Maptun Meet 2014: Frank Smit, NEVS, tells us about the re-birth of SAAB

April 28, 2014 in Maptun Meet 2014

Vehicle Program manager SAAB NEVS Frank Smit December 2013Vehicle Program Manager at National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, Frank Smit is basically the one who has been responsible for the re-birth of Saab after the bankruptcy.

Together with his dedicated team, Frank was given the task from the NEVS managers to create a plan on how to restart Saabs production, create new deals with suppliers and then execute that plan, no small task indeed and the potential for getting things wrong was huge, but of course being such an amazing team from Saab, they succeeded!

Listen to Frank Smit tell us his amazing story about the re-start of Saab at the Maptun Meet 2014.

For all of you who can not attend, we will post a video from the presentation a few weeks later. The presentation will be in Swedish with english subtitles.


7 responses to Maptun Meet 2014: Frank Smit, NEVS, tells us about the re-birth of SAAB

  1. So who is Frank Smit? And the info coming out of NEVS, and to some degree SU, is rather pathetic. There have to be hundreds of employees who know what is going on and there are virtually no updates. I know several of you personally know employees there. What about all the suppliers? How about interviewing them and getting their thoughts and opinions? Why don’t one of you list all the suppliers and what they are providing ect.? Again very poor information flow. I know this is in part due to the Asian culture but still how about some details!

    • Frank Smit is the guy who made the rebirth of SAAB possible, he has worked with both engineering and sales within SAAB / GM since 1997 stationed in many countries so he is a guy who truly knows Saab and he knows how the system works. I’m not lying when I’m saying that there are perhaps 10 people in the world who could make the rebirth of Saab possible after the bankruptcy, and he is one of them. The managers at NEVS, we the fans and everyone who loves Saab are extremely lucky that he remained so dedicated to the brand that he stayed when he could have gone to many other brands who could have offered him a lot more. Remember almost all of his colleagues did exactly that! And thats not something we should blame them for, they were just looking out for their own future and they too needed to feed their kids and all normal people will do that in the best possible way they can!

      Frank had a very small but passionate team who made all of this happen, exactly how, is something he will tell us on May 29th and I’ve already heard a bit of this story and I can tell you, its very interesting!

      Can you please tell me how you will benefit from getting a list of all the suppliers and what parts they are providing NEVS? I dont see that I have benefit from such a list? I can tell you that I talk to several suppliers and I hear a lot of stories from them, stories that neither they, nor me would never ever go public with since its not something ordinary people need to know. How business is done is a secret since if it gets out, others can get the upper hand by knowing your secrets.

      NEVS policy of keeping things to themselves has nothing to do with any asian way of doing things, its just normal sound business. For example Volvo has always operated the same way, remember that one of the guys behind the rebirth of Saab, Mr Karl Erling Trogen is a former Volvo top level Manager and not a single person in NEVS manager except for the owner is Asian, they are ALL Swedish! In fact I cant even recall when Saab had this many pure Swedish top level managers ever… You could say that the brand is even more Swedish than it has ever been.

      I talked to Victor Muller a few months ago about this policy and he wished that he had done exactly the same thing, if there was one thing he truly regretted about his ownership in Saab, it was that he was too public about it all, as you might know I consider Victor a close personal friend! But SWAN was a public company who needed the stock-market to survive and companies like that always publish a lot more press-releases than any other normal company does, most often to bring their stocks up and thus increase the value of the company. But it also made us used to getting a huge amount of information from the company, which is something that we did not get during the GM age. That flow of information was an abnormal stage in Saabs history, now we’re back to the way that things are normally done.

      My last question to you, what is so pathetic about SU? We are not employed by NEVS, we have never received a single cent of money from neither Spyker, SAAB nor NEVS nor anyone affiliated with the company, neither would we want to because we remain a free, independent organization. We dont get all the info they have, in fact they don’t tell us much at all about what is going, sure we get a bit more than we publish here but thats most often so that we can understand the situation better and try to explain it to you guys. If not for that type of information flow you guys would know a lot less than what you know today!

      Why dont you browse through the press-releases that have been published by NEVS and then you browse through the 400+ articles we’ve published about NEVS since 2012 and then tell me that there is virtually no updates at all coming out!

  2. Must be an interesting story. I am in awe of what these guys have done. I hope it pays off for them.

  3. There’s nothing ‘pathetic’ about SU; it’s my main source of information about one of my favorite car brands and they do a very good job indeed… :-)

  4. Well I certainly appreciate the feedback Tim. I know you guys are trying to do the best you can and I don’t mean to be offensive.

    Regarding suppliers this would give us all a better understanding what is going on. I have visited very frequently over the years however the last 6-12 months hardly at all because there is virtually no information. I know there is more out there and more that can and should be shared. Saab is a small company in a small country and many people have to know what is happening. Having knowledge and information while running an information medium (the website) and not sharing that info is not very prudent and somewhat selfish I feel. If you don’t feel comfortable perhaps somebody else could “talk with”, “interview”, “hang out” with employees at the local pub, etc. Maybe speak with that parts association and get their feedback. We were getting that during the bankruptcy. Where is that type information NOW?
    I’m sure you recall back in ’02 and then ’07 with the new 9-3SS then TX Saab provided a 2D photo of car and who provided all the parts along with the country of origin. Just anything like that would be nice.
    I guess maybe we were desensitized from Victor M. and his information flow. That probably too was a bit overboard.

    And I’ll almost guarantee there was a directive from the owners, especially the Japanese, not to disclose ANYTHING at all. Just look at Japanese product launches say in the US of a basic Honda Accord. While over 400,000 are made here annually, when a new model launches there isn’t even a real photo until a few weeks before the official launch. When the Big 3 or Euro makers have a new model photos are out months, if not a year, in advance of the launch. So yes the Asian influence is going to be quite prominent I’d say.

    That’s great Frank is a Saab veteran. Information like that would have been great too over past year unless I missed it. It would be nice to know EXACTLY who is running the place and their bios. Say the top 20 people. I haven’t seen anything like that and again I bet if I went into a local pub in Trollhattan I could get all that info easily. So why isn’t all that posted here? So I don’t think SU at all is pathetic–thought it was great especially during all the chaos. Just the flow of good information about NEVS and the new Saab has not been very forthcoming during the last year so.

    Again don’t mean anything personal here as I know you guys are doing a great job and all volunteer your time doing this.
    Keep up the good work!


    • 1. there is no japanese ownership in NEVS. The company structure, keeping things top secret in the company is a very Swedish way of doing things. I dont know a single private Swedish company that doesn’t operate in the same way… We’ve got exactly the same policy in the Danish airline I work for.

      2. the flowchart of suppliers you’re talking about was provided by Saab as part of marketing, same thing was made with the NG 9-5 in 2010. Regardless if you know suppliers and call them up, they wont tell you anything because why should they? People dont talk when times are good, but when times are bad its a different story! But as I said, I do maintain contact with a number of suppliers since the days of the bankruptcy and they do have some interesting stories, and I can tell you as much that there are interesting times ahead!

      3. Your basic statement about going to the local pub in Trollhättan to find out information tells me that you dont know anything about Sweden. The pub culture that you’re probably used to doesn’t exist here. In Sweden we’ve got café’s and restaurants but people dont generally visit a pub to drink beer and shoot darts. Plus if you do find such a place, you’d be alone, because the guys at NEVS are pulling 12-15 hour work-days almost every day and when they are not at work, I can promise you that they are at home trying to have some kind of normal family life. Its not unusual that I talk to NEVS executives at 7 in the evening and they are still at work, and they’ve been there since 6 in the morning…

      4. I roughly spend 2 hours per day on this site right now trying to manage it, find information and reply to comments, for free! During the bankruptcy I spent all the free time I had which most often meant every day I had off, most often 12-15 hours per day… for free! Its natural that when you spend such an amount of time at something you dig up a lot more but don’t expect people to continue doing work like that just for your pleasure sir! =) Now we’ve got a good balance of how much we can “afford” to spend on SU time-wise and what kind of costs we have to put up with, driving to Trollhättan to events etc is not free neither in time nor in money. We’ve all got families and day-jobs that we need to take care of as well. This website is a hobby and if we want to keep our families in tact in the long run, its important that it says that way…

      5. As for sharing information, this website has had the policy of not sharing any information that can damage the brand, supplier relations nor anyone who works at or with Saab. This was a policy that Swade came up with and its basically thanks to that, that people trust us enough to tell us the big picture as well as the details, knowing that we will not publish things that could damage anyone! That relationship has taken years to build up and we can destroy it within a few minuts if we want, but where would that leave us?, we’re thinking more than one step ahead! Its a policy we’ve kept close to our hearts and its going to continue to be like that, regardless if you like it or not =)

      Thanx for your inputs though, its always good to get the views of others, it makes one think at least! =)

  5. All good points Tim.

    I just read up on the Saab website that has some good info which I didn’t know was there–shame on me!

    Regarding the ownership, what happened to the Japanese/Chinese consortium? That is good that it never panned out as it would have been a very poor relationship most likely.
    Being mostly Chinese however isn’t good imho however the Volvo deal seems to be working.

    And of course I wouldn’t expect you to divulge anything that would damage the brand or suppliers. With that being said I don’t think much could be said that could damage them. Don’t think they have too many trade secrets nor are any other car makers even seeing them on their radar and probably consider the thing a joke. Any entity wanting electric car info is going to look at Tesla first I’m sure.

    How about divulging which markets they are going to pursue besides Sweden and China. Discussing this certainly doesn’t hurt anything and would only help help the brand. Having nothing in the US nor plans has really hurt them. They are pretty much done here. Even most the diehards have moved on and wouldn’t even consider Saab. I’m probably one of the few left and due to Saab not talking about the NA market I’ve pretty much given up on them.

    So I’ll have to pop in here more frequently to try and get caught up.