My 2 Cents On Saab Building Cars As Of Today

NEVS/Saab have done it – the first vehicles are rolling off the production line and NEVS even announced today that they’re embarking on a web-based sales model in order to sell some cars in Sweden!

All of that’s good news, but I’ve still got some questions, few of which seem to have been answered today. Some thoughts, too.

Let’s take a look at the car, first.

NEVS’s first Saab 9-3

My mate Tom was at the event today and he managed to send a few photos through. Thanks Tom. I’ve also used a few photos from NEVS’s own archive.

The car is basically a Saab 9-3 Aero built to a similar specification to the Griffin model that Saab produced in 2011. Some bits have been redesigned (seats) but it looks like they’ve adequate supply of other bits (stereos) to see it out this small production run.

Let’s take a look, first. Here are a few official images.

From the front……

Saab_9-3_Aero_Sedan_MY14-06

And the rear…..

Saab_9-3_Aero_Sedan_MY14-04

And here are some alternative shots, courtesy of Tom. Click to enlarge.

If it feels like you’re not seeing much here, it’s because you aren’t. The occasion really is the feature today, rather than the car.

The car is basically 12 years old and whilst I love the 9-3, if you’re going to talk about this car then you have to talk about it relative to the competition. The competition moved on around 5 years ago so whilst the 9-3 will always have its fans, you’re looking at a car that only rusted-on Saab fans will really appreciate.

The biggest visible change that I can see is in the front seats. Tom tells me they’re very soft, quite comfortable, but that the seat base is a little short and may lack lower-leg support for taller drivers. You’ll notice the different headrests, too, mounted on thick-ish posts with a Saab logo stamped into them. Are they as safe as previous Saab headrests?

Opinions?

They’re selling this in Sweden?

Yes, apparently.

Most of the production is slated for export to China (it’d be interesting to see the specs for that model) but NEVS’s press release mentions an online sales model for Sweden, too. This would be in place of selling through dealerships.

Going to an online sales model is a bold move and I’m pleased to see them trying it. A few of us had discussions about this back in 2011. I’d love to hear feedback from people who try it. Some people value the dealership experience, especially if its a good one. It’ll be interesting to see whether NEVS will be able to replicate a dealer’s product knowledge in a way that adapts to the expectations, experience and needs of a customer.

That’s a bit of a side issue, however (well, for me at least).

The bigger issue was the question of HOW they’d manage to sell the car in Sweden given that it no longer complies with EU safety regulations. That’s always been one of the big questions around NEVS’s business plan.

I believe the answer comes in the form of allowances made in the EU regulations for small volume manufacturers. That is, some companies can sell non-conforming cars subject to local rules (i.e. Swedish, in this instance) as long as the number of sales is restricted. I’ve seen 1,000 mentioned in comments at SU (well traced, Dagen Runt) as the number of cars Saab could sell under this exemption.

For high-volume manufacture, type-approval standards are already harmonised across the European Union for passenger cars and are becoming harmonised for other types of vehicle. This offers advantages of economies of scale and free access to all EU markets. However, in the case of low volume manufacture, the Framework Directive allows special provisions which can be used to exempt vehicles produced in low volumes from certain requirements….

This is a good outcome for NEVS. They get to start their sales model in Sweden without having to commit to selling many cars. You’re present and the machine is rolling, but the commitment is small.

For customers (i.e. the people reading this), I’d maintain that you need to consider a few things:

1) You’ll be driving a car that doesn’t meet current EU safety standards due to poor performance in pedestrian safety tests. If the safety of pedestrians is a major concern for you, then you might want to think on this. Personally, it doesn’t bother me.

2) My biggest concern with NEVS selling this car so soon is whether or not the new parts they have had to develop have been thoroughly tested. I predicted that NEVS probably wouldn’t offer a car for sale before Q4 of 2014. They’ve proved me wrong. If I’m a buyer, however, I’d be asking lots of questions about the replacement parts that have been developed – their durability and reliability.

Caveat Emptor, people.

The Saab 9-3 will go on sale in Sweden for 279 000 SEK (add 10k SEK for the auto), which is good value for what was the top-shelf model Aero.

——

The PR angle

This is a Saab 9-3. There are very few surprises with it.

What’s disappointing, however, is that there are no details as to specifications, the work they’ve had to do to re-build it, what’s changed, etc. I hate to sound like a broken record but all that stuff is part of the car’s story and if you want to engage customers then you need a story to tell. Running the production line IS a decent story but it would have been aided by a bit of magic dust around the car itself to really engage the car fans.

NEVS has a new PR chief and this was his first big opportunity to get something out there. NEVS has seemingly provided the bare minimum information, which is disappointing for me as a fan and as someone interested in the promotion of the cars.

If you’re going to make this an occasion, make it an occasion.

There were a lot of people on the line this morning, watching this happen. I just wonder how many of them were from press outlets outside Sweden. All the reports I’ve seen from English language services this morning show the silver 9-3 that was featured back in September rather than the black one that was rolled off today. That tells me that representation was minimal.

This is the re-birth of a car company – it should have been huge.

——

The Occasion

Yes, there are questions about the configuration and specification of this 9-3. Yes, there are still a LOT of questions about NEVS’s business model. Yes, I still wish they were making more of a promotional effort in their English-language and European markets.

None of that, however, should take away from the significance of the day.

A car is a complex machine. If you want/have to change part of it then that’s a difficult proposition with a lot of competing priorities and a lot of participants. The 9-3 is not a new car, but the process of rebuilding Saab and getting some cars coming off the line shouldn’t be underestimated.

It’s both symbolic and a real-life practical achievement.

I don’t get the business plan of building in Sweden for export to China, but for the sake of friends and former colleagues in Trollhattan, I’m pleased they’ve taken this step and I hope they can take many more.

They should be congratulated. And after a small satisfying moment to reflect on their achievements, they should get back on the job. There’s a lot of work left to be done.

——

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64 Comments

  1. A great step. Plenty of things to still be worked out but a great step.
    WRT the seats; from my computer screen on the other side of the world they look good. I like the new headrest supports. Saab seats come from Lear don’t they? I guess this is the latest tech from them.
    The web-based sales model is a good move – but the collection and service points need to support it.

    Happy Saab camper here.
    (does that make me a Saabo?)

      1. Maybe someone would like to compare these seats to Volvo’s outgoing P2 platform seats… Minus some very distinctive head restraints…

      2. Steven,
        I read yesterday that Saabs’ previous seat supplier had gone bankrupt shortly after Saab itself, in 2011….

        1. Come on, Terry. A resourceful bloke like you can do better than that 😉

          Saab’s seats used to be made by Lear Corporation. I’m not sure who’s making these new seats, but Lear is still alive and well. They might well have closed their facility near THN (although their website still shows it as there) but Lear is still operating.

          1. I did question what I was saying Steven, that is why I looked up what I had read & posted the link….

            Actually maanders has comments below, so he could say more….

    1. I’d suggest that the change in seats indicates a change in suppliers -OR- Lear is supplying a design currently in production for another vehicle with Saab badges.

      Seating designs and tooling are generally the property of the seating manufacturer. The automotive OEM has control of the design, but the seating provider executes the design.

    2. I think the headrest posts are rather bulky, not quite in proportion to the rest. Minor issue I suppose.

      I also wish they’d taken the chance to remove the silver painted bits of interior trim, particularly around the shifter – I really think that cheapens the whole car and it would’ve been easy enough to adjust that step, surely?

          1. Lexus is using an identical system to the SAHR 1 that Saab had in the first generation 9-5 and 9-3, but just because they bought the technology doesn’t mean that Saab cant use it. Volvo is also using a similar system to SAHR and I believe that NEVS is using the same Lear company as a supplier that Volvo is, the seats do look very similar to what volvo has…

  2. The internet sales model supports sales without a commitment to a dealer network. Service outlets should follow “shortly” or when things need servicing, say within a year of the cars hitting the road. As the car is essentially a 2010 9-3, much of the service info should be very similar or identical. Items need repair or upgrade in the interim is another matter. What diagnostic tool will be used to set computer parameters? Certainly not a Tech II.

    One thing about the lack of communication from NEVS, is the the lack of it. Once they get some cars “out there” some “buzz” will generate. NEVS PR seems to “under” promise and “over” deliver. NEVS has been saying they would produce cars in 2013 for a long time. Hopefully, NEVS can follow up with a EV 9-3 in 2014 as they are saying.

    The real proof will be the EV 9-3. How the EV 9-3 performs is what will make the company.

    1. Have to agree that the most important information NEVS gave us today was that promise to deliver the 9-3EV early next year, along with other model variants. That’s hugely ambitious and very exciting, despite the age of the platform etc etc.

      Well done NEVS – if you continue to deliver as promised I think there’s hope for you.

    2. Well, my guess is that it’s Tech2-compatible with a 2012 model (yes, the 2012 9-3 can be serviced with a Tech2), because how else could it be serviced? The Tech2 system is a GM item, and updating the diagnostic software is likely to be a major headache. As Orio handles the licenses for TIS , and they have switch suppliers with help from Orio, only minor kludge is likely to be needed.

      And, in my opinion, NEVS is most likely doing things the right way by starting out with an as much as possible compatible vehicle, because in doing that, you know that problems that crop up depends on you’re doing something different, and is a lot easier to track down than a problem that you have no clue where it came from. Dealing with one problem at a time is a lot easier.

    3. @MarkAC – There was no “Saab” to licence the SAHR technology. There was the estate of a bankrupt company and administrators who were tasked with recovering as much as they could from it. If they sold SAHR to Lexus, they did their job. That might tempt me to go and look at a Lexus in the future…

      These new seats look suspiciously geared to far eastern markets and slightly smaller people…the head restraints look like a big step backwards to me, they will sit far behind the occupants head and so not provide the neck support in the event of a rear-end collision that we have all been so proud of/lucky to have, in previous Swedish-built Saab-badged cars. However softer, more cushioned seats than the 9-3 originally carried is a good thing, it’s the one thing I find I dislike about mine compared with those in my 9-5 Aero.

      I am very pleased for the people of Trollhattan, but as someone who has lived and breathed Saab for most of my 44 years, I can’t help but find that this news offers nothing for me. Yet…

  3. Thanks for your coverage of this – I always appreciate your insight!

    That said, personally, I am quite happy with the way NEVS is doing this. Not to knock VM et al (as this group is starting fresh vs trying to keep a big ship going), but I would rather see minimal self-promotion and adequately funded concrete results than flamboyant promotion with minimal product. I appreciated VM’s enthusiasm, but there was so much talk back then of 9-1’s and Sonetts and show cars (and scandals), with a big product roll out with no demand or interest in the product (NG9-5). It was pretty obvious to me from the get go, that a big expensive car like that was not going to appeal much to the hardcore old school SAAB hatchback fan. Really risky to bet the farm on imho. I think the current level of promotion is about right for the capacity to produce and sell product. As you say, this is an old design that will appeal to die hard fans only. If they only can produce 1000 in the near term, they can easily be absorbed by die hard enthusiasts without spending anything significant on marketing. Never mind that most of these will go to China. Why pump up demand for something you can’t produce anyway (unless to raise the price)?

    If they can start with baby steps, and forge a new direction and grow organically without imploding, then they’re more likely to have a more sound business in the long term. imho, anyway.

  4. Swade, I think that your two cents is worth a good deal more.

    I think it’s great to see NEVS doing well enough to crank out a few cars. It’s even better that they can sell in Sweden at a good value. Everyone wins in that scenario. I also really like the direct-to-consumer marketing model in play, not because I dislike dealers per se, but because I think that dealers need to understand their role in distributing cars adds little consumer value, and their mark up should reflect this reduced value in today’s world.

    On the flip side, I concur with you: for a design like the 9-3, only the most avid fans of this specific car will buy unless the price is spectacular — in Europe. In China, who knows?

    One question that I have: How are these vehicles marketed in China? It’s proven there’s a market for European cars around the world as a premium product. Perhaps that’s the angle with Swedish production and Chinese sale? And, if I’ve learned anything from GM in the last 4-5 years, it’s that Chinese consumers are don’t like getting the American nameplate and not the ‘made in America’ car. That is, the Buick there has to be the Buick here. Perhaps the Swedes are counting on the few they build for Sweden as the ones that make the 9-3 a true ‘Swedish’ car. A thought.

    1. Totally agree with this sentiment. Saab’s need to be Swedish in China perhaps even more than they do in the US or Australia.

    2. Tom did mention that they’ve got a network on the ground in China. I don’t go anywhere near Chinese automotive media anymore so I have no clue as to their setup. I don’t know what segment they’ll be pitched at, either.

      One thing I do know – Chinese consumers with a little extra money are a little extra discretionary now.

  5. Just wondering what has happened to the idea that there’d be an EV or hybrid at some stage? Or am I being misled by the NEVS name?

    1. IF you read the release you’ll find out that NEVS is aiming for Spring 2014 to release the first 9-3EV, in not only Sedan but also Vert and Wagon form, too. Which is pretty amazing news!

  6. Well. I’ll admit they promised a car in 2014 Q4 and they delivered it. But “NEVS PR seems to “under” promise and “over” deliver.” Hardly. In what way is this over delivering? And frankly, I would call it under delivery. They buy a company that basically quit with food on the table (i,e, cars on the assembly line and motors in the warehouse). Then, they take 18 months to restart the assembly line and put out the same car with essentially nothing new except the seats. What was to keep them from making some key hires right off the bat, sealing deals with suppliers quickly, and getting this wonderful but aged vehicle out the door a year ago?

    And there’s nothing wrong with feeding some scraps to the the loyal Saabists. Any company worth its salt has made plans for a year or two down the line, presumably flexible plans, but plans nonetheless. Any company worth its salt would kill for a loyal fan base like Saab has, or had. But what do they do? Nothing, Nada. No stories about the making of today’s Saab. No talk about the development of models to come in terms of design, engineering, marketing, markets (other than China). I want to be impressed. I want to be excited about what’s coming down the pike. You don’t have to divulge trade secrets, but even such close-mouthed companies as Apple generate a little buzz with some leaks here and an interview there. Other companies show future models and concept cars. Other companies market dreams. But NEVS hasn’t even released the specs on the model that came off the line today. Is that a trade secret? Will someone buy 10 days from today without a little more transparency?

    Some of us have moved on. Some of us will hold on until our present Saabs need replacing and then see what the landscape looks like. But it sure wouldn’t hurt NEVS (hate those initials) to give us something a little more concrete to look forward to, that is, if there is something to look forward to. Is there a there there?

  7. they made it, think about a bit what they have done with very small amount of people. Saab left bills unpaid basicly 2 times, first in 1st reconstruction (70%) and second time totally unpaid due to backrupty. Think about it a one second how much work they have done to convience suppliers to supply again for small start up company. All tools were most probably scrapped, bills unpaid 2 times…

    Car is most probably as safe as back in 2011(SAHR could be lost) and if Muller baked last minute deal with chinese (someone who had money, seems that YM did not have) this car would be in sales still, there were so bad delays in phoenix development that it wont be ready yet.

    This is a very small step, but you need to start somewhere. Anyway there is modern engine in car. 3rd facelift is coming and electric versions.

    A little bit more respect to their achievements and plans. And they seems to deliver in schedule what is promised. And they are doing this with their own money not with others or asking state aid.

    1. Pekko, I think there’s plenty of respect for what they’ve done. As I mentioned in this post (and as I used to say all the time on SU when I was writing it), building a car is a very complex problem. You don’t just snap your fingers and it happens. There are thousands of parts, hundreds of suppliers and thousands of people that have to work together to make it happen. It IS a complex situation and there’s plenty of respect here for them getting it together.

      The thing is, however, they’re not going to sell many cars out of sympathy or simple loyalty. It’s one thing to be a fan but when you’re asking people to part with their hard-earned cash, you’ve got to offer them something that’s competitive in the market place. The old Saab(s) would have faced the same challenge if they were still around and selling this car.

      There IS plenty of respect. Pardon the analogy if you find it distasteful, but I applaud what they’ve done in the same way I’d applaud an accident victim for learning to walk again. That person might be walking, but they’ve got a long road to playing professional sport. Saab are in the same situation – they’ve learned to walk again but the market doesn’t care where they’ve been. We do as fans of the brand, but the market doesn’t. The market’s bar is set high and it’s Saab’s job to get over it, not to deny that its there.

      Here’s the position I’m in as the publisher of this page and someone may still have an influence, however small and diminishing, in the Saab community. Can I go and recommend this car to readers of this page? Can I recommend to them that they go out and spend their hard earned money on this car? Right now, given what we know, the answer is not a positive one (yet).

      1. +1, great analogy. In the “This SAAB 900 Was Built to Last” video featuring Jordan Melville and his 900 SPG, he summed up, in one sentence, what sold me immediately on the SAAB brand almost 30 years ago. When he was describing what SAAB had, when they first introduced the SPG, he stated: “…you had to go far and beyond your budget, back then, to get a car that had this type of technology”.

        I think it is clear, to any SAAB aficionado, that in the past they were ahead of the competition. Can we honestly say that now, with essentially a 12 year old product? Where is the value in this 12 year old product?

        If BAAS900 was correct that only 4 questions were asked at the “event”, I hope they were some of the tough questions presented here. It is our responsibility to ask these tough questions and hold NEVS to some accountability.

        Staying in the vein of Swade’s analogy of the “accident victim”—if a top athlete suffers a potentially career ending injury, odds are, if they could not return to compete at 100% form, they may choose to retire.

        1. yep 4 questions, one was from Reuters who put Mattias Bergman on the spot querying the companies fundamental belief of being at the cutting edge of electric vehicles but continuing to build ice models. The coverage from TV 4 Sweden may still be available and the greater majority of the “event” was in english for the benefit of the Chinese delegation/investors. I thought there was a noticeable amount of nervousness evident from the nevs staffers.

          1. BAAS900i, thank you for your response. I had no idea that the TV4 stream was mostly in english, I will definitely take a look.

      2. But Swade, would you recommend anyone use their hard earned money to buy *any* first model year car? I couldn’t. Even used! I wouldn’t touch a 1999 or earlier 9-5, 1994 900, 2003 9-3 was less problematic, but still, there were gotchas… and this applies to all brands. I couldn’t do it!

        I have as much confidence in what is going on now as the last round. This car is probably less of a “first model year” than the 2003 9-3ss, and if it’s mostly the same folks back there designing and building the things, they should be fine…

        And wrt some people’s comments about it being dated or what not… honestly, I think it looks as sharp as anything else out there. I personally prefer the size and looks to the NG9-5. The 2008 facelift didn’t sell in huge numbers, so it still looks unique, and much cleaner than many of the current generation (that loves to put (often ugly) creases along the sides). Sure some of the interior could be sharpened up a little, but it is not bad at all imho… maybe I’m a blinded SAAB nut, but I don’t think so…

      3. Car is 12 years old, engine is modern. Of course it is not best one in the market but there are still lot worse cars avaiable either also in western markets. And as they say that this is starting point, not end.

        Imprvements coming for facelift during spring time. Also electric drive. But how much you can do for 3rd facelift for 12 years old car…

        I afraid that we need to wait until phoenix based cars are released to judge are Saab up to competition also in western markets.

        I would say that this is still very good starting point to get factory, supplier chain and car deliveries up and running.

        Of course most of us would preferred that there is now 9-5s, 9-4xs and phoenix 9-3 on sales in showrooms, but there were none who has ready to use cash to implemented that plan, unfortunately. My NG9-5 is best car what I have had, also feeling sad that i cant drive it forever.

  8. i watched a live stream of the event and was baffled by the lack of questions [from memory there were 4] from the audience prior to entering the factory floor.

    delighted the electric only vision is on hold but concerned hybrid was not mentioned.

    confused why saab have pushed to bring this car to the market as most punters would wait for the refreshed model.

    but for now its patience, patience, patience… but cannot help thinking that a refined/refreshed gen 2 9-5 would have been the way to go.

  9. The Chinese have not seen this car, so to them it will appear new. Which is what they all want. Something with Euro chic and a fresh (to them) style. While we know it is elderly, so was the 9000 and 900 well before that. Tell me the Old 900 wasn’t really a really old 99 underneath…Saab have always done this. But will it work now? Not so sure. An old model is now cycled over in 5 years or less, not 8 and we are not talking just facelifts either. The buying public now has much more invested in buying a quality and younger product that is more than just the car. They buy into a support network and expect service. How would NEVS do that? Also not sure. After they have burned the indie service centres round the globe who would be brave enough to sign on again?

  10. I’m very glad to see Saab building cars again, but I sincerely hope the re-born 9-3 SS has only a short life. Sure they can build it as long as they like for China although about 3 years is probably long enough. The rest of the world will want something new much sooner and by that I don’t mean just another face lift.

    I’ve never been an avid fan of the 9-3 SS. In many ways it was a step sideways after the OG9-3. Yes it gained a much better platform than the one that underpinned the NG900/OG9-3 but to me at least, the car was a whole lot less interesting and more conservative. But unfortunately that was the way GM liked things. We can’t really blame Saab as it had some more interesting 9-3 model variations planned but the way things transpired, GM never permitted Saab to build them.

    If Spyker had succeeded and things had gone as planned, we’d now be looking at a brand new 9-3 hatch and that would’ve been something to celebrate. As it stands, I wish NEVS a whole lot of luck but it mustn’t’ sit still unless all it wants to do is to sell the Chinese an old car, that may or may not become electrified?

      1. Which part? The last column that says “production in Trollhattan and China”? They have been saying that for a year now. Production begins in Trollhattan, but if things ramp up beyond capacity of the plant in Sweden (as they hope and plan for), they will start a second production facility in China to build for that market.

        1. Sorry guys, left the quote out:
          “New platform optimized for EV”.

          What does that mean? Can you build a ultra practical family hatchback or 9-5 wagon type Saab with an ICE onboard (even hybrid) on an EV platform?

  11. Surely NEVS is on the complete other end of the scale as the previous owners. Instead of the flashy, loud and in the end unrealistic approach, there is instead a slow, quiet, methodical and careful approach.

    With regards to the car and conformity, surely they would not be able to sell it in a EU country like Sweden if not legal?
    I can only imagine that the only issue with regards to pedestrian safety is that it would not get a high score in Euro NCAP, but it should not block it from being sold.

  12. 279,000 SEK is a lot of money for a car that was already old in certain respects in 2011. Yes, it’s a great opportunity for the brand aficionados to buy themselves a ‘new’ Saab, but I can’t imagine why this car would end up on the shortlist of the average consumer. You can buy a lot of Volkswagen, Skoda, Kia, Hyundai and Toyota here for 279,000 SEK. I also have to concur with Swade’s assessment that the business case for building cars in Trollhättan and selling them in China is still unclear.

    Other than that, happy for the town of Trollhättan and many of my former colleaguers there that the machinery is up and running again and I wish NEVS well. But I remain sceptical as to their chances of success.

  13. There really isn’t anything surprising news here but nobody expected that anyways. The 9-3s with petrol engines are just fillers for getting all the suppliers on board and to start the production line again. It also was a good way to use the petrol engines they got from the bankruptcy. NEVS is 78% owned by a Chinese company focused on alternative energy sources for China. The other 22% is owned by Qingdao Qingbo Investment Co Ltd. NEVS has Electric Vehicle in its name. Do we need any more signs that developing cars with petrol engines for Europe is not a priority at all?

    NEVS talks about the “the heritage of our brand and vehicles” on their website. When they acquired the Saab brand, they sadly identify themselves with the former Saab Automobile company. If they were really concerned about SAAB, they would have stepped in before the bankruptcy like VM did. But many ‘Saab fans’ don’t really see the difference between the brand and the former company so perhaps it doesn’t matter. It would have been better when the SAAB brand ended with the bankruptcy of the former Saab Automobile company.

  14. 279,000 SEK translates to $42,790 US Dollars. At that level of pricing it definitely wouldn’t work in the States. Way too much refinement and competition at that price. For example, a fully loaded KIA Cadenza (K7) retails for $41,100 (267,932 SEK) and includes Premium, Luxury, and Technology packages. Who would go near a NEVS Saab with that kind of comparison? Not me.

    1. Craig,

      That price includes a 25% sales tax (VAT).

      European car prices are usually “key in hand,” which means that dealers don’t add thousands in extra freight, PDI, administrative fees and whatnot.
      In other words, the same car in the US would probably list in the low 30s, or maybe even $29,995.

      To give you a comparison, the VW CC starts at 303K SEK in Sweden and $32K in the US. Using the same ratio on the Nevs 9-3 makes it a $29,630 car.

      1. Being that this “new” SAAB would have to compete with Audi, M-B & BMW for market share in the US…their chances are slim to none in the US. Not that for one second do I believe NEVS has any intention of selling this car here.

        But for the sake of price comparisons in the US if they did

        …a 2104 Audi A4 FWD can be had starting at USD$33,800

        …a 2014 M-B CLA250 FWD for USD$29,900

        …and a 2014 BMW 320i RWD for USD$32,700.

        And seriously…who in their right mind would pay the hypothetical USD$30,000 for a years old (design & technology wise) NEVS/SAAB 9-3?

        It wouldn’t go anywhere on this side of the Pond…even if they could get them certified & shipped to the US at that price.

        And I would be very surprised if anyone in the Eurozone would buy one either. China? Maybe.

        OK…the “Crew” from SU will probably buy one or two…but NEVS needs hundreds of thousands of buyers…not a tiny number of people hanging onto dreams of what once was.

        1. A base 9-3 would probably cost $23-24.000 but no one has ever shipped a car like that to the U.S., so we keep on comparing apples to oranges. A few options to the Merc + delivery and 35k is relly close.
          Granted the Saabs age shows inside until NEVS redesigns what GM downgraded but with appropriate chassis tuning and the right tires from the factory a 9-3 (Griffin) drives really well compared to others in the price range.
          I’m fairly certain that just about any car with 220 hp has a higher price tag in Europe than the MY14 9-3 Aero.

        2. Who would buy one? Let’s see.
          The CLA is a smaller car, especially in the back. Not in the same category if you plan on seating adults.
          The 3 series isn’t a four season car.
          Not everybody likes Audi’s driving dynamics: understeer, rough ride, wooden brakes, inconsistent throttle response (harsh initially, nothing after).
          Plus, base model German cars are unicorns. You will have a very hard time finding one without a few packages added-on.

          I’m not saying that this interim 9-3 will take over the world, but I’m sure they will sell the few that they make. It’s a decent car at a decent price, especially in Sweden where support is less of a problem.

  15. So what engine was it? Or did they not say? If not Nevs look more and more like a big scam to me. Nevs’ boss Kai is a known conman in Sweden and is also known as “the smiling chinese” and “the tomato king”. He was running an ethanol factory in Sveg before it was all moved to China. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t believe everything that Nevs say because this may all be a new scam of sorts, getting their hands on chinese taxpayers money. I’m swedish and here we know about the problem with Nevs’ huge losses and the money must come from somewhere and I’m telling you it’s NOT from Kai’s pocket.

    1. Careful xerxes2. Careful
      The ethanol plant in sveg was a trial plant. All was done according to contract.
      The knowledge can, or could be used by all contributors from that sveg plant.

      To use the knowlede aquarired in a joint trial project isn’t wrong. It is good use of investment!

      Some feel that it is wrong just because the there wasn’tt more investment done in Sveg. But at the same time, why do investment when our ( at that time) gov coulnd’t decide wether ethanol was good or bad. No one knew if there would be a market or not for the production of ethanol.

      Don’t blame the project members, blame us, the swedes or our gov.

  16. All scams are not illegal only immoral. Many people, especially suppliers (and some car buyers), think that Muller was running a scam at Saab but so far noone has been prosecuted and probably never will be. This time around the swedish government has put €0 into Nevs and I haven’t heard of any EU money either so I guess that must mean that chinese money is covering the losses that Nevs generate. How long can this go on? Usually it’s the other way around like in Sveg. I smell a rat and I’m not the only one, time will tell.

  17. “Not everybody likes Audi’s driving dynamics: understeer, rough ride, wooden brakes, inconsistent throttle response (harsh initially, nothing after).”

    I guess that’s why AUDI are selling so well …

    1. Agree with the dismissal of the criticism. My Audi A4 was fantastic.

      However, there is a tread of truth to those criticisms; the inconsistent throttle response was a bit of a challenge until you get used to it, but the rest are really minor quibbles to me. Yes, the Audi A4 under steers, but ALL AWD vehicles and most FWD vehicles under steer..Rough ride? About the same as a Saab Aero or Viggen. Wooden brakes? I’m not even sure what that means, but if it means “stops fast and consistently” then it’s right.

      Audi is making a very, very good car. Particularly considering the price.

    2. Audi also has the benefit that consumers don’t have this strange ingrained idea that they are unreliable, odd, owned by weird people, slow, boring, ugly.. etc etc. Saab sadly does.

    3. I’m not saying that Audis are bad cars, just that they aren’t for everybody.

      I find their brakes have lots of initial bite, but they are hard to modulate. Very similar to their throttle response. I call them “wooden” because it feels like you are wearing wooden clogs: big hit but no feel.

      The understeer is also designed-in. You need to turn-in earlier and use more road on exit. It’s philosophical rather than good/bad, and it’s been an Audi trait since the 1970s.

      As mentioned, none of this has kept Audi from a very solid showing in the US premium car market, with similar numbers to Infinity and Acura. They are still well behind the big 3 of BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.

      1. I agree with the brake response (and the same goes for most standard non-Saab cars, Audis are not the worst btw) – Saabs (if, I might add, the brake system is properly vented of all air, something that hasn’t been the case on all Saabs I driven), has a brake response that feels very proportional to applied pedal force without much travel. There is very little of that feeling that you are pressing against a spring.

        However, a well tuned Saab 96 adds superior throttle and steering response and I never driven any car which tops that feeling of control.

  18. Well, I bit my tongue and didn’t rag on the new seats which I thought were lacking SAHR. I guess they are, but the current article on Saabsunited (New Whiplash-protection in the 2014 9-3) indicates they actually have an improved system similar to Volvo. I’m feeling better now. Seems Nevs is trying to stay true to the Saab spirit.

  19. Swade,
    Here are some of my disagreeing thoughts… Hope I don’t sound too critical. I could just be overly positive (and the last time I was overly positive, Saab went bankrupt) lol, oh well here goes:

    1. The 9-3 is old. In the western world yes, but does anyone in China care? We’ve seen what comes out of China (Great Wall?). This 9-3 is probably better than 90% of Chinese cars. That’s an awesome start for NEVS, really, who can flaunt their new Swedish built “Chinese” car at home.

    2. Pedestrian safety. Does anyone in China care? Probably not, or at least not as much as in the western world. The rest of the car is world-class, as we all know, so I can’t see this causing any difficulties.

    3. Parts durability. All those parts that have been reengineered must have gone through required testing, there just wouldn’t be any other way for this car to get approval to sell in Sweden otherwise. It should not be such a big deal anyway, since parts were basically designed to replace old parts, not created from scratch.

    4. PR. What would be the need for a big PR launch when this car will only be sold in Sweden and China? Better save that money for later when they target more markets. And since this 9-3 really is a 12 year old car, NEVS probably don’t want to make too much noise about it anyway in the west. The Chinese will buy it and hard core Swedes will buy it (me including). No one else would. Regarding the lack of details, NEVS did state that all shall be revealed on December 10 (I’m excited!)

    Those were my little points of disagreement with your article. Nothing major really. All in all, I think NEVS has done it the right way. They acquired Saab for a bargain, quietly built & released their first product for a bargain and have established themselves as true to their plans. That’s really awesome. The EV launch will be the real spectacular bit I think. That’s when NEVS truly will present something new to the world. And to have that happen so shortly after this launch will speak for itself I’m sure!

    🙂

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