is absolutly perfect for producing electric cars.

  4. While I don’t own a hybrid, I can see how they make sense. I rented a Prius for a 1,000 mile trip last year – I didn’t mind getting 50mpg at all.

    I’ve noticed in traveling the US, that the same areas where Prius are popular, so are Saabs. They tend to be in areas that are affluent, with highly educated populations. I’m not saying the target markets are identical, but there is definitely an overlap.

    1. There is a huge amount of sense in it in terms of market. Top Gear in their tribute to SAAB noted: “the most highly educated customer base”. It also makes a lot of sense in Scandinavian terms, where the environment is highly valued. I’m speaking as a North American, but more and more, educated people in particular are looking at a more Scandinavian sort of lifestyle: greater simplicity, care for the world around us, less is more, etc. The Prius is popular in that world, and I am seeing many in my neck of the woods, but the car is not particularly engaging beyond the tree-hugger element. Since we get snow, AWD is also popular (Subies, Audis). The combination of hybrid/AWD would be a big hit here. so…

      Almost a decade ago, GM decided to drop the hatchback + introduce a sedan only in the 9-3. I wrote them asking what the h3ll they were doing. “Make a bloody hatchback + offer it as a hybrid!” The 9-3ss is a nice enough car and it did sell well, but to me, GM completely missed the boat in terms of innovation. In 2006 (iirc) SAAB had an AWD hybrid convertible show car (it was iirc the first ever hybrid vert!)… GM quashed this, and you know, if it had been put in production + sold in Cali, you can bet movie stars would be driving those instead of the bloody Prius. Remember Bob Sinclair’s vert? And a hatchback for the practical folk… man, they could have hit one out of the park! Instead, it was the beginning of the end…

      A little late to the table now, but still worth doing. None of the current hybrid offerings are too appealing… yet… everyone will have one in a couple years. To not have the technology would be foolish! I showed that eXWD hill climb to a couple of my also well educated, affluent, subie-owning friends + they were astonished! That is *the* market for SAAB as a niche manufacturer. Big time opportunity, imho.

  5. Focus will be EV not hybrid vehicles, according to NEVS and Mr. Karl-Erling Trogen.
    They are true about one thing though; Saab Automobile has brought many innovations to the car industry; mentioned as why they see Saab as the best option.

    But if their main focus, initially, is EVs for China and India etc. they could have built something there.

    1. Have to agree Iggy. None here either. And they’re not going over well in the US either.

      In a recent survey of Hybrid owners, only 35% said they would buy another. From the article:

      “If you factor out the super-loyal Toyota Prius buyers, the repurchase rate drops to under 25%.”

      http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/09/business/la-fi-mo-repeat-hybrid-car-buyers-20120409

      Not a ringing endorsement from US buyers. And remember that the US was SAAB’s largest market at the height of their success.

      Just my 2 cents…but me thinks NEVS would be wiser to bring out a high mileage turbo diesel, with good all round performance & emissions, on the Phoenix platform FIRST, to generate cash flow EVERYWEHRE, then concentrate on an all electric model for China. Seems like they are counting on all electric vehicle sales in China to get them going. For the sake of the folks who were working for SAAB in the past, and who may return, I sure hope they are right.

      If I were an ex-SAAB employee, however, I would have to think long & hard before going back. I had 2 different airlines fold under me 16 years ago…after 25 years of service…and vowed not to go back into that industry ever again. Made the switch to IT 14 years ago, and have never been happier.

      1. I meant to say that the new SAAB would not produce hybrid cars. Only pure electric cars.
        Hybrids I could think of buying, if the offer is good. But pure electric car. Not yet,. Probably not in 20 years from now. The technology is not mature.

        1. yeah, I guess I’m hoping NEVS will come to their senses and put a small diesel generator in there. EV’s have been around forever, and have long been a more reliable option than ICE. But you are correct to say the technology as we need it today is not mature – we want a lot more power + range (for the price) than the mature EV technology provides. That will come eventually, but even if someone made a whiz-bang battery today, one would need fast charging stations for long trips + the infrastructure isn’t there either.

          All that said, I am optimistic that this will work in the long run. We will see I guess!

  6. I´m sad today. That´s because the Saab that i knew died this day. I was raised alongside with Saab as my father has been a Saab salesman his whole grownup life.

    The news that NEVS was winning didn´t come as a chock – quite the oposit. SweGov has favoured NEVS all the way in my mind. Maud got her windmills att last….

    NEVS has much too prove to me. I´d love too be proven wrong, but untill then i look upon Saab as a dead icon……

  7. Looks like NEVS only wants to make battery cars. I think building Hybrids as well might have given Saab a very difficult but slim fighting chance, but EVs only?

    I’m guessing that Saab AB and Scania won’t license the Saab brand now?

    1. SAAB AB have said that as long as the vehicles are produced in Sweden, then the SAAB name can be used on them. If not..no dice.

  8. i think this is sadly the end of saab as we know it.we had a chance to take saab back to being among the best with victor and his exiting plans.but thanks to the swedish gov and swedes in general etc it didnt happen.hopefully this venture wont get the saab name as these vehicles ar going to be concieved in japan or china and only assembld in trollhatten.hate to be negativ but this is the way i see the future for saab.

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