Saab Festival: Kinnekulle

I have one more event from the Saab Festival left to cover – the track day at Kinnekulle.

Kinnekulle was the primary event on the Saturday, the second day of the Saab Festival. Kinnekulle is about 80km away from Trollhattan. It’s a nice easy drive, but one that you want to be committed to if the weather’s looking dubious.

And dubious it was.

So dubious, in fact, that I chose to stay in Trollhattan. The forecast called for a reasonable amount of rain in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. I was jetlagged and doubly tired due to a late nights on Thursday and Friday. Given that I was driving a borrowed car that wasn’t suited to the track, the weather was enough to put me off making the trip.

Others did go, however. One of them was a friend named Thilo Bubek and those who know Thilo, know that he’s almost always got a camera stuck to his face.

Here’s a small sample of Thilo’s work from Kinnekulle. You can view more of Thilo’s work on his website – Bubek Fotodesign. His 2015 Saab Festival photos aren’t up yet, but his Northern Lights photos from Tromso, in Norway, are mind-boggling. He’s also on Facebook.

As you can see, it was pretty moist at Kinnekulle. When I was there in 2007 it was stinking hot and watching the Saab 2-trokes being flung around the corners at high speed in the dry was almost the highlight of the whole festival.

I wonder how they went this time? 🙂

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Saab Festival – Sunday Display

Today was the last day of the Saab Festival, which saw the big car display in the car park surrounding the Saab Car Museum. I don’t know how many cars were in attendance but I can tell you it was a LOT.

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There was a special tribute to mark the recent passing of Erik Carlsson and that’s as good a place as any to start. A stage was set up near the entrance to the museum and the museum director, Peter Backstrom, conducted a number of interviews with Erik’s friends and co-conspirators.

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Erik loved his food and the photo of Peter Backstrom on the stage, above, was taken from behind the sausage stand set up by Orio. Free hot dogs were given out to the crowd (and they were good – why do you think I was standing in the Orio area taking photos? 🙂 )

Erik lived a long life and he lived it well. A minute’s silence is nice, but it wasn’t really Erik’s kind of thing. Instead, some two-stroke owners got their cars together and put on a two or three minute tva-takt tribute of their own. Here’s a sample….

To the display, then…..

Unicorn Saabs

This looks like a regular old line of NG Saab 9-5s, doesn’t it?

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It’s not a regular line of 9-5’s at all, though.

A small number of Saab 9-5 SportCombis were sold by the administrators when Saab went bankrupt. These cars were considered to be un-registerable but a tenacious bunch of owners tiptoed through the red tape and actually managed to get their cars road legal. That there were 7 of them attending this year’s Festival is a tribute to their dedication.

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A couple of Saab 9-4x’s were spotted in the crowd, too. Here’s one of them…..

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And parked behind the 9-4x was one of the most unloved ‘Saabs’ of all time – normally prone to rust but this one was in outstanding condition. It’s a Saab-Lancia 600.

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Saab 9-3

I should apologise to Saab 9-3 owners this year, because I didn’t really take much time looking over your cars at all. 9-5 owners, too.

A Viggen always catches my eye, though, and this three-door in Lighting Blue was just perfect…..

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This convertible in Monte Carlo Yellow looked the business, too…..

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The Turbo-X’s were out in force. It almost looked like a Star Wars convention 🙂

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Classic Saab 900

It’s getting harder and harder to find a classic Saab 900 in good condition – even in Sweden. And when you look at the magnificent 900s present here at the Saab Festival, you know why. Nobody in their right mind would ever want to sell one, would they?

Click to enlarge.

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Saab 96

The Saab 96s were the stars of today’s display for me. I’ve developed a big soft spot for the old V4s and the two-strokes sounded glorious all day. What really got me, though, is just the sheer base-level character of the car, which lends itself to all sorts of custom presentations.

It’s probably be the rally heritage that makes this OK on the 96. More than OK, actually. It’s perfect.

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Saab 99

The 9-3 Viggen and the Saab 99 Turbo remain as my two favourite Saabs of all time. There were plenty of nice 99s in attendance this year, including some excellent turbos.

This Cardinal Red turbo was said to be in 100% original condition. It was incredibly clean and so popular that it was hard to get a clear photo of, as you can see.

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Some more 99s…..

My first turbocharged Saab was a 99 Turbo 3-door in Marble White. This 99 Turbo 2-door in Marble White was for sale and it’s mighty, mighty tempting…..

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Bo’s Stig Blomqvist replica 99 Turbo looked superb.

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Sonetts

All three generations of Saab Sonett were on display today….

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Saab 9000

The Saab 9000 was this year’s feature car for the Festival and there were plenty of excellent examples on display.

Saab designer Bjorn Envall once referred to the Saab 9000 as the most complete Saab in his eyes. I’ve had three of them in my driveway and it’s hard to disagree. The 9000 is exceptional value if you can find a good one. It’s a car that looks incredibly smart, is supremely comfortable, practical and quick.

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NG Saab 9-5

There might have been comparatively few of them sold, but the NG Saab 9-5 was prominent all weekend at the Saab Festival. This little gallery doesn’t do them justice.

This first car had a pearl white finish – a wrap, I think – that looked absolutely superb.

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Note the little front spoiler on this one. A nice touch…..

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I saw a write-up on this ‘Saab 9-5x’ a few months ago. It was nice to see it in person.

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The Oddities And Others

It wouldn’t surprise me if this Saab 99 turned out to be the most photographed car of the day. It’s hard to miss. Earlier in the Festival, it was seen towing a trailer with another (pristine) Saab 99 loaded on the back.

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A rolling nightclub? I call it FrankenSaab 🙂

I’m not quite sure what was going on with this Saab 99. The 16V engine was pushed waaaay back.

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I thought this Saab 9-3 might have been wrapped, too, but on closer inspection it looked like actual paint.

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This Saab 9-5 looked pretty special. I had to look twice to figure out what was going on and finally got an explanation from a friend of the owner. It’s had some extensive re-working to make it a 9-5 widebody. The level of finish was outstanding. A look inside the back door shows you just how wide the arches have been flared.

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Saab 95 wagon in motion….

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Saab 92 with patina….

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Saab 92 and 93s….

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And I couldn’t resist a shot of this early Saab 96 in MCY….

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And there are my picks from the Sunday display at the Saab Festival. 100-odd photos means that probably missed about 600 or so cars. Apologies to those owners but there’s only so much time to write things up.

Thanks to the organisers and participants for what was yet another memorable Saab Festival in 2015.

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Saab Festival – NEVS Tour: Technical Development

NEVS opened (some of) their doors on day 1 of the Saab Festival with a great tour of the Technical Development building on offer. It was a short tour. It only covered about 2% of the facility but it was a GOOD tour and a wonderful gesture by NEVS to get the fans involved with the company.

NEVS did not allow photos during the tour and I can understand why. You don’t want 50 people in a tour group with all of them snapping pictures at will. It’s not a look that your clients will appreciate and contrary to popular belief, NEVS have been doing a lot of development/engineering work for other car companies over the last year or so, even during the bankruptcy.

If there were no photos, however, there wouldn’t be a story. And this tour was enjoyed so much by people who participated that it was a story worth the telling. So I had a chat with some NEVS people and they agreed that photos wouldn’t be such a bad thing 🙂

As mentioned, the tour was short. It was intended to give people a small insight into the detailed work that goes into designing and building a car.

The first stop was at one of the electrical workshops. The test bench we saw is known as an A-frame and it basically lays out all the electrical components of the car on a horseshoe shaped bench. The operator can test any electrical functions on the car.

I wrote about this at length on Inside Saab back in 2011. Check it out here.

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This frame holds all the electrical components that go into the car. Want to try something new, or modify something? You rig it up on the frame and see how it works.

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A lot of the tour took in the various acoustics labs on site.

These are mostly comprised of ‘dead rooms’ that absorb all ambient noise so that the instruments can isolate and measure any noise coming from the vehicle.

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The images below show an interesting process. The body-in-white you can see here is actually acting like the membrane from a loudspeaker. It’s sitting on some air cushions to isolate it from the floor and it’s connected to an ‘exciter’ from underneath. Basically, the whole car vibrates like a speaker membrane, though the vibrations are not visible like they might be on a speaker.

They were playing a song called Rise Of The Phoenix 🙂

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Cars are subject to constant vibration when you drive. This is a way of simulating that and seeing how the body-in-white copes with such vibrations. Body-in-white is a term for the basic body structure before you start attaching things to it. It’s important to get that basic structure sorted before you start building cars so this test will be done while the vehicle’s in development.

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Here you can see a microphone attached to a rotor arm in a hard-surfaced room. What you can’t see are the reflective panels hanging at various angles from the roof. Those panels make sure that noise is distributed evenly around the room and the rotor arm lets the microphone swing around so that it can measure the sound distribution.

On the back wall, you can see a red panel with a hole in it, which opens up to another ‘dead room’ behind.

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That red panel is used to mount various components of a car (e.g. doors, dash panels, etc) so that noise can be made in the ‘loud room’ and measured in the ‘dead room’. This tests how much sound leaks from those components. The red panel can hold certain items, or can be removed completely. Engineers find a solution for mounting the component that’s being tested at the time.

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This guy gets used for measuring sound sometimes…..

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This is another dead room, although it’s one with a full dyno in the floor. They can run a car in here at up to 200km/h for testing. The box at the front of the car provides cooling and hoses trail out from the exhaust for extraction.

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You saw the micro-vibration testing on the body-in-white, above. But what about testing the whole vehicle’s tolerance for rough roads?

This machine performs some gruelling tests over prolonged periods to simulate some pretty rough living on the part of the car.

The car being tested will stay on this machine for 8 days straight, 24 hours a day. It’ll then be taken to the test track and driven to listen for rattles and squeaks, etc. Then the process is repeated for a second time. Then, for a third time!! After the third cycle, the car is completely dismantled to see how individual parts have fared throughout the process.

The sound of rushing air that you can hear?

They have to pump air over some of the suspension components, particularly the shock absorbers, to keep them cool.

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We saw various robots that are set up to test components, like cupholders…..

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Door windows……

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Electric seats…… the robotic arm is moving the seat switches mounted on a table and the seats on the floor move accordingly

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And door opening/closing

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This is one of the early generation battery packs that NEVS were testing. It’s not going to be used in their electric vehicle as it’s too big and too heavy.

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Saab installed this brake dyno a few years ago and it’s one of only a few of its type in Europe.

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That’s just a quick look at the tour, which was itself just a quick look at a small part of the testing and development that gets done inside a car company. Most cars companies have this stuff spread out over very large areas, even spread around different cities or countries. Saab was always unique in that everything needed to develop a vehicle was on site at the same facility.

NEVS ought to be congratulated for allowing such access to Saab Festival visitors and personally speaking, I want to thank them for allowing me back inside with my camera so that I could share the experience with you.

The stuff that we saw was quite old – the bulk of testing for the 9-3 Sportcombi would have been done well over 10 years ago – but that’s NEVS protecting the interests of customers they’re performing engineering services for right now. Smart move.

Thanks again, NEVS, for the insight.

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Saab Festival – Day 1 Dispatch

At any other time, this would be an extraordinary photo. This weekend, it’s just another day in Sweden 🙂

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Congratulations to the graduates, too. Every time I’m here I seem to wake up to this Swedish tradition – students on trucks making lots and lots of noise now that their basic schooling is over. Time for the real world, kids.

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It’s Saab Festival time once again. The sun is shining (mostly), the people are smiling and a convoy of two-strokes screaming down the street is no longer unusual.

As usual, there are all manner of Saabs here. As I sit here in the foyer of the Scandic Swania (without a camera!) I’ve seen a NG Saab 9-5 Combi and that most disregarded unicorn of all cars to ever wear a Saab badge – a Saab-Lancia 600!! That’s the Saab Festival for ya.

The feature events for yesterday were the open day at NEVS, the parts sale and various events at the Saab Museum. The open day at NEVS was the real feature and I’ll do a separate article about the tour at Technical Development later, but first…..

The visit to NEVS

It was a bittersweet experience going back to the Saab factory. Sweet because it really is the heart of the company. Bitter because…. well….. you know.

But I have to say I was heartened by the visit with NEVS yesterday. I missed the speech by Matthias Bergman about the future of the company, but I’m not overly fussed by that. From what I heard, it was a presentation that nearly anyone even remotely familiar with the situation could have written. i.e. it didn’t really give away much and I got basically the same information chatting with a few people in private.

The news is that we can all expect a significant press conference this coming week. Probably Wednesday. The word is that new partners/investors are on board and progress will continue.

The news behind the news is more interesting (to me).

I met at least one key recruit who has only recently come back after leaving Trollhattan at the end of 2011. This is a recruiting coup straight from the top drawer, a man in the prime of his career who could pretty much work anywhere he wants.

You can have all the PR-vetted speeches you like, but the fact that this gentleman has bought what NEVS is selling tells me they’ve got something real to sell.

The other news from the day, not completely new but nice to have confirmed, is that NEVS is shifting its focus back to electric propulsion and range-extended hybrids; away from internal combustion cars. Now, I’m an internal combustion guy so this leaves me with mixed feelings, but it’s somewhat of a relief that they’re re-focusing on their original plan after the spanner thrown in the works by their recalcitrant Chinese investor.

What I took away from yesterday: I feel quite confident that NEVS will come out their recent troubles and build cars. Whether they build cars that either you or I find interesting is another question. But they’re going to build something. They may or may not be able to call it a Saab but cars will roll out of Trollhattan (and China) in the future and if they stay here, that’s a good thing for the city.

NEVS allowed people to tour some of the technical development area at Stallbacka. I’ve got exclusive photos and video from the tour, which I’ll share shortly.

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The Parts Sale

The parts sale kicked off in earnest at 9am yesterday. It was smaller than last time, which was smaller than the time before. I guess that’s the nature of selling parts of finite supply. It’s always good, though.

This year the punters had the added fun of being able to strip a number of wrecks mounted out in the yard. That looked like fun. They even had a few old V4’s out there.

Click any of the photos to enlarge….

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Rony Lutz

Saab’s wonderful in-house artist, Rony Lutz, has an exhibition at a gallery near the Saab Museum. Rony made a presentation about his work at 2pm yesterday but I can’t tell you much about it. I was there, but it was all in Swedish 🙂

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In The Car Park

The two biggest attractions at any Saab Festival are the cars and the people. Accordingly, I spend much of my time chatting with friends that I almost only see at events like this, and with my camera out in the car park.

The cars here are always amazing. It’s a rich collection spanning all of Saab’s near-70 years.

Click to enlarge and enjoy.

Vale Erik Carlsson

Ironic that this should happen just a few hours after NEVS’s positive news……. but it’s turned into a sad day for Trollhattan and Saab fans in general.

It’s with great sadness that I report today on the passing of a Saab legend, perhaps the biggest Saab legend of all – Mr Erik Carlsson. Erik passed away in his adopted England today after a short illness. He was surrounded by family.

“Mr Saab” was born in Trollhattan, Sweden, in March 1929 and the story of his life is inextricably bound to the city and the car company that was based there.

Erik drove his first rally victory in a Saab in 1955 when the company was less than 10 years old. That was a two-cylinder Saab 92 and he went on to experience rally success with the Saab 93, Saab 95 and the Saab 96 with both two-stroke and V4 engines.

Saab fans will be well aware of his successes. While Erik won various events between 1955 and 1959, it was his winning of the RAC Rally of 1960, the first year of the Saab 96, that cemented both he and Saab on the motorsport map. Erik’s legend goes hand-in-hand with the Saab 96, which he took to first place in the famous Monte Carlo Rally in 1962 and 1963. He also won the RAC Rally two more times in 1961 and 1962. The 1000 Lakes Rally, the Acropolis Rally, the Swedish Rally, the San Remo Rally, the Czech Rally – all of them have Erik Carlsson’s name in their history books under “Winner” and many more have him as being placed on the podium.

Erik even drove the heavier Saab 95 estate vehicle at Monte Carlo, finishing in 4th position in 1961. I’m not sure that a two-door, 7-seat station wagon has ever been so close to glory, either before or since!

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After his retirement from rallying, Erik became Saab’s most prominent ambassador. The amount of frequent flyer miles he would have accumulated travelling for Saab to events around the world would have broken most airline computers, I’m sure.

It must be said, however, that Erik’s days as an ambassador for the company took shape even when he was still rallying. When accepting victory trophies in his Saab 96, Erik always insisted that the car was cleaned before it was presented. He and his co-driver would always show up in dress suits rather than racing suits to accept the trophy. Presentation was paramount.

Erik famously promoted the Saab 900 at events around the world, driving it at speed over a large blade that would puncture the front tyre. At the time of the puncture, Erik would raise his hands out from the sunroof to show how well balanced the Saab was even under pressure.

Erik’s longevity as a Saab ambassador – a role he played well into his Eighties – can be attributed to his personal charm. Erik loved the role and he played it well. He had a cheeky smile, plenty of stories to tell and a willingness to engage anyone in conversation. And so prominent was Erik as an identity at Saab that they released three Carlsson edition vehicles in his honour – a Saab 900, a Saab 9000 and a Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan.

There would barely be a Saab fan that’s travelled to a prominent Saab event that didn’t get a handshake, a photograph or an autograph from the great man. He had time for everyone, even in his later years.

I had the good fortune to spend an afternoon with Mr Saab back in 2012. The day was organised by mutual good friends Mike and Hilary, who have spent a lot of time with the great man in the last 20 years. I encourage you to read that story as it says a lot about him outside of the spotlight.

That day taught me a lot about Erik Carlsson. It showed me the way he cared for the company, talking about it in an educated fashion like a man who still had his finger on the pulse, even in his advanced years and at such a distance. It showed me the way he loved his RAC replica Saab 96 (see video, below), which he drove with such exuberance on the day. More than that, though, it showed me his warmth as a man. He was deeply charming, extremely generous with his time and compliments, and he loved his family deeply.

Erik Carlsson married Pat Moss, the sister of Sir Sterling Moss, in 1963 and like his heritage from Trollhattan, this partnership shaped the rest of his life. Pat Moss was an accomplished driver in her own right and they wrote a book about the art of driving together. The couple settled in England, where Pat indulged her other passion – horses – which she passed on to their daughter Susie. Erik still lived just down the road from his daughter right up until his passing.

Erik Carlsson lived a full life, passing away at the age of 86. It was a life worth celebrating, a life to be remembered with fondness.

He was, and always will be remembered as Mr Saab.

Vale Erik Carlsson.

NEVS Take On Two NEW Chinese Owners/Partners

Here’s the press release, and there’s a little more to read below it.

Nevs grows with two Chinese strategic part owners

Together with two new Chinese part owners Nevs will establish its second global factory with focus on electric vehicles and a second global research and development center in the city of Tianjin, neighboring Beijing City and Hebei Province, three highly-integrated economic regions with a population over 100 million.

With the new part owners, Tianjin city’s Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech industrial Development Area (THT), and the Beijing State Research Information Technology Co., Ltd. (SRIT), Nevs has got two new strategic partners.

Tianjin is one of the biggest coastal cities in China and has significantly promoted new energy vehicles both in the form of consumer subsidies and official procurements.

The Tianjin city’s fast growing national level demonstration zone THT embraces a long history of automotive industry. Here is where the joint venture production plant will be built. This will give Nevs a strong foothold on the increasing EV market in the area and China, as well as provide Nevs access to the existing automotive supplier base in the region.

SRIT is a pioneering IT service provider owned by China’s Research Development Center of the State Council, and the telecommunications giant China Unicom.

As software services and connectivity as well as new energy vehicles are the major and increasing trend within the automotive industry, the cooperation with SRIT and its owners will give Nevs a unique possibility to place itself at the forefront of connectivity for the future. SRIT as a partner will also open up more opportunities for Nevs.

The first car that will be produced in the plant in Tianjin is an electric vehicle based on Nevs’ technology, followed by a diversified EV and portfolio of battery electric vehicles and EVs based on Nevs’ new developed vehicle architecture.

“Nevs’ focus is to produce high quality electric vehicles with China as its initial main market. The long-term cooperation with the development area THT in Tianjin and the IT pioneer SRIT will help us achieve our vision and our goal of a global strategic presence and is an important addition to the resources we have in Trollhättan”, says Nevs president Mattias Bergman.

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Additional info gleaned from TTELA, Saabtala, Pingu in comments (who should really have his own author account on this site, he’s so far ahead of me on this) and other impeccable sources such as mates on Facebook…..

The full buy-in for these partners is apparently around $200 million and they’re minority shareholders at this point. More deals are supposedly in the pipe. The first tranche of $40m has hit the bank, which is why NEVS made the announcement. That’s a wise move, but it doesn’t necessarily fill you with confidence.

As pointed out by the mate on Facebook, the $200m doesn’t limit the money NEVS might have to play with. It’s just the buy-in price that reinvigorates Kai Johan Jiang’s wardrobe after he nearly lost his shirt. The total investment these new partners make could be anything at all. They could be a bunch of whatever-it-takes types. They could be scrooges. All we know is that it looks like NEVS are heading back to focusing on EVs once again and for the sake of their business plan, that’s probably a good thing.

There’s no mention of the Saab name and there’s no mention of Mahindra, which makes me think the Saab name is now finally, completely off-limits. That’ll reduce the level of interest for some people on its own.

Of course, the whole scenario is less interesting to many, anyway. I count myself in that lot. I keep saying “this’ll be the last time I write about Saab cars” and then I keep on writing about NEVS. I think it’s just a habit now. Truth be told, my main interest is in older Saabs – the V4s, the 900 and 9000. Maybe add the first 9-3 in there as well because of the Viggen.

From what I can tell, the cars that NEVS produce will have little, if anything, in common with those vehicles that first caught the imagination of thousands around the world. There will be design and engineering activities in Trollhattan, I’m sure, but the gradual movement to a base in Tianjin feels inevitable.

As someone who’s invested a little bit of life in Trollhattan, I’m glad that this is happening for the city. If it keeps Mama Mia’s and O’Learys open so I can get some pasta or ribs when I visit, I’m all for it.

As a Saab fan…. meh. It’s still wait and see but it doesn’t feel particularly interesting at this point.

NEVS Press Conference at 11am Swedish Time

This, via Pingu, in comments…..

NEVS just announced a press conference at 11 AM CEST (90 minutes from now), where they will present their plan to be “successful manufacturer of electric cars” and two new Chinese partners.

No Mahindra then (something I suspected long ago)… Will be interesting to see if this is the final deal.

No Mahindra could mean the use of the Saab name has been denied. If that’s the case, it’ll reduce interest for a lot of observers.

We wait and see……

The Saab Car Museum Support Organisation

I’m grateful to Alex at Saabtala for posting about the Saab Car Museum Support Organisation last week. I didn’t even know this group existed prior to that post and for those of you who missed it, I figured it might be worth writing about it here. I’ve just sent through my support donation and I think it’d be worthwhile if you consider doing the same.

Ursaab-getting-som-airThe Saab Museum is the spiritual home of Saab Automobile. Peter Backstrom, Ola and their crew of contributors and volunteers do a sensational job of keeping Saab’s legacy alive. The Museum is visited by thousands of people every year and this year, once again, it’ll be the central hub for activities linked to the Saab Festival.

Picture: Saabs United.

The Saab Museum nearly went under a few years ago when the Swedish debt agency went and put stickers all over the cars, marking them as items to be secured for sale. Thankfully, the city of Trollhattan stepped in along with Saab AB and the Wallenburg family to secure the immediate future of the Museum.

That doesn’t mean the Museum is flush with funds, however. It cost money to save the Museum but it costs more to run it on an ongoing basis, too.

That’s where you come in.

The Saab Car Museum Support Organisation is a non-profit organisation, set up to allow supporters of the Museum to ‘join’ and provide a small amount each year in support of the Museum’s activities. The fee is 200SEK per year, which is around A$30 in my money, or $22 American dahllahs. Payment can be made by PayPal or a number of other means.

Click here to go to the membership page.

Thanks in advance for your support. And please make plans to visit the Saab Museum some day. June 5-7 would be perfect, as that’s when the 2015 Saab Festival will be on.

Whether it’s this year or another year, though, make sure you get there. It’s a truly magical place.

Press: NEVS Has Exited Reorganisation

The press release……

Nevs has exited the reorganization

The District Court of Vänersborg has today, April 15, 2015 decided that the reorganization of Nevs shall cease as the purpose of the reorganization is fulfilled.

The reorganization of Nevs was initiated August 29, 2014 for a period of three months. The reorganization was prolonged for a period of three months at two occasions, December 11, 2014 and March 11, 2015.

On March 23, 2015 the District Court of Vänersborg approved the composition proposal by Nevs after a vote where 98,2 percent of the creditors representing 98,6 percent of the amount of the debt was in favor for the composition. On April 14 The District Court’s approval of the composition became legally valid.

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Yep. That’s the whole thing.

For those of you who nodded off during this whole episode (don’t feel ashamed, it was an easy thing to do), here’s a quick primer……

How did we get here?

Well, in short and in general…..

NEVS started life with a somewhat suspect business plan. Then they took on a Chinese partner that:

  1. insisted they depart from their electric-only business plan and build petrol driven cars, and
  2. failed to come up with the money they promised.

Without that cash injection and with money tied up in the development of cars they never really intended to make, NEVS were severely short of cash. They couldn’t pay their suppliers and went into ‘Reorganisation’ in August 2014.

There were a lot of hairy moments along the way and Kai Johan Jiang quite likely no longer has a pot to pee in nor a window to throw it out of, but they survived.

NEVS had promised all along that suppliers would receive payment in full but they had to renege on this promise and do a deal with a number of suppliers. According to TTELA, 469 out of 573 suppliers that are owed money will get paid in full. A good effort, really.

The supplier deal was the final hurdle to exiting reorganisation and with yesterday being the final day for protests to be lodged (and with none being lodged), NEVS were clear to petition the court to allow them to exit from Reorg.

And what does it all mean for the future?

NEVS have consistently stated that they’re in negotiations with a couple of potential partners who want to buy in to the business. The exit from Reorg clears the way for this to finally happen.

The persistent rumour is that it’s Mahindra who will buy a controlling stake in the company, with another development partnership with Dong Feng. Recent mumblings have also spoken of other companies wanting to use the production facilities at Trollhattan to provide some extra capacity for their own needs.

The identity of the potential partners has not been revealed officially, so we’ll have to wait and see if those rumours are correct.

Either way, it shouldn’t be long now until the future path for NEVS is made more clear.

I’ve never been a huge fan of NEVS’s strategy or communication methods but I’ve always been a fan of the Saab badge and the city of Trollhattan. Kudos to NEVS for actually navigating their way through the storm, but here’s to someone else coming in and providing funds and a business plan that’s realistic, understandable and achievable.

Griffin Up!

Apr 14 – NEVS Should Exit Reorg Today

UPDATE: According to Tom at Saabtala, the exit from reorganisation is likely to be tomorrow. That’s contrary to the story at TTELA but Tom’s been on the phone to the court so the information should be reliable. Whether it’s today or tomorrow is neither here nor there, by dinner time on the 15th NEVS should be free to make a deal.

——

Just a reminder…..

Today should be a significant day for NEVS and the potential for any future cars with a Saab name attached to them.

According to their own press materials late last month, and a story on SU last week, NEVS have applied to exit their court-protected reorganisation and come out into the real world.

From their March 23 press release:

Nevs intends to apply for exiting the reorganization as soon as the composition is legally valid in mid-April.

“A composition was needed for Nevs to exit the reorganization in order to be able to sign commercially viable agreements with our OEM and financial partners we have been in dialogue with for a long time.

And from the SU story….

According to the local newspaper ttela.se and to SwerigeradioP4 NEVS has applied to the court to terminate the reorganization period on the 14th of April.

Assuming all goes well, it shouldn’t long until we see a new majority stakeholder in the company and hopefully, some clearer direction as to where they’re going to go.

Is it Mahindra?

Are they able to use the Saab name?

Will they maintain their Swedish roots, including some manufacturing?

Will the proposed model mix remain as NEVS had planned?

We won’t be able to answer those questions today, but hopefully today will see the first step taken in a successful Saab journey. I think we could all do with some good news from Trollhattan.

The exit will likely happen while I’m asleep (these things always do) so feel free to keep one another informed in comments.

Interesting times, folks. Interesting times.