A Slap In The Face – Time To Saab Up

I thought about trying to tone down the title of this post, but I couldn’t think of something to replace it with that would get my feelings out right. In the past few weeks I have been watching as the sale of Saab takes shape. In that time I have witnessed some truly remarkably sad comments from various comments and blogs that have left me somewhat stunned and shocked that we can pass judgement so quickly with nothing to base it on. Like the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, hell we don’t even have a cover yet. When it was announced that NEVS was the purchaser of Saab, I saw comments like Saab is dead and predictions like this will never work. What will never work? How is Saab more dead then it was a day ago? Other comments like an electric Saab is no Saab, says who? One can never underestimate the engineers, designers and the absolute know how at Saab.

This all got me to thinking again about what Saab is. To me Saab is a car that is built from the inside out and all about the driver, comfort and safety with a hell of a lot of performance. To build a car like this, you need great engineers and an unbelievable talent pool to achieve the achievements they have over the years. Many of these workers have worked for Saab for too many years to count and have been a part of all the success that Saab has had over the years. I will never forget delivering a NG 9-5 and posting on our dealer Facebook page about it and having someone from the Saab plant comment and say “I hope we did a good job”. To me things like this show the commitment and dedication to the brand that the workers at Saab have and is not something easily duplicated.

These workers that in my mind are a part of what Saab is as much as the car have been building beautiful cars in Trollhättan since 1948 and will continue to build cars there for the foreseeable future. Some workers have found other jobs, true, but there are still plenty of skilled workers to take spots within the Saab factory.

We sit here and judge just based on the little bits of information that we have seen and I ask myself, why or better yet how are we judging anything? Through the last year with trying to sell part of Saab to Youngman, the bankruptcy process and all the “factors” that stood in the way, we craved information and rarely got anything concrete or definitive. Within the first few days of an announcement, we were told of some of the plans of NEVS, we were told of the plans of Saab Parts under the direction of the NDO, we have had confirmation of body panels for the NG 9-5 being produced again and NEVS has even posted a job listing. We have had more real news and good news in the last 5 days then we did through the whole bankruptcy process. How do we pass judgement so quickly when it seems like the ball is already rolling?

Things are starting to fall into place and I’m sure there are still some big news items to be announced shortly. Considering where we’ve been and where we are, I consider it to be like a slap in the face to the people of Saab that put their everything into the cars we love and enjoy to even think for a minute that Saab is dead or that a car built by NEVS will never be a Saab. How can we think that way when we haven’t seen a single thing produced by them and who do we pretend to be in think that we are the be all to end all in what is Saab? I hope I never come across as someone who thinks they know it all or that I can see into the future because I don’t and I can’t.

All I know right now is that we have a buyer in the form of NEVS and they seem to be doing things in a way that I would have hoped them to do. NEVS through the deal, also bought all of the production facilities back and if I remember from the Spyker days, the facility was hugely under utilized and had room for a lot more then just the cars they produced. What does that mean? Maybe nothing, but maybe that is a huge piece of the puzzle. I strongly urge people that even as others may make decisions to leave the Saab world or watch from a distance, don’t be swayed, sit back and watch things unfold. We won’t know until we know what this company will look like going forward and I will continue to be an optimist through it all and thankfully, I am not alone.

143 thoughts on “A Slap In The Face – Time To Saab Up”

  1. Great post, I will admit I was among the dissenters. But realizing that ANYTHING is better then no Saab at all, has put me on the NEVS boat. I just hope NEVS will keep the name and brand spirt alive. LONG LIVE SAAB!

  2. I understand your point of view. But the reality is that Saab as we knew it is dead. DEAD. It has been dead for a long time–ever since, despite Victor Mullers efforts, the assembly line came to an abrupt halt. My fervent hope is that an innovative and interesting car company will emerge–but, for those in the market for a car that meets the SAAB criteria have to look elsewhere. Volvo, Audi–whatever. Nothing is out there like a SAAB, but SAAB buyers have to move on to other vehicles that will fill the bill. I saw a new 9-5 driving down the street the other day and got a pang of “could of, should have, would have…”but SAAB is DEAD.

    • Fred, I see your points too with regards to new car sales. We’ve been pushing through what we have left for new and have had great success with used Saabs. I believe in a rebirth of Saab and I think it will happen and I think too many people focus on the EV part of the name when we don’t know the final plan or what deals are happening behind the scenes. I for one will not be surprised to see more then EV’s produced.

      • But Jason, all we have to go on is what they have said. Unless I missed some of the news about the press conference, they talked about EV’s, focus first on China, glad to have a modern factory and Saab technology…but there was nothing said about Saab’s heritage or that there will be more news coming for other markets and other products. I am willing to watch and see, but I have not heard enough yet to know if theh plan to draw on Saab’s heritage (I.e., build Saab Saabs, as Victor said) or if they plan to install some other DNA. So for now, I cannot be quite as enthusiastic as you…at least not yet.

        I am happy for the workers who will get jobs, but as for Saab’s rebirth, I wait to see.

        • And you know why, because its not time to talk about anything more yet.

          The nevs guys are very professional, they keep the things they don’t want to say a secret until it is time to say it. Right now, they’ve got a business-plan which will bring Saab back into life with actual people actually going to work, working on a new type of car!

          To me thats absolutely amazing. NEVS need to start making money, to turn the cash-flow in the right direction, where to do that is China, with electric cars. In about 4 years they will have started to make a new business-plan for the next 5 years and depending on the situation then, thats where we’ll start seeing what Saab will be in a long-term basis.

          To me, this is a very sound way of working!

          • So, Tim, I don’t think you are saying that we will not see any new Saabs in Europe or North America for four years until they are going in China…are you?

            I guess what I really hope to hear soon is a definitive statement on whether their plans also include any hybrids while they also work on EVs (either via a partnership or some other means). If so, then I am very interested to see what they have in mind. If only EVs, then I am also interested, but to a much less degree as a high-range EV (my need) would be likely more expensive than I can afford. I was willing to buy one of the new JC designed 9-3s when they came out, but if we are now talking four years…then I need to buy another used Saab in the next year. I know you do not know all this….but for NEVS to at least say, “We will only build EVs” or “We plan to focus on EVs, but are considering additional options as well.” That type of info would be helpful.

            • NEVS have stated that they only plan to build EV’s for now, that is what’s in their business plan and thats what they are going to do.

              From what I know, starting up Saab again with the 9-5, 9-4X and 9-3 plus finishing development on the next gen 9-3 was so expensive that even Mahindra started to doubt that it would ever work, which is said to be one of the reasons why the withdrew from the table.

              NEVS needs cash in order to make Saab really come back alive, and that cash is not generated over a 2 year period, that will take time and we will patiently have to wait for them to start building cars for our markets as well. Hopefully by the time they do, the technology is so good that we would not even have to consider hybrids…

              NEVS has stated time and time again that they have access to technology that is cutting-edge and far from anything being used today.

            • Some have speculated that Norway might be a potential market. It’s close to Trollhättan and Norway have a rather mature electric car market.

              • Norway has 8000 EVs currently. One month’s worth of production from old Saab could have doubled that number…

                The price in Norway for EVs is still stiff compared to its petrol-addicted competitors. And that is before you factor in the associated cost of replacing the battery… (nissan.no is very sparse on details about the battery in the most popular EV in Norway, the Leaf)

                You have to drive a long distance to recoup the added cost, and you have to do that in a type of vehicle that doesn’t exactly scream “long distance driving”.

                I would be surprised if Norway increased the taxes on ICE vehicles further. The result would be that people would ask for even higher salaries (Norway’s average salary is already quite high compared to the rest of Europe). And I would be surprised if they allow EVs to stay tax-exempt forever…

                It is my belief that the current EV-hype in Norway is fueled by people’s desire to drive in the bus-lane and get cheap/free parking in the big cities. Once the population of EVs crosses a certain threshold, those freebies will have to be taken away.

                BTW: Yesterday I covered 720+ km in a day in my 9-5. I did some other stuff too that is outside the Nissan Leaf’s specification sheet.

          • The nevs guys are very professional, they keep the things they don’t want to say a secret until it is time to say it.

            Tim that’s fine and obvious, nobody throws business plans on the internet just so. But besides the new future prospects in China, there is a relatively large existing customer base which is now very tired of waiting. By being quiet there is a threat to loose a big portion of them unless it’s a part of the plan.

    • > for those in the market for a car that meets the SAAB criteria have to look elsewhere
      No matter what the Saab criteria is for you, you’re of course right about the new cars for sale today, but “dead” means forever, and you cannot possible know everything about the Phoenix platform, what Castriota & guys made of it and what it will be refined to by the engineers that NEVS are about to hire. If Saab for you is “something with a shitload of horsepowers that runs on Diesel, petrol, E85 or gas”, THEN you might already now have the right to be disappointed (UNLESS the rumours about M&M brings up another future), but otherwise, you cannot possibly know today, what criteria from previous Saabs (9-5, 9-3, 9-4, 9000, 900 95 etc) that will be inherited by the NG Saabs and what new technical breakthrough and new inventions that will be developed into them. It’s a bit early to go on judging about that today. So I do not agree on teh word “dead”. Not yet. We’ll just have to wait and see. Quite a pity for those wanting to by a factory new Saab TODAY, of course, but shit happens and nobody here likes it. I could agree that one generation of GM-Saabs is lost because GM won’t cooperate with anyone about shared IP, but for the NG Saabs with no GM inside it is way to early to claim that they won’t be “Saab Saabs”. I’m mainly arguing about semantics here, but in my opinion, the brand is not dead yet. 🙂

    • My reply seemed to disappear, but in short, my words to Fred were that OK, the last generation GM-Saabs might be “dead” because GM have teclared an absolute refusal to share GM technology with any new owner, so one gegenration of GM-Saabs gets lost there and nobody (except GM) likes it, but “dead” means forever, and you cannot today say that about the Saab brand and what it stands for. That depends entirely on what Castriota & guys did with the Phoenix platform and what refinements of it that engineers in Trollhättan will make in the next couple of years. Nobody can claim today that the NG 9-3 will not be a true “Saab Saab”. We only know that it won’t be any GM inside. If there’s enough “Saab thinking” in the design to make it into whatever a “Saab Saab” actually is is free for anyone to release once it is on the streets, but until then we just have to wait and see. Which is bad, indeed, but it’s more like the brand being in a coma than being dead. So my point is that “dead” is the wrong word here. 🙂

    • Chicago fred is right. The new Saab is basically a totally different company. I guess the current 9-3 could be used as an EV, but that car is also already being used by BAIC in China. The Saab family tree I’m used to has just ended with the 2011 models. I’ll have to wiat and see what this new company NEVS roles off the line.

  3. Very good post Jason! Well timed and tempered. It astounds me that so many people that lamented the shutdown of Saab, and waited on the edge of their seats for a buyer to come along, would be so quick to become naysayers.
    After all, isn’t it Saabs build quality, comfort, innovation, and overall welxl balanced driving experience what makes us all choose Saab? It seems to me that Saab may just be in the best hands possible, given the urgency to be rid of the insatiable need for fossil fuels. It won’t be easy, but I really feel that the world may just see another revolutionary Saab in the next few years. Why not be excited at the prospect of Saab being the first car maker to successfully produce a viable, sporty, classy electric vehicle. After all, no gas or diesel could ever hope to match the tremendous torque potential of an electric motor! Let’s all look to our bright future, rather than cast sideways looks into the shadows. Long live Saab!

  4. +1

    Someone have just revived Saab, wants to hire back staff to develop and make a new generation of Saabs in Trollhättan, seems to have the money to do it and a business plan that could fly or sink, nobody can tell without saying, but there’s only one way to find out, and that’s the best we could hope for as long as they are more busy executing that business plan than more superficial things like updating their web pages and leaking rumours about things they plan to do but haven’t yet paid for or finished negotiations about.

    It might end up in success or in failure, but the ship is back on the surface and with a new captain, and I wish NEVS the best of luck achieiving what they hope for. I don’t know if my next car will be a Saab, that depends on what the new R & D team in the Trollhättan comes up with the next couple of years, but at least there is again strong intention to revive the brand and make something really good out of the Phoenix platform and the NG 9-3 (and much more, I hope). As long as they keep on striving in that direction they have all my support! 🙂

    Youngman had their chance. And secongd chance, and so on, but from what leaked out, it seemed to be good intentions and much talk, but with the necessary funding always missing or being delayed by someone for one reason or another. I don’t know exactly what’s ben going on there, but apparently something more than all the nice talking (or Saab had never even went into bancruptcy), and apparently nobody eles could or wanted to outbid NEVS, so Saab automobile is their baby now, and I doubt that they could have eny better use for the billions they are spending than tho get the sales of new cars profitable, so they have some billion (SEK) reasons to make this work.

    Well, that’s my humble layman view on things.
    Enough about that now. I’m very happy with my 9-5 for several years on, and there’s still some hope for the brand, the factory and the people that now will work there.

  5. From many of the posts I’ve seen, long time SU followers have written reasoned and well thought out responses for not wanting a 100% Saab EV line up, including myself. Why would you insult so many Saab enthusiasts who happen to have a genuine disagreement with you? Never thought i’d see SU turn into an autocratic one opinion must fit all forum. For the record, I’m not a troll. I’m a Saab enthusiast who wants to see Saab succeed even if I happen to disagree with some people on this blog.

    • +1

      I’m one for reason and the actuality of a situation, so being critical of a situation does not equate turning our backs on our brand, it just means we have much higher expectations than what has been presented to us; and that we’re hoping for something much better than an 100% electric line-up.

    • Not trying to insult any, the slap in the face title and comment as well documented in my post are directed at people saying Saab is dead, that they will never make it or that are basing all of their thoughts and beliefs on this company only being about electric cars. None of us have seen a full business plan, none of us have all the details on negotiating on going now, who’s to say Saab people can’t make any of this work? As I have said and will continue to say, let’s wait and see, let’s give it time. Why on earth would they have bought the entire Saab property back with the intention of only building EV’s? That is a big question to me.

    • well said saabdog…it did seem like Mussolini on his balcony a bit. It seems to me in the last six months very little suggested in this blog has come true..anything can happen – that phrase “anything can happen” would be better than the way Jason talked down to the nonbelievers.

          • “Very little suggested in this blog has come true”. Rather than just stating that I’m gonna make things difficult for you and ask to point out exactly the things you are referring to!

            Which things did we suggest that hasn’t come true? I’d like a list please!

            • I am suggesting that the script reads like a Hollywood movie ( Saab story) – there have been so many “suitors” mentioned not only by your team but by the members…. will it be BMW…. will it be Mahindra, BMW with Volvo, VW etc , etc… This NEVS outcome was the surprise ending to that script in my eyes. I am not trying to be critical of you guys…just saying ” anything can happen”.

              • By the way it appears clear to me that my 9-4x will become a ” one hit wonder” and be just a footnote …” rare car – only 457 made in the year 2011″ – which is sad… When I bought it – I thought it was such a great car – I couldn’t imagine any circumstance where that car would no longer be made… but here is that circumstance looking me in the eyes.
                Its not about the money – or trade-in value” etc it just doesn’t seem right.

                • We never got them in Canada and they would have been a hit for sure. We bought a brand new SRX for a long time customer yesterday and it was painful to see what could have been, the Cadi is just a knock off of what was ours in my mind and makes me sorry for Peter and everyone who played a role in the 9-4x see it live on only in the Cadi.

                  • Peter absolutely got it right – its as if he tailored the car for me – I drove the SRX 5 minutes before the 9-4x and the immense difference – sporty and tight versus boaty and soft ( SRX) is really what made my decision for me.

    • I think you misinterpret the position we’re in greatly!

      This is not a one-opinion place, but its neither a place for people who over and over try to bash and talk down an issue without the real and full facts on the matter. Present your arguments well, based on facts, in a structured matter and do it once and you won’t have any issues from us, more to the opposite, we would welcome it!

      Being for example Angelo V who posts 15-20 comments per day sometimes saying more or less exactly the same thing in every comment as he has stated in over 100 approved comments already and you’re out…

    • +1

      Indeed I feel that critical thought has lost out to fanboi-ism here of late.

      Let’s face it, the deal that we have is simply better than nothing. It’s not great. Most people would really not want this deal unless it was the alternative to having SAAB die.

      Nevermind how we got here (politics), the lack of market demand for the product (politics and economics) and the fact that all we have to go on is the little bit that NEVS has told us.

      BTW – SU should really consider their actions when they admonish people for speaking before they “know all of the facts”. All we know is what we have been told. Maybe you have the benefit of knowing information that is not public, but we don’t. Though it may not be your intent this blog has really sent the vibe of intolerance for dissent, TimR’s explanation regarding Angelo, not withstanding. Less traffic means less sponsors.

  6. Nice post Jason. I’m just hoping they make a deal with someone to produce a low carbon Phoenix-based car. I would be in heaven if they resurrected the 1974 Project ULF, the 9 cyl, 250 hp steam engine. From the article: “it required minimal fossil fuels and included miniscule carbon emissions.” Now wouldn’t that get the turbo crowd in a tizzy? 🙂
    Source: www_dot_saabhistory_dot_com/2008/04/04/the-nine-cylinder-saab-steam-engine/

    • One problem with a steam engine is the time it takes to heat up the engine before starting.
      By starting to run the vehicle on battery with an electric engine you have more time to heat up the steam before the power is needed.

      This would be quite a different hybrid ;.-)
      Perhaps something for the future where you have a steam engine with a generator in your camper to provide electricty for the camper when living in it. When you have the camper behind your EV the camper can then provide energy for the car.
      LOL

      • In the 70s Saab solved it by storing air pressure in a tank so when you started the car it would run on that until steam pressure was built up. It also used a flash boiler so starting times would have been about as diesel cars of that era.

  7. I remember the howls of outrage when the V4 supplanted the 2-stroke engine, the rending of garments when the freewheeling went away, and so forth. The only thing sure is change, folks, and we have a choice: complain and resist, or embrace and assist. Saabs have always been innovative and different (less so, perhaps, during the GM years); why should we expect anything predictable? I’ve been driving and servicing Saabs for 43 years, and I’m just glad to see some positive stuff happening again. Someone’s going to make interesting electric vehicles: why not Saab? If the folks in Trollhattan have a chance to dig in and get going, who knows what good things can happen? We critics sitting on the sidelines can do more good cheering than booing. Yes, Saab as we knew it is gone, but Saab as it rises from the ashes may be pretty cool.

  8. When I saw your title about slap in the face, I thought it was going to be about NEVS slapping all of us in the face.

    Personally I don’t have any trouble with the Swedish government wanting to use Saab as its laboratory for electric cars. But I think the problem simply will be that if Saab is primarily electric, Saab will be dead for most of us. If it produces a hybrid (soon) it may not. Electric, and even hybrid technology, pose so many problems for so many past owners. Many would like to consider the brand in the future but are realistic that if the brand goes electric or even hybrid, these problems will not be ones they can overlook.

    And for those of us in the US, especially those who have to travel in rural or middle America, we simply don’t see this technology being accepted enough to sell enough cars to have dealerships.
    I look for most of the dealers in the US to die in the next two or three years and middle America is dying faster than the coasts. Mine dealer is still hanging on, but for how much longer, I don’t know. So even if the brand lives on Saab will be dead to many of us.

  9. “…I saw comments like Saab is dead and predictions like this will never work. What will never work? How is Saab more dead then it was a day ago? Other comments like an electric Saab is no Saab, says who? One can never underestimate the engineers, designers and the absolute know how at Saab.”

    First, thank you for your post. I’m with you and totally agree! No one knows what NEVS has planned. Stating “Saab is dead” within hours (or even minutes) after their purchase announcement is just not fair to NEVS. Second, your quote, “How is Saab more dead then it was a day ago?” made me laugh! Thank you! Third, I feel like this is a similar situation before December 2011 when everyone wanted to point fingers and blame someone for the bankruptcy. I think VM took a lot of unnecessary criticism when he was willing to do whatever he could to make things work. It’s always easier to criticize from the “sidelines” than to actually be playing in the game.

    Nothing has changed for me. I love my Saabs and as an added bonus there might be new models to drool over in the future. For now I will “wait and see.”

  10. I found this old Saab post dated 1967 (it was printed on punch cards off of a mainframe computer):

    ***************************
    RE: new four-stroke Ford V4 to be introduced in 1967 model year 96
    =====================================

    Oh my God, SAAB IS DEAD. SAAB IS DEAD !!!!!!!

    ***************************

    • …over the years, I think that’s how it’s been many many times. Maybe one of the major caracter traits of a SAAB-nut is that we are very, very conservative. We like our SAABs: don’t change them!?!? I have often heard comments like “a SAAB with a four stroke engine is no SAAB at all” or “a SAAB without on-the-column shifting, is no SAAB at all” or “constructed together with italians” or “with GM parts”… but eventually, all of these SAABs have been accepted into our fold, as fully worthy members of the family. It is ironic that a brand that is so much about innovation has so many enthusiasts that cling to “what was” and don’t embrace the future more.

      I get it that most of us are not ready to completely let go of our fossil fuel powered vehicles, I know I’m not, but why don’t we give them a chance to show us what they can do with it?! I dive around all day for work and a car with a limited range between charges is not practical, but my wife drives one way, parks for 8-9 hours, and then drives back, so she’d be a perfect candidate for an electric vehicle. There was a time when it was said that turbo charged engines where nothing but for the most extreme, tempramental and unreliable type cars, and we all know what SAAB did with that. Well, we have a similar opinion about electric and hybrid cars now. Personally I can’t wait to see what SAAB engineers and technicians can do with this new technology if given the opportunity, and plan to buy a new SAAB in the future…

  11. Very good article Jason. I read about people not very happy with EVs. Those vehicles may not be for everybody, but could meet the needs of a lot of people. We owns 2 SAABs and one of them could be electric. With the SAAB engineers and the know how of the employees, i’m very confident they will come up with great and original products.
    In terms of EVs, I’m confident that NEVS know what they are doing and with the government regulations in the new few years, it is better to be in the from row that a follower. Performance of EV are great and better than our traditional cars. Look at Telsa.
    I wish success to the new SAAB and as i’m concerned, SAAB Up!

    • Certainly is something that should be determined sooner than later.

      Wonder what the guys over at Saab AB are thinking about this issue..I’m sure they don’t want the name to be associated with something that might have a chance of failure again.

  12. Dear Jason, I know that you are trying to carefully word your disappointment with the apparent lack of enthusiasm for NEVS that (quite a lot) commentators on SU are displaying. However, you cannot deny all these people _their_ disappointment with the fact that they probably will never see new Saabs of the kind that they have enjoyed for sometimes many, many years. Also, the chance that we see the cars that NEVS is going to make in, for instance, in the US in the near future is pretty much zero. NEVS already stated that China will be their main market, remaining Saab dealers are wrapping up business, ….should I go on?
    It’s no wonder that a lot of Saab fans feel left out in the cold with no chance to obtain a spanking new Saab ever again. Although I’m pretty certain that we all celebrate the new Saab reemployment chances and Trollhattan gaining a more bright economical future, you cannot be too surprised that many fans get emotional and egoistic at this point. I know that your heart is in the right place and that you mean well, but your comment could be interpreted as a slap in the face of all those Saab fans that feel abandoned and are not able to vent their frustration in a more poetic way.

    • GerritN, the slap in the face to me is the quick to judge and not willing to wait and see for a complete business plan. I cant imagine that 14 slides is a complete business plan. Maybe I’m harsh here but I don’t find it right to put limits on what still can be done. As a dealer I am still optimistic that we will see new Saabs and we can move forward and leave past where it is.

    • I think we can all agree that there is always room for well-reasoned debate and some criticism. And I completely understand that folks need to vent their frustrations.

      But, what Jason (as well as I) are opposed to is the fact that people seemed to be standing in-line to declare Saab as “dead”. That’s not venting. That’s knee-jerk speculation, and it’s simply not true. I can make a list of all the truly dead automakers:

      Packard
      Oldsmobile
      Pontiac
      Hummer
      .. etc

      Why are they dead? Because there was little fanfare, when they were extinguished. No worldwide protests or convoys. No, revitalization attempts by exotic super car manufacturers. No car museum saved by said auto-manufacturer’s home-town. And, no fan-site with the means to purchase the very last car off the assembly line for donation to said museum.

      Now we see that Saab has been purchased by a company that is able to buy the entire factory just days afterwards. Forgive us GerritN if “dead” isn’t in our vocabulary.

      • I agree with you. And with Jason.
        All this “Saab is DEAD”-outrage is misplaced. Saab is not dead. Just hibernating (and I’m not channelling Monty Python here).
        As ryanonsrc pointed out, there are automakers that are truly dead, and then there are the hibernating ones with too strong brands to die, like MG (and Saab, of course). Some of those keep coming back alive again and again, like Bugatti.
        I think Skoda was quite “dead” some years ago. Is it “undead” now?

        The point is: DEAD is too strong a word. We don’t want to see Saab as a Zombie in a few years, do we? 😉

  13. Nice post. Although I still smell a lot of pessimism in the air.

    To people who say that Saab is dead for sure now: For me personally the biggest plus for loving Saab is the community. Here in the Netherlands a lot of Saab drivers, regardless of make/model/state that the car is in, wink or wave at each other because they know they are probably passing a Saab enthusiast. The Saabclub is very much alive, the Saab forum as well. I am a student and don’t own a Saab but I know (or at least I knew) that when I buy my fist I will be more than welcome in the Saab Community. Is that going to change when I buy an electric car in 2014? If so, I am disappointed in the Saab community. Maybe then I’m better off in a classic VW club…

    To me NEVS plans won’t change a thing about my feelings to the brand because that feelings are only partly created by the car itself.

    Saabs impact on the automotive industry was big enough to create this worldwide community. Whether it is rally sport, folk racing, heated seating, the coolest 4-seats convertible ever, the turbo or the ice-cube design in the lighting, Saab is about quality, durability and a design that appeals to us. Driving a Saab makes me different than most people. Driving a Saab unites that happy few. It did just that for over half a century and maybe under NEVS management it will for an entire century.

    This I’ve posted before but it still fits here among the other comments:
    reason I hope that NEVS obtains the rights to use the Saab name and therefore can continue the Saab legacy. So that in the future the Saab community does not has to shrink. If NEVS doesn’t obtain the rights to the Saab brand: let’s start a new and bigger community!

    Whatever your plans may be for the future, I will start saving up to buy the first cool, electric and environment friendly 9-3(hopefully convertible). If it still has elements of the current 9-3 Griffin or better: if it is based on the Phoenix platform, I will be one of the first to have the best of three worlds: Swedish design, Dutch guts(because if it wasn’t for Victor Mullers efforts NEVS wouldn’t have anything to take over) and Asian technology.

  14. Good post. We all want SAAB and Trollhättan to succeed.

    But I wonder, what’s left to discuss here at SU if we cannot discuss NEVS, its business plan and outlooks?

    As NEVS is the successful bidder for the SAAB estate, does that automatically means that all visitors to SU must give NEVS their 100% support?

    Everyone knows that NEVS just started their resurrection of SAAB and we yet only have bits and pieces of information. However, why should we not discuss the information we already got? In my mind it has to be ok to question the validity of the NEVS business plan (for example projected growth in EVs, and why use Trollhättan as production base for the Chinese market).

    /LMG

    • I have no problem with questioning and debate, where I draw the line is flat out refusal to even discus and to just declare Saab as dead and those sentiments.

    • Actually it’s pretty dificult to have a meaningfull discussion as we lack so much information. It’s been only a couple of days from when we learned that NEVS is the one to buy Saab property and they haven’t communicated to Saab fans (yet?). Then there are some bad “omens”:
      – NEVS is not interested in buying Saab Automobile Parts AB, which implies that they do not care about current Saab owners.
      – Priority market is China, while Europe and US + Canada are second in line at best.
      – NEVS does not look likely to communicate with Saab community (?).
      – Their business plan that is focused exclusivelly on EVs does not seem to be valid – at least not where most of current Saab owners live.

      Then there are some good “omens”:
      – production – at least for the near future – stays in THN (think jobs and “made in Sweden”)
      – NEVS bought factory incredibly quickly after being chosen.

      The fact is, we know very little and it’s hard to make conclusions.

      Perhaps NEVS devised some other way to cooperate with now independent Saab Automobile Parts AB, that will enable us to service our cars and allow them to conserve money, they need to develop new models.
      Perhaps they focus on China because they wouldn’t be able to sell current 9-3 in e-version on any major developed market in any meaningfull numbers and in China it might just work. After developing a strong 9-3 successor, they might be able to put it against competition and sell numbers also in Europe and America.
      Perhaps the circumstances are going to force them to rethink their EV-only business plan as EV market does not grow as expected.
      Or perhaps they are just going to make 3,5 meter long gokarts with 20hp for China and India and be happy with that.

      Just wait and see.

  15. I have also seen negative comments about Saab since NEVS’s purchase.
    I didn’t like them either.
    Saab isn’t dead. During the bankruptcy, Saab was in a coma & since its purchase, is slowly showing signs of waking up.
    Saab’s current transition into other propulsioned cars is like a snake shedding it’s skin.

    Long Live SAAB!!! 🙂
    \m/

  16. I am not so happy for the moment . On the Nevs website they only mention full EV cars. I would really like to have a Saab Hybrid car ( think this is te future ) . A car driving electric in the city but driving on diesel or petrol on the highway.
    I really hope something like that will also be part of the Saab future . If you see Audi winning Le Mans 2012 on a hybrid car i think we will see a lot of Audi Hybrids in the near future. Try to do that with an EV !!? Next year or in the beginnig of 2014 i need to replace my company 9-5 and i really have no clue of what will be the next….. Hope NEVS will bring more news soon.

  17. Good post, though I cannot share your optimism anymore and I, personally, think everyone is allowed to express her/his opinion and should not be blamed for that. Why I am not optimistic? Its because everything “positive” I read lately was that NEVS bought the Saab estate, the Saab machines,….but I never read NEVS bought Saab. They dont even wanted obviously the Saab Parts company…does that not mean something. For my point of view this makes the difference! Indeed you can makes something new out of the machines that made Saab in the past, and even just EV cars is an intersting option, but for me it appears that NEVS does not want to have anything to do with the “old” Saab…and us!
    The name Saab stands for that what we all like and, we have to be realistic here, is offered also by other companies, sometimes even a bit better. But we all liked the idea on a small Swidish company almost handcrafting few cars with an great individualistic character. However, if one wants the spirit of Saab, to reserve the name and the history would be something meaningful, right?
    Thus, I tend to agree to say Saab is dead and thats it. I am happy for the great guys in Trolhätten that hopefully many of them will get a new job bulding a hopefully successful vehicle.
    Sorry, its my personal opinion nothing else but also nothing to complain on, I guess.

  18. I don’t really think that Saab died or will die in any near future. It just changed again
    A lot of people will not get what they dreamed off.
    Probably a lot of these people are also people who did not get what they wanted in the now vintage/Ltd. edition NG9-5

    I will drive my current Saab for a long time yet.
    So I have the time to wait and see.
    At the moment I just like the thought that there will be production at Thn.

  19. Thanks for this post. I fully support your view.

    I do not wish that NEVS will be assisted (or replaced) by M&M (the sweets company?).

    Rather, I sit back and enjoy the story of SAAB going on… and on…and on. Right now, I guess that the folks at the Guiness book of world records need to replace cats by SAAB when it comes to the number of lifes…

    Someday, maybe I will buy an electric SAAB, be it fully electric, batteries or fuel cell, or hybrid. I wouldn’t care as long as it’ll be beautiful, safe, functional, and distinct. Just as SAABs have always been.

  20. I wonder if NEVS already contacted SU . Muller did this and was impressed by the comunity. The least they can do is give us , the current Saab drivers a bit more feedback about the future.

  21. There has been a lot off talking about electric cars ore patrol cars. It has no meaning too me. If its a car build in Trollhattan with the old SAAB spirit its still a SAAB to me. Remember SAAB is only a name. A SAAB car is a car built from people who dedicate there whole life to create the most wonderful car in the world. Remember in 2009 SAAB had a 93 in Geneve who could go 300 km before reloading.

    • Agreed! The reason we all love our SAABs is for their soul. The mechanisms under the hood and fuel type are simply a means to that end. A SAAB car is more than just the sum of its parts, and the company is more than just any one person/car/idea!

  22. When Saab was still alive, two years ago, I don’t remember seeing any post condemning the negativity directed against the new 9-5. All those sickening comments, mostly based on the idea the car’s not worth buying because of a piece of plastic inside…

    But now, when the prospect of Saab, as we knew it, is indeed very faint, the scepticism is suddenly sanctioned. We had real cars back then, not just a plan. And yet, to some of the people on SU, things seem more set in stone now…don’t know where this certainty comes from, but I’m afraid is not based on real facts.

    Of course is excellent news for the people of TH, no one is denying it. Of course we’re all happy for them. But to say the cars built there will be real saabs, without any idea what they’ll build, that I found not only confusing, but also dangerous.

    Think about the price, electric cars, by definition, are expensive. Will, miraculously, NEVS manage to lower the price such that an electric Saab could be affordable to most (of those who bought “conventional” Saabs)? It seems rather unlikely. And without the same customer base, it is not the same car to me.

    Then the question of practicality, will an electric car be as practical as a fossil fuel one, anytime soon? Again, doubtfully…even if NEVS manages to pull a miracle, there is no infrastructure. Plus, if more countries will want to rule out nuclear energy, I just don’t see the electric cars becoming successful. Or cheap. Not until oil is depleted.

    Market. If I understood correctly, the main market will be China? It’s a joke, right? China and environmental friendly (so to speak) cars?! Again, maybe I’ve just misinterpreted what I read.

    Care for previous customers. None. Why would they keep the name, if they don’t provide any support for existing customers. Once again, proof that they want different customers. Therefore, different cars.

    It is sad to see this lack of objectivity on SU. For me, things are quite simple: I bought a 9-5, but I wouldn’t buy a fully electric car.

  23. I’m waiting and hoping for a new saab era that blows all of our socks of.
    Wouldn’t it be great to have a electric car that drives far enough and environment friendly,distinctive,responsive,air-crafted, aviation technology,fuelling change, pure power, SAAB move your mind imagination takes flight,

  24. Jason, I think you are right, I have been very vocal about my displeasure about the sale to NEVS, I guess I have spent the last 6 months hoping that Saab would be sold to a company that would carry on where Saab AB stopped, I know that this was a big task but I held on to that hope, the other issue is the lack of information being released by NEVS so no one really knows what will happen, press releases like “we dont know if we will use the Saab name” didnt help, in the cold light of day I think that maybe I was a little rash in my reactions but hay thats due to the passion that Saab has provoked with in may of us, I truly hope NEVS make a go of this hugh project and the name and the heart still beats as SAAB.

  25. Thanks for this post Jason!

    Remember that many of Saab’s core customers of the 1980’s now drive Priuses and the like.

    Wishing NEVS and Saab all the best, my next new car will be electric, even if I need to wait many years to get what I wish for.

    • That’s so true. If Saab owners were stereotypically college professors as I’ve heard said over and over again then they are all driving Priuses right now. The parking lots at the university I work at are full of them. We see more than a few Nissan Leafs around too, which I attribute directly to the academic crowd in town.

  26. The problem with NG 9-5 is that it was too big and luxurious for a SAAB (and too expensive). They targeted to rival Audi but it was never going to work, simply not their marketplace and too brave for surviving company. What they need is new 9-3, as 9-3 was always main source of cash and Phoenix to boost marque’s value. I think NEVS is doing everything right.

  27. There is a lot of talk about fact these days, maybe the SU crew knows more than the rest of us, if not then my view is as likely to happen as anybody else.

    NEVS where quit clear on the press conference that there will only be EV in the future, no hybrids, no petrol and no diesel. That to me is clear fact, unless they where withholding the truth, witch I doubt.

    Me driving a SAAB has nothing to do with the fact that is named SAAB. I drive it because it’s the car that fulfill my expectations in a car best. I would drive any other brand if I considered them better. And I will continue to drive SAAB if they keep fulfilling my expectations for a car in the future. And if they go down the EV route they do not fulfill my expectations. That means that I will have to look elsewhere when my 9-3 Griffin is due for replacement.

    Besides, we do not know if NEVS will be allowed to use the SAAB name yet, that it it self will determine whether SAAB is dead or not.

    I understand that many people see a reason to be hopeful for the future of SAAB but I also see many reasons not o be hopeful for the future of SAAB.
    On the bright side SAAB has a new owner that seems to be willing to put money in to the company, but on the other side there seem only to produce cars that are aimed at the china market.
    They are willing to finish of the Phoenix platform but only to make it available as EV and by doing so the people that wanted a great car with 300hp V6 turbo or a high power diesel are robbed of their possibility of owning such a car.

    So the fact is that we do not now yet what will happen with SAAB if it even will be called SAAB, but the only thing we know is that NEVS clearly stated that they will only make EV and nothing else. And in that case my Griffin will be my last SAAB.

  28. Great one … 😉 As far as I am concerned, I like good cars … I can say ‘ I do not like electric cars’ but what I mean is: I did not like electric cars I saw or experienced so far … What will SAAB make? I do not know … If it is going to be a great car beside the fact it is electric: what a hell, yes I’d like to try one … All of us, SAAB fans, are here because SAAB always had been alternative point of view, most of population thinks different, so they drive VW, Toyotas and so on … So I’d like to stay opened to any new idea which will produce great car … If it is a good product, stable, fun to drive, I don’t care if it is electric or not …

  29. I worked at SAAB for 10 years and liked it very well. There was a spirit that can not be described and a cohesion that did not exist anywhere else. Now that everything is completed, …but for me still pretty sad.

    The entire treatment feels as prearranged, and that other bidders were deceived by the administrators, when it seemed that they had been ordered to give SAAB to NEVS regardless of other bids.

    In fact, I am very doubtful that this will work.

    There is something thats not right with this…

    1. Having a factory to build the batteries and EV-cars on the other side of the earth relative to the market (China) and then say that you should bet on and respectful of the environment. A contribution to the environment is where to put the factory in China with regard to transport, which almost certainly will be after a few years after you have access to SAAB’s knowledge and technology.

    2. To build electric cars in a country (Sweden), a high wage country in relation to China. As we intend to have as its main market is not economically justifiable.

    These first two points makes the whole NEVS idea disastrous to me.

    4. Environmental issues (read – government pressure) around this is what the whole thing is based on.

    5. The idea to seek alternative energy is ok but is the market ready for this? Today a EV no alternative to me , and therefore I see no way I would go to one.

    6. With this, I think

    * SAAB as we know is dead, long live SAAB.
    * NEVS business idea is disastrous
    * SAAB moved to China within 5 years

    Many of the customers that SAAB has today come to look to other brands do not they might want but only EV that they do not have the opportunity to stay at Saab. But it might be the plan as they go for China and not seem to intend to have Europe or the United States as to the intended market.

    A mixture of EV – hybrids – ordernary cars had been received better by “the market” .

    R.I.P
    SAAB

  30. I really hope that Saab can be reborn in a few years! Until then I continue drive my Saab 9-5 – 99 and the 99 turbo – 80, I will never stop driving Saab!

    • 🙂

      I am looking at a 9-3SS TiD 2.2. They say the engines on those things are built to last to 300000 miles but the down sde being they arent as economical as the 1.9TiD.

      • I would go with a 1,9 any day, more economical, better performance and more fun to drive. If possible I would try to get a 1,9 TTid and as new as possible because they get better mileage for every year. I owned a 2008 Aero TTid and this past weekend I had a 2010 Aero TTid as a loner, better on fuel than my previous one.

  31. Some can stay with old Saabs but I am forced to renew my leasing contract early next year. So it’s no brainer for me – I must purchase my next company car from some one else than Saab. Simple.

    The next time I can look for a Saab is then in around 2017. Perhaps they make a Saab by then ….

  32. SAAB is not just a car, it is a lifestyle and way of thinking. SAAB was first in so many technologies that are standard today that I fully expect the SAAB culture to reinvent the electric car paradigm.

  33. Good post Jason, our minds should be totally open, after all, Saab has a heritage for bringing both innovative and inspirational cars to market, why can’t they do it again with the right owner supporting them.

    Looking forward, I hope we’ll have not only our ‘original’ Saabs, but also Saabs for a new generation, I’ll be waiting.

  34. Saab will no doubt be a very different company and a very different car and probably appeal to a very different group of customers when this is all over. That’s life. It’s happened before as many of you’ve said. The change from 2 strokes to 4. Moving upmarket and in many ways away from its roots. The 9-5NG, a large car which many felt went way beyond what a Saab should be. And like many of you, i have no idea whether Saab (if it;s called Saab) will ever produce a car that meets my needs. But as I’ve said many times before; we can’t do much at this point except sit back, relax, and watch the movie to the end. And maybe as is said at the end of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”

  35. I think that one thing that is getting lost in this whole finger pointing/name calling/disagreement is the passionate feelings we all share for Saab. I was speaking to a coworker yesterday (who has never driven or owned a Saab) about the fact that I am a member of this group and a little bit about my love of Saabs. His response was like “why, whats the point?. Its just a car.” (in interest of disclosure he drives a Lexus)

    Hearing got me to thinking. The truly amazing thing about the Saab community is that we all so badly want Saab to succeed. I think thats something that gets lost/forgotten in the responses and retorts to one another. Going forward Saab will have a different product line, may mean different focus, but as long as we continue to have these conversations and discussions thats the true spirit of Saab. That spirit can’t/won’t be changed by ownership..its something that runs deeper.

  36. I, too appreciate the tone of the post but in reality it’s a real stretch to think the Saab all of us enthusiasts supported is going to be revived. Remember when VM took over the company and there were rallys worldwide he pledged to make Saab what it was and actually listened to the customer base, hiring Swade etc. NEVS, and I admit we don’t know much yet but we know enough to see that the business model they are pursuing could be done with or without the Saab name(I haven’t heard yet if they secured it). They want the factory but they could change the name in a heartbeat. Their main market appears to be China and I wonder how important the name Saab really is to develop a market for EVs there. It’s also tough to think we will see Saab again in the US. Ultimately all of us here will know if we are supporting what made Saab, Saab, or are we just supporting a hollow name and name only. I agree to wait and see but as of today I am very skeptical.
    JTMav

  37. It appears at first sight that the NEVS purchase was financed by the Chinese Government in order to acquire for China a lead in EV technology, for which they can create and manipulate demand in their home market. ChiGov have endless funds to invest and need to do so abroad in order to service their huge trade surplus. There seems little need for a short-term profit motive.

    Therefore ask yourself, if you were on the Board of NEVS, what would be your mission? I guess that the first thing would be to make absolutely sure that you deliver the EV technology and create suitable automobiles for the Chinese market.

    Under what circumstances would you create cars to sell to a World market? The truth is that the production of all these wonderful cars in the past has never turned a significant profit in the last few decades (yes OK, I hear about writing off development costs in high tax locations). So to go that route in the near future looks like the potential for loss of face to me and would be against the primary mission. To do that with cutting edge EV technology in the medium to long term seems possible, once a base demand has been established in China. But that is well into the future and will perhaps be an entirely new market that will appeal to only a small proportion of existing Saab drivers.

    The negative reaction in posts on this blog to NEVS acquisition IMHO seems therefore to be justified and is based on profound disappointment, not negativity; i.e that is not to say that the long-term future might not be very exciting and we all wish the project the best of good luck.

    However, it is possible that something may emerge in the short term to fulfill an obvious demand, but it may not be NEVS that satisfies it.

  38. I am not an EV enthusiast! BUT……if Saab can make an EV that has a good range and fast charge time, that looks good and goes well ,then I may just change my mind! I am open to be persuaded, but the lack of information coming from NEVS is very frustrating indeed and it is not making NEVS too many friends either.

  39. Maybe much of the fairly negative responses from the Saab community can be explained by the fact that we tend to stick to our well thought out principles and beliefs, just like Saab used to do, especially in the pre-GM years. Also Saab has become synonymous with Turbo; a car that could hardly be more different than a Prius and most other electric/hybrid cars; ‘transportation-appliances-without-a-soul’ for people who are basically not very interested in cars.

    But hopefully the New Saab will prove us wrong and come up with cars just as exciting as the 99 Turbo, 900C or 9000 Aero…

  40. Excellent post Jason. Was Saab dead when GM bought them and changed the entire look, platform, and drive train? Was Saab dead when the Saab engineers decided to go Turbo? If the Saab brand survives then Saab survives in whatever new iteration it becomes. This brand has been world leaders in technology and safety, this is what I hope they continue to do.

  41. Here’s The Bottom Line: A reborn SAAB can never hope to compete with VW/Audi, BMW, M-B and Japan & Korea, Inc with gas/diesel automobiles.They MUST seek a niche market and succeed there. EV, and hopefully also hybrid, is the only way out for SAAB now.

    Marketing must be to the worlds largest markets, #1 China/India #2 North America #3 EU, in that order, NEVS knows this. The comment about former SAAB drivers converting to Prius is spot on for USA/Canada, but pollution will be the big driver of EV sales in Asia, and it’s just now getting started. NEVS will be on the ground floor of the biggest change in auto technology since invention of the car: A brilliant strategy!!

    • They MUST seek a niche market and succeed there.

      That was the George Romney strategy with American Motors back in the day – “hit ’em where they ain’t” was his motto, seeking to outflank the Big 3 (GM, Ford, Chrysler) by building more compact and efficient models than the typical American fare of the time. Older folks from the U.S. will remember Romney’s public campaign against the “gas guzzling dinosaurs” and “trundling tanks” of his competitors. It worked — for a while, anyway. Then Romney left AMC to go into politics, the new management decided to take the Big 3 head-on in their traditional market segments, and the company skidded badly.

      So yes, history does teach us that a small auto manufacturer needs to seek out niche markets and differentiate itself from the “big boys” to be successful. Let’s hope that NEVS can find the right niche for Saab.

  42. One more thing, the Prius factor points to a recent split of the SAAB market: the intellectual types who comprised much of the traditional SAAB market, and the performance seekers who migrated to the brand with the advent of the 99/900 Turbo. The the right EV/hybrid could bridge this seemingly irreconcilable difference!

    • Have you seen the Lexus CT200h ? I see more and more of them now, they look quite good:

      http://www.thetorquereport.com/lexus_ct200h_3.jpg

      http://www.thetorquereport.com/lexus_ct200h_2.jpg

      I won’t pre-judge its driving dynamics since I’ve never driven one, and actually not likely to afford a new one anyway (base MSRP Cdn$31K), but if down the road gasoline gets to a really difficult price point, cars like these (or Highlander Hybrid) I would seriously consider as second vehicle (replacing my current 2006 Subaru Legacy wagon, which itself replaced my ’93 9000CSE). So yes, the “intellectual & educated” segment of the market that Saab used to appeal highly to are now going to Lexus, Audi, VW and ……… Volvo 🙁

    • Have you seen the new Lexus CT200h ? It’s a compact hybrid 5-dr hatchback resembling the Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza (last-gen). It looks sharp to me on the roads, driven by people I would “categorize” as educated, intellectual & mid-/upper-class affluent. The very same folks who were drawn to SAAB in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they also drive TDI Audis and VWs. And when Volvo comes out with its own hybrids, you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be more of these same customers headed to the Volvo showrooms. SAAB needs to make a GIANT LEAP in not just design, performance, technology and image, but propulsion and energy source. I do hope EVs are an integral part of SAAB’s future business plan, regardless of whether hybrids and gas-only propulsion systems will be added.

  43. Tim quite rightly suggested that comments should be based upon facts. These are the facts from my point of view:

    – I have a lovely five year old 9-5 diesel hirsch estate, which I’ve had for a few years. I’ve driven tens of thousands of miles in it and usually I’d think about changing it for a newer Saab around this time (I was waiting for the ng 9-5 estate to be released in the UK). The value of my car has crumbled away to relatively nothing, which I consider is a tragic reflection of the current consumer “value” of the existing Saabs.
    – I have given the prospect of another brand a great deal of thought and, put simply, I don’t really like other cars (nothing fits my idea of what I want quite like a Saab did) in the same class. Too many Audis, BMWs and Volvos. Mercedes aren’t what they were (anyone heard that before???). Jaguars are nice, but not quite feeling that old yet.
    – It seems unlikely that there’ll be a new “Saab” for up to four years or more.
    – I drive a great deal and the prospect of an electric Saab or even a hybrid doesn’t fill me with high hopes and excitement.
    – There has been no major news coverage in England regarding the purchase of the Saab brand, which is either part of a considered marketing campaign or stupidly on the part of whoever is handling the PR.

    I will remain as optimistic as is realistic, but I am saddened by recent events.

    Griffin up (but without clipped wings please) 🙂

    • Daryl, have you considered a 2010 or 11 model? Your cars value may have dropped but for the customer, the nice thing is so has the newer models to help off set that a little.

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