Thoughts On Rumors And Reality

A lot has been said recently about production restart and some rumors have been floating around about future production but as always, NEVS has remained quiet to some extent. NEVS has always maintained that they will speak when there is something definite to talk about and they will not talk about rumors but real news. NEVS are not the only company out there like this, if we look back to trying to get any info from Mahindra when they were looking into Saab, they would say nothing. Even in Canada, we have Magna who have looked at buying car companies in the past and talk to no one about any plans except to say that they will not talk about rumors. My point being that this is not unusual in any way for a company to behave and especially not in the automotive world where you have seen former employees at North American manufacturers selling top secret information to other manufacturers.

What we do know is that there have been conversations with previous suppliers and that most of those discussions have been positive and it looks like a sooner then expected restart can possibly start in the summer. Is this aggressive to think this can happen that quickly? Personally I would think yes, but then what do we know about what is happening behind the scenes? We only know what we can confirm through press releases or discussions with NEVS themselves. For obvious reasons NEVS will not release future product development information until they have something to show us. Is it important to be secretive like this? Some would think no but you don’t have to look too far for a reason why it is important. Jason Castriota has a Phoenix based 9-3 that has never had photos released to the press yet there have been photos so close to the real thing released that some of his work is available to all for nothing and remember he hasn’t been paid in full for this design as it never made it to production. A designer is like an artist and their work is theirs and they are protective about such things being released or stolen but the manufacturer is even more protective when it comes to technologies and design.

What all of us can look to when trying to paddle through the sea of rumors and opinions of others is we can look to what they are doing and it doesn’t take much to see they are moving forward. There has been a constant stream of job positions coming up and positions being filled. In the last few days, I have seen three job postings come up and the one that has peaked my interest the most has been one of the positions posted today for two positions. These positions are for two full time staff in climate wind tunnel techniques, a brief description of this posting is as follows:

Description
We are looking for people who want to work as a technician in our climate wind tunnel. Responsibilities include, among other things
– responsible for deploying different climatic conditions during testing
in climatic wind tunnel
– detailed plan testing
– calibrate
– responsible for preventive maintenance and technical expertise
on climate wind tunnel systems
– contact with both internal clients and external could 

Qualifications We are looking for people who have – knowledge of the control system – experience in preparing specimens for the climate test – calibration of knowledge – used to working with a lot of customer contact – 3-year upper secondary school with electricity / technical school or equivalent   experience – Driving license B

From the description of the job, it would seem this is a job for testing products and yes it will take time to get the testing techniques in order but in any case, this is very promising as it would seem they have a need to start testing soon as this is an “as soon as possible” starting dates for the selected employees.

image001Where does that leave us? Well we have a new Saab logo to the left that was recently released to give brand identity and is thankfully very close to what we had in the past, we also have a team that is being put together piece by piece, we have an agreement for a production facility to be built in China for the Chinese market (this will take time to build and get operational) and with the job postings today, I would have to think that we have a redesigned 9-3  in the process of being designed and I for one can’t wait to see what NEVS/SAAB have in store for us.

There are still questions to be answered about dealer networks and when we can expect to see traditional markets being restocked with Saab product and those answers will come. Before markets are added or replenished, they need a product to offer and they are working tirelessly to get this completed as it is not as easy as to just flip the switch and turn the production line on again.

Recently while speaking with Mikael from NEVS, Till asked the question about the possibility of using the SAAB Parts AB network to re-establish a dealer network for Saab Cars and the reply was that it can be an option, “because there is a big synergy between service and distribution.” So for those that say the dealer network is destroyed, they seem to have a possible solution for that as well. Also when asked if work had been completed on the redesign on the 9-3 Mikael answered “It will not be a complete redesign, but yes, there has been work done for the look of the car.” During their conversation, Mikael stressed that their market would be global and not limited at all to China.

JP
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Cautiously optimistic…

JP
Member
3 years 8 months ago

I completely agree, Jason. I think it is better to be as realistic as possible given the circumstances.

100%Saab
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Actually, what counts for me is when the Saabs are on the dealer lots.

Harriet
Member
3 years 8 months ago

I agree, but don’t know where those dealers are coming from, the ones here in the Northeast U.S. have been badly burned.

Peter, Sweden
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Exciting times! Hm… does ANYONE outside of NEVS know who’s in charge of the 9-3 facelift?

JH
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Very well written, Jason! I completely agree. 🙂 The job posting that caught my onterest the most was the one named “Cellingenjör”. I think you can translate it to “Cell engineer” and the posting specifically states that they are searching for an engineer with experience in “transmission technology, HYBRID technology and electric propulsion”. Maybe they are looking into hybrid systems after all! An E85/electricity Saab BioHybrid would be a dream come true! I also like the title of the contact person for that posting: “Manager Development Laboratories”. It gives me the feeling that there are some pretty advanced stuff going… Read more »
Henrik B.
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Hmmmm, maybe we can expect to the the Saab 9-3 facelift, on the Frankfurt Autoshow this fall?

Cheers!

Henrik B.
Member
3 years 8 months ago

“….expect to see the….”

Cheers!

Remdu67
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Hopefully I am not a Saab dealer. They just had not a single news from NEVS. At least it means that NEVS still does not know if they will work with the old global Saab customers base. The less we can say is that a dealer should forget it for a couple of years. For Quingdao future plants, it is still a MOU and not a legal agreement as they will need – as far as I read correctly chinese blogs – the NDRC approval for building a new car plant. She-bao (“Saab” BAIC) could make some trouble as well…… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Jason: I think you need to enter politics. Wow—-to compare Mahindra not rerifying bidding on a bankrupt company to NEVS now owning the company—-but not reaching out to potential customers and Saab enthusiasts—–well, there really is no comparison. I can’t think of any car manufacturer who has been less forthcoming/more secretive about their intentions for new models, expanding markets, etc. No one is asking for the minutes of their corporate meetings. Very simple, rudimentary comments about what might POSSIBLY be on the horizon and when—-I really don’t think that’s too much to ask and I really don’t think sharing aspirations… Read more »
Simply9-5
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Don’t worry Angelo, I’m sure they’ll realize at some point that burning bridges and having little understandings of the concept of “public relations” will not work for them in the long run and that they’ll potentially have to seek out customers, rather than assuming that the Chinese are going to go crazy for their products. But I could be wrong, this is an odd case of a former automobile manufacturer that had a functioning public relations department go bankrupt, then purchased by an investment group that simply doesn’t it. I think that they’re expecting China to be their saving grace… Read more »
Chris Hansel
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Jason and 9-5: I would agree with your comments 9-5. Nevs has not yet spoken a word about selling Saabs to anywhere, but China. Here are the facts as we know them. Someone, who else could it be but the Chinese central govt.? has agreed to purchace the entire first year production. Meanwhile a Chinese city has also agreed to buy 20% percent of Nevs . Reason? The only reason I can think of is job creation. These two facts together mean this. Saab is not dead, and cars will again be made with that name on their front hoods.… Read more »
Thylmuc
Member
3 years 8 months ago

A significant pollution problem in China seems to be electrical power generation with coal. Initially, this problem will not be solved by EVs. Only when China invests enough in solar poewr or wind turbines, will this pollution be alleviated

Red J
Member
3 years 8 months ago

It would be enough if they use the same exhaust gas filter system as in the western world. I think many cities in Germany would look like Beijing if power plans would still use the same filters (read none) as we used in the ’70s/’80s.

saabtek
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Yeh! let’s put some more bird blenders up! I’m hungry!

saabdog
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Or nuclear…

Thylmuc
Member
3 years 8 months ago

If they had changed components in the electric version 9-3 over the previously planned one, that would probably also require new testing, since the cooling requirements of electric cars are quite specific.
Also if the body was changed, cooling needs to be tested. And they better change the body, since a cw-value of 0.28 for the sedan is not good at all for an all-electric car.

christian
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Good article. The last two sentences, however, are most important to me. I am, in fact, very surprised that Mikael confirmed that we will indeed see some changes to the 9-3, the question only remains whether this relates to more than just mounting different badges. I’d love to learn about what exactly they considered to change for a facelift. Also the statement that their market for the renewed 9-3 would be global and not limited to China leaves one question: Do they need to undergo any homologation at all or don’t require these changes any particular qualification? This is getting… Read more »
Red J
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Christian, I don’t know in how many articles, but at least in more than one, different people from SU have said that the EV-1 will have an updated front (visually updated) and that the interior will also be updated. As the ICE 9-3 can be seen as a preparation of the factory for the production of the EV-1, I suppose that the MY ’14 ICE 9-3 will have all or most of the updates of the EV-1. In one sentence, the MY’14 ICE 9-3 will not be a Griffin 9-3 nor a MY’ 08 9-3. As NEVS is working in… Read more »
100%Saab
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Agreed, better not to over promise and then disappoint.

saabdog
Member
3 years 8 months ago

NEVS doesn’t have to over promise in order to give us some news.

christian
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Red J, I for my part would be happy if they would only bring the latest 9-3 back to life, I don’t necessarily need it to be a facelift, although it would be a nice bonus! The 2009 MY looked even better than the Griffin, if you ask me, but that’s just not a big thing. All I truly care about is the DI Biopower engine. However, this seems to be the hardest part, unfortunately… Yet, I find the schedule more than sporty to implement any changes at all.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
I agree. Getting that car back in important markets around the world as soon as possible would be terrific. I think a minor facelift would at least imply new product—-which is all that most buyers need or want. I know the popular notion is that it’s old, boring, outdated—-and I think that’s rubbish. If the car could be sold for a little less than previous sticker—–with a minor facelift and a real promotional campaign—-it would reach a new young market in many places. It’s doable. Remember—–it’s still a safe car, an attactive car and a luxury European nameplate. All of… Read more »
74StingSaab
Member
3 years 8 months ago

^^ Well said Angelo…

christian
Member
3 years 8 months ago

I fully agree that it’s doable! The 9-3 is no outdated car at all. Looking forward to seeing an official photo of the relaunched version – although I would also recommend not to over promise and then disappoint, it’s perfectly understandable that they don’t want to market anything that they don’t have (yet).

hughw
Member
3 years 8 months ago

Nope. Not “outdated car at all.” My “new” 2011 9-3X evokes a lot of comments from friends and passerby’s. “Nice looking car.” “Oh, I didn’t know that Saab was making cars again.” etc.

Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
As I’ve mentioned—-I have a 9-5. But the discussion now, for NEVS, is the 9-3. At the Saab dealership where I’ve had service, I’ve sat in 9-3s many times and had the opportunity to examine them carefully. Great cars—-and I don’t use “great” lightly or randomly. If everything is done correctly from a marketing standpoint—-the car can definitely be “reintroduced” successfully. No—-they aren’t going to outsell Corollas. But is that really the point? I think that with the right message—-the 9-3 can be the car to pick up where Saab left off. It can be the bridge to the past… Read more »
3cyl
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Angelo, Tim has pointed out several times that the 9-3 was never profitable in the U.S. Maybe there are markets where a reintroduced 9-3 will make money, but if it didn’t sell well enough to do that when it was a relatively new design, I am not sure how well it will work out now. I, like you, am happy to drive my OG 9-5 and don’t care about a short design life cycle, Maybe there are enough buyers like us willing to pay the price for a reintroduced low volume car. You seem to have marketing experience and have… Read more »
wfg
Member
3 years 8 months ago
I lived some years in te US and as European I was puzzled how cheep the cars are there. Even European premium cars are app. 30-20% cheaper than in Europe where they are produced. Being successful in the US obviously needs more than just a good product. I remember that Audi (and VW too) faile badly the first time and obviously doing better now. And I do know many small companies that burned down by trying to enter the US market. So, I agree with 3cyl comment and think a re-launch of Saab/Nevs would most likely easier in Europe where… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
WFG: Volkswagen was very successful in the U.S. for many years—-with the Beetle, Fastback, Squareback and VW Bus, not to mention the Kharman Ghia. Good, basic cars, easy to service, affordable, reliable, interesting. Then, in the mid 1970s, they gave us the Rabbit, Scirrocco and Dasher. They followed with the Quantum to replace the Dasher. The cars jumped in price dramatically—–and VW began to stumble badly. They tried introducing the VW Fox to compete at the low end—-but didn’t offer it with an automatic transmission, which means it didn’t do well in the U.S. When VW has lowered the prices… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
3 Cyl: I am supremely confident that with the appropriate product positioning and effective advertising—-the 9-3 can carve out a little niche in the U.S. that will pay the bills until “the next generation” is ready for prime time. I don’t think the 9-3 can sell in dynamic numbers—-sales won’t set the world on fire. But the platform can hold its own with Saab enthusiasts and with decontented, lower priced models, perhaps bring some new, younger buyers to the fold—-badly needed. Can NEVS use their technology and business sense to find ways to produce the cars for a little less… Read more »
3cyl
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Angelo, I can see the placeholder approach at niche level volume, but that doesn’t sound synonymous with making money during the placeholder period. If NEVS has the money to get through that and into the launch of a newer, broader product line, they will have the potential to make money. As for the concept of champagne for the price of beer, the car business is supposedly very competitive so NEVS will need to have low costs per unit (not easy at niche level volume) to accomplish this and make money. It comes down to whether NEVS can make money during… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
3 years 8 months ago
All of that makes sense. I’m thinking if the placeholer period costs them money—-it will still be a savings in the long run. To keep Saab in mothballs several more years and then release a new, unproven product (which likely will have some bugs to be worked out) could be another deathnail. Even if they lose money during the placeholder period—-the reestablish some semblance of a dealer network. They get their factory in order and get more hours of car assembly under the belts of the employees—-retraining. They have a presense of the brand in the market place, at car… Read more »
wfg
Member
3 years 8 months ago
Once again, I agree with Angelo V but I like Jason’s calming-down policy a lot though. I think, we have to cool down and accept the way NEVS wants to operate while we as potential customers have the final choice to purchase the product the will come up with or not…and, this major issue NEVS appears to ignor by doing this no-information policy. For me, such attitude of almost non-existing public relation initiates worries that they dont really care on us as the dont plan that they will offer their product to us. Thus, as we will not be the… Read more »
Eric DH
Member
3 years 7 months ago
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