While most SU readers know that Mattias Bergman spoke to the SaabsUnited Oktoberfest audience last month and that Tim graciously posted the video from his presentation, I’m under the impression most people never bothered to watch it. In some of the comments over the last few days, I’ve heard a lot of people trying to say that somehow SU never really dug deep into asking Mattias about NEVS’s plans. I’m guessing they didn’t watch the entire video.
I understand why you don’t want to watch the whole damn thing, it’s a freaking hour long. But don’t blame Tim for not getting you information, it’s all there. If you want, blame me or the other writers for not editing down the main points of the article into easy to digest pieces for you to understand, but don’t blame Tim. Part of the hullabaloo of the NEVS naysayers the past few days was that NEVS isn’t interested in continuing Saab’s legacy. For me, that legacy is exactly what Jan Ake and Victor said, “progressive Scandinavian design, sporty driving and responsible performance.” They’ve either ignored Mattias’s earlier comments here or at Oktoberfest or somehow to my own understanding twisted what he has in fact said to mean that Saab is no longer interested in those characteristics.
In an effort to get to the most salient exchange from the Q&A period from the presentation to put everyone’s fears at ease, I pulled out the following clip from the video. The question comes from one of our most astute commenters from North Toronto. Just before he asked it, Mattias explained that the primary focus of NEVS initial sales will be to Chinese government bodies, not initially directly to consumers through a dealership network. He even goes as far as stating very clearly: sales have already begun to government agencies in China. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about that soon, since that was over a month ago. Just as you or I might assume, why would the Chinese want a premium car from NEVS, after all, in the west we’re used to government agencies often wanting the opposite. Not so in China, don’t forget that they’re a semi capitalistic society where the government still retains most of the control. What are these customers looking for? According to Mattias:
“A premium product has to have performance, it has to have high quality, for an EV it has be, have safety and take you the distance that it is promising. But it also has to do with brand…even government consumers in China are newly rich. The brand is extremely important to show what are you driving. Many of the local suppliers making EVs, they don’t have a good product, they don’t have enough safety, and further they don’t have a brand that elevates the drivers or owners of the car [in a way that a Saab does].”
If you want something to do with the rest of your weekend, you have some free time on your hands, and you haven’t already committed an hour of your life to it, I suggest you watch the presentation from Mattias after the break. The whole thing is good, but the Q&A at 29:00 on is where the meaty answers start.