Don’t Fear What You Don’t Yet Know

It’s obvious from comments that there are many disappointed SU readers today. The Saab we knew is essentially history, and a clean start focusing on future technology is what’s ahead. The extent to which NEVS plans to go to full electric has not been elaborated on, but I have a strong feeling that they will be going the hybrid route as their own graphics discuss PHEVs (Plugin-Hybrid Electric Vehicles). What I find most heartening about the new owners is that they are looking to pursue cutting edge propulsion technology to contribute to the most economical, environmentally sound, and best driving experience. This isn’t unlike the first Saab engineers using a two-stroke engine, or the addition of a turbo to a mainstream vehicle that made the 99 so damn enjoyable to drive. Electrification has come a long way and will continue to rapidly improve well before the first new Saab is sold in 2013-14. 

For those of you who remember my earliest comments from when Swade was around, you might know that I’ve been pushing Saab to get into the EV/PHEV space for some time (as far back as 2009). To me the argument is simple: with the right business model and scale, a manufacturer can just as easily charge the same for an electrified powertrain as a premium or near premium car such as Saab, while giving the consumer the benefit of added reliability, stronger off the line performance and much more insulation from fluctuating fuel prices. It’s clear that the entire industry isn’t going to switch over night, but I’d rather be with one of the companies embracing the technology and innovating with it early. To me, Saab should own the innovation in this space, and it’s clear that NEVS shares this goal.

As I’ve been so interested in electric cars the past few years, I’ve followed the research and design of battery and propulsion technology. The through the road eAAM hybrid was truly exciting to me, as it delivered high payback with low cost. However, as I described in my dream of a Hybrid Performance model for Saab last year, I could see electrification taking a much stronger role in the new Saab. Imagine turning a knob that goes from hypermiling performance that gives you 600km per charge to a high performance boost button that summons up 500+hp. That’s the kind of instantaneous and flexible performance electric motors gives you. All the talk of variable compression ratios that Saab had been working on for years becomes a software, not hardware problem, as battery chemistry continues to be refined to deliver stronger charges and densities. From NEVS own statements it’s clear they will be going with Japanese battery companies, which leads me to think Panasonic. Their cylindrical batteries are the gold standard for EVs now, but there are several new companies, notably Envia, which are promising much stronger and cheaper batteries. No doubt the Japanese are hot on the heels and have their own top secret innovations, and hopefully now that Saab is so intertwined with them we’ll see them first on a Swedish made product.

For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to drive an electric car or PHEV using the latest lithium ion tech, I’d strongly recommend you find a way to try it. Realistically imagine yourself owning one and fitting it into your daily routine. I think most of us here would agree a hybrid that allows us to go unlimited miles is preferential to an electric car, but if the added cost to fit a motor generator adds cost and decreases range, would you be able to get by with an electric car and simply rent the PHEV? Is there a business model you could see working for you before you just go and trash the idea of an eSaab completely? Think before you react, is all I ask.

121 thoughts on “Don’t Fear What You Don’t Yet Know”

  1. Everybody assumes they also acquired the Saab brand and name. They haven’t yet, according to their press presentation and official press release. If the NEVS 1EV is going to be called just that, is it still a Saab? Is the factory in Trollahattan going to have the Saab name on it? If not, will we still care about Saab or is it just a Chinese company with a factory in Sweden? Too many questions about the brand, no answers yet. The 2014 NEVS Saab may not even look like a Saab.

    • From what we’ve obviously heard the stumbling block was with Saab AB defense, and is in the process of being worked out. Even if it weren’t to be worked out (which indications are that it will be), I’d still want a PHEV from Sweden.

      • You can already buy a PHEV from Sweden, at least in Europe. 😉
        It has only a problem, it looks like a Volvo. 😎

        • That volvo definitely good car. If it will look like saab, be F classed or GL classed, will have XWD, double clutch gearbox and other modern things i will buy it. But instead 0-100 in 6.9 sec and 1.9l/100 i would prefer twice faster, even if it will require 10 times more fuel.

          Also as i see Tesla can make 500km range on electro only with 4.4 0-100. Well on that kind of car you can add 8 litres v12 with to get monster power.. it wont matter how much will it take fuel since you will use it only during full throttle.. Or when electro is off on cruise control.

          Or you can put small 1.6 but with unnormal boost to get around 500hp from it. It won’t be that durable, but when you drive 75% of time on electro, got no cold stars it will be ok

          And don’t forget that most important thing for any saab – safety.

          Don’t go the way of making cheap prius killers. Look for Tesla or german high power hybrids and kill em all.

    • “Everybody assumes they also acquired the Saab brand and name”

      They can not do that. “Saab” brand it is not part of saab automobile. They can negotiate with Saab AB (airplanes and defense) use this name, but they can not buy.

      • Not quite, the Saab brand is co-owned by Saab Automobile, Saab AB and Scania. NEVS need to get an ok from the other co-owners. They have stated that they are ok with it if production continues in Sweden and they have the same view of the brand.
        To me this is only a technicality, I´m sure the cars will be branded as Saabs. I hope they look and drive like Saabs to, but I´m not sure.

    • It will be even more confusing when Saab AB, Saab Parts AB and SAAB NEVS AB use the same Saab name but are three entirely different companies. I can’t think of any reason why Saab AB would let NEVS use the Saab name.

      • Why did Saab AB and Scania let Spyker use the name and logo? They formed an agreement, which both Saab AB and Scania have since said they would be willing to consider for any new owner of Saab Automobile. What does Saab AB stand to lose by withholding the name? Their favorability in Sweden would plummet. They know it’s in everyone’s best interest to do as they did with Spyker, and license the name to NEVS.

    • I really do not care what the new company calls what ever vehicle they produce, I just want my extended warranty that I paid for with the purchase of a “certified” vehicle to be activated again! Want to bet on that one!!??

  2. Excellent, well said!

    I’ve driven a Nissan LEAF and found it a great drive. Instant power (up to 350Nm, immediately!) very, very smooth and sooo quiet. I liked it and even at 109 miles maixmum range can see a place for it in my family’s life. But, if Saab can do better (and I’m sure than can) then I’ll wait on buying a LEAF and hopefully buy an “eSaab”, be it an EV or a hybrid.

    Personally, I can’t wait to embrace the future.

  3. Everyone is complaining about how NEVS is going to kill Saab and run it further into the ground. I say this: Obviously the old way Saab was run was not working since they went into bankruptcy. So if the old way doesnt work (cars costing too much), then throw all that away and start fresh. New business plan and new goals.

  4. Sadly, there is no way we could live our lives without a petrol or hybrid vehicle, until there’s a day where a charge, or a battery change, takes about the same time as filling the tank. We drive from New York City to Martha’s Vineyard, a distance of 250 miles (400 km), almost every other weekend. Around New York, we drive several days a week and an electric vehicle could work. But there is no way that I’m going to rent a vehicle 20 times a year for my regular trips, and trips that I value being in my Saab for comfort, safety, and driving enjoyment. So if an EV from Saab is all that I could get, I would with great sadness have to migrate to probably Audi.

      • So far it looks like you would only be able to look at that if you live in China.
        Does not look like NEVS has any intention to go globally or to US in near future

    • Could you see a situation where you can drop your car off at the dealer and take a reduced rate PHEV “rental” from the dealer for a trip? Or even one where they drop it off and pick up your car? It would obviously have to be coordinated at the dealership level, but considering my local BMW dealer does this just for service calls for my neighbors, I’m not sure that the new company would have a hard time doing it for customers, especially if they could break even at a low cost (unlike for profit rental companies). Just another unconventional strategy to please all customers without causing headaches. Think outside the box Hugh, you’re good at that :).

      • Hey Jeff, As you know I often think outside the box, but this is one tough box. Purchasing a performance hybrid sure, but essentially a zip car situation, no. If it was an occasional long trip, maybe. But for regular trips I want my own car, with its own quirks, my own enhancements. I want to be able to come home from work late, and leave at 7:00am for the Vineyard without having to “trade in my EV” for a rental. And for most of us, how likely is it that there will be a “dealer” nearby, and how could you possible satisfy demand for something like a July 4th weekend in a place like New York where everyone wants to leave the city for the Hamptons, the Berkshires, the Vineyard, or wherever? We have friends with a 10 year old Honda that they rarely drive but they feel it’s still worth paying for insurance and garage space just so they don’t have to deal with a rental agency on high demand weekends. So my car needs to be ready to head out whenever I want for a 250 mile trip.

        PS I did read about Renault’s “experiment” in Israel, Hawaii, etc. with the ZOE battery swap car. So someday, either the battery technology will make longer trips possible with a pure EV or with battery swapping, but until them, we’ll need fully petro vehicles or Hybrids for me and many others.

      • Saab has a always been a driver’s car. So you are saying, Jeff, that we should enjoy a new EV for just driving around town and for trips rent the driver’s car? Usually you cannot have too much fun driving around town due to the traffic. It is on the weekend trips that I usually enjoy my Saab 9-3 the most.

          • Better yet, they can make a SAAB. NEVS peddle car, you never have to charge it, worry about gas, and you get and awesome workout in the process!

            “The New SAAB Peddle Car” It’s not what you ever expected from the company founded by aircraft engineers, but it’s better than taking the bus!

        • I’ll post graphics from their presentation in a little bit, but you’ll note that NEVS mentions the EV and PHEV market. PHEVs are what the majority of us would rather drive (Leaf vs. Volt). Without quick chargers (10 minutes or less plus infrastructure), there really isn’t a way around carrying a ICE generator for a long trip. All I was suggesting to Hugh was that if Saab does build both EV and then PHEV models, the new Saab could have a fleet rental program for EV owners to rent a PHEV Saab at low cost for weekend trips. That’s all. There’s so many iterations of solutions though besides that, and it’s a productive use of comments to brainstorm that, as opposed to stupid jokes, for example.

    • Normally, I would agree to you. But I don’t, for the mere reason that you live under US legislation (while I live in Germany). And that means you will not drive faster than 60 mph, right? Well, then the car you asked for already exists. Its the Tesla Model S with 85 kWh capacity. According to the Tesla website, at 60 mph, it has a range of 300 miles.

      Probably, you will now reply that this car is very expensive. But this is a different argument. 😉

  5. Great follow-up to this morning’s exciting news, Jeff. I think the possibilities of both EVs and PHEVs are huge, and it’s a major leap forward that Saab is being placed so squarely in front of these innovations. In the end, thew new Saab is much like the old Saab – where form follows function, and technology, inventiveness, engineering and efficiency are treated with the respect they deserve. I’m thrilled by these announcements, and am very much looking forward to watching Saab’s bright future unfold. Most importantly, I’m incredibly heartened to see the Swedish focus on Saab will remain intact, and that THN will continue to be the center of activity. I couldn’t be happier.

    Finally, my wife and I have already discussed this, and are committing ourselves to eagerly buying a new Saab as soon as we can!

    LONG LIVE SAAB!!! 😀

  6. To me, Made in Trollhattan means one thing, whether or not they get the “name” Saab. This will be an innovative company producing quality products ahead of their time. That’s all that matters to me. Saabs were always about innovation and common sense. I think they are in good hands.

    It’s clear that those of us who bought Saabs were not enough to sustain the company. It needs to broaden its market to survive. Some of us might not like those changes, but they will be necessary.

    I say job well done on the administrators’ part and welcome the new cars that will come out of Trollhattan.

  7. I just imagined all the EV´s at the roadside, empty battery, people looking for a breakdown truck to get to the next plug. Perhaps a new business concept for the future, I should re-educate. 😉 Just a joke – long live Saab and don´t forget BioHybrid !

  8. i agree with all the comments here, will only buy it as a hybrid.. have no desire to get stuck with dead battery 2 miles away from my house…

  9. Innovation, engineering and design are what makes Saab. Saab and we enthusiasts have held onto the fruits of these ideals as if they were what described the company, not the actual idea of innovation. Cars like the NG 9-5 and 9-4x were almost a joke, large, full of GM parts, a start button where there use to be a key (for a very practical reason but totally moot with a button) but absolutely nothing innovative. And Turbos are no longer Saab, everyone does them, they are old news. Spyker seemed poised to do interesting things with Saab but it was too late and there plan wasn’t about innovation as it was about elevating Saab to an expensive boutique brand.

    This NEVs plan might not work but it sure sounds like it follows the true spirit of what made Saab different. I’m not thrilled about an all electric car either because I rent a garage in San Francisco and have no place to charge one. But I remain hopeful, I work in Silicon Valley where a Prius is every other car and a Leaf, Volt and Tesla are the ultimate status symbols. As people here love to say, Silicon Valley is 10 years ahead of the rest of the country, for Saab I hope that’s true.

  10. You’re completely right Jeff. A lot of people don’t seem to understand that electric motors give you the same, but even better, high torque feeling as a turbo engine does.
    The only issues to solve are the energy storage and the energy distribution. There seems to be some doubt that the electric grid will be able to sustain the charging of (at least) 1 EV per household. Well, in the US a LOT of households use AC to refrigerate their home. Switch off your AC, divert the power to your charging station and you’re all set 🙂
    The battery packs have already improved dramatically and will continue to do so, the market is huge enough to justify the investments. The latest improvement seems to have come from A123, solving the problem with too hot or too cold battery packs, the last which should make our Swedish friends very happy.

    The only question remaining is WHEN we can expect an EV Saab that can wear the Griffin badge proudly.
    Until it is so far I’ll keep on destroying the planet by driving my Viggen and Porsche like they’re supposed to be driven, hard!

        • Where´s the fun when there is no oil? Karl-Erling Trogen explained that the total oil production in the world would not even cover the Chinese demand if the Chinese had the same percentage of cars per capita as America do. It’s not a viable way forward.

          But perhaps we can run on ethanol and other fuels while we wait for the batteries to be more efficient. I would also like to see a hybrid.

          • I felt that argument was somewhat of a straw-man argument.

            If 800 of every 1000 Chinese owned a car (the American penetration rate as per his slide), would they even be able to fit them all on the roads in China?

            I did some quick calculations, and the answer is no. Add 100m of road that you’d like to drive on, and the answer is definitively no.

            You won’t burn much oil if you can only drive a few meters before the eternal gridlock sets in.

            I strongly suspect China will moderate themselves just like most other nations have.

            Meanwhile… Battery production and battery disposal… I can’t say the things I have heard are nice. Anyone care to explain just how all those batteries are gonna be made?

            • FYI: My source for the total road length in China:
              http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=china+total+road+length
              It is a bit outdated (2006). According to wikipedia, China have doubled the length of their expressways since then (from ~45000km). Finding room for a billion vehicles (especially since the Chinese market adores BIG vehicles, effectively dwarfing my 5 meter long 9-5) still remains a challenge. (you’d need 5 million km roads to make room for a billion 9-5s — which I’m sure would be a beautiful sight to behold, just not very practical if you want to go anywhere fast)

              I hope NEVS will tone down the doomsday prophecies in their next presentation and focus on facts. Otherwise I will bring out the official projections, which I believe show we will have plenty of oil throughout the next thirty years. I.e. an EV-centric production now is jumping the gun quite a bit.

              NEVS really need to start off with a hybrid.

              • Sure, but even if China introduce cars with moderation they will still need a hell lot of fuel, which may not be there. They need to invest in EV. Check out the slides on Swades site http://www.swadeology.com/2012/06/slides-nevs-saab-acquisition-press-conference/. No one can turn away from the strain on the environment if we double the amount of fossil fueled cars over the next ten years. I still think this is the way to go, but it’s a long way and we need many alternatives during this time, like ethanol and hybrids.

                • Check out the slides? Why do you think I made my comment in the first place?

                  Some guy comes along, gives you a few “facts”. One of them turns out to be wildly inaccurate, but you still choose to trust his other “facts”. Why on Earth would you do that?

                  EVs are not the only game in town. Over the past couple of decades, the western world have moved to smaller engines (even some of the yanks) and this development continues. We have also adopted more hybrids (I drive at least 50000km/year now, compared to 0km in 2007, but I mostly use ethanol). I.e. something is already being done.

                  Ethanol, LPG, Hydrogen and others will not require rare earth metals to produce as batteries, and won’t generate as much toxic waste to fill up our landfills. As the price of oil goes up, more solutions like this will enter the marketplace. A colleague recently upgraded his old VW Passat to LPG — because feeding gasoline to a V6 is an expensive proposition these days. That decision made economical sense. An “upgrade” to an EV would for him have been pointless.

                  Yet NEVS, when given a chance to present their intentions, emphatically stated “EVs only”. That, IMO, is weak and certainly does not smack of innovation. Rather the opposite.

                  NEVS is replacing a factory with 3600 workers with something that most likely will never fly. This is gambling. Where Spyker needed a little extra funding to succeed, the NEVS guys do not even have any products and do not plan on having any viable mass-market products either.

                  • Some guy comes along……We´re talking about the previous president of Volvo Trucks. Those are guys to take serious from my point of view.

  11. Well put, Jeff.

    Could you better explain the context of “economical” in your sentence, “What I find most heartening about the new owners is that they are looking to pursue cutting edge propulsion technology to contribute to the most economical, environmentally sound, and best driving experience.”

    Your post explored the environmental and driving experience aspect but economical has to be in a certain context or multiple contexts. I (and others) would be interested in what you were thinking.

  12. Jeff, what you have written sounds good to me, and what you say about batteries is of course the really key part and demonstrates that the battery “arms race” is going to result in some swift advances.

    But the second line. “The Saab we knew is essentially history,” well I think that is both right and wrong. History in that the old company structure has been dismantled and replaced with something new, sure. But if we think of the spirit and indeed the bricks and mortar of Saab, then both are in fact cemented into this new structure. NEVS now have the Saab factory and HQ, they have Saab people, and will probably recover more of them, they have the Saab IP, they state adherence to some crucial key Saab values, including its Swedishness and environmentally responsible performance, they are continuing on a road of EV development that Saab had already started on … so I don’t think there is such a big break with the past here. The Saab we knew actually lives on in this new entity, so far as I can see. And I think that would be true even in the unlikely event that Saab AB refuse to license the brand name.

  13. Hear hear! Furthermore, how many of us, at least here in the US, own only one car? We’re in the same boat as we drive almost every weekend from Upstate NY to the Lake in Vermont, but for that trip we need an Xterra (24mpg!) for the amount of tools and construction stuff we carry anyhow. Still, an eSAAB wold fit in great as a 2nd for now, and if they drop in a gas/diesel gen set, very easily done, it could become a primary vehicle as well. Embrace change!

    • That’s exactly how I feel. I have my Saab convertible for fun in the sun (and my wife!), my CLS for clients and long distance cruising and I can see an eSaab for my daily running around town and cities and for short business trips. A win-win I think! 🙂

      • What about those of us who have a 9-3 hatchback with a sun roof for….fun in the sun, long distance cruising, and daily running around town – to work – the store- etc.? 🙂 That is why I bought the multipurpose Saab. I needed a new multipurpose Saab soon, but it does not look like they will build one for me.

  14. I’ve been THIS CLOSE to replacing my Viggen with a Lexus CT200h. I know, sounds unreal, but I’ve test driven the CT on several occassions. The dealer was even kind enough to let me drive it on my own for a good half hour. Obviously, it leaves a lot to be desired performance wise, but its come SO FAR from the first crop of Prius and Insight vehicles I recalling driving a few years ago.

    I haven’t committed to the CT200h because the Viggen is still chugging along, albeit after nearly $3,000 in repairs last year alone. I’m waiting for the new ES hybrid to come out, which apparently will have a more sporting nature despite its cookie cutter looks.

    My reasoning is as follows: Right now, its VERY difficult to purchase a new convertible that is stick in the United States. There are surprisingly few options, and even European counterparts that are available in stick are only available in automatic (IE Audi A5 convertible). Even those vehicles that are available are practically impossible to find on dealer lots. There are only EIGHT brand new V6 Mustang convertible sticks sitting on dealer lots across the United States right now, and none in Florida.

    Case in point, I think hybrid technology has come far enough to the point where its not the overwhelmingly boring drive it initially was. I truly think it won’t be long until we have a four cylinder hybrid in stick that will deliver decent performance numbers. The Honda CRZ, a four banger stick, achieve the run in under eight seconds and handles quite well. Again, its not an apples to apples comparison, but its close enough where several have already made the leap from gasoline to hybrid/electric. This is evidenced by hybrid/electric vehicle sales which collectively have increased about 200% in Q12012 compared to Q12011.

    Electric/hybrid is happening folks. Hopefully the new Saab can lead its engaging evolution.

    • If NEVS is planning on a hybrid option, then why haven’t they said so? If this is their plan, they should get in front on this and explain to everyone. Either they are not going to offer a hybrid or they’re PR & marketing people have already fumbled the ball. I could at least live with a hybrid Saab.

    • 🙂 My youngest daughter has told me never to buy a Toyota, Honda or Nissan (well, with the exception of the GT-R). I’m afraid the Lexus name plate won’t fool her.
      Disclaimer: She’s not NipponoFoob, she does like Mitsubishi’s, dunno why, I think the current crop is pretty ugly.

      I think there are plenty of, relatively cheap, Viggen alternatives popping up. I’ll even consider a Ford Focus when my Viggen goes to Valhalla (assuming that the Focus ST will be available in the US). In Europe I would have a closer look at the Renault Megane RS.
      But Lexus? Nope, overprized das boring.

      • The Focus ST won’t be available here, sadly.

        To many, Lexus is overpriced and boring. I’ll admit, perhaps they lack the “soul” of a Saab, but they are fine and very reliable vehicles of high quality. In fact, I’ve spent more on my Viggen last year than I have on all my Lexus in their entire lifetime. No joke….

        Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take a new 2014 CT200h over a 2014 Saab 9-3h though! 😉

        • The Focus ST will be here in the states in less than 6 months. You can already design one on the Ford website. Looking forward to it–it’s going to replace one of our 9-3s.

  15. My best wishes for NEVS to have the money and the right ideas to pull this thing off.

    For those who think that a Saab wihthout turbo is not a Saab, I would like to revive an old saying from the computer industry: Kill your product before someone else does it. IF electric cars one day will replace old technologies and if Saab aim to be among the first to make this new technology available in “ordinary” (but very safe and comfortable and fun to drive), cars, just like they did with the turbo, then the cars wil be very much Saabs for me.

    I certainly would have prefered the current models to be produced until next generation of Saabs enter the scene, but we all know that GM would never have have the courage to do that, so the best we can hope for now is for the new Saab R & D team to work day and night on making this baby fly and take Saab back to the cutting edge of innovation. Fingers crossed… 🙂

  16. Move to China and maybe you would be able to buy an eSAAB next year. NEVS guys do not seem to be interested in US or global market. As for us in USA for example we will just have to see leftover dealers shutting doors down or switching brands.

    • They specifically mentioned not only the US but President Obama’s goal of 1 million EVs by 2015. So yes, they are clearly going after Western markets. Where you’re making the assumption about their lack of interest perhaps comes from their eagerness to embrace the east too, but maybe because that’s what China and India want to encourage most. The last thing you need to fear is NEVS ignoring the core markets that Saab has served for decades.

      • Mentioning Obama…like that’s a real plus. The guy’s a loser. Everything he touches fails: solyndra, Ener1, A123 systems, Sunpower, Spectrawatt…I could easily keep going. Sorry , but mentioning a man who has never even run a pop stand does NOT instill confidence.

      • The reference to Obama wanting a million electric cars is very distressing. As with most of Obama’s statements, it is pure fantasy. With massive government funding the market is still not there for pure EV and the sales figures show it. And to build a business plan on the unsupported statement of a politican who is about to be soundly dismissed from power is folly. Oh did I mean Maud ! Well no, not this time.

  17. Here is the current problem with pure electric vehicles (aside from range anxiety)

    A (US) Nissan Leaf costs $32 – 40 000 . (before the $7500 tax credit, which will probably go if Romney gets elected). The similar looking Nissan Versa costs around $13 000,

    If it averages 30 MPG, and gas is $4 a gallon. You can drive almost 100 000 miles (150 000 , if you take out the tax credit) before the leaf makes economic sense . And that assumes the Leaf “costs nothing” to run; ie free electricity.

    Its little wonder the Leaf is now selling at about 2/3rds last years daily selling rate. ( 2600 units YTD, compared with 9700 in all of 2011) The economics just don’t make any sense at the moment.

  18. when my Saabs go to the scrap yard (which, i hope, will take some time before it actually happens), i think i will change back to Citroën.since Saab is not planning to produce any normal vehicle (i.e.: pertrol-powered and/or turbo-charged) anymore, Saab is as dead as a door nail.

    changing back to Citroën means going back to driving an XM or Xantia…
    (or should i buy a Nissan Stagea?….)

  19. Really sad about this outcome. I either work from home or travel across the country (which I do regularly) in my Saab for business reasons. I have just back from an 800 km round trip today and I don’t imagine an electric car will meet my needs. A hybrid – maybe, but I’m not inspired. I will hold out for a new Saab, but unless the design and performance is consistent with previous expectation I’ll be driving an A5 within the next year or so.

  20. When:

    1. I can “Load” my car …. Today, it is impossible, do not know a place that it goes on.
    (Can not sell something that you can not run)

    2. The car has the same performance as my current Saab 9-5,
    (I bought it because I love the engine power of 260hp).

    3. I can drive 500 km without the problem of “low bat”
    (Use the car in my work)

    4. I can “Load” fully without it will take me hours
    (Not done in a hurry I guess today)

    5. The manufacturer supplies parts for the goods they sell … Who shall I turn to if have a complaint … the manufacturer of the
    part or car?
    (seriously – does not sound like a serious buyer, just flirting with the market and say what they want to hear. Bulit a car but
    not want to provide parts)

    That day we can start to discuss NEVS idea ‘… but only when … Today, it’s not even a option for me …
    Hybrids I guess not come out from NEVS. They go for just electric toys.

    Just wounder after all this :

    * what will be the oppinion from the subcontractors as the Admin took the lowest bid, so they not have a chans to get payed ?
    * do the subcontractors want to deliver parts as they not got payed for the last delivery from SAAB bancrupsy ?
    * How was the reaction in Trollhättan, as the winner do not attend to reemploee ? ….just a few 100 at max.
    * Do anyone seriously think there going to be any SAAB any more ? …..guess not

  21. Best wishes for NEVS to have the money and the right ideas to pull this thing off.

    For those who think that a Saab wihthout turbo is not a Saab, I would like to revive an old saying from the computer industry: Kill your product before someone else does it. IF electric cars one day will replace old technologies and if Saab aim to be among the first to make this new technology available in “ordinary” (but very safe and comfortable and fun to drive), cars, just like they did with the turbo, then the cars wil be very much Saabs for me.

    I certainly would have prefered the current models to be produced until next generation of Saabs enter the scene, but we all know that GM would never have have the courage to do that, so the best we can hope for now is for the new Saab R & D team to work day and night on making this baby fly and take Saab back to the cutting edge of innovation. Fingers crossed… 🙂

    B t w, I also wonder from what company the japanese engineers are that they said would com and work in Trollhättan. Any connection to when Mattias Bergman said at the press conference that they had showed the factory for people from Toyota, who were very impressed.

  22. R.I.P. SAAB 🙁 For me Saab in Thn and Sweden is dead. The only Saab car I know about is BAIC in China. I will forever drive the Saabs 1950-2011. Never another swedish car for me. Only have to say, “Too much monkey business”. Bye.

  23. It seems to me that their market is China and let’s face it that market can monopolize their business for the foreseeable future. Maybe in Sweden and some of the other European countries they may have plans to market and sell cars but for us here in the US I would say we are a long shot to ever see a car again with the Saab marquee. The factory can only produce so many units and I would think they will all be spoken for in what is now, or soon to be, the largest car market in the world.

    JTMav

  24. What ticks me off is both NEVS or the Swedish government could have given some hope to present owners of 2010-2011 Saabs by saying “We will take care of you.” Neither did that and that’s really too bad. I want to know were us 2010-11 owners (and other creditors) can file suit against the SweGov. There was a bid which potentially could have taken care of all of us and it was rejected.

  25. In one way this is a great day for Saab (and all the people that have worked for Saab) and all the loyal Saab-Fans arround the world. But just waiting for some EV-Cars will not bring back the Saab-buyers (as they can actually order the new Volvo Plug-In Hybrid or many other real EV’s). So my wish to NEVS is: Restart production of actual 9-3 portfolio asap in Trollhättan.

    • Could been better
      Any re-employment does not looking promising … only 100-200 person of 1200 still unemployed.

      EV-cars only……………
      shame that it only bites on environmental chasing governments with fat bribe account, but they will provides grants from the EU and * Swedish government * (read our tax money) so I guess NEVS make a good deal on it anyway.

      Remain convinced that YM had been able to handle this better than NEVS.
      They had car knowlege and even the employee could have the jobs back.
      They put the bids under Admin’s instructions
      Produce regular SAAB side by side Hybrids.

      NEVS is a bit of biting yourself in the rear, I guess.

      Still think Lars holmquist is 100% right
      ================================
      Lars Holmquist, the former head of CLEPA :

      “I’m actually quite confused and I do not understand this electric vehicle consortium.
      If I’m honest, it’s so bad that I rarely heard anything like it”

      • And those 100-200 are engineers and designers. Lots of ppl are production personell, that will not see any employment in 1,5 years more.

  26. I think many of us have our minds locked on today’s solution. What NEVS is trying to do is to take a real step into the future. Fossil fueled cars will be around for a while, but will not be the future. Look where the money is going right now, straight into electric solutions of different kinds. Where the money goes, also the progress goes. Soon we will have fun to drive cars with the same driving range as we have today or even better. Cost will also decrease by volume and innovation. It will probably go faster than we think.

    The great thing about this is that NEVS have embraced the entire cycle from power production, battery technology and production; to car development and production. I think this is unique and a great opportunity for the brand.

    I will not sit down and cry because we did not get our favorite buyer by today’s standards (I personally wanted BMW more than everything else, but that was just a dream). We may very well have got the best possible buyer by tomorrows standards. Until we get to tomorrow we keep our beloved Saabs rolling and wait.

    Griffin up!

    • The crux of the problem is this: Will EVs become viable in 2020 or 2040? NEVS should try to deliver solutions that aren’t ahead of their time by 50 years.

    • “What NEVS is trying to do is to take a real step into the future”

      By producing 9-3s with batteries instead of an engine as soon as 2013…
      lol, it’s a joke, how could it seriously be any more advanced then whats on the market today?? Are the battery cobblers and electricity farmers gonna outdo the entire automotive sector in a years time??
      Really? (Btw, i might have a nice bridge for sale wich you may find interesting…)

      Considering where they are registerred, i say this time next year, they’ll have looted (tech wise) what they we’re after (ready to bring into production in china/elsewhere) and they’ll either sell what little there is left off, or give swegov a call and say : “sorry didn’t really work out, we’re filling for bancruptcy…”

      RIP SAAB

  27. I hope the best for the former employees of SAAB and the community but I understand that today for me SAAB is officially dead. The fat lady has completed her song and has left the building. When I heard the news I thought of Solyndra – failure and Chevy Volt – failure. This deal as I have read will not work in any shape or fashion.

    Good memories no great memories but time to move on. BMW 3 series, Audi A4, Mini ? Choices Choices.

  28. This will be extremely interesting to follow. By focusing on a future solution the new SAAB can design cars without compromises. I see this in the tradition of SAAB innovation , the ability to look ahead and chose a different view than the others. It was not long ago everyone claimed that a premium car company could not survive without an 8 cylinder, then later it was 6 cylinder and meanwhile SAAB was perfecting small fuel effective motors that would give the driver the power when it was needed. I think and hope these ambitions are behind this new owner. Good Luck!

  29. Having owned SAABs since the oil burners of the 60’s, I will miss the SAAB we knew. At this point however, perhaps it is best for the former SAAB employees if the company that employs them goes in a different direction. After all, SAAB has never been much of a financial succeess and the traditional automobile market is if anything more competitive now than it was throughout SAAB’s history.

    NEVS may not fare any better with its products than SAAB did with traditional cars, but it may be time to stop beating the same old horse and try something new. NEVS’ products may not appeal to a lot of SAAB enthusiasts, but apparently there are not enough of us to sustain a company anyway.

    A move away from traditional cars is not the way I wanted things to work out, but hopefully NEVS will succeed and bring a good result for the SAAB employees. And If they do, let it be with creative products that will be a compliment to the SAAB legacy.

  30. Ok, they say they want to make electric cars in Trollhättan, using the 9-3 that already is in electric configuration, and using Phoenix base that already is equiped with rear electric powertrain. Why not after all, that’s a good idea for china market, as the EV market is expecting to grow. None knows if the brand SAAB will be used or not to sell these cars, I think it has chances to be used as soon as Saab AB and Scania may be seduced by the idea of making “green” cars under Saab brand and Grifin logotype.
    Electrical cars are the project for now. Who knows what will be imagined next ? Sun Investment and National Modern Energy Holdings aim to promote green industry and green solutions, something always vanguard. Imagining the future is a concept that goes well with Saab.

  31. To paraphrase Bill Clinton: “Its the batteries, stupid.”

    We are not there with the batteries. Not even close. Every time I try any electric powered tool with batteries (and many with cords) I end up hugely disappointed. If you can’t make simple small electrically powered tools that have anywhere near the capability of a similar gasoline powered tool, how on earth do you expect the public to think you could make an electric car comparable to a gasoline one?

  32. Will the assets of the former Saab Automobile AB and its sister companies (minus Parts) be reconstituted into a new AB with NEVSAB as its “holding company” or majority shareholder, or will Saab’s assets just become the assets of NEVSAB? May have a bit to do with whether NEVSAB can/will use the Saab trademark…

  33. Just out of random curiosity; are those of us who live in downtown apartments just going to be out of luck? If I leave a cord out in the open you can bet it’s going to be cut in less than an hour by some random kid.

    Or what about the heavily congested areas of China where outlets aren’t going to be openly available? Seems like plugging in would be a big issue for China. When I was over there a year ago I could see the exceptionally high number of people who live in apartment complexes and didn’t see any power outlets that would be in a good position for charging.

    This seems to be a major issue of infrastructure that I hope they can somehow figure out.

    • The cord/apartment issue is definitely being addressed, with reinforced proprietary cables probably being the preferred solution. Within the next 2-3 years OEMs are looking to deploy wireless charging solutions which have 90%+ efficiency, meaning you park above the charger which is embedded in the spot and walk away. If you have the luxury of a garage or live in a complex with spots that feature this tech, you’re great, otherwise you’re still going to need a wire that can’t be cut or unplugged by strangers.

  34. Great article, Jeff. I whole-heartedly agree that Saab, being known for innovation, should jump on the chance to be a technological leader in the next automobile revolution. PHEV and EVs (in my opinion) are the future of auto tech and Saab is placed not as a niche, but as a mass-market deliverer with the new strategy that is planned. Exciting!

  35. I am guessing that the customer profile for these products will change. The vehicles (if they compete) will need to be mass produced and sold in volume to acquire a return. If too many people drive them they will become common/popular and not individual and therefore may not be palatable to the existing Saab customer profile.

    • If they end up being twice the price of the 2010/2011 Saabs then they will not be affordable to the existing Saab customer profile either. Long range EVs are pretty expensive these days.

  36. I think we all figured that the Saab we knew was gone when they filed bankruptcy. It’s just a matter of time before we see what this new company becomes. In the meantime we need to hold on to our existing Saabs (or go out and buy another one if you have the means) because we don’t know what’s coming up next. Everyone can speculate and what if this, what if that, i heard this, etc but nothing is true until it’s reality. I for one plan on looking for a 2011 9-5 Aero next year to compliment my 2006 9-3 Aero no matter what NEVS does. =)

  37. Ooh…. I was devastated with today’s messeges and press conference, after waiting so long for this day to come.

    But with some afterthought I have tried to read between the lines and like to present the positve sides of the deal, lets forget the electric vehcle mumbo-jumbo for a while:
    – Saab will remain an indepedent car manufacturer, with an Independent mindset.
    – There are stilll investors who believes in what Saab has accomplished and what it is.
    – NEVS has realised the strength of the Trollhattan world-class production efficiency and even refers to Toyota spokesmen about it.
    – According to my ineterpretation they buy all except one (Saab Parts) of the seven pieces offered by the administrators which is a good thing.
    – NEVS also buys the entire Saab estate which means they are here to stay.
    – Saab Parts will continue to service Saab owners and NEWS has the option to aquire it, which I think they will if they get the other business running (might not be no1 investment priority during start-up).
    – NEVS shows a great respect for the automotive knowledge at Saab which is a good thing, since they seem to lack it themselves.
    – Saab has already proved an innovative approach to electric and hybrid solutions. Let’s see what their Japanese unknown technologies can add to that.
    – About aquiring the licenses to use the Saab brand name I think they have a fairly good chance since they at least will become regarded as based in Sweden (see/google statement from Saab AB Håkan Bushke). People in China are prepared to pay at least three times as much fora Global brand as for a Domestic, it would be foolish to not use that opportunity,
    – It seems they have some kind of Japanese developed electric micro-car in the pipeline, this could make a nice addition to the Phoenix line-up.
    – To my opinion, their sweet-talk about all-electric line-up is just a smoke screen to please the Chinese and Swedish governments.The hybrid soutions that Saab had in the business plan (see TimR’s previous entry: What was SAAB planning?) does not leave more carbon dioxide footprint than a purely electrical car (a major part of the world’s electicity is
    produced by non-sustainable fuels).

    I truly feel a lot of worries for the NEVS solution, itts mainly a lack of entreprneural/business spirit and car passion that we’ve got used to during the VM era. I may also have missed some good aspects in the above. Time will tell, hoping for the best.

  38. My take on it all.

    It’s been a soap opera!
    GM vetoed just about every offer that was proposed, since it did not want to lose its ‘intellectual property’, which it had taken off Saab, in the first place. Undoubtedly, IMHO, GM saved Saab in the 1990′s, but it ended up a cherrypicking exercise, with a taste of divide, kill and conquer – GM have a track record of this don’t they? Many GM owned marques have gone in the US, and Opel’s future still looks rocky. Saab technology design and know-how has gone into other vehicles – for example, the front suspension et al. of the new Vauxhall Astra GTC is Saab. What should have been a similar relationship to Volvo with Ford and now Geely, BMW and Bentley, or TaTa with Jaguar never materialised.

    We are The Borg/GM *. You will be assimilated.
    Ironic, as Borg has a Swedish association
    (* delete as required)

    There were some good, and shocking offers. Geely were interested, but soon withdrew. The Turkish Government, Volvo put a bid for the vulture rights, BMW were not/interested, although a deal had been signed 18 months ago for BMW to supply engines to a next generation of Saabs, all put in bids. Youngman Lotus even gave billions to prop up Saab. My opinion is they lost the ball. They wanted to increase their share of the market in China. They are a huge automotive truck and coach concern, well establish for the past 50 years or so. They manufacture. They also badge engineer. But, I beleive that they would have been a lot of internal competition between their models, as well as BAIC, who manufacture their versions of the 9-3 and 9-5.

    Regardless, GM were not up for a negotiation, if a buyer wanted to use Saab’s (ie, GM’s) technology, years ahead of GM’s home grown. GM were afraid of competition. I also suspect that because of the US administration’s massive financial bail-out of GM, there were also things of a political nature going off behind the scenes that we are not party to.

    And, so on……

    Saab have always been innovative; its sale today, and future plans have once again underlined this. Whether the course that the new owners, a chinese/japanese venture will succeed, is open for debate. Electric/hybrid ? Hmm. Not the Saab I know, and love.

    However, I am most pleased for the people of Trollhattan, where production will remain. Jobs will be created, and livelihoods secured. Above brand loyalty, and all else, this is the most important aspect of the story.

  39. Must check Saab status:

    2 Saabs in garage tonight.
    All Saabs started and ran today.
    Gas station on corner still there tonight.
    Wife didn’t sell her Saab today.
    Have money to buy gas.
    Mobil 1 still makes 0W-40.
    So, I’m still 100%Saab, until I’m not.

    Just a thought.

  40. When I hear about NEVS, it is not much different from Eastman Kodak, RIM (Blackberry), or Enron getting a life line. Great for that company!

    However, it is bad for the loyal Saab owners. We are loyal because of the Saab product, not because some company has a 4 letter name that starts with SA. (I was about to write “a 4 letter name that starts with S” but people might think of dog poo!)

  41. Here is my problem: I am very against hybrids / electric vehicles. Why? Because I believe in green technologies. Batteries that are used to power these cars are far from green. The reason all of this happened is because the Swedish government pulled some strings and had Saab make windmills, sorry EV’s. Now the set of people in office can say they did something great: they made a green car manufacturer in Sweden, and that will help them come next set of elections.

    Do you guys know what it takes to make a nickel hydride battery for one of these cars? There are extremely toxic strip mines which take the nickel ore out of the earth. It causes environmental catastrophes for the surrounding areas. NASA uses the mine in Ontario, Canada to try out its space vehicles because it most resembles Mars. That is absolutely atrocious and abhorrent to me. Then in continuing the D2D (dust to dust principle), what happens when the batteries reach the end of their lifespan, and they need to be disposed of? This world is about profit (especially in the USA and China, the main markets), and recycling these batteries is not very economical, so what happens to the old batteries? Perhaps they sit in a landfill to leak out and cause even more damage to the environment because its cheaper!

    I challenge the new company to move away from sources of energy that actually cause more damage to the environment than traditional gas vehicles. What can you do to make sure the new Saab is actually a green company? Because right now it just seems to be adding to the problem, not solving it. Ethanol based cars seemed like a perfectly reasonable alternative to me compared to what we are faced with in Saabs future.

    • Yeah but ethanol is taking up land that is used for making food and causing food prices to rise. Huge problem in the US with corn being converted to ethanol rather than sold as food.

      • Given the low-low prices of grain at the time, I would be inclined to believe that corn too was dirt cheap before they figured out how to make biofuel from it. Before that point, wasn’t many farmers contemplating throwing in the towel? (why farm a piece of land if there’s no profit..?)

        Grain prices also “soared” during that time, not because anyone turned grain into ethanol, but because the price of oil made it more expensive to grow and transport.

    • Do a calculation, and you will change your mind. I did (and I started with Biodiesel in 1999). Look up how much ground is needed to produce Ethanol (including, of course, the ground needed to produce the Ethanol needed to produce the Ethanol, i.e. fertilizer production, harvesting,transport, fermentation, destillation, etc.). 4 litres of Ethanol are needed for one litre that reaches the tank.

      This is the ultimate goal: Replace 4 billion tons of mineral oil, and five billion tons of coal. Each year.

      Enjoy.

  42. I hate to be the fly in the soup or the “prophet” but the future (closer than you think) is not the electric car or the PHEVs… it is solar and bio fuel unless you like to workout like the Flintstones. 🙂

  43. it´s not fear that we feal, it´s frustration!
    never will be an electrical vehicle in two years be the match-winner in the market, never!
    perhaps it will be in 20 years – i then will be 75 years old and it´s not really interesting for me…

  44. What strikes me as funny is all the comments on how good the EVs will be in the future. I mean, today there are no EV that are of any interested to me and I was looking at around 50 different vehicles yesterday and non was of any interest for my kind of driving.
    And since batteries are about to be so much better in the future, why shouldn’t diesel and petrol engines also be improved?
    Zero emission engines are possible today and I can’t imagine that oil and engine company’s just will roll over and die because there are EV available.
    So I don’t think that EV are the future, the future belongs to diesel hybrids.

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