Aussie car industry near-death experience shows why I’m skeptical about rebuilding Saabs in a hurry

Saab Factory

The Australian car industry nearly croaked last week.

Autodom, a parts supplier to all three local manufacturers, went into administration and were only saved by Ford and Holden coming together to bail them out. Toyota sat on the sidelines as they already had an adequate reserve of spares and didn’t feel compelled to intervene, a move that I’m sure won’t be forgotten in the future.

As I was reading this recap of what happened, there was one part of the story that resonated with regards to NEVS and their possible plans to rebuild the petrol driven Saab 9-3 (a plan that’s caused me even more confusion than their regular plans to build EV’s in Sweden and sell them in China).

It has been revealed this week that Holden and Ford may have been forced to shut down for up to 18 months if it were not for their swift response…..

….Industry insiders report that 18 months is the time it would have taken for the car makers move their tooling equipment out of the old factories and refit them into new ones and then undergo the battery of engineering tests required to ensure the equipment meets their standards.

That’s an 18 month shutdown for a company that makes hinges and other minor bits and pieces.

Now imagine re-designing an older car like the Saab 9-3 to meet new pedestrian safety rules as well as re-engineering it to take a new powertrain. There’s all sorts of re-tooling, re-supplying and factory organisation to be done with that, too.

My concerns with NEVS remain as follows:

  • Why build in Sweden when China’s your #1 target market?
  • Why rebuff Jason Castriota’s designs for the Phoenix based car when starting from scratch is only going to cost you a bucketload more in terms of time and money?
  • Why burn cash on something other than your game-changing vehicle, the ‘ev-2’? Every dollar spent and day delayed pushes back your best hope of staying alive – new, innovative product.
  • Why deviate from your stated business plan of EV’s only to consider rebuilding a petrol driven 9-3 in a climate where your markets have all but dried up, the product’s quite outdated and highly unlikely to generate any profit whatsoever?

The Australian case shows just how delicate the balance can be in the car industry, and just how long it can take to get something designed, tested and out to market. Those suggesting that NEVS can just “get an engine from XXXX” need to fully consider the business case that has to be made for whatever option NEVS might choose.

The BMW/Mini option, for example, was going to be massively expensive. It was a path that Saab took with a massive lump in its throat because it was going to substantially push the market price of the 9-3 replacement upwards. It was considered worthwhile, however because Saab had to go upmarket in order to survive as a small manufacturer. The BMW name added sufficient currency to justify the cost for Saab in 2010 because it was a long-term strategy they were embarking on, but would it make the same sense in 2013 with NEVS heading in a vastly different EV direction?

The old joke of “losing $$ on each car but making it up in volume” was/is just a joke. You can’t do that in real life. NEVS must have an ocean of cash behind them because right now, the path they’re treading just doesn’t make economic sense.

——

To those who’ll feel inclined to criticise me for not appearing to support a new Saab venture, please understand this: It’s not that I don’t support them. I simply don’t understand them. I make no claims to knowing it all, but I’ve gained an understanding of what’s involved in this industry and just how hard it is to exist in it. Even revered boutique brands with outstanding products like Aston Martin are threatened constantly with being sold off to bigger players.

Why?

Because it’ll be damn hard to be a small player in the car business in 2012 and beyond. The only reason Saab was a saleable commodity back in 2009/10 was because it had three new products either ready for release or in the pipeline. Trying to start from next-to-nothing in a high cost country just doesn’t make sense with the little information NEVS has provided.

I wholeheartedly support the idea of Saab activity in Trollhattan, but I’m also an experienced realist who’s covered Saab for 6 years and worked for them for one. I understand the brand and the markets well enough to know that this is going to be a mighty uphill struggle and that the route currently being considered just doesn’t make enough sense to be real. I just hope they’ve got a massive rabbit they can pull out of their hat.

I only ask questions because I want it to make sense, for me and for the friends of mine who might be investing themselves in the idea of a new Saab product.

Unfortunately, NEVS don’t seem to want to answer. Their PR guy hasn’t even responded to my email with an acknowledgement that he received it.

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33 Comments

  1. Hi Steven,

    Petrol engine in the 9-3OG does not appear to me realistic as well. But I have been told that a third to another market like India could be interested in such a product. I do not know what to believe. :-/

    EV1 produced in THN to be sold in China : I don’t believe it either and I have been told as well that NEVS stackholders do already have facilities in China and intend to produce there.

    Still, the beginning is why did they choose Saab in Trollhättan: NEVS tried to answer the question : 1st class facilities, IP rights, skilly ingeneering, brand name for 450M€ which is far less than the price the would have paied a new facilities with new engineers to recrute from scratch.

    The business plan does not seem to be as know as they said. I agree that EU and US market are the most competitive ones, overcapacited and competed with foreign low costs productions. At least one only thing is sure : EV market in China in 2014/2015. Target is 10% for NEVS which would means 2000.000 units in 6 years until 2020. Knowking that THN facilities is limited to 190Kunits/year, they already have the mobile to relocate in China very soon under their business plan.

    But the fact is that EU buyers will not see a new Saab before 2016, if only they will see it one day. ROEWE times… 🙁

    1. Much of that makes sense, Remi. I just wish we’d hear NEVS explain it.

      I’m quite fascinated by what they might do in developing the EV2, but I just can’t see a business case for anything 9-3 based, petrol or electric.

      Most of the motoring work isn’t as optimistic as they are about the growth in EVs that they forecast. They can still be a prominent player in the segment, though, but they’ll need all-new product to do it.

  2. You are quite correct. Doing anything to resurrect a car model that has already had 2 periods of wind down or dead halt, is 11 years old, and in recent times has had a transaction price running about 2/3rds (or less ) of it’s intended msrp makes zero commercial sense.

    Doing it to hire and thus preserve a talent pool doesn’t make sense. It would just be the worlds most expensive training program. Then they would have to retrain once they got their new final product.

    I question where anything is really happening to make any progress. The nevs website says “currently there are no vacancies”.

    I think the midnight convoy will arrive at some point, and all the tooling will be spirited away to china.

    1. I agree about the “training program”, Alan. It would be more cost effective to hire the key people you need (the team leaders, etc) and pay them to do nothing but be on hold for you. Key people are key people for a reason, but much of the general factory workforce can be skilled up relatively quickly.

  3. Are there still any surplus parts and components for 9-3s sitting around at the factory? May be NEVS wishes to build cars out of them in a few production runs.

  4. Anyway, any move by Saab Automobile to maintain a tangible presence in the global market in the run-up to the launch of the Pheonix-platformed models is to be welcomed.

    It’s just my amateurish thought:
    1. the production volume will be tiny requiring only a skeleton staff working in a plant which would otherwise be idle, and on a build-when-order received basis. It’s like a cottage workshop.

    2. Distribution will rely on the existing global network of Saab parts and services dealers on consignment basis: they take orders for Saab Automobile to deliver without having to buy the cars themselves upfront.

  5. When NEVS bought Saab, I thought to myself, well, we have seen that EVs are not accepted by buyers, because of high price, and low range, and only an idiot would try to get into this market that will soon be crowded by Toyota, Tesla, and BMW as a newcomer. So, I concluded, assuming that the managers of NEVS are no idiots, they must have something up their sleeves regarding battery technology.

    Not so sure now wether my assumption holds. The start of a combustion engine car production would only make -some- sense under two very contradicting condition:

    if they can get engines cheap, and are closer to producing the 9-3 EV than anybody expects them to be, so that they will only produce lets say a couple of thousend engine based cars, before switching over to EVs. But based on what battery technology?

    OR:

    They discovered that the EV is far more distant than expected, due to the battery problem, and just panic.

  6. As Swade writes, NEVS may have an ocean of cash behind them. But why, then, are they not moving at a faster pace? This company still claim they will have a new car ready in 14 months time. In fact, they intend to start building another model even before that. A few months ago they said that they intended to utilize the plants full capacity (over 150.000 cars) within a few years (I interpret that to be around 3-4 years).

    How many people have NEVS employed in Trollhättan at the moment? 100? Sounds to be realistic plans, then…

    A company buys the remains of Saab Automobile and intend to produce cars – that was the picture presented in June. I guess that is how we look at it and that is why nothing makes sense. The more I see what is (not) happening, the more I see NEVS as some sort of Chinese innovation agency (almost like the Swedish VINNOVA). They buy a bankrupt car maker with the intention to use those resources (the plant, some existing IPs, some know-how, some key personnel) to nurture other smaller players in the industry that either already started to grow around this former industry or will be started in the remains of the defunct car maker. They can provide contacts with a specific market (China), give out preliminary R&D contracts, fund smaller investments, provide services like floor space, recruiting, etc. All with the intent to create a cluster of smaller innovative companies that can provide products and solutions regarding electric vehicles for the Chinese market.

    Because nothing they have done so far indicates that they are a company that intends to work directly at the consumer market or that they will build cars in Trollhättan at any volumes other than for small test fleets. Their PR is non-existent. The few interviews they have given contains weird statements that (if they infact intended to be a car maker) just raises ten more questions. I can’t say that general public in Sweden cares about them, and I think that is how they like it to be.

  7. From the ground level I can’t imagine this working. We couldn’t sell Saabs when we had the full range of cars, when Saab was viable, and there was a global distribution and dealer network. Now NEVS thinks that dealers, once burned, will sign on to sell a few cars and have, likely, a fragile support infrastructure? How about the customers who were left with no warranty coverage; do you think they’d suggest to their friends and families that buying a new Saab would be wise? There is just too much wrong with this concept. I want NEVS to succeed for the people of T’hattan but I can’t get too excited about this scenario: it just seems doomed.

      1. I wanted to bring up the idea of direct internet sales at Saab in 2011, but we were a bit busy with other things. I think we could have put together something that worked. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before other established makes do it.

        1. Indeed but like you, Swade, experienced as ctm noticed it : stil no PR.

          I am struggling against me to try to convince that, like some others say “there a lot more than NEVS behind NEVS, etc” but the profile of a R&D firm is making its way but they did NOT need 9-3 platform neither Trollhättan Saab Properties to do that! so? I don’t know…

          Speaking about my country, look at what new french brand has just achieved here. Born 4 years ago : just unbelievable. (And there is a lot of PR for that)

  8. ”The old joke of “losing $$ on each car but making it up in volume” was/is just a joke.”

    Of course, but question:
    Did Saab ever make cars without a gross profit ones the factory was up and running? To my knowledge, no.

    Getting back to manufacturing a reasonable lineup of Saabs is going to require billions of dollars anyway so why not get in gear sooner rather than later -if that’s the plan and they have the money.
    To sell new Phoenix based premium EV’s only is not a guarantee for success.
    In fact it could be the most stupid plan ever for SAAB as the brand won’t have much of an image without petrol or hybrid cars that you can drive around the Arctic ice track for 2 months straight if you wanted to = quality.
    To think that the Chinese middle class will just flock to an expensive EV from Sweden that is a completely new product to the company after not making or selling a single car in years is delusional IMHO. Especially when you’re going against the German manufacturers.

    I don’t know how many good old 9-3 Griffin’s they can sell but if it’s ever going to have a petrol powertrain (which I btw doubt) it must be the same thing that would go into the Phoenix version and to be used for years. Most likely it’s the diesel that can be put in fairly quickly, leaving only the pedestrian safety issue to be resolved?

    The more cars they can churn out of THN the better off everyone will be in the end as it’s so much easier to keep some kind of customer base -not to mention retaining brand status and recognition- if you actually produce cars over the next 3-4 years while keeping the marketing costs at minimum.
    Building 9-3’s again would also instantly resurrect Saab from just being a dead car brand owned by some new player.

  9. I think you’re right. These plans doesn’t make any sense to me either.
    I think that the Western market will not see a Saab anymore in the (neir) future.
    The Chinese market and the new installed government is ready for the new carmarket, whether its biodriven or electrical. Because they know they need alternative energy to let the economics grow, for that is the basic intention. Polution of air is a great problem in China, so they must invest in cleaner engines. Saab will be new on that market, so it’s not important if a Western old model is used. Thn has the factory and the people to start with. I’me sure that whithin a couple of years all technologies and knowledge will be disapeared to China. How sad, but for me it is the only logical reason why.

  10. NEVS can’t use Jason Castriota’s designs because they aren’t designs for an electric cars.
    One thing that is becoming clearer every day is that electric cars that are based on petrol-engined cars are inherently compromised and doomed to failure.

    Compare Tesla’s efforts to Nissan’s. The new Tesla is, by all accounts, a fine car with good packaging, excellent performance and decent range. By comparison, the Leaf only appeals to people and organizations who want an electric car irrespective of functionality. It has poor range, poor handling, poor packaging, and a high price. The base Tesla is only $15,000 more than the base Leaf, but they are worlds apart in terms of what you get for your money.

    NEVS can’t achieve the packaging, performance, selling price, and range that will be critical to their ultimate success if they don’t start with a clean sheet. It’s a shame that we will probably never see Castriota’s Saab, but NEVS would be foolish to try to make an electric car out of it.

    1. Using Jason’s design IS certainly possible, though as you suggest it’s a compromise from a clean sheet approach to electric car building, as per Tesla’s Model S.

      Remember this – when NEVS bought Saab they also bought the Phoenix platform, which they apparently plan to use. That’s a combustion engine platform. If there’s a point of compromise in using Jason’s design, it’s not so much down to Jason, it’s all the things that Jason’s design tied together in terms of the skeleton the car was to be built on (and will be built on under NEVS).

      The suggestion about using Jason’s design isn’t just a desire to see it on the market one day. Yes, I’m inclined to be a little parochial towards him as a friend and former workmate at the same place, but it’s more than that.

      Bottom line, it makes sense to save money by not doing stuff twice unless you have to. Maybe they’ve got the money and aren’t worried by that. Maybe they want a complete clean sheet approach, as you suggest. We don’t know (which is my other issue with NEVS – they do no PR at all and it would have been great PR if they’d come out and outlined their design philosophy, why they plan to build it a certain way, etc. Turn this negative mystery into a positive point of interest.)

      1. I tend to think there might be some IP issues and GM ties as well with the Jason design, that does not sit well with NEVS as well

        About putting the old 9-3 back in production in some form, I believe, just as Tim Rokka at SU, that this is more about geting the factory occupied than the car output – you also have to test run the supply chain if you should have any chance of hitting any respectable volume in 2014, regardless of what that product is. Just stuffing the organisation needs a lot of man power, getting managers in place to start hiring etc. Going from 100 employees to something like 3000 + temporaries without chaos is not that simple.

        1. NEVS will not go to 3000+ employees anytime soon. Saab had approximately 3,700 employees under Spyker ownership and was bleeding cash. NEVS will need a much, much leaner organisation, also because I don’t see them even remotely approach pre-2010 Saab volumes in the next five years.

          1. Jeroen, about bleeding cash I’ve many times wondered how different things could have been with a more hunkered down approach in 2010?

            The biggest single mistake by the management was to spend like crazy on bad advertising the first year for cars that the customers were reluctant to buy because of what GM had left Spyker with.
            Talking about recipe for disaster right there.
            By the time they had the first upgrade versions out (MY11-12) or models ready to be launched they’d run out of money and then faced all those ‘convenient’ hinderances to get new investors in.
            The game was over before getting even properly started.

            How relieved some of the competition must be that the NG 9-5 SC or 9-3 Phoenix hatch never hit the showrooms.

          2. RS – the advertising at the time was poor in the US and didn’t have much better impact elsewhere. We took huge issue with that on SU at the time, as you might remember.

            I don’t think it’s the biggest mistake, however. Saab’s advertising budget wasn’t big enough to make it so large (and the small ad budget was a constant source of criticism from some at the time, too).

            In hindsight, and with the benefit of chatting at length with a number of people about this, I think the biggest mistake Saab made was the launch of the 9-5. It came in poor spec in the US (perhaps out of necessity due to supply issues, but poor nonetheless) and it was simply priced way too high. I know that various national offices argued this point with Saab management, but there were elements within management that wouldn’t budge on the pricing/packaging strategy.

            Saab had only one chance at a re-launch after the GM sale. They had to impress and the launch of the 9-5 – their first all-new car in nearly a decade – was the #1 prime opportunity to do it. They missed it.

            As you point out, a poor ad campaign in key markets was part of that. But more relevant was the poor launch in terms of pricing and packaging. The market didn’t respond and it opened Saab up for much more scrutiny and criticism.

            ——

            The other thing that crippled Saab was not getting control of costs soon enough. Project Cheetah was 18 months too late. Many at Saab continued to act as if GM’s deep pockets were behind it, hiring agencies to do expensive work that we should have been able to do in-house (in the marketing area, at least).

            But that’s a subject for another post.

          3. Swade, yes the free ads were much better on SU 😉 and you’re correct about the packages and pricing with the GM quality interior.

            I call the advertising budget the biggest mistake now that I had a look at the 2010 annual report and compared it to the half-year one. JEIZUS! They spent roughly 100 million euro on selling 20.000 cars. It was a dumb gamble that backfired big time IMHO.
            Had they turned to fans in late 2010 and said “-Look we’re going bankrupt if you guys wait for the MY11.5.” Many would had jumped in to help but no one knew VA’s money was banned.

          4. The design of the Muller 9-5 was wonderful and the 9-5 muller sport wagon that never was—–might be the best design Saab has ever NEARLY put into production. Again, the pricing was the sticking point. Saab could have been successful with these cars, had they been positioned one notch down. Yes, textile seats and the elimination of so many gadgets—-I’d even go as far as saying plain-jane wheels, manual adjust seats (I’ve owned top end Cadillacs, my Saab, Buick, etc.—–the best seats I ever had were manual adjust seats on a Peugeot 505). If this could have reduced the price by thousands, Saab could have sold to another whole group of people inclined to want a Saab—–but who could never afford the price of entry of the final 9-5.

          5. Well, if they can pull things off is another thing, but their target seems to be volume production fairly soon, and if that’s the case, the need to repopulate the factory in time for the ramp up. If they prioritize to get volumes as fast as possible to cut out as much market share as possible early on, restarting to production with whatever is avable is one way of doing it. They have said that their target is profitability before 2019, and if they have such a long term strategy, this may make sense. Of course I may be wrong, and also they may not be able to pull things off. They say thay have bucketloads of money behind them, and if we for a moment assume that is correct, this isn’t the same game as before.

  11. Working in the advertising industry for over two decades, maybe I place an improportionately large emphasis on advertising/marketing—-but priced affordably and positioned properly—-and then promoted correctly, a gas engined/diesel engined 9-3 can still succeed (at least in the U.S.). This would need to be a new direction for Saab in who they compete against and how they equip their cars—-but I still believe that even the old 9-3 design would find a lot of new buyers if it were decontented, with a reduced price—-it would be a building block AND a transition to a new Saab. I do believe that for NEVS to succeed, they will have to offer more than EVs. They need to broaden Saab’s product line with an entry level model (probably not made in Sweden) and they can build a flagship in Sweden. But they need to face the reality that they are not ever going to succeed against the high end luxury players—-and they have to come to grips with that. Swade—-as for NEVS rebuffing your efforts/outreach to them, it’s extremely troubling. The reality is that to sell cars around the world—-you don’t only need vision—-you need the ability to share that vision with future buyers and get them excited. Selling cars in the 21st century is about way more than having a good product to sell—-that’s merely the first step and there are many beyond that. NEVS has proven to be stubbornly aloof since we first heard of them and since it became official that they would be awarded bankrupt Saab. I’m not sure if it’s arrogance or cluelessness—-but they need an infusion of enthusiasm—-maybe a little caffiene or something. They need to speak up about their intentions—-give us something to look forward to, if there is anything.

    1. Lower MSRP prices for the base models (starting with manual gearbox and textile seats) and upscale 9-3’s that could have taken on the 300+ hp Germans should have done the trick IMO.
      Audi doesn’t do that because of VW. Saab (NEVS) could take on both like in the old days.

  12. “NEVS must have an ocean of cash behind them because right now, the path they’re treading just doesn’t make economic sense.”

    Let’s assume they do have an ocean of cash. It would still not make any economic sense. Under that scenario, they’d be throwing billions at something which at face value seems to be a very looooooong stretch. In the end, I assume NEVS is in business for the same reason everyone else is in business: to make money.

    That still is my main question: how are they going to earn back those billions? What is your plan for getting an ROI? If they would really be investing these “oceans of cash” into the plans they have ‘revealed’ so far, they more resemble a charity than a business.

  13. NEVS created their business plan before Saab became available.

    Many of their decisions do not make sense from a Saab-centric perspective, but they do if you think of them as a company that has a five-year plan to build a new electric car.
    They were lucky to acquire a modern factory and platform at once, along with the opportunity to hire seasoned staff, but this doesn’t mean that they will change their “big picture” goal.

    Here’s what I get from this:
    1- NEVS is farther along in their plan than they thought they would otherwise be, at least on the factory/platform side of things. This doesn’t mean that other parts of the plan can also be brought forward.
    2- Their business plan did not initially include building a petrol or hybrid car based on an older platform.
    3- Interim products based on the old 9-3 must contribute to the bigger plan. There are many positives: skill-set retention, brand management (Saab has more value if it’s producing cars), distribution channel retention. Also, it’s a chance to get the kinks out of the system before they release their make-or-break product.
    4- Interim products don’t have to make money. They just need to cost less than the alternatives. The question then becomes: how many millions would it cost to train new workers, have an empty factory, launch an all-new product without being able to meet initial demand? Look at Tesla, they can’t get their factory to ramp-up fast enough to meet market demand, and it’s costing them tons.
    5- The final product will not be a “real Saab,” as defined by people who think that Saab should still be building whatever car first brought them to the brand. That should be obvious, and it’s no different than the situation 10 or 25 years ago, but there’s always a contingent who wants to go back to the “good old days” (back when they had more hair and fewer responsibilities, presumably).
    6- The final product will be a “real Saab,” provided that NEVS takes advantage of the incredible skills and people that reside around Trollhattan. They are the automotive industry’s classic rank outsiders. They’ve consistently been able to design and build cars that were years ahead of their time, and yet incredibly practical. Most manufacturers are only now introducing the turbocharged, efficient sedans that Saab first released 35 years ago. Being ahead of the market hasn’t always helped Saab, but it’s a big plus if you want to design a car that will be relevant in 2020.

    1. Bernard: I agree with much of your post, but take exception with characterizing me as having less hair. It’s true that I do have more responsibilities now—-but I have a full head of hair, though it’s gray! Anyway, there IS a reason why sometimes, the good ole days are better than going on a narrow path that might lead to nowhere. Look at Volkswagen: They established themselves around the world with the Beetle—-a product that was among the lowest priced cars available anywhere, simple, basic—-easy to maintain—–and it became the best selling design ever (I guess Corolla has topped the Beetle’s sales record—-but Corolla did it with many incarnations while the Beetle was largely unchanged all those years). Anyway, how many times has Volkswagen decided to abandoned the value formula to build a “world class car that competes with the best?” And just as many times, they’ve been humbled, tail tucked between their legs, back to lowering the sticker price on their cars and selling VALUE instead of luxury. I see Saab in the same boat. Saab has proven that the luxury car formula to compete against Audi and others will fail. It just will. They need to target Mazda, VW, etc. They can still offer a bells and whistles gee whiz car if that floats their boat—-but if they don’t also attack the lower and middle, they will fail, again. And there’s no doubt in my mind that if they isolate themselves by building only an EV, no matter how advanced or how Saab—-it will fall flat. Logic tells me building an electric car in Sweden and selling it in China—-no matter how top-down the Chinese government is—-that car won’t sell in large numbers if there’s a less expensive alternative, and there’s sure to be. NEVS is right to consider petrol again, other markets—-and getting this up and running quickly by going to a product that is relatively easy and inexpensive to bring back.

      1. It should go without saying that I wasn’t targeting anyone specific in my fifth point. The sentiment is not specific to Saab, or even to cars. “Why doesn’t music sound just like it did in high school?”

        Kids today… their music is harmonies and melodies. Back in my day music was just noise, and it was better.

        1. I know—-but was stepping up to say I’m one of those “things were better in my day” people when it comes to Saabs. Actually, I also think the music was better in the 60s, 70s and 80s than in the 90s or since. There are exceptions of course—-but it’s become more about style than substance (no pun intended). Lady Gaga. Really?

        2. Bernard, I don’t think it’s got to do with taste but performance and price of the product.
          Saab is not about using some specific fuel or power. I heard for years how diesel’s weren’t “real” Saabs.
          They could run on whale farts or sun flares for all I care.
          Can the new EV-2 be anything better than a laptop on wheels is the more important question? If not NEVS needs to offer ICE cars until that battery breakthrough has happened.

  14. Sorry kids…but the thought of NEVS “resurrecting” an 11 year old car to sell if ludicrous…unless they price them at USD$20k…or less. Which isn’t going to happen.

    I have run two different SAAB stores in my sordid past, and can tell you that their plan tho sell the old 9-3 will never fly…period. Technology has progressed so far beyond what was available 11 years ago, that an ENTRY LEVEL Toyota, VW, and nearly any other marque, is so far ahead now, that it would be money wasted for NEVS to even think about trying to get that car in compliance. Think emissions, safety requirements (crash tests & materials compliance), fuel economy, etc., etc. You’re talking TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars, or whatever currency you want to use. And time…a lot of it.

    As as mentioned by others above, the certifications required to get that OLD car to comply with current WORLDWIDE standards would be very expensive, and frankly stupid.

    And for those of you who aren’t familiar with my SAAB history/ownership, I’ve owned over 20 of them since 1977, still own two 1990 900 SPGs, and love the brand dearly, but the likelihood of SAAB coming back even as a shadow of its former self are remote at best. Think Don Quixote folks, if you do.

    And as for all electric car sales? Well take a look at this from only two years ago. Not promising for the entire INDUSTRY…let alone a company that barely even exists currently, and seeming has nothing currently on the drawing boards either.

    http://www.plugincars.com/analysis-suggests-only-100000-electric-cars-will-be-sold-us-2020-99382.html

    1. Dude: So to sum up what you’re saying—-Saab is doomed. They can’t come back as they were, EV sales won’t work—-so basically, you’re saying it’s over for them. Maybe you’re right—-but we won’t know until they try. Frankly, I agree with you to an extent. This nameplate should have never priced to be competing against Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes Benz, etc. THAT was ridiculous. They cut their teeth selling value priced, ingenious cars like the original 96 and then the 99. Eventually, they found success for a few years in the 1980s, selling a car that competed in the same league as the Peugeot 505. They then tried to move it up to BMW, Mercedes territory—-and after a long struggle with very few profits, they went bankrupt. No surprise there. The advertising was silly, the price was too high—-the product positioning was laughable. NEVS has a chance to succeed, though I don’t know if they will do what is necessary. The key would have been a win by Mahindra last Spring—-and an entry level model to bring younger buyers into the fold—-a less expensive sport ute for the same reason—-probably made in China, Taiwan, Korea or India—-with the “better” (read more expensive Saabs) still screwed together in Sweden. I’m not hot on the EV idea at all, but they could have added in that or a hybrid to mooch development money from some gullible governments, like the current one in the U.S. Back to the 9-3—–if they decontent it and sell it cheap enough, enough of them will find homes to keep NEVS busy while they decide what to do next.

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