I’ve had this plan in my head for a while. In fact, when NEVS first took over Saab I had some contact with one of their officers and I shared the bare bones of this idea with her. Despite the idea having crossed NEVS’s desk some time ago, I don’t think it’ll ever happen, which is why I’ll share it here.
I think that if NEVS want to capitalise on Saab’s traditional markets, they’ll need to tie the company’s future to its past. There will have to be some continuity there, otherwise it’s just another car company. Why negotiate use of the Saab name if you don’t want to build on it? Why build in a relatively expensive country like Sweden if the origin means nothing to you?
Therefore, I think it’s logical to link Saab’s future technology with cars from its past. I’d use two cars to do this – the Saab 96 and the classic Saab 900.
The setting – Paris 2014 or Geneva 2015. Wherever they’re likely to show the EV for the first time.
Personally, I’d pick Geneva. It’s the best motor show in the world and everyone is there. It’s the best stage to engage the west and link the old company and the new company together. Doing the same presentation in Beijing or Shanghai would also be worthwhile, but in that setting you’d be introducing the Saab narrative rather than extending it.
The ‘garage’ would be to the right of the presentation area and the presentation area itself would include three turntables, one for each vehicle. There would be a screen behind the presentation area to show video that would complement the launch. The garage would be there only for the day of the presentation. It would be removed that night (re-setting displays overnight after the main presentation is common at auto shows).
The video would start with footage/photos from Saab’s past, focusing quite a bit on Saab’s early competition success. Video of Carlsson in Monte Carlo and other successes featuring the Saab 96, which is then driven from the garage onto one of the turntables.
A short history lesson would follow and lead to the Saab 900, which is then driven from the garage onto another turntable.
Fast forward to the present and the debut of Saab’s new electric vehicle. Talk about the technology, the range of the vehicle, other new features that are introduced in this new vehicle etc etc.
Sounds pretty vanilla so far, right?
The key to making this work is that both historic cars would have to be specially built to drive onto the stage under electric power. NEVS would have to buy a few old cars from Blocket and fire up Saab’s skunkworks gurus to gut them and install NEVS’s EV technology into the cars.
The Saab 900 could have the huge rear hatch open on stage, revealing the battery pack neatly fitting inside. Open the clamshell hood to show the electric motors in the front.
Right: Yes, an electric 96, but probably not this electric 96.
This demonstration manages to kill a few birds with one stone:
- You get to show how compact and flexible the electric drivetrain can be.
- You get to link Saab’s past with its future and make an immediate association between the innovations Saab was famous for and the innovation the company is currently involved in.
The risk, I guess, is that the historic cars might overshadow the new vehicle. That could be overcome by having a number of variants of the new vehicle present on the exhibition site. It would also be overcome by the new vehicle being really, really good.
In its last few years, Saab was complemented by a number of manufacturers for getting a big exhibition impact on a relatively small budget. A lot of this was down to Goran Anderson, Saab’s display marketing expert, who had unparalleled vision and a heart well and truly anchored to the Spirit of Saab. Another part of it was choosing the right things to display.
In previous years they had the Aero-X, PhoeniX and other new concept cars to get the press crowd humming. They’ll have a new car coming when they do this, too, but it’s going to be a consumer oriented vehicle and therefore, it’ll most likely be conservative in design. I think incorporating some Saab history into the display will give them the zing that’s normally provided by a flashy new concept.
That’s the bare bones. Do you think it’d have an impact?