Earlier this week I interviewed Mikael Östlund from NEVS/Saab and I posted the text from that interview on this website. As has been my tradition since time immemorial, I also posted an accompanying piece with my thoughts on the substance of that interview.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve copped a fair hosing for those pieces, mostly on Saabs United. That’s OK. People will, and can, have their opinions and I’m pretty content with the state of my relationships in the world.
What I’d like to do now is give you some background on WHY I do things the way that I do, so you can perhaps understand what makes me tick.
A few small matters, first.
- This is my personal site. It’s not a community site. I don’t care if the readership is big or small because I have no advertising base to satisfy any more, no other vested interests or objectives (other than those implied ones I’ll mention shortly). This site was set up simply because I enjoy writing and didn’t want to give that up once the Saab job fell through. The process itself is cathartic for me and it’s nice to keep in touch and share thoughts with many of the people I’ve met over the years.
- I spent from 2005 to late 2011 writing 99% of my stuff about Saab, but at my core I’m a car guy and have been since my Dad gave me a book about Jaguars when I was 11 or 12 years old. Whilst Saab has been the biggest brand in my life, I have always had vehicular interests outside Saab and as a car guy, I’ve always had an interest in exploring those. I do that here. When I write about cars here, it’ll be cars that I’m interested in from whatever brand is crossing my desk. Right now, that’s mostly Saab, Alfa and RenaultSport with a few smatterings of other car industry stuff.
- Having said that, I can’t divorce myself from my past and Saab news is of continuing personal and public interest, both for me and many of my friends. The reasons have been covered many times here – my own past with the company, my friends in the region, and my friends in the Saab community. This is NOT a Saab website but I’ll cover occasional bits of Saab news with interest.
That last point leads nicely in the reason for this post – why I write about Saab in the way that I do.
My first concern has always been the reader. Yes, I always wanted to support the company and I was an unashamed enthusiast during my TS/SU days. But the first priority was always getting the right information to the reader.
All readers were/are a priority, but there’s a particular core of readers that I continue to use as a measuring stick in everything I do in writing, particularly about Saab. This small group are people I’ve had dinners with, spent time and shared good experiences with. If they were in town, I’d open a room at my home to any of these people in an instant. Some are friends, some are former colleagues. They are people who have personally supported me in various ways over a number of years, people who I’ve gone to for some wisdom when times were either very confusing or very pressured. These people were my personal circuit breakers in the tough times, my motivation in good times (including now) and my friends all the time.
One particular thing about this group of people is that they are all Saab fans and supporters. They’ve bought one or more Saabs (sometimes many more) over a long period of time and they’re all people who still share a long-term interest in what’s going on in Trollhattan. There’s a reasonable chance that they’re still interested in Saab’s new products under NEVS even though those products are so fundamentally different than Saab’s historical products because of the electric powertrain.
My challenge – the standard that I set for myself – is that I have to continue to look these friends in the eye and be comfortable in my own skin knowing that when I wrote something about Saab, I wrote it with the best of my knowledge and with complete honesty and integrity. These are people I hold the utmost respect for as friends and I need to feel that I’ve done everything I can in covering this stuff to earn their respect back.
These people are smart enough to do their own homework and form their own opinions. But as so far as they read about Saab and might come here to do some of that reading from time to time, what they read will be the best possible material that I can provide. It’ll be as honest and as objective as I can make it from my own viewpoint in the world. I’m not a reporter on the beat with complete detachment from the matters that I choose to cover. My opinions will be my own, but the material that I present will be as researched as I can reasonably make it as a hobbyist. It will be measured and weighed with my own experience as a writer, as a former employee and remaining mindful of all that I’ve learned about this industry from the many senior people at Saab that I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with, particularly over the last three years.
I won’t always be right and I hope I’ll always heed good counsel when it comes my way. I won’t always be pleasant or fun to read but I hope I will be interesting more often than not. But I WILL always be writing with one of these guys sitting on my shoulder and I’ll always be measured and honest in what I think and say.
When it comes to Saab, I do honestly want them to succeed. I don’t know if their future products will suit my tastes and my inclination is to think that they won’t, but that doesn’t mean I’m negative towards them due to bias.
Their advanced battery technology is exciting and I’m looking forward to see what they come up with in terms of a completed vehicle. I’m very pleased they’re heading down the premium path as it’s the only road to success for a small company. I also think it’s the best route to make a vehicle that traditional Saab fans will look at with genuine interest. The finer points that made a Saab were not generic.
If I’m skeptical or cover certain issues with a critical eye, it’s only because the knowledge that we have so far contains some holes in the logic and I want to try and understand those holes. I’m not going to be a hard-ass but I’m not going to give NEVS a free pass, either. My questions about them are reasonable. I asked Mikael follow-up questions and pressed him on questions that he gave shorter answers to because I WANT to understand what they’re doing, not because I wanted to be a jerk.
If I don’t do that then I can’t continue to look those people who are important to me as friends in the eye and say that I covered that story the best I could, with the best knowledge and the most honest opinion that I could write.
That’s my standard. On the occasions that I cover Saab stories around here, that’s what I adhere to. Hopefully it serves not only that core of key people, but everyone else who visits here as well.