The story we never finished (fuel, testing and Saabs) and why some of us are absent

Note the previous owner’s logo still semi-visible. On the desk, a BAIC model sits proudly.
I do not have access to this site’s traffic numbers anymore, but it is no big secret that saabsunited.com probably has way less regular readers than back in its heyday. Many (all?) of the former contributors either moved on or went into hibernation following the factory’s bankruptcy. Without new content being posted on a regular basis, how can we expect to have as many readers? Though some of us remain interested in Nevs’ endeavors, there just is not much to talk about yet. That will hopefully change soon (?), but things are what they are.

My latest effort dates back two years three years. Heck, I thought it was only two years ago, but it has actually been three! RedJ was writing a post about TechROi and I tagged along as his inept photographer. TechROi is one of the many spin-offs following the bankruptcy as former Saab engineers continued developing automobile technology elsewhere. In this case, their main focus was a gasoline tank made from steel. Yes, steel. “Isn’t plastic lighter..?” It turns out that no, it isn’t! By improving the way they press the steel, the engineers managed to increase tensile strength while keeping the steel sheet relatively thin. The result is a lighter and safer design.

This is what happens when dropping fuel tanks onto concrete
It was a promising story at the time. Not least of all, there was a tie-in with Nevs. Back in 2014 Nevs resurrected production of the 9-3, but several parts proved difficult given the low production numbers. One of the old partners eventually told Nevs “why do you not get in touch with TechROi?”. Being a smaller company meant that they could accommodate Nevs. There was even a hint dropped that a future unannounced Nevs product might some day use the new TechROi design… Then they showed us a fuel tank that had seen severe track testing: They unbolted the tank, then drove 70kph on the side of the test track dragging the tank through the gravel. A plastic fuel tank would not have coped so well. I was reminded of one of those videos shown inside the museum, of Saab engine testing ‘back in the day’: A guy strapped across the hood of a 93 (or 96?) checking the two-stroke engine _at speed_! Crazy, but you cannot fault their attention to detail. Not to mention the 10m drop onto concrete test. Saabs are not built like regular cars and every component must be as safe and strong as practically possible. (yet many of us expected to pay way less than what we would have paid for lesser cars, go figure)

RedJ and I left that meeting feeling a little bit more optimistic about the future. We believed we would see

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I thought it would be somewhere else !!

On my last post, I wrote about the new head of communication, Fredirk Fryklund, not being in Trollhättan during the Saab Car Museum Festival on the second weekend in June. So, why can I say so?

During the last weeks the guy in charge of the social media accounts at NEVS has been repeating that they soon will show to the public what they have been working on.

nevsofficial Sharing a photo from the Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Mikael Damberg @sverigesregering who paid NEVS a visit today. He got a tour of our test labs as well as a sneak-peak of what’s coming next… Don’t worry, we’ll share with the rest of you soon too.

From NEVS’ official instagram account.

I talked to somebody with a little bit more insight at NEVS, and he thought about the Auto Shanghai 2017, which will start on Friday, and media days are already ongoing, but after going through the floor plans, I wasn’t able to see NEVS anywhere.

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Change in the management team at NEVS

Change in the management team of NEVS – New head of Communication & Public Affairs

Mikael Östlund will move on to a new assignment, as head of communication for The Swedish Association of Industrial Employers, leaving his position as NEVS’ Vice President Communication & Public Affairs.

Fredrik Fryklund is the new head of Communication & Public Affairs, and he will start his position at NEVS on May 2.

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Saab Car Museum Festival 2017 (June 9th)

Next generation Saab fan in front of previous generation Saabs. “Black Saab rules!”
As most of you already know (judging by the scarcity of available hotel rooms in the area), the bi-annual festival is starting on June 9th. For three whole days Trollhättan will be filled with Saab aficionados and fans.
This year’s highlights:

  • Saab cars – 70 years
  • 40 years of turbo
  • A tribute to Per Gillbrand
  • Saab 9-5 – 20 years during the weekend

I thought it would be the 9000 Talladega run in focus this year, but I guess I was wrong.

If you have not attended before, what you can expect is thousands of fans gathered in and around the museum (the main hub of this event). At other locations in Trollhättan spare parts can be found (and/or harvested for more vintage models). Tip: Get there early! There are even some professional vendors trying to get in on the action so they can sell you the same parts at a significant markup later. I.e. good bargains can be struck.

Various Saab veterans are milling about the event as well. Lots of great stories straight from the horse’s mouth! Incidentally, the museum usually staffs a veteran outside these events as well, but it is rare to get so many in the same spot. The festival’s biggest “problem” is that some events take place simultaneously so it is difficult to cover it all. There is usually something of interest for everyone.

Saab’s management team cleared of all charges

Sveriges Radio reports that all three defendants were found not guilty.

Their extensive coverage of the case can be found here.

Some of the things discussed:

  • Geers signed a contract using the signature of Saab Parts’ CEO. The CEO later said he had no recollection of giving his permission, but recanted when Geers produced an e-mail asking for said permission
  • Saab received payment in advance for a dealership deal struck in Ukraine. The prosecutor asked if Antonov orchestrated this payout. (never mind that Riksgälden at the time had approved Antonov)
  • Did the management team mislead suppliers, creditors and the public by not admitting how bad the situation was?
  • The prosecutor spent considerable time on dwelling on the previous court case, rehashing the same arguments that won him no favors the last round. Surely an odd thing to do, but some people cannot help themselves I suppose.

I have been tempted to provide a full translation of Victor Jensen’s superb reporting, but I have unfortunately not have had the time. In addition, the prosecutor comes off looking like a complete ass, so I feared the SR reporting may have been biased. E.g. at one point Muller is quoted as saying (addressing the prosecutor) “if you are coming after me, you better be prepared!” (said in disgust several days into the prosecutor’s expensive fishing trip). The prosecutor then wanted to know if Victor was threatening him…

I have in the past hinted that the prosecutor is not playing with a full deck of cards. I stand by my original assessment. At the time I thought the prosecutor wanted a win in a high profile case so he would get promoted into a political career of sorts. I now believe that a win is not really required for that to happen. Good things happen to incompetent men.

On a more positive note, Victor Muller remarked, on the last day of the trial, that former employees had gathered in the Saab museum for an evening meal with both Jan-Åke and Victor invited. He was grateful for the show of support and hinted that it is unusual for former employees to do such things on the trail of a bankruptcy.

Will we see e-cars from Trollhättan earlier than expected?

Yesterday one interesting article appeared on the regional site P4 Vest of the Swedish radio corporation.

It is known that Tesla is searching for a production facility in Europe to achieve their production targets of 500.000 cars in 2018.

Different countries seem to be in the list, Spain because of the Sun, the Netherlands, because Tesla has already an assembly facility there or Germany, because Tesla has lately agreed to buy a German manufacturing specialist.

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NEVS receives electric vehicle production license in China

The next step for NEVS to become a car manufacturer is done. NEVS has announced today with a press release that they have got one of those 10 precious production licenses for EVs in China.


The Chinese government has today approved NEVS’ application to start production of electric vehicles in its manufacturing plant in Tianjin.

– I am very grateful for the approval we now have received for the electric vehicle production license. It is an extremely important milestone for NEVS, which is based on 70 years of Saab long history. It means that we can take the next step to realize our vision – to shape mobility for a more sustainable future, says Kai Johan Jiang, chairman of NEVS.

The electric vehicle production license approved by the Chinese National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) is required in order to manufacture electric vehicles in China. NEVS is the first joint venture company with investors from outside China that is granted a New Energy Passenger Vehicle Project investment approval by NDRC.

NEVS’ manufacturing plant in Tianjin is under construction and planned to be up and running at the end of 2017, with the capacity of 200 000 electric passenger vehicles yearly.

The electric car industry is growing rapidly in China. NEVS plan is to develop a product portfolio of electric vehicles and mobility services globally, with China as the first and most demanding market for the coming years. The immediate plan is to deliver 150 000 9-3 Sedan electric vehicles to the partner Panda New Energy, a new energy vehicle leasing company in China.

After some talks with NEVS I’ve been told that we will see the NEVS 9-3 this year, but that production won’t start till the factory in Tianjin is ready, which is expected in the second half of the year.

In the mean time, the trials on the SAAB case have started in Sweden, but I’m sorry I don’t think that I could via ‘googletranslate’ give a correct version of whats happening.

Saab in Autoworld Brussels III

Saab Club Belgium is 30 years in 2017 and this is celebrated with a first event in Autoworld Brussels where  a special exhibition “Saab in the spotlight” is organized by the museum with the support of the Saab Club Belgium.

We had a fine new-year’s reception in the museum on January 15th where more than 150 members of our club were present.

Now visitors of the museum can also see this special collection of Saab cars which are shown in three different places in the museum. From the Saab 92 till the last manufactured 9-5 NG, visitors do get an idea what Saab has realized as an automaker.

 

We tried to give an overview as complete as possible by showing the real cars and we made the overview 100% complete by showing all makes in small version as well.

We will organize other special events as well this year but the start of our anniversary with this exhibition is a great start which, we hope, will be appreciated by the visitors of the museum.

We have at least had a very good and fine start and look forward to a year full of events in Belgium but also across borders.

We especially do think of the Saab festival in Trollhattan and the International Saab meeting in Dinslaken (Germany).

Saab is not manufacturing new cars anymore but we do look after the heritage and enjoy driving these iconic cars for much more years to come.

 

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