Inside Saab VS Outside Saab

As promised, my 2 cents on a discussion that emerged at Saabs United about whether NEVS should have an ‘Inside Saab’ type blogger and what effect that might have on external Saab websites.

I’m on the record stating that NEVS should have an Inside Saab type website. I think the initial concept for Inside Saab as devised by the marketing team before I joined Saab (it was their idea, not mine) was fantastic and I think we could have done some great things. I think that same concept would be beneficial to Saab as they re-start their operations under NEVS, whether the site be in English, Swedish or Mandarin.

The question, then, as per the discussion on SU, is whether or not an Inside Saab type site can co-exist with independent Saab websites.

My answer – it is perhaps inevitable than an Inside Saab website would have to co-exist with independents. The (perhaps unattainable) goal of anyone doing an Inside Saab website, however, should be to provide such a comprehensive, informative and primary service that no other news-based Saab website is necessary.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritties, then. I’ll raise some points of my own and respond to some points being made on SU as I go along.

NEVS needs to take complete ownership of its message

This is perhaps the most important reason for having an active PR department that may or may not include an Inside Saab type service. NEVS must own their own message. They need to communicate with customers as directly as possible, whether that be through their dealership structure or directly from the company to the customer.

A point from Tim on SU:

What I have suggested to NEVS is that they hire someone who can gather resources for the outside bloggers, thus saving the workload we have to do by calling different people, setting up appointments or just plain research. NEVS should have a person that can arrange press-passes for blogger, arrange interviews, put us in touch with the right people, arrange photos or media etc etc etc…

This amounts to outsourcing a proportion of your marketing, trusting people outside your organisation to correctly communicate whatever the story of the day is. You’re trusting that their reporting skills are up to scratch, that their photography skills are up to scratch, that they can show off your company in the best light possible (if you’re in marketing and you’re not trying to show off your company in the best light possible, get out of marketing).

What’s more, you’re actively directing people to go somewhere else to learn about your company. “These guys are the authority on our company”. Who does that? At some point, the tail could start wagging the dog, the consequences could be catastrophic and the people at NEVS would have no-one to blame but themselves.

Hiring someone to gather resources and then leaving it to the fans is all well and good if this is just a small sideline to an established marketing regime with clear lines of communication to the outside world. If you ‘own’ your own search terms, for example.

My suggestion, however, is that that liaison’s wage would be better spent hiring someone who would not only know their way around the organisation, they would also know their way around a keyboard and the construction of a good story. They would know how to engage and manage a community.

Telling the ‘Inside Saab’ story should only ever be a component part of Saab’s over-all marketing and PR effort. But that doesn’t mean that ‘near enough is good enough’. It has to be professionally executed or NEVS would be better off saving its money. That doesn’t mean professional studio photos or video with every story. It can be ‘human’. But it should be to a definite standard, it should wear ‘the corporate suit’.

Quoting Tim, again:

….better to hire a guy in Sweden that actually can talk to employees in swedish

Tim wrote this half in jest, but it’s also half serious. Unfortunately, it’s almost completely wrong.

The best hire that NEVS could make, should they choose to do something like this, is to hire someone who’s fluent in the primary language of the market they want to communicate to. If that’s Swedish, fantastic. If it’s English, then hire a native English speaker. If it’s Mandarin, then hire a native Chinese.

The interests of the reader are the #1 priority. The ability to gather information is not a problem. There are translators available to fill the language gap if such a gap exists – and that gap that would only come into play, IMHO, when writing for a Chinese audience is concerned. Gathering information for a story in English is not a problem at the Saab plant, believe me. The ability to share a story with all the nuance of truth, intention and good humour is more important. That task should be done by someone who natively speaks the language of the people with whom you want to engage.

The core SU team have super-impressive English fluency. That is not in question. But it’s one thing to be able to speak, hear or read a second language and another thing completely to write in that second language with the competence needed to effectively engage an audience. That might sound a little cruel, but I’ve only met one person in 43 years for whom English was a second language, who I consider could write English with all the nuance of a native English speaker (greetings, Jeroen).

NEVS has to own this medium 100% and control its message – both its content and its quality. Anything less would be unprofessional.

——

The Inside Saab dilemma

We never got to see the full potential of the Inside Saab concept. Saab stopped manufacturing just as I started my employment with the company and never really re-started again. What we had, instead, was a company in crisis mode for nearly six months and a very frustrated blogger who wasn’t privy to as much information as he’d like, nor permitted either legally or by convention to write about everything that happened.

That is the Inside Saab dilemma.

Once you take a job doing something like Inside Saab, you’re on the team. You can push and push and push to get a more exciting, more informative message out there but in the end, you are an employee and you’ve got to stick to the team plan. If that plan involves holding your horses, so be it.

For someone with an independent background, that can be difficult. I wouldn’t have had too big a problem pointing out where the company could do better at Inside Saab. I’d be sensitive about it, but I could do it and I could deal with that sort of flak. But I would have had a real problem going against the team’s schedule where there was a controlled news release plan in place.

You have to be honest and you have to maintain a sense of integrity, but you also have to build trust, especially if you’re on the team.

The dilemma is when you’re faced with a situation where you’re either defending the indefensible or you’re withholding what you know is information that would be of significant interest. In my time as an independent, such stories were absolute brand-builders. They were the protein that caused the website to grow and it’s that growth that made the website interesting to Saab in the first place.

As an inside blogger, however, you have to be professional and accept that the ground-breaking exclusive that the company doesn’t want released (like spyshots of a new car) is no longer your domain. As an inside blogger, your job is to control the message and make your content interesting, regular and engaging enough that the audience’s appetite for ‘big’ news is satisfied by the content you deliver.

In a nutshell, your job as an insider is to take away the market for scandalous news by providing a steady, meaty course of interesting and authorised news. By doing this, you meet all your goals – you remain a team player, you promote the interests of the company and the interests of the reader.

Tim, on SU:

Both Victor (Muller) and I agreed that had Spyker been a private company, which it is now, it would have had a much better chance of success! SU managed to help Saab a lot in the explaining part and by killing off a lot of rumors but it was hard work! Inside Saab could never do that since whatever was written there was official news, the independent SU had a great advantage there.

On the fundamentals of this, I absolutely agree.

Inside Saab, as it ran during 2011, was part of the Marketing department at Saab. That’s how it was set up before I arrived and it’s how things stayed (even though I had to pass most things – not all – by the PR department before publishing them).

Had things turned out different for Saab, I would have lobbied very hard to move my physical location and most of my reporting to the PR department. I’d started talks with people about this while I was there. Inside Saab was conceived by the Marketing department – before they even hired me – as a marketing tool that would include some liaison with the PR department. It should have been the other way around.

Inside Saab was always hampered and relatively ineffective as a result. It didn’t have to be that way, however. It wouldn’t have been that way had things turned out different for Saab. The positioning of Inside Saab would have been realigned and I think the site would have been a much more timely and effective means of communication for all facets of the company.

——

The Independent’s Obligation

Permit me this indulgence, but a little bit of backstory is necessary here.

When I started Trollhattan Saab, I was just a Saab enthusiast who wanted to share his love for this car company with other enthusiasts. In fact, it was even less than that. I was just a guy who wanted to write about something. The blogging medium had just taken off and Saabs were the single subject I knew something about, so off I went.

Things started getting serious when I received my first spyshots via an anonymous email, showing what was planned to be the Saab 9-6x. Shots of the face-lifted Saab 9-5 came later and then the face-lifted Saab 9-3, along with news of a mysterious sounding ‘Black Turbo’. All of a sudden, Trollhattan Saab was a news source as well as an enthusiast hub.

My first serious trip overseas to cover a Saab-related event was in 2007 – the Saab Festival in Sweden. My airfare to the festival was 75% funded by readers of the website, via donations.

That trip did two things that were crucial to the future success of TS and SU:

  1. It solidified for me that everything I did on SU had to be for the benefit of the readers/supporters of the site. Their patronage meant I had an audience to write for and their financial support made the trip possible.
  2. While readers supplied most of the airfare, Saab themselves offered me accommodation in Trollhattan, but only after it was confirmed that I was coming. In other words, the support from readers at TS showed Saab that this was a legitimate effort going on at TS. The support shown by various Djup Strupes showed that I had exhibited enough of the Saab Spirit to be worthy of the information they provided. The respect I showed those sources by protecting them showed that I could be trusted. Saab had to take notice and they had to build a constructive relationship with me because I had demonstrated that I had a significant audience that was very engaged with what they were doing.

What you should take out of this, and where I think SU has fallen down in the last however-long, is this: For an independent website, the readers and their interests must always be the #1 priority.

By making readers your #1 priority, you build your readership. By handling information the right way and showing the right spirit (i.e. the core beliefs that have driven the company and drawn people to it are sometimes more important than management’s beliefs), you build relationship with the ‘true believers’ at the company. When you combine that relationship with a solid readership, you make yourself important to the company.

It’s just my opinion, but I believe that Saabs United has been far too focused on promoting the company’s interests. The site’s commitment to the interests of readers has suffered as a result.

If Saab, under NEVS’s ownership, is not going to place much importance on what were Saab’s traditional markets, then Saabs United’s future is bleak and they may as well come out and say so.

If Saab, under NEVS’s ownership, are going to place a high degree of importance on Saab’s traditional markets, then Saabs United should be doing all it can to examine and report on that scenario with an independent eye. That, in my opinion, is promoting the interests of readers.

If Saab United wants to recommend that customers (i.e. readers) support the company by purchasing a vehicle from them, then they better be damn sure that company’s business model is sustainable, that the company will not only have a truly competitive product (as opposed to one that can get a sympathy purchase), but that the company will actually be around to support that product. Giving unqualified support to both a 12 year-old product and a company with a business plan that isn’t quite logical is not acting in the best interests of readers.

If SU is going to be independent, then it has to act independent. The current model of being a quasi-controlled mouthpiece looks second-rate for NEVS and short-changes SU’s readers.

——

Saab Owes The Independents Nothing

Quoting Tim, again:

….if NEVS were to hire someone to become an inside NEVS blogger, I’m leaving the blogging world instantly and completely because that would basically be like put a big knife in the back of what we’re spending a huge amount of our spare time and money to do… and for NEVS, our work is completely free of charge!

I’ll get to the free of charge bit in a moment because there are some issues there.

First, though, let me dispel this notion of a decision by NEVS to start their own informative presence as being a knife in the back for SU or anyone involved in it.

Yes, I agree 100% that such a decision would hurt people at SU if that decision was to go SU-free. I understand the personal pain that would cause.

But consistent with my belief that NEVS must control their own message is a belief that they HAVE to recruit who they think is the right person to run that message. They don’t owe that choice to anyone. If the right person is someone at SU, then all well and good. If it’s someone sitting in a rice field reading a Chinese translation of Top Gear, all well and good. The decision is NEVS’s to make and it should be based, wholly and completely, on the type of service they want to deliver and the market they want to deliver it to.

When I was writing TS and SU, I used to have all sorts of discussions/arguments with another Saab blogger about the treatment he thought Saab bloggers were ‘entitled’ to.

My argument – we do this out of our interest in the company. Any help we get from the company along the way is welcome, but it’s not owed to us. They would have every right to cut communications completely and do their own thing. It wouldn’t have looked great to treat passionate and competent enthusiasts that way, but it would have been their right. Saab/GM owed us nothing.

If you have that frame of mind, you can better maintain your independence. If you start to feel entitled and hint at demands of favor deserved for services rendered, you allow them room to make demands of you.

That’s not to say you should give yourself away, however. Here’s where we get to the “free of charge” bit.

Independence and Self-Respect

There’s a subtle difference between feeling entitled and being OK with asking for payment for reasonable services. I don’t have either the time or the inclination to explain that difference, but I hope the following example from the past tells the story adequately.

When I started travelling to major events at Saab’s invitation, I would use up vacation time from my employer to do this. Eventually I ran out of vacation time. The choice became whether to keep doing Saab stories or have some time off with my family, which by natural extension became a choice as to whether I tell my family ‘Saab stories are more important than you’. Not acceptable.

My solution was to take leave-without-pay from my job and ask Saab to cover the week’s wages that I lost by taking time off to cover an event for the website. They had an interest in making sure readers got the best coverage and they were confident that I could and would provide that. They had no issues and happily fulfilled my request on several occasions. I never asked for more than the wages I had forgone (i.e. never took advantage of the situation) and I always worked my butt off at any events I attended. They got their money’s worth, I can assure you.

It’s not always easy to ask for payment. I sure felt awkward the first time I did it. But if you’re providing a service that’s of value and it’s costing you something important (either significant money or family time), then asking for reasonable compensation becomes not only a matter of necessity, it becomes a matter of self-respect.

If NEVS consider the services of SU to be of value, NEVS should be willing to cover some of the costs incurred by the crew in covering stories of importance. I’d highly recommend that Till, Tim and co discuss this with them if the NEVS/SU relationship is to continue. At the very least, they’ll get an idea of their perceived value to the company.

——

Conclusion

Should NEVS consider doing something along the lines of what Inside Saab was intended to be?

I continue to believe that they should. Absolutely. I think it was a great concept dreamed up by the marketing team at Saab and it would have had great benefits for the company in terms of building up relationship with customers. Saab is small enough to be able to do that effectively and I sincerely think it would be good for them. NEVS must take ownership of their message and resist contracting it out to others. NEVS has to hire agents who natively speak the language they want to communicate in. Anything less is unprofessional and this is a global business in sophisticated industry. Time to put your big-boy pants on.

What about independent Saab bloggers?

I think independent Saab bloggers should be independent and should not be afraid of asking the hard questions. I think NEVS should weigh them and judge their level of co-operation with them accordingly. I think if NEVS chooses to pursue their own efforts at communicating with owners directly (e.g. an Inside Saab type effort) then I think they should make every effort to make that site the absolute best it can be, even if it takes some market away from independents. There should not be a conscious goal of taking market share away from independents, but that should be a natural result of doing the job well.

——

Addendum

Some of you are thinking “Swade’s only writing this because he wants a job at NEVS if they’re thinking of doing this”.

Not true.

Would I talk to NEVS if they were thinking of doing this and they asked me about it? Absolutely. Of course I would. But that’s not the reason for this post (and talking to them would include wanting to hear answers to ALL of the questions to make a judgement for myself as to what they’re doing – if I don’t believe in the company’s product there’s no way I could promote it).

The reason for this post – regardless of what NEVS ends up doing and who ends up doing it for them – is that I care about the position. I care about the way it’s seen historically and I’m interested in observing the way it’s done in the future.

That sounds corny, so let me explain….

I’m not sure how closely this Saab we’re seeing is going to resemble the Saab that I came to admire and love all those years ago. We’re seeing that unfold right now. As of this moment, the enthusiast community cares about Saab but it remains to be seen whether Saab still cares about the enthusiast community.

That relationship is what this role, independent or official, is all about. That relationship used to be at the core of what I did. That’s why I care about it.

I think the way NEVS is using SU at the moment is wrong. I think the way SU is allowing itself to be used by NEVS fails the site’s readers. I hope both parties can examine their roles and figure out what to do next because both parties – and most importantly, their shared ‘customers’ – deserve better.

——

Note: I have no idea if NEVS are interested in this area and I haven’t had any direct communication with NEVS since my interview with Mikael Östlund back in November last year. I obviously pissed him off because he hasn’t spoken or written to me since 🙂

In other words, this whole post is talking about a function that doesn’t even exist and is, in all likelihood, is never going to exist in a way that matters to any of the parties involved.

Note 2: By talking about the things that I believe we did right with Inside Saab (or that I did right with TS and SU), does not mean that I didn’t do anything wrong over the years. I’m proud of the relationship I had with readers and I’m proud of TS and SU’s achievements under my watch, but nobody’s perfect. I’m not pretending to be here, but I’ve already written over 3600 words in this piece and covering my shortcomings would not only be irrelevant for this article, it would also take until Christmas 2014.

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44 Comments

  1. Good piece Swade!
    I think the crew is doing a pretty good job, but you might be right about NEVS is using SU. But at the same time, right now, they both benefith from it.

    Should SU become the official face of NEVS a new voice is needed.

    If NEVS takes control by themselfes regardless of inside blogs or not. SU need to set up rules for the comment section to be able to attract every one between black and white.
    As of now, they do not interact, tomorrow they don’t care. And that is a loss for NEVS, SU and community.

    I agree 100% that inside and outside bloggs is good for the brand and the community. They got different perpective and agendas

    1. SU won’t become the official face of NEVS. Thats not what NEVS nor SU wants…

      Sure NEVS use us to gain and spread information, its working well! They get a lot of good publicity spread out across the world, absolutely free of charge!

  2. Interesting comment that current SU shoukd recommend readers to buy Saabs only if they know that BP is sustainable. Old SU recommended readers to buy cars which were manufactured only 9months(ng9-5). Let me guess that nevs will manufacture cars much longer than 9 months. Spyker cars talks about fully funded business plan was a big joke and lie.

    NEVS was seen best buyer for bancrypty estate and they are manufacturing saabs, tim and guys are doing great for SU even,they are not native english speakers and they have their style. Some djup strupery about,engines,etc seen also.

    spyker didnt keep their promises at all, nevs has kept every promise which they have given. Swade was believing and telling spyker plans which were more dreams than,plans and suspecting nevs deliverables. Interesting.

    maybe time to move on. It is hard that earlier top saab blogger dismissed by nevs…

    i would like to see more writings about Saabs.

    1. Pekko, I’d invite you to read through any of my old articles – all 6,000 or so – and find the bit where I said someone should rush out and buy a new Saab. In fact find any reference to my telling people to buy a car at all.

      I gave people my truthful impressions of cars but I let people make up their own mind about buying one. I never suggested that people should buy one. I was never likely to buy one myself because I’ve never had the money to buy a brand new car. I would never suggest that anyone should do something (or would be a lesser person for not doing something) that I wasn’t able to do myself.

      You want to talk ‘interesting’? It’s funny how there was so much pressure on Spyker over the business plan, which ended up being under-resourced and failing, yet even people such as yourself who intend to maybe buy one feel no need to question NEVS’s plan, despite the fact that the build-in-Sweden-to-sell-in-China model lacks economic logic.

      Well done to NEVS on building cars again. But take an objective look at things, Pekko. It’s OK to question. No-one will think you’re less of a fan.

      1. Swade wrote:

        “It’s OK to question. No-one will think you’re less of a fan”

        Very important! And something that got lost during the summer of 2012 when NEVS were announced as the buyer and SU started acting as their PR Dept. Almost everyone that raised valid questions, tried to point at the missing pieces of the puzzle, or called out the SU crew on flat-out misinformation got shot down by them. That’s when it started to go downhill.

        1. +1
          And even worse; people were told to leave and not come back to the site… I am not a person that comments often but am a true fan of you Steven, and SAAB. I am with you from the beginning of TrollhättanSaab. It is that independency that I like. SU lost me al long time ago… There is room for Inside and Outside but SU it only apealing for their own fans.

  3. “NEVS should have a person that can arrange press-passes for blogger, arrange interviews, put us in touch with the right people, arrange photos or media etc “

    I agree with Tim. He is describing (part of) what a PR department does. Nevs definitely needs one of those.

    The “conflict”, such as it is, is caused by the fact that the current SU and the old TS/SU are different types of web sites, with different philosophies. That is unavoidable, and Saab itself is a very different entity from what it was. I think that Tim (as the public voice of SU) gets lured into comparing his SU with the previous SU. It’s a mistake. He is re-fighting the last war instead of taking SU forward.

    The other issue is that Tim doesn’t think that he will be able to continue with SU when Nevs finally establishes their own voice. I have no problem with that. When that day comes, he should either take SU into a different direction, or pass it on to somebody else, just as you did Swade.

    1. “I agree with Tim. He is describing (part of) what a PR department does. Nevs definitely needs one of those.”

      Yes. That’s part of the normal PR function but it’s a service for the whole motoring press, not just an assist to bloggers, which is how Tim described it.

      Should they have a normally functioning PR department? Absolutely. 100%.

    2. Ah Bernard…one must keep in mind that Tim from SU has…or has had…a DIRECT personal stake in SAAB…before, during, and after its being resurrected more than once.

      His opinions are FAR from unbiased.

      Steven, on the other hand, has ALWAYS remained objective on the matter.

      1. Saabdude, one should not ignore the fact that Swade was actually working for Saab when it went bust. Those are things that could affect objectivity.
        Not saying it has, but if it did one could understand it.

  4. Thanks for taking the time and effort to write about some of the “behind-the-scenes” dramas that were previously only gleaned by reading between-the-lines and utilizing my intuition from years in the psychiatric field. Since the turmoil of 2011, have found SU a tough read. Often difficult to follow, lacking a clear narrative, and coming across as poorly translated (or is that just the editing?). Once the site started to require a more strident registration process, I even stopped bothering to comment —yet, it remains a site to frequently check for upcoming development news and hints about an automobile that has graced my garage for 20 years in 5 different packages in hopes that Saab will eventually become an option again. Valuable. Appreciated. But not really one-stop shopping.

    For coherent analysis, I continue to follow your (Swade’s) writing, and am thankful that Saab continues to be a frequent topic of discussion. A couple of years ago, when there was more of a peaceful esprit de corps, found your new blog through a link from SU —and have found room in my bookmarks for both sites. Think this write-up is spot on, and all interested parties should be able to find benefit from reading it.

    And if NEVS does add an “Inside Saab” position, would love to hear that you are heading back to Sweden.

  5. Agree 100 % Swade. Sad to say that NEVS business model doesn’t make much sense, and requires good old fashioned Aussie bullshit filtering applied – something SU seem to have long forgotten. Maybe the SU guys are too emotionally vested with the whole thing

  6. Sometimes, both during the ‘spyker’ era and now under NEVS, I do get the impression that the media (including saabsunited & swadeolog & insidesaab ) unattentionally serves to send a message to stockholders and investment partners through the q/a’s given in interviews.
    Example; NEVS were only committed to electric cars and sedans in the beginning, in what I see as a bate for investments from china.
    Once investments come through, NEVS adjusted it’s message to suit suppliers, so the surrogate 9-3 model could be assembled and get the factory warmed up. Once the suppliers were woed, car buyers / enthusiast were given some attention.
    I doubt that the message bloggers are sending out are for car buyers and enthusiasts alone, maybe there are other recipients that don’t dream cars but push buttons in governments offices, where green agendas are made.

  7. Yes, there is room for both, but there may still be winners and losers all the same. At the moment, I think both SU and Swadeology have their place. The reason I spend 90% of my online ‘Saab/car stuff’ time here is because I am impressed by the gathering, analysing, processing and presenting of information on Swadeology even when Swade is not writing about Saabs. Indeed, it is Swade’s adaptability and breadth of interests that will see him right no matter which way the question of a new official Inside Saab blog turns out. I have never once read a story on Swadeology, even in a quiet news week, that made me question my will to live let alone my nerdy obsession with Saabs. Long may that continue.

    PS – is it just me, or are there a lot of Allan/Alans around here?

    1. I’ve rarely seen so many Al(l)ans in one place. I sometimes get confused as to which one’s which. Forgive me if I sometimes think you’re all the one person 🙂

    2. @Allan B, it is just you, LOL!

      @Swade, another great read! True to form, you have again made some excellent points. I had no idea the censorship had gotten so bad on the other blog.

  8. I agree that Nevs need to own and control their own pr. They do leak bits and pieces of their future steps, but in an errant and uncontrolled fashion. We now know that the future facelift will include sedan, combi and cabrio variants but no diesel or biopower models as they are not in demand in the Chinese market.

    So the western Saab fan is left wondering which petrol engine(s) will they use. It’s these details that keep the fan hanging around fan sites for now. Swade thinks it could be an old B serie, Tim over at SU is putting his money down on a 1.6 liter GM turbo. Mattias Bergman mentioned in Vi Bilägare -magazine that they are running out of A20NFTs and will use another engine from another manufacturer soon enough, but is unwilling to disclose more at this point.

    When, then? Inside or outside Saab remains a darn hypothetical question until Nevs comprehends that they are doing a disservice to everybody if they cannot at least let us in on when they will speak next. SU in particular is running on borrowed time, trying to suspend the emergence of disdain amongst the initiated. If it turns out it’s going to be an uncompetitive engine, it’s goodbye and goodnight for now. Have the courtesy to let some of us go, Nevs, if that’s how it’s going to roll…

    1. I’d give it a 1% chance that the hard core Saab people that are now working for NEVS would put a bad engine in the facelift 9-3.
      They must be working with BioPower capable engine parts as we speak (late Sunday). Didin’t Saab sell something like 17.000 ethanol cars alone in Sweden in 2006 or 07.
      A nicely upgraded 9-3n SC BioPower would still be the best option for many.

      1. Decent odds, yet Nevs seem to disagree. There is no market for Biopower in China, therefore they aren’t making one. Conversion to biopower is of course often possible, but then it would have to be aftermarket.

        The point remains: We’re speculating, hanging on whatever hope each one has left.

        1. But speculating at a time when (at least a few) new Saabs are being manufactured sure beats what we’ve had for the last 2 years.
          I’d also bet a few bucks that the biomass that Nevs’ parent company is collecting, could also be processed to ethanol – if the demand is there.
          And what better way than to create it yourself.

      2. If I was a gambling man, I would put a fiver down on Volvo’s new engine family. That would be a win-win for both manufacturers in key markets.

        I do love the idea of using Saab’s old iron block with a Cargine head (which is a rumour that I started and is 100% based on wishful thinking), but I think that the benefits of having the two Swedish-Chinese manufacturers cooperate on powertrains would be quite substantial.

        1. The Volvo 4-cylinder turbo/electric motor combo supposedly coming in 2015 looks sweet. I’d love to have that engine in a new Saab hatchback variant. Sign me up!

  9. And to put some money in perspective, Nissan did a internet marketing campaign in the US which focused on the NFL. I can’t remember the complete details as it was a couple of years ago, but the idea was to play some sort of NFL fantasy game to win a Nissan Rouge, and it included paid bloggers reporting on the game for six month on a custom built web site. The program cost over $600K and led to 600 purchases that they could track (specifically targets to the 21-26 year old crowd). This was considered a great success.

  10. I’m not sure that NEVS have much use for either an inside or outside blog right now. The problem with the launch of the 2014 NEVS SAAB 9-3 is that it looks (and is) just like the 2008 model. And it is for now using up some left-over GM engines, then what? So there is not much real news for an insider blogger to use.

    A problem too for an outside blogger who relies entirely on news from the factory. No substantial news. Other than that a future car will be pitched at the Chinese market. Hmmm, I see a problem here for anyone running a blog aimed at Swedish, British or NA fans (who must be drifting off by now).

    A token number of cars to be sold in Sweden, but only a die-hard fan with an appetite for massive depreciation would buy one. A smart blogger would morph into a blog about SAAB history, because the future is all about the past.

    If this all sounds a little negative, well, I haven’t seen anything yet to suggest that NEVS are planning to release new models into the traditional SAAB markets. Perhaps they have a 20 year plan, and if so then I’ll happily buy a MY2034 SAAB in Australia.

    But for now I think there is a lot of talk about very little.

    PS Swade: not much professionalism over at the site you once ran. Too personal and bitter there now.

  11. The NEVS plan might not make sense. To me, outside of NEVS, this seems like a very strange setup.

    But I can not for the life of me think that this is the only plan. They must have got something hidden for us, something they will not tell anybody at this point.

    So a balanced reporting would suit us, the readers, just fine since at this time, we just don’t know whats next.

    But I am very interested to find out. Could be bad, could be good. Time and NEVS will tell us when it’s time.

    1. i’m with you on the nevs plan but sooner or later they will have to engage because building cars is one thing but selling them is altogether more difficult. Kai Johan Jiang may have lived long enough in Sweden to appreciate the history of the saab which should mean building on the past to secure the future.

  12. What made TS and later SU interesting was Swade. Heck, he could describe the content of a milk package and make it sound like the most exciting thing in this world.
    When he left for IS, it was like Hemingway suddenly writing episodes for Days of Our Lives.
    After the commotion, a blessing in disguise for us readers is that Swade is free again, and we have once more an interesting blog to follow. I don’t expect him to agree completely, I bet it was exciting over at Saab.

    In my view, corporate blogs will never be interesting, soon enough you will be interviewing crash test dummies and writing articles from the canteen.

    Inside Saab is out. Outside Saab can be in if done by the right people.

  13. Very interesting read Swade, as usual.

    If I could comment on the ‘Free of charge’ aspect of the post; it is always better, I feel, to have some value to the service you offer. If you are willing to give it away free, some may feel that what you offer is not worth paying for. After all, if you don’t value your service, why should they?

    As far as SU goes, it is a far paler version now than ever it was. I myself have not been ‘banned’ from the site but chose rather to stop commenting there of my own free will as I felt that the current ‘crew’ offer little in the way of balanced ‘blogger’ views but rather have taken on an aspect of the ‘NEVS Protection League’. This is something I am not interested in reading (or not reading in the case of the removed comments!). I admit I have popped in from time to time to see if anything has changed, but sadly IMHO, it has not; except there seems to be large numbers of promotional posts now selling something or other! Perhaps required to keep the site funded?

    I have always stated that I wish nothing but good luck and fortune to NEVS in their new venture and that has not changed. But as far as balanced, well written and interesting blogging is concerned, I will relay on this site (among others) for that!

    Cuore Sportivo!

  14. Re: Inside Saab VS Outside Saab

    Might just be a moot point anyway…at least in Car and Driver’s view.

    “The “new” 9-3s are, in fact, old 9-3s equipped with actual Saab engines (NEVS also bought the rights to the cars’ engines, perhaps in case its all-electric plan backfired—smart). At least the 9-3s will be based on the sportier Aero models Saab originally sold. But Aero or Noero, the road to buyers’ hearts in China might prove difficult given the 9-3′s design and technology is a decade old. We bet the gas version sees far more success (relatively) than the electric version due out next year, since in China battery-fed cars are about as popular as they are here, which is to say not very.”

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/shanghaied-saab-see-saws-back-into-semblance-of-former-self-sort-of/

  15. Since this discussion about the blogs has led off in interesting directions that are more about the bigger picture of what’s happening with Saab at this potentially very important if rather confusing juncture – and BTW the joy of reading an interesting blog chat that goes off in different directions reminds me why I am allergic to blogs and forums with simple-minded moderators that go in a huff about non-technical discussions going even slightly OT – I am going to put some more coins in the meter.

    Should there be a Chinese Inside Saab? Yes, that would make a lot of sense. In my line of work I meet a lot of wealthy, educated, well-travelled middle-class Chinese (and Indian) people. And I have no difficulty seeing why NEVS are aiming to punt Saab half-way around the globe as a prestige European-made product for the Chinese market. It’s like buying a Swiss watch, or indeed a Mercedes, in Australia. Brand origins, identity, heritage, perceived snob value, etc. The fact that these ‘prestige’ products will sometimes disappoint the consumer by being, in reality, overpriced cr*p that p*ss on their heritage is beside the point. Indeed, so is the issue of the 9-3’s age to a certain extent. Just look at all the red-faced, big-bottomed business execs who whinge about their shiny new Audis or Bimmers spending half the time in the workshop … but they still want to own one.

    If NEVS can persuade enough Chinese – by which I mean a tiny percentage of the market – that a Saab really is ‘a special car’ and thus prompt a sale then that’s really all that matters. A Chinese Inside Saab could do a lot to foster the ‘special’ Saab culture over there. If NEVS get this even half right, and can sell enough Saabs to the wealthy Chinese middle-class car buyer – who wants a prestige European product that’s not German and has its quirks – to put the whole enterprise on a sound financial footing then I am all for that.

    And a Swedish Inside Saab, heck why not. If the current sales strategy means just keeping a token sales presence in Sweden with what they know is an outmoded car for a couple of years, supported by a budget social-media marketing campaign, then I am equally cool with that. The handful of sales they will get will be a neat trick that will allow them to say later on that they kept the Saab story going in its homeland, and therefore in Europe, with minimal hiatus.

    As regards an Anglophone Inside Saab for the traditional non-Swedish Western markets – leaving aside the popularty of Saab in Holland and other language zones/countries – then there perhaps isn’t as much point in it now as there would be in a couple of years’ time. If the above strategy for the immediate future – go big in China, small in Sweden – entails that the big long-term plan is for them to re-enter the Western markets properly with the next-gen PheoniX based cars in two or three years’ time, then I will be ecstatic and I would be keen on reading a half-decent Inside Saab type blog that told me about the cars and the people who made them. (Unless they tell me they are using the JC designs for the body, in which case I might have to curb my enthusiasm a little.)

    A blog like Swadeology will keep going even if NEVS let us all down and fail to sell Saabs in a meaningful and attaintable way in the traditional Western markets – again, because of the intrinsic quality of the content not just because the subject matter happens to be about Saab yet is astoundingly tedious. But I don’t want Swadeology to have to survive in a non-Saab world. If we are still in basically the same situation by Christmas 2015 – ie, no prospect of a marketing drive in Europe and/or no next-gen Saab vehicles – then I will start to get upset. I recently sold my last Saab and bought another one, and from a selfish perspective a nearly new s/h next-gen Saab looks a good prospect in 2018!

  16. Swade, I think it is about time for you to move on with Your own webpage on cars in general, and let go of SaabsUnited. A site You have sold and now has no stakes in.

  17. Spot on (most of the way). This is why I come to this place. Food for thought. I appreciate you sticking your head out while keeping a sober tone. Respect for that.

    I think the Inside SAAB solution is obvious at this defining point for SAAB. They want to keep the followers on their toes although SAAB will not have an overly interesting offering for a while.

    What I think you miss a little bit in your coherent analysis it that circumstances were quite different when you were in charge of TS and SU. When Tim took over from you the situation got really difficult for SAAB. Difficult in a different way compared to 2009 when you did a phenomenal work mobilizing the community.

    It seems that when NEVS was announced as the new owner Tim made a strategic decision not to write or disclose information that would potentially be harmfully to the re-birth of SAAB. He has been explicit about that. I understand why he took that position at that critical point in time. However, with time it became increasingly evident that the number one priority is to protect and expand the connection with the management of SAAB. Again I understand that – it must be exiting to be plugged-in and receive “sensitive” information. I just think that SU became a less interesting place to visit and lost credibility while the editorials became somewhat trivial.

    I think SU should go back to being an independent blog which it has not been for a long time. Things will change as NEVS/SAAB grow and I think now it is the time to reconsider the role of SU. They can still receive snippets from time to time (in fact that would be a wise strategy by SAAB) but they cannot carry on as the news outlet of SAAB.

    I think it is given that the role of SU will change and the writers will have to adapt. It will be interesting to see how that is going to pan out.

  18. Here is some market research for you to support or refute your assertions:

    In the TS/early SU days, I would go to Saabnet for repair etc discussion and yours for company information/rumours.

    In the Inside Saab days, I would go to Saabnet for repair etc discussion, SU and IS for company information/rumours, but found SU to be too noisy – too much information, significant amounts of which were uninteresting or inaccurate… and IS, while occasionally offering a great nugget (eg some videos) was clearly limited in what you were allowed to say. IS was not as interesting as your other blogging efforts for me.

    Since the Inside Saab days… I go to Saabnet for repair etc discussion and this site for Saab news and other interesting car stuff. The signal to noise ratio on SU is so poor that at best I check it 1x per month or 2. The important stuff appears here, filtered through a well-written critical perspective.

    When you post something, it is usually interesting – whether about porsches, saabs or whatnot… so I agree, the writing quality is a key part of it. However, a blogger inside a company is never going to have complete autonomy… that restriction limits the value of a blog like IS to readers, such that even if lots of interesting content is pushed forward, the loss of critical perspective and (at least, perceived) objectivity reduce the blogger’s effectiveness. Regardless of the situation at SAAB under VM, no company is going to give free reign to an employee to write content that may be perceived as critical/negative… when sometimes, that is what needs to be said! In that situation, the content loses bite and readers get bored and move on. Imho, SU has to some degree fallen into that trap – as if they are “Inside NEVS” without enough inside knowledge or the pay…

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