It’s now almost a week since the sale of Saab to NEVS was announced. The dust has settled a bit since then but still many negative comments show up in the media. One example that
almost made me angry is an interview that Lars Holmqvist did with just-auto.com. Even before the announcement he has not been very positive about a possible sale to NEVS but for my taste he goes too far in this:
“This is a bad development as in my opinion it ends up being within a year, a list of crises, a major crisis and there will be a call for support and jobs that have to be saved”
I have no idea if it is some habit of officials in Sweden to talk things dead before they even started but it almost feels like. Remember Mr Holmqvist when in office had a very disputable role when Saab’s creditors all of a sudden ganged up. He continues:
“There are two hurdles before them still. One, the question of using the brand Saab, that is not yet agreed upon. The other is they need to get a decent partner because there is no chance, no chance whatsoever these guys will be able to build an electric car. They have no idea how to build cars.”
The latter statement is quite bold. Mr Holmqvist may know something about spares, but he has never ever built a car in his life. So what got into him to state something this silly? What is his hidden agenda and why all of a sudden was he promoted to be the best possible spokesman? His reputation and actions most certainly do not warrant that. I’d not dare to say that Karl-Erling Trogen has no experience in the production of vehicles. He has been active within the Volvo group on various positions from 1971 until 2005. As for Kai Johan Jiang, he may not come from the automotive industry but given his track record he has some experience in doing large scale business in different cultural environments. He would not be that naive to get into the purchase of Saab without having a solid plan. That plan even went through the due dilligence at the receivers so the business plan cannot be as stupid as some people, who do not even know half of it, think.
As for the knowledge of how to build cars, the main effort will have to come from those engineers NEVS/Saab is recruiting just now. The key to be successful is to hire the needed technical creativity and some people in the management who can channel it. Trollhättan with engineering companies like Lean Nova can be a very fertile soil for the plans that NEVS has.
Regarding the decent partner Mr. Holqvist asks for – obviously he is not the only one who thought about that. Indications of the last few weeks tell me that NEVS know that, too and therefore surely made such a partnership part of the overall plan. Mr Holmqvist seems to be very well equipped to keep shouting from the sideline, but we sure as heck have never seen anything remotely business-plan like coming from him. It feels more like hot air than something well founded.
It’s a huge difference if you think that such a plan would not give you a car you want or if it does not work in business scale. While I still think there is a missing link in this I would not come up with such a general statement without having proper knowledge. And rest assured, Mr. Holmqvist has not more insight in this process than we have. But being negative has always been the easy way to get into the news, as you don’t need much imagination.
And then finally Mr. Holmqvist completely leaves the path of logic when talking about Kai Johan Jiang:
“He seems to me like he was out there to save the world and I am always sceptical about people [like] that in the automotive industry.”
Honestly, I don’t know what to say on this statement. Kai Johan Jiang stated that he saw how the industry in China destroyed nature and he started to think how things could be done differently. In the end this was just a starter to get onto a business idea that became State Poweer Group. He has been a pioneer in biofuel production and he wants to be a pioneer in e-mobility, too. Not only because he wants to save the planet but also because if you are a pioneer the chance to earn a proper amount of money is pretty high. So he is mainly a businessman but I don’t see some responsibility as a mistake here.
Sure companies like Tesla who are working on electrical cars for over ten years are mostly considered pioneers in this field, but NEVS has the benefit that more technology than ever is available today through partnerships. So they could be among the first to really have a proper lineup of EVs, not just one like some others. Their main task will be to get affordable, reliable and safe e-Saabs on the street.
I hate to say but we have to have some patience again until we see the big picture. Give the NEVS business concept a thought. The visionary aspect in this is something very Saabish: the desire to create something new, something revolutionary. I believe we only just saw the tip of the iceberg. But once it is there it may exceed our expectations.