Saab Will Build A Car On Monday

Some more good news has come out of Trollhattan today.

Here’s the invitation:

——

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB has started the production of the Saab 9-3 Aero Sedan with a petrol engine and would like to invite media to a presentation:

  • Time and date: Monday December 2, 13.00.
  • Venue: Main gate, Saabvägen 5, Trollhättan.

Program

  • 13.00 Presentation of NEVS
  • pre-series-car_5184x3456

  • NEVS founder and owner Kai Johan Jiang
  • President Mattias Bergman
  • Q & A session
  • 13.25 First car rolls of the assembly line
  • Photo session
  • Interview session

You’ll note that Saab has already started production with some pre-prod cars rolling off the line this month. It seems that this event is therefore largely ceremonial. They’ve got things sorted out on the production line and now the time is right to get the press in and show that things are rolling.

All well and good.

And a genuine cause for celebration, I might add.

BUT – and you knew there’d be a ‘but’ in there, didn’t you? – I am slightly more interested in the Q&A and interview sessions that will follow. Will anyone ask the harder questions and most importantly, will NEVS have any answers to them?

Here’s my starting position. You can disagree if you like, but I’d be interested to know your reasoning.

Right now, as a Saab enthusiast, I’m interested in what NEVS is doing because they’re doing it with Saab-badged cars and they’re doing it in a town that I love – Trollhattan. Eventually, NEVS is going to have to do what Saab did, however, and make a car that’s compelling. Building a 9-3 is all well and good but people have been driving the 9-3 since late in 2002. It’s no longer compelling to the average punter. Right now, the re-start of the factory is very interesting, but more compelling would be what NEVS might do to improve the 9-3 and what the company plans to do to sell the 9-3. More compelling still is what NEVS might do with the Phoenix platform.

I know we’re going to get very little in the way of Phoenix-related information. That’s to be expected. But NEVS’s plans for the initial 9-3 are now fair game because they’re building it and they’re asking the world to come and see it.

Building the 9-3 from the smoking ruins of Saab Automobile is one hell of an achievement and I don’t want to trivialise that for a minute. But in the overall scheme of running a car company on the world stage, it only puts a few credits in the bank. Building a car is the bare minimum for running a car company. There’s GOT to be a bigger picture in play here.

The questions I’d like to see asked and answered next Monday:

  • Assuming these cars are being made with the GM petrol engine, how many are going to be made in this configuration and what engine will take the GM engine’s place?
  • Where are these cars going to go once they’re built? Are they destined for individual customers? For testing? For fleet use in China? For sale outside of China? If it’s going to be sold outside of China, what modifications are being made to improve its safety ratings and how far along is testing for these changes?
  • Now that NEVS is building cars, how and where do they plan to sell them?
  • Again, assuming these cars are being made with the GM engine, will the change to a more regular engine supplier in the future mark the next generation (i.e. the full NEVS facelift) of the Saab 9-3?
  • Are there plans to sell that car outside of China, and if so, to which markets? In what timeframe?

Why ask these questions?

It’s not about exposing a story that NEVS might want to keep close to their chest. Well, not just for the sake of it, at least.

It’s about whether or not the thousands of Saab fans around the world actually have a reason to keep watching the story. Is there an end in sight that sees a new, worthwhile Saab in people’s driveways? And how long will that take?

I’m very keen to see what NEVS do with Saab but building a car is just the beginning. You’ve got build a car that people want and you’ve got to get it to them in a timeframe that maintains their interest.

I hope someone asks these questions and moreover, I hope NEVS has answers for them. If so, Saab fans will have a real reason to break out the fireworks and the marching bands.

NEVS building a few cars is a good landmark and a wonderful occasion for Trollhattan. I just hope it translates into a story that gives Saab fans all over the world a genuine reason to hope for a compelling car that’ll be available at a dealership in their country.

I want to believe that there is a genuine reason for Saab fans to get excited about what Saab is doing. But if that reason doesn’t involve a genuinely interesting car and the chance to drive it – even if that interesting car is two, three or five years away – then we’re all kidding ourselves a little bit, simply cheering for cheering’s sake.

——

You may also like

13 Comments

  1. Swade,

    I don’t think that you will get specific answers to your questions, however it could be argued that the big answer will be prominent.

    It doesn’t take much to see that a few thousand 9-3s don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. What we will witness on Monday isn’t the end-game to NEVs plan, but it’s a sure sign that there is a plan, and that it involves building new cars in Trollhättan.

    NEVs is doing what is needed to make this happen. The production line is back online, the next step is to show the world that they can design and build new products. I’m excited to see what they have to show us.

  2. CraigSU – I will bet you $1000 crispy Australian dollars Swade has already been checking flight prices on Expedia 😉

    I agree 100% with everything you have written here Swade. Those are the questions to be asked.

    Personally, if their plan is ‘China first, for 2-3 years, and then the world – when we have the next-gen PheoniX cars and electric powertrains ready’ then I will be satisfied with that.

  3. Reading this makes me miss your writing on SU and Inside Saab even more. Keep us informed. Nice to hear a balanced report on the situation.

  4. My thinking is: China first, as they seem to have customers there already, selling as many old 9-3s as possible. Then comes the electric 9-3, which may are may not land outside China. And while all that is happening, develop a new 9-3 and sell it to the world! That seems most likely…(?)

  5. In any case, it is very exciting! NEVS has clearly been working hard in the background to make this happen. And I’m not fussed about the “lack” of information. There’s no need to talk endlessly about your plans. Better to make them happen!

  6. Well, as far as I know (and I am relatively informed about Europe) nobody out there has been in serious discussions with NEVS to re-start distribution. Accroding to SU, I am wrong about that.
    (sometimes) I love to be wrong !
    In this case I fear I am not.
    These cars wont hit the EU or US market, is my guess.
    Where they’re going is something we may hear Monday.
    When EU and US will get cars is something I think we will not hear Monday

  7. Saab owners in Belgium just got a letter from Beherman (Saab Distributor in Belgium) and it reads something like this:
    “32 cars have left the factory in Trollhättan, and are being road tested. Upon successful testing, production will begin this year, for the Chinese market.
    There are talks about a production for the European market in first half of 2014. We will inform you as soon as we have further confirmation on this.”

  8. Sales of new Saabs will start sweden next week, delivery soon after. That should not be possible until Q4 next year. I little bit disagreed in comment. Who was right:). Go Saab Go.

    NEVS already have longer life than spyker saab. I preferred spyker Saab due to larger fleet but unfortinately Victor were not able to run business with limited cash.

    1. Pekko, the questions I asked at that time are all completely relevant now. That NEVS have decided to sell some cars in Sweden only makes those questions more relevant. Logic would suggest that NEVS, upon replacing around 20% of the car with new parts, would test those parts for durability and reliability, etc. That they’re selling straight away means that the onus is on them to provide assurance to people that the cars are tested, proven and safe. Buyer beware.

      I hope they do well with it. All I’m saying is that if I were a buyer, I’d want to know these things. It’s the responsible path if you want to look after customers. If you just want to be a fanboy without considering what’s best for the customer, then yeah – Go Saab Go!!

      Last time you were here I suggested that you were acting like a cock because you were happy to classify Saab fans as lesser people if they weren’t as ‘committed’ as you. The reasons are different today, but sadly the conclusion’s still the same.

      NEVS are going to sell some cars in Sweden and somehow that’s a reason for you to revisit here and gloat? “Oooh, Swade was wrong, Swade was wrong! Saab are going to sell some cars outside of China”

      Well, that’s their decision but as I said earlier, customers have the right to ask some questions about the parts that have been replaced in those cars.

      All I’m doing is raising issues that I think are a genuine concern for potential customers. My work at TS, SU and to a lesser extent, here, has always been about serving the people who read the site. Serving the company was and is secondary. If you serve the reader and the company’s doing good things then you can help both the reader and the company, but the reader (Saab’s customers) always came first.

      I was always happy to defend Saab when I thought they were being slighted without just cause. But I was also happy to ask questions of Saab when genuine questions were there to be answered.

      Right now, genuine questions are there to be answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *