My two questions and SU’s interview with NEVS

Tim from Saabs United drove up to Trollhattan yesterday for some face time with a couple of the guys at NEVS. He’s posted the results of his chat on SU and I read it with interest when I woke up this morning. As you know, I had a couple of questions for NEVS, too. Unfortunately, they haven’t been answered in any meaningful way so we’ll have to wait for the Swedish press to get similar access and see if they can get any more clarity.

My questions and related remarks from the SU article (no, it’s not an interview) are posted along with a few expansionary thoughts from me, below.

Why would NEVS consider developing and building their vehicles in Sweden in order to sell them in China? Given the difference in labor costs and the tariffs on vehicles brought into China, it makes no economic sense. Is that really their plan?

The bit from SU that touches on this:

Talking about premium I asked why NEVS didn’t start production in China and the answer was simple, it’s what we’ve said on SU many times before regarding quality and Chinese production. There is also still a regard around the world for Chinese products to be cheep and of low quality, even though they might not necessarily be so, most products produced in China still get that impression. And the fact is that Chinese people who can afford a premium car, want a European or American car rather than a Chinese built car, since it has a lot to do with image and feeling.

Come on. It’s 2012 and we’re talking about a new company that has the chance to direct its own future. The “quality” argument is a strawman in this situation. I’ve really got to wonder whether or not this was actually asked because “quality” isn’t a proper answer given the economic realities that underpin the question.

Fact: Chinese factories can produce goods in 2012 (and will only get better in the future), including cars, that are of as good quality as anywhere else in the world. All they need is the right expertise, guidance and quality control. Most of the Chinese domestic companies and joint ventures don’t have that expertise at home, which is why they buy it in from their joint venture partners.

Yes, there’s a lot of crap built in China, but only by companies that want to build crap. Those who want to build quality, can. Got doubts? Go and hold your iPod, Macbook Pro or iPad in your hands and tell me they can’t build quality in China. I’ve been using them for years and they have been absolutely first class.

And reports out of China from westerners who visit say that it’s going the same way for automobiles. Yes, their home-grown domestic brands struggle to meet the engineering mark, but the Buicks, Audis and BMWs they’re building are built to standards mandated by the western half of their joint venture partnerships and they’re doing it well. It won’t be long, not long at all, before you start seeing western-brand automobiles made in China for sale in non-Chinese markets. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s already happening.

If you really think that Chinese design and manufacturing is still back in the dark ages, then I’d invite you (again) to read this article: Trendwatching – Made better in China.

So the question remains….. Why design and build in Sweden in order to sell, primarily, in the Chinese market? It makes no economic sense. You miss out on massive government subsidies and you attract significant tariffs when you bring the vehicles into the country, dramatically increasing what would have already been a high sale price. The Chinese middle class might be newly wealthy, but they’re not stupid.

The other bit from SU that touches on this:

The impression so far that NEVS will focus only on China to start off with is wrong, NEVS aims for a global market directly from the start with world-wide sales directly, however the country which is most likely to have the largest sales is China due to its highly developed infrastructure to support electric cars. The western world is lagging behind the Chinese in this aspect and this will of course affect sales. So to explain, NEVS will sell Saab’s worldwide from day one but their main focus to make profit lies with the Chinese market. So any dealership currently selling Saab’s will very well be able to sell brand new Saab’s produced by NEVS.

So they won’t just sell in China. Noted.

But they’re still aiming to make China their primary market. They still need the Chinese market to be profitable for them. Planning to distribute worldwide makes this question no less relevant. Manufacturing in Sweden to sell into China makes no sense for a company that needs to make a profit.

I suspect that this question hasn’t been asked (and definitely not answered) for real, just yet.

Why would NEVS spend any money bringing out an electric car based on the Saab 9-3? Why not just develop the Phoenix platform they’ve bought rights to?

My theory: spending money on electrifying the old 9-3 is money that could be spent on getting a much more modern and competitive, Phoenix-based product on the market much sooner. Electrifying the 9-3 and getting it ready for market is going to take significant time and money. As pointed out in comments, some of that investment will also make it into the Phoenix based car, but at an estimated cost of around 200million Euros, you’re still pouring a LOT of cash into an old platform, one that you intend to replace.

Throw 100million here and 100million there and pretty soon, you’re talking about serious money.

What’s even more perplexing is that if their customers are clued in, they’ll know that the first car NEVS release is due to be superseded a year or two later. Who would blow a significant amount of cash to be an early adopter in those circumstances?

The bit from SU that touches on this question:

The car which is launched with the 9-3 as base will be a new car, not just a facelift of the old one

Aside from powertrain, how so? It’ll look a little different? Unfortunately, that wasn’t asked and it’s important if you’re trying to figure out what NEVS are doing (and if you’re assuming that rational decisions are being made, as economists like to do). This is the crux of the whole question.

If you’ve got a platform that’s ready to go, why would you spend any more than the bare minimum required to electrify it? If its job is to be an early money-maker, why would you minimise your return by spending more than you need to?

Conversely, why would you spend a whole bunch of money to make it ‘different’ when you have the Phoenix model – the ultimate point of difference – in the pipeline? Spending money and time on the old version is wasting money and time that could be allocated towards your all-new product.

My theory on the possible real answer is this:

An electric car on the Phoenix architecture is, at best, 18 months away (more likely 24 with the momentum and human capital that’s been lost). That estimate assumes that NEVS are happy to use Jason Castriota’s design for what would have been called the Saab 900, i.e. the replacement for the Saab 9-3. If NEVS want to create an all-new exterior/interior design to go on the Phoenix platform, then it’s going to take a minimum of 3 years to develop that car.

Given that that’s the case (and those numbers come from Jason Castriota himself) then the only scenario where electrifying the old Saab 9-3 makes sense is one where NEVS decline use of Castriota’s design and decide to create a vehicle design of their own.

In that scenario, they can electrify the old Saab 9-3 in, say, a year from now and bring out their own Phoenix-based design at least two years later. I would still question the number of 9-3’s they’ll sell in that situation, but it’s the only scenario that even remotely makes sense.


I have a few other thoughts on topics raised in the SU article, but I’ll leave those be for now.

Bottom line, though, I think NEVS just got SU to their first bit of enthusiast PR and Tim even paid for the privilege of doing it. People seem to be quite happy to accept whatever bone NEVS throws to them but there’s got to be some meat in those responses, or else there’s no real conversation taking place.

I’m trying to sort out how much of my own personal time I want to commit to this new company. In doing so, there are fundamental questions that must make sense. Right now, they don’t.

Of course, there could be a really simple answer, something like “we’ve got a MASSIVE bucket of cash and our plans don’t need to make sense to you”. That would be fine and dandy. It wouldn’t make me follow them closely, but it would be an acceptable rebuff.

I’d say I’m still skeptical, but willing to learn.

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  1. I cannot see an electrified version of the (frankly) almost geriatric 9-3SS selling in significant numbers. Even the Chinese won’t be gullible enough to buy it especially with the enormous tariffs applied. If they really want an electrified Saab, the Chinese will have another option from BAIC by then anyway and substantially cheaper anyway.

    I personally feel that NEVS really isn’t about making cars. More about perfecting EV technology perhaps?

  2. Fair questions, indeed. Although reading at SU and elsewhere I get the impression that they will manufacture about 80 percent of the car in Sweden, ship the bodies to China and have the drivetrain installed there, as way of avoiding the import tariffs.

    Also the electric version of the old 9-3 will likely have a longer shelf life in China than you are assuming here. The plan could well be an electric Phoenix for the west (and as a high-priced luxury option for China), side by side with a current electric 9-3 as a “budget” option for the Chinese market.

    My impression is that we are just going to have to wait and see how this unfolds — NEVS seems to be on the other end of the spectrum from Victor Muller in terms of access to information. (Which is fine, just frustrating for Saabisti used to lots of information coming out of the old regime).

  3. …reading at SU and elsewhere I get the impression that they will manufacture about 80 percent of the car in Sweden, ship the bodies to China and have the drivetrain installed there, as way of avoiding the import tariffs.

    I haven’t heard that from anyone at NEVS yet, Greg. I think it’s been suggested in Swedish papers and theorised about in comments at SU, neither of which are authoritative. It would seem a pretty easy and non-controversial thing to ask and answer.

    If what you suggest is indeed the case, then that’s fantastic news. If they can get their vehicles on the Chinese market at no cost-disadvantage to others, then they’ll have a chance at a future. But every other manufacturer is going the JV route in China, which raises my suspicions about what we’re being told here.

    1. Swade, the joint venture route is not that easy. Since Saab is a “foreign company” they’d have to find a partner and bring in their knowledge about electrical cars into a JV brand. Those are roughly the rules that apply now iirc and it’s quite a bit that is asked of you.

      I’d say it makes sense to think twice if you want to take this.

      1. Life’s not meant to be easy, Till.

        All I was pointing out there is that even the biggest car companies have had to succumb to the JV route in order to get by the import tariffs (which are one of the main stumbling blocks to the logic of NEVS manufacturing in Sweden and selling in China). I’m not sure that merely assembling in China will get them around that. It’d be one heck of a loophole and I’m sure others would have exploited it by now.

  4. Your question 1;

    I have been pondering this point for a long time & have said it on SU.

    My main concern is that all of Saab’s forbidden Tech flows all to freely to China.

    Your question 2;

    Again here is no logic.

    The old 9.3 is old Tech & was passed it’s sell by date years ago. It was only Saab engineers that kept it anywhere near up to date.

    There is also the BAICS version of this very car as direct competition.

    Of course they may be intent on using just the epower version, but at what price?.

    My thoughts;

    TOP GEAR was on, on Sunday in the UK, & they re-ran an episode where JC & JM went off to study the Chinese car production/market & how far it’s come in 5 years & asking the question where to in the next 5 years, when WE WILL be buying their cars too.

    JC’s new 900, may or may not be the answer, but in 1 post Spyker has the rights, then they haven’t, so who knows.
    I suppose that comes down to if YM end up in a deal [and YM paying the investment money] with VM and IF they can still use the Phoenix platform, or not!!.

    I realize the Battery tech will advance over the next few years, but that may be years away & then along came the hydrogen system, who knows?.

    1. Where exactly is the 9-3 old technology? When you rip it off its engine, drive train, tank etc. that will be replaced by electrical components? You don’t want to tell me that this or that part of the McPherson strut is no longer made from steel, but from titanium, do you?

  5. It won’t be long, not long at all, before you start seeing western-brand automobiles made in China for sale in non-Chinese markets. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s already happening.

    BMW has started. They want to sell China build 5-Series in South East Asia, and maybe Australia too. And Daimler has said they will monitor it, because they could do the same with the E-Class.

    And VW is building a transmission plant in China, and knowing that the demand of some VW gearboxes in Europe is higher than their current production capacity, I expect to find some “Made in China” trannies in EU and US Volkswagens and Audis in the next 2-3 Years.

  6. Steve, very fair points well articulated as ever, I just don’t know what to think. I’m not excited that’s for sure. Vtomevwill tell but I think I’m at the stage of wishing them well as a last ditch effort for some Swedish based industry but certainly not a ‘continuation’ of Saab as we know it.

  7. This is my theory to the whole.

    The e-9_3 is “only” a proof of concept, ant it is by now the fastest way to get their e-drivetrain on the roads. Will it sell? I think only in small numbers, but with that they will show their competence, to bring their all-new Phoenix based e-car some years later.

    It is really a Tesla 2.0 story, but it may work.

  8. You don’t buy a car assemply plant like you buy a bottle of milk. When the project had matured to the point that they decided the would need an assembly line, they looked around and the only one there was at a bargain, was Trollhättan. It is all there: big halls, wind channels, robots, and the people who know how to operate them.

    The decision seems logical.

  9. Comment in Swedish press today that the structure of the deal has indeed change since it was presented in June. The Japanese company Sun Investment is not part of it anymore. Kai Johan Jiang’s National Modern Energy Holding is the sole investor, and the deal of SEK 1,8 billion is financed by the sale of assets in that company. They are now negotiating with parties around the world about the future investments that is needed.

    My feeling this summer was that we would see a new Koenigsegg situation again, were a buyer is selected but can’t go through with the deal. Now we instead have a Spyker situation, were they manage to complete the paperwork and pay for the assets but now have to find more capital to keep it going. The main difference from 2010 is that the car company were bankrupt 9 month ago, key personnel and competence gone with the wind, the plant is not producing cars that can generate income, the brand name is totally done in the mud, and situation on the market even worse.

    I wonder how many prospective investors in countries like China are willing to pay for a closed car manufacturing plant in Trollhättan, let alone bet massive investments on a company with one (1) not finished product (and at least 18 months away) on the worlds toughest market – and with a concept that has already proved to be a hard sell in reality. I hope for them that they still have a big deal to surprise us with very soon. Like, joining forces with Suzuki or something…

  10. Couple of random thoughts, in no particular order…the Chinese already have the pre-2006 9-3 via BAIC, so another vehicle based on the same platform seems an odd thing to try to peddle out there unless they want to appeal to a different sector (powertrain differences notwithstanding).

    Regarding the location of manufacture though, there is a definite element of snobbery in China – those with real money want the real deal, not the local version. I suppose it depends what demographic NEVS intends to tap into out there.

    With both NEVS and Spyker suggesting they intend to build cars on the Phoenix platform, there is definitely some uncertainty as to what they have licenced, why they have done so, and who owns what assets. Did Saab AB “own” Phoenix or did Castriotta? Were these part of the assets bought by NEVS, and therefore NEVS owns the IP that is licenced to Spyker? If not, what is the situation.

    Like you, Swade, I am hugely sceptical about the ability of NEVS to make anything long term and lasting from this mess. The fact that their focus is purely on ZEVs initially and not on hybrids means there is no cash cow in the short-to-medium term, because the market is so small and who will buy from a bit player with no track record? Who wants to be left in the lurch, like 9-4X and NG9-5 owners, should it all go tits up again?

    And one final point – if NEVS do not have the “rights” to the NG9-5 tooling, who does, and will they be doing anything with it? Will Saab Parts AB be able to remanufacture parts and panels etc? Will GM (please no…)?

    Lots of questions remain unanswered, and until these are, there will be naff all confidence in the longevity of anything else coming out of Trollhattan. Even if I were in the market for an EV, which I’m not, I wouldn’t trust them. Not yet. And I have never owned any car other than a Saab, for the last 27 years…

    1. From what I understand, Al, Phoenix is now owned by NEVS and they’ll have some work to do to take the last GM bits out of it. Youngman have some non-exclusive licences that they bought pre-bankruptcy, but not enough to build a whole vehicle (more on that later in the week, hopefully). They’ll have to negotiate with NEVS for more licences to get hold of more Phoenix IP.

      What Castriota owns is the IP for the exterior/interior design for the model that would have replaced the 9-3. NEVS (or Spyker/Youngman) will need to negotiate with him for the use of that, which would be a smart thing to do as a) the design is apparently very, very good, and b) it’s the quickest way of getting a Phoenix-based car to market. Starting a brand new design from scratch will put you around 18-24 months behind using Castriota’s design.

  11. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for ANY vehicle from NEVS to be ready for sale ANYWHERE in the world in the next 2-4 years…at best.

    Way too much “smoke & mirrors” from all parties involved.

  12. I don’t think that NEVS will use much more than the passenger compartment and suspension hardpoints from the old 9-3. Are those the parts that are considered geriatric?

    As I mentioned on SU (it later got repeated as fact, which tells you how the internet works), an electric drivetrain means that everything forward of the shock towers should be redesigned. Cooling and packaging requirements are completely different.
    For all we know, NEVS may decide to drive the rear axle.

    Also, I also wouldn’t be surprised if NEVS built a small line in China to install the battery pack(s) and perhaps the powertrain. This could create enough value-added to have them classified as domestic Chinese producers.

    I was watching footage of the electric Smart line, and the powerpack goes on with eight bolts and one connector. That can be done at POE with minimal investment.

    On a related note, I think that the Smart electric drive is the only electric that matters right now. It will retail around the same price as a regular (loaded) Smart after incentives ($19K here in Ontario, including an $8k government incentive), it’s got plenty of range for any reasonable commute, and it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. You wouldn’t want to drive a normal Smart cross-country, so the fact that it’s a logistical hassle in an electric Smart is irrelevant.

  13. It was nice to see that things I could add based on the post were already covered by commenters.

    While I was expecting NEVS would eventually close the deal, I was impressed when they announced they got the rights to use the Saab name/brand. There were some other interesting things mentioned in the SU interview with NEVS and there is no question that we’ll have to wait and see how NEVS’ future plays out.

    I found Swade’s comment about “how much time [he wants] to commit to this new company” to be a fair question but wondered what kind of commitment he was talking about. After almost 30 years driving Saabs, I’m interested in what the company that gets to carry the Saab name (as it relates to cars) will do and wish them the best. By the time I have to commit money to buy a Saab from NEVS, we should know more about what they did and still plan to do.

    I do hope Swade will “commit” to continue keeping an eye on NEVS and offer his critical commentary. I bet the boys at NEVS that SU interviewed read Swade’s blog too!

  14. Name one single premium car which is sold in the whole world which is completely and only built in China, it doesn’t exist, thats your answer! Now you know why NEVS will not produce their products in China…

    1. If you look at all the Chinese auto offerings (Geely, Chery, and Great Wall), none of the which are intended to be luxury car manufacturers: even as mass-market products, they are widely regarded as being well behind the competition.

      The intricacies of building a full power-train, engine management system and a chassis that provides the driver with the “feel” that they come to expect from a premium car, is several orders of magnitude more complex than building an iPod. Simply providing a capable staff of compentent engineers and builders with detailed instructions is insufficient for filling this gap. There is a great deal of Research and Development (which includes a lot of experimentation) to build true luxury car, and by all indications: they have not arrived just yet.

    2. First, I think you have to define “premium”. I guess you talk about what we in the Western world think of “premium”. Then, it is obvious to me that companies that are building those cars are rooted in the Western world and from the beginning sold their cars there. Why should any of them have all their production in China if the majority of sale are elsewhere? With vehicles, it kind of make sense to build them close to the market.

      Second, maybe the priorities for China as a nation has been something else then developing and building “premium” cars according to the standard in the Western world. That is not to say that they can’t or won’t. We had the exact same attitude regarding Japanese and Korean cars for the European and North American markets. What is the situation today?

  15. Swade, as you’ve never ever bought a brand new Saab in your whole life, would you consider buying the 9-3 as it is right now with only an electric drive-train… I dont think so since the whole design is old, the interior and electronics is old…

    It needs to be seriously updated if it is to become a premium car which it isn’t today! So simple, new infotainment system, new powertrain and a new look can make that car truly great and again work as the main product bringing in money to Saab.

    You’ve lost the whole point with NEVS means to distribute information. They are not interested in a conversation about what they are going to do. They are interested in a conversation about the principles… They will never do the big mistake which Victor Muller did, trying to sell a product which he didn’t have…

    All the talk of the 9-3 replacement totally killed the sales of the existing 9-3 and was a big contribution to why Saab went bankrupt… I personally talked to sales people all over europe who were pissed off about all the talk of a replacement car. That same mentality was shared among a lot of top level managers at Saab, you were there and must have heard it too!

    1. “All the talk of the 9-3 replacement totally killed the sales of the existing 9-3 and was a big contribution to why Saab went bankrupt…”

      The good old Osborne effect… However…

      Saab Automobile AB were in the spotlight as an almost failed company for more than a year before Spyker bought it. Not very surprising then that everyone wanted to know what the new owners intended to do – especially since they relied on EIB loans. Everyone wanted to see some sort of valid business plan. So the fact that the new owners actually wanted to develop new cars (without GM tech) as time goes by could hardly have been a surprise to anyone, now could it? In fact, that is what the whole industry have done for a 100 years and continues to do – replace old models with new ones. Furthermore, the 9-3 were already “old” in terms of industry standard and had gone through a facelift. What should they have done? Denied that they were developing a replacement?

      “They will never do the big mistake which Victor Muller did, trying to sell a product which he didn’t have…”

      Look at NEVS’ so called business plan. Even before they have the first product on the market they talk about the next completely new model! Good luck getting some electric 9-3 sales (if the product ever see the light of day).

      I’m not agains electric cars or NEVS per se – but I’m not drinking their Kool-Aid. The way they have handled the situation the last few month paired with their Swiss cheese business plan, makes it hard for me to take it all too seriously.

    2. The 9-3 was a legacy model from the GM era and quite overdue for replacement even when Spyker first bought Saab. There was a new 9-5 available and it would’ve been kind of difficult not to talk about a new model 9-3 coming. Whilst talk of that new model may have played some part in decreased sales of the existing model, didn’t the age of car have a greater affect?

      1. “All the talk of the 9-3 replacement totally killed the sales of the existing 9-3 and was a big contribution to why Saab went bankrupt… I personally talked to sales people all over europe who were pissed off about all the talk of a replacement car. That same mentality was shared among a lot of top level managers at Saab, you were there and must have heard it too!”

        I was there, and what you state above here is nonsense. There was no alternative to talking of a 9-3 replacement. The 9-3 was an over-aged car that badly needed a replacement, just like the 9-5 did. It was below-par for a self-professed premium car brand, it lagged behind the competition in terms of technology, it was too cheap and especially in the US, Saab lost money on every single 9-3 sold. The 9-3 needed a replacement that would be more in line with Saab’s premium aspirations and would be priced more competitively. If sales people around Europe ‘were pissed about talk of a replacement’, they don’t understand how the industry works. With regards to the top management at Saab, as far as I am concerned every single one of them fully understood that Saab needed a new 9-3. Frankly, as I experienced it, most within Saab were psyched about the prospect of a new 9-3. And Castriota’s design was/is indeed awesome.

        Finally, lagging sales of the 9-3 didn’t kill Saab. What killed Saab was a lack of funds, an overly ambitious and positive business plan, too high costs and too little sales overall, which all resulted in a huge crisis of confidence among consumers, the media, frankly everyone who was paying attention. Something not helped by the many promises that were made and that subsequently not delivered on.

  16. Furthermore what on earth do you mean by “Bottom line, though, I think NEVS just got SU to their first bit of enthusiast PR and Tim even paid for the privilege of doing it.”

    In what way did I pay for that?? oh I spent 30 Euro’s on fuel… wow… I should probably send a bill to NEVS for that.

  17. For those who might be wondering, Tim took exception to something I said in this piece, and took it personally. We’ve discussed that via email, personally.

    1. Steven…from personal experience…both you & I know Tim takes exception to anyone who questions him. He needs to grow a thicker skin, if he is going to be posting opinions on the Internet…or concentrate fully on his “day job”. 😉

    1. From the article, the architects were British. That is one unusual looking building.

      I’m jumping in here to note that there is a difference between “built well” and perceived quality through aesthetics. Apple as an example does very well at the latter, while they are not especially well built (let’s say pretty good, but not any more so than other decent tech products). The perception of quality largely comes from the design + marketing, not the part done in China. This “pants” building may be fantastically well engineered and constructed even if it looks ugly.

      Imho, “China builds things well” is more complex than whether or not an ipad looks nice and works well… There is good design, both functional and aesthetic, and also design for manufacture, all of which in many cases is being done in North America or Europe on these kinds of Chinese-made products people cite as good. Then there is the actual manufacturing itself (and associated manufacturing engineering support) done in China. How well the end product turns out is related to how well each of these areas are executed. Where China has historically had issues on the design front (though it is slowly improving), there are also issues on the manufacturing supply chain side, where imitation/fake parts work their way into the supply lines along side correct parts*. There are plenty of communication issues that happen also. It takes a very well run organization to avoid these kinds of problems and, while it can be done (there are companies successfully producing high end products there), I do believe people are still wise to be cautious wrt the quality of goods made there. Some goods are well made in China, some are not. Things are improving, but much improvement is still needed in many cases. Also, there is a big step from a disposable tech product like an iphone to a car, where failure could be life-threatening. There needs to be a big shift in mentality there and it may be happening but it won’t all change overnight.

      * and in many cases those same imitations are working into supply chains outside China also – much of the electronics parts supply chain has effectively been uprooted to China, so we get what we get, fakes and all! The emphasis on low cost (vs quality) has it’s downsides.

  18. “They are not interested in a conversation about what they are going to do. ”

    What is that for nonsense?
    If you want to sell something, you need to have a plan. There must be some promotion made by the time the’ll be on the market somewhere, sometime.
    VM didthe right way, he only could not find the money.

  19. Refreshing to read some cool headed text regarding NEVS, thank you Swade. Tim Rokka has way too much personal luggage on board for my taste to trust SU as a reliable news source. When keeping hope alive of one’s father’s and friends’ employment becomes the main motivator behind an automotive blog, certain journalistic fundamentals are flushed out. Frankly, Tim could use some time sorting out his sense of responsibilities.

    As for NEVS business arrangements, anybody think Trollhattan assembly line will find a new home in China one day in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  20. There is a merit of reason in what NEVS’ guys are saying.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with the example, but my mother has a Hewlet Packard pocket engineering calculator HP-11 which is now about 25 years old. In that time it had endured numerous road construction sites in all weather conditions, got more than it’s fair share of hits and bumps and it also served me through college and university. Although battered, it still works like new. Made in USA. These old calculators are just great.

    Two years or so ago, when I got fed up with a dismal cheap calculator that my company provided, I decided to bring in my own money and get a proper one. An HP, what else. The design hadn’t changed at all in all this years (the insides are completely different ofc) and the price was still high, so I bought an HP-12. Made in China. After 6 months of occasional and by no means abusive use, the keyboard was broken.

    You could argue it’s just a coincidence, but I have similar experience with many things Chineese.

    Back to cars. Let’s say I am buying a new car today, which I am not, but still. Saabs are currently nowhere to be found, so… a Volvo. It would probably be a V40. I have no clue where that one is produced – I hope in Goetheborg. The price is, say 27 000 €. If it was produced in China, then to me it would not be worth more than 7 000 €, which would naturally have meant, I would have to buy something else.

    NEVS will have to think very hard on their current generation 9-3 issue . If they plan to export their cars form Sweden to China, then they better make it very different to what BAIC (and god knows who else in China) is going to bring on the market that is based on the same tolling and tech, or they will find themselves selling the same thing at a way higher price. On the other hand, if they move the production to China now, noone will ever consider them a European company and they will find it impossible to sell anything in Europe or Nort America.

    But my guess is, that the rights to use Saab brand name depend on them producing in Europe or even in Sweden, and they just made a choice to rather stay in THN than loose the name. No Saab brandname + production in China would mean they are effectively out of the game.

  21. 1. Maybe the ‘reworked 9-3’ is a stepping stone, a way to maintain and develop the previous know-how in the company, re-connect with the suppliers and dealers, and old Saab customers.
    The 9-3 with it’s convertible, sedan and sportscombi gives NEVS, 3 models in one!
    Branding wise the 9-3 offers the DNA link to saabs past, and the bridge to the all new NEVS Saabs. The evolved 9-3 with selective development cost, will be a price beater in the EV market.

    2. The phoenix Saab is a totally different
    product, it will be more luxurious, expensive, truly innovative. This model might have it’s final assembly in Sweden, look premium scandinavian, but the parts, the batteries, the interiors and engines might all be made in china.
    So the NEVS Saab Phoenix might avoid the tariffs in china along with it’s high chinese content + R&D, but will brandwise be located in the North European Premium segment.

    3. This is only my guess, and if this is their business model, I’m sure they would guard it, and choose carefully what they communicate.
    We all know what amazing potential the Saab brand has, with a rich and somewhat quirky history filled with airplane engineers, 1980s architects and college professors that might want an alternative to the old Prius.

    If NEVS assembly cars in Trollhattan, develop cars with the help of ex-Saab engineers, design cars to continue the shape, look and logic of saabs in the past…. and has the right to stamp the Saab word on the grill. Even a non-believer of EV as myself has to say, NEVS is the new Saab, and the other way around!

    2. The Phoenix based Saab will be atot

  22. And conclusion to my post above is;
    – there might be Saab Scania fans, Saab GM groupies, Saab Spyker cheerleaders and Saab Nevs supporters…… I’m just a Saab fan, if the cars have four wheels and a hatchback option, I by them all if I can, despite who owns the business.

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