The automotive internet’s a funny place sometimes (this site included). One site says something and everyone seems to jump on board, regurgitating the information with their own small changes/additions with few people pausing to ask “Is this really possible?”
Here’s Autoblog (the latest amongst many):
Saab is gearing up to start production of the 9-3 again in September, two years after the last example rolled off the assembly line at the company’s Trollhättan factory, Aftonbladet reports
New Saabs? Next month!!! Sounds great!
Then there’s the next sentence, which seems to completely contradict the first one, (though it didn’t stop the ‘production’ headline).
Saab’s new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), a Chinese-Japanese consortium created solely to buy Saab, says that the model’s parts supply is the bottleneck in the production process, understandable since many of Saab’s suppliers closed after it stopped production two years ago.
Thankfully, Just-Auto took a look at the claims with a more experienced eye and actually contacted NEVS to ask relevant questions (what a novel approach!). The answer they got put some meat on the bones of the second Autoblog quote, a gargantuan hurdle that Autoblog (and others) didn’t even seem to recognise:
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) is declining to confirm reports it will start production next month of the Saab 9-3 at its Trollhattan plant.
Speculation has mounted manufacture would begin imminently at the site around one hour north of Gothenburg, but NEVS is pouring cold water on the suggestion.
“We have not started production yet – we have not contracted all suppliers we need for parts,” a NEVS spokesman told just-auto from Sweden.
“Before we have 100% of all parts, we are not able to start. We have the vast majority, but not all yet. We have access to the plant of course and we produce spare parts for Saab Parts, but we have not started our own production yet.”
It’s no surprised that Saab enthusiasts are quite keen to see any news of a re-start of production. I’m sure the news floating around of an imminent re-start got some people excited.
I’d urge patience.
Here’s how things work in the car business, generally speaking. You have the following options:
- A quality car that’s been thoroughly tested for consumer use.
- A car featuring a new engine and a host of new parts.
- A car that’s released to market relatively quickly.
Your job is to pick which two you’d like, because you can only have two out of those three.
#2 is compulsory when it comes to NEVS’s plans to reproduce the old Saab 9-3 in non-electric form. It has to be one of your two choices because GM aren’t going to deal with NEVS to supply either engines or parts. That means NEVS has to find a new engine to go into the car (preferably turbocharged) and they have to find companies that’ll produce parts that GM used to supply.
Given that a new engine and a whole bunch of new parts have to go into the car, your choice is whether you test it thoroughly before release, or you release it quickly without proper testing (at least 12 months worth). Choose the latter if you’ve got a lot of money you don’t mind losing.
Now, if NEVS are saying (as per the Just Auto quote) that they still haven’t even got the full compliment of parts suppliers sorted yet, then Saab fans are in for a considerable wait.
If that statement’s a real reflection of where NEVS are at then I’d be surprised – cautiously but pleasantly surprised – if NEVS make a production car to be offered for sale to the public before this time next year.
NEVS have good resources at their disposal in terms of finance and facilities. They’re slowly going build up the workforce they need to make use of those facilities. But as I’ve said a million times before, there are no fingersnap solutions in the car business. Things take time. If NEVS have to put a new outsourced engine and a whole bunch of new parts into their re-birthed Saab 9-3, that’s going to take a bucketload of testing and development before it can be sold to the public. Technology has sped that process up, but it still takes time.
NEVS can do this, but Saab fans are going to have to be patient.