NEVS contacts select Saab dealerships

In recent days NEVS has begun to contact select Saab dealerships across Europe. The letter itself contains nothing that we have not already reported. It says NEVS investigate the possibility of restarting the production of the select versions of the 2012 9-3 while the launch the first electric vehicle is planned for early 2014. In a later stage the phoenix platform shall replace the 9-3 architecture.

The interesting thing about the letter is not the content, it’s the mere fact that NEVS did the step of reaching out to select dealers, asking those who are interested in further dialogue to check and if needed update their contact details. It’s a small step into the right direction, giving those an answer who asked how NEVS would want to sell their cars. It will be interesting to see how the dealers react, but I was told the first responses were very positive.

Things are definetely moving. Slowly but steadily and most of all in the right direction.

38 thoughts on “NEVS contacts select Saab dealerships”

  1. I wonder if they will contact dealers in the US, My customers all ask if new Saabs will be available. Even as an electric cars my customers are showing interest. Once you drive a Saab, you will buy a Saab.

  2. They probably don’t have a clear enough idea of if/when Saabs will be back in the U.S. and maybe they don’t want to sound false alarms. But it would be amazing if they did contact some U.S. dealers just to say—-“hang in there if you could, with used cars and service—-we might be back in a few.” Not sure how to say that in Mandarin. But the fact that they are contact dealers in Europe—-I find that to be great news, very encouraging.

    • For some reason, I really don’t have much faith in the idea of them picking up the phone and contacting anybody in the US, at least within this decade. I mean I can understand contacting a few dealerships in Europe, to keep up the appearance that “we’re not just in this for the Chinese”, but realistically I don’t think any of those letters will ever reach the North American region. They’re probably planning to “sell” something in Europe, since that will count as the “West” and technically make it a “global” company, in addition to the fact that’s where Saab was started with Trollhattan being located there. But they don’t really have a need for the Americas from the way it looks since they’ll have the “West” covered with Europe…

      • They’ll sell wherever the business case makes sense. At this point and by all indications of their Chinese sourced batteries and engines, and given the tax credit situation in the US and Canada, they could easily make a case of exporting to North America, even with currency issues. Given the fact that North America already has more public charge stations and has a rising growth curve faster than any other region (over 15,000 now in the US with a higher concentration of Level 2 and DC Fast Chargers than the 16,000 mostly Level 1/2 in China), it makes a lot of sense for NEVS to focus on selling Saabs in North America to maximize production capacity and lower overall costs.

        Despite what I’ve heard here and elsewhere, it’s easy to profit off, if not depend on, sales of cars in North America for foreign automakers. Just ask Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche who told reporters at the Detroit auto show last month that the United States and China would be bright spots for his company in 2013 compared with Europe. “When I hear bad news from the Old World, luckily I can call Steve Cannon to hear our U.S. sales figures,” he said at the press conference for the new CLA-class.

        Demand for EVs has been projected to be highest in the US according to McKinsey and other EV consultants, even outpacing China despite their ambitions. For NEVS to ignore it is nearly impossible if they plan to hedge their production capacity. This year alone the US is projected to buy over 85,000 EVs (including PHEVs).

        • Jeff: I agree with you. And frankly, I think NEVS can go at this as a two pronged attack in the U.S./Canada. Yes, envinronmentally aware/concerned potential buyers need to be rallied. Many of these folks are predisposed to liking Saab—-and many others who might not have considered Saab would love the idea of a green car designed in Sweden. So it goes without saying that there is a large group of buyers who would be willing to buy if they could afford to. The second prong would be for people like me—-not really buying into the NEED for EVs, but could be sold on buying one for reasons different than the environmental concern. In other words, maybe NEVS/Saab doesn’t have to sell the car I need, but maybe the one I want. They could pitch it that way too—-“Buy it because it’s a great car. Helping the environment is a nice bonus though!” They could have fun with that theme. Sell the car to some of us based on the many virtues of a good EV that are NOT connected to the green movement. Quiet, no gas spilled on your shoes, reliable engine that doesn’t rely on “spark” and fuel delivery (and many other things that can go wrong), etc. NEVS needs to know that they can make money selling new Saabs in the U.S.—-gas engined and yes, their new generation of EVs. And for that matter, they could OWN the niche for a decent diesel wagon.

        • I don’t think Americans rely as much on public transportation as in Europe and considering the vehicle per capita in the US is very high, I would think the US would be a great market to be in for NEVS. The Prius has finally started advertising that they aren’t just for the green tree huggers but they are convenient (with the hatch), safe and easy on the wallet for gas. This of course is a hybrid instead of one or the other but still the point is the marketing of a fuel efficient sissy, ugly car (which Saab has the upper hand on the looks). I think Americans are finally coming around to the idea of hatchbacks/wagons or sedan hatchbacks (which make more sense than the shortened hatch versions of sedans like the Focus, Mazda3 and more).

          On the diesel wagon, they should partner with Mazda as I just read yesterday on their SkyActive diesel they have developed. Mazda I think is still struggling financially and have already started selling some of their SkyActive technology.

          • It would be great if Saab could sell thousands of cars in NA, but at the current sticker-prices on cars right now in the US at least there simply is no profit margin at all…

            Competition among automakers is too high and brands are more or less only working on grabbing a market-share and driving out competition out of the country. Volvo has certainly felt the blow of this as they’ve canceled sales of a number of models in the US.

            The worst problem isn’t the prices though, its the low USD value, import taxes, dealer margins that cause the big drop in profit margin with non-us based production.

            But lets see what happens with the North Atlantic trade agreement that will eliminate import and export taxes between us and eu… could help a lot! =)

            • Keep in mind that electric cars in the US get a $7500 federal credit, and states like California and Colorado among others give even more on top of that. Saab gets to charge more up front. It’s going to come down to how much it costs to build their own batteries. At this moment, it looks like only Tesla and Saab will have in house battery production. Let’s hope that allows for better margins.

  3. US dealers need to be brought in the loop also. I understand that the US may not be in the first stage of the business plan, but if they wait too long it is just going to make things more difficult for them in the future. The Saab “sister store” of where I work has Saab service hanging on by a thread. I’m just concerned that there will be no Saab service support if they wait too long…

      • Depends on what the US customers are willing to pay for the car? So far Saab has not earned a single cent from its sales in NA… ever!

        The sales in NA did produce volume for the factory, but it doesn’t matter if you sell 10’000 cars at zero profit, you still end up with zero money to develop the brand with. But there is hope now that NA and EU perhaps will cancel all tolls between the two continents.

        • It’s so much more complicated than the past sales strategy now for Saab, Tim. Depending on how NEVS sources parts and accounts for it, their margins and duties are going to change. Because of new regulations, taxes, and credits for automakers, the historical sales disadvantages in the US are changing. BMW, Mercedes, and Audi all produce profits on European produced models sold in the US.

          And that doesn’t even include this possible trade deal (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TAFTA). That should seriously lower prices for European manufacturers to do business in the US, not only through tax reform but also through standardization of safety regulations. Not sure Sweden benefits from this much, but the Germans certainly will.

        • Big boys have to find ways to compete—-or stay off the field. One way to compete, if you’re selling a product that is good and isn’t drastically overpriced—-is with effective advertising, the likes of which hasn’t been done in my lifetime in the U.S.—-or if it was, it ended in the very early 1970s. Everything since then has missed the mark so badly, as to doom the brand here. They never identified and targeted tens of thousands of people who would buy from them. Tim—-do you know if Volvo was ever profitable in the U.S.? I think they were, particuallry 1980s and 90s.

          • From what I’ve heard from people who really know the business, its impossible to make money in the US unless you actually build the car in NA…

            You know Angelo, its easy to say advertise, but advertisement costs a hell of a lot of money and each dollar you spend on advertising is directly taken from the profit margin of the car. If the profit margin is low from the start, then you have to choose, do you want to advertise or do you want to use the small amount of money you make on development etc?

            • Tim: I don’t think Porsche builds cars here—-not sure about Audi. I think a good many manufacturers were already making money here hand over fist and used a lot of the profits to set up factories here, to grow the business even further. That’s how it’s done in the big leagues. If NEVS has to CHOOSE between product development and advertising, they need to go out of business now. Honestly, the notion that they are so cash strapped—-they can’t advertise AND develop cars—-it that’s true, they are below a bit player and will fold faster than Muller’s Saab did. I have to believe they have enough backing to promote their cars and come up with new models and improve the existing ones. If this is another shoestring budget proposition, we need to be warned so we could write off Saab instead of believing in them.

              • Well Angelo, Porsche has a profit margin on their cars that any other manufacturer could only dream about, thats how you make money 😉

                SAAB never had that kind of product and I doubt NEVS will either…

                I can tell you that the SAAB 9-3 costs about 12000 USD to produce. Lets say a car is sold for 22’000 USD, 20% goes to the dealer, thats 4400 USD, production cost is 12000, whats left is 5600 USD which need to cover advertising, shipping, import taxes, and in the US also the free maintenance that you guys get, warranty issues… in the end there isn’t much left…

    • GM branded stores would be left out anyways as GM has made it that way. GM does not want Saab dealers to be attached to GM dealers and is why many GM branded stores dropped Saab when Saab came back under Spyker.

      • Eh, my dealer which also sells Buicks has stated to me multiple times that they will reach out to Saab the first chance there’s an indication they can. It’s not so much about GM dealers being excluded as it is they can’t share common floorspace. It’s a dealer franchise level decision, if they have the space and want an independent Saab back on their lots, they’ll go for it. I know there’s many in the Northeast in a similar position.

        • Eh, that’s exactly what I was saying. The dealers need a separate showroom to have Saab anywhere near their GM dealership. In the past a dealer would have one showroom with GM and Saab under one roof and this is no longer allowed with GM. We had a dealer out here that did not continue with Saab because they didn’t see the benefit of building another showroom which GM told them was their only option because they didn’t want Saab to be in the GM building. This is also the case with Fiat and Chrysler stores in Canada as Fiat is saying they want a separate showroom. A dealer always has the option to build a new showroom but it is awfully expensive and most will now.

          • Sorry, the way you phrased it sounded like GM said it didn’t want its dealers to or branded stores to have Saab anymore. Which they didn’t, just sharing showroom space. My bad. Most dealers I’ve talked to on the east coast have multiple separate showrooms, including separate buildings for used models that could easily be converted. It’d be interesting to do a study of the dealers around North America to see which are interested in getting Saab back, perhaps we should reach out to them directly or to Tim C.

            • I think we would find most dealers wanting to be a part of the future if they have a pre-existing location that could house it. GM is one dealer that will not let you share a showroom with another brand. Some Saab dealers did sign up with the likes of Kia and Suzuki when Saab was gone and I don’t know of Kia but I do believe Suzuki allows for a split showroom. Some dealers may have the same issue of some suppliers in being worried about going back to Saab but I think that is silly thinking because it is a completely new company and what happened under Spyker was under Spyker, not NEVS. I also think that going forward, NA as a whole will be a good fit for the new Saab as EV’s are being pushed hard in the US and Canada. We have a coffee chain up here that is doing a test project of offering charging points in front of their restaurants and being that this chain “Tim Hortons” is on just about every other block, this could greatly help with number of charge points and there are apps already on smartphones that show you charging stations in your area. EV’s and petrol engines with the possibility of hybrids sounds like the perfect mix for all of us. As a dealer manager, to me this would be a nice product range, something for just about everyone. You don’t like EV’s? Well, we will have a petrol engine. Still want to feel like you are helping the environment without giving up completely on petrol? Maybe a hybrid will work. I think NEVS may just go in a direction that offers solutions for every mindset out there with the exception of maybe the NA pickup fans which most of our existing customer base is not anyways.

  4. think there is a business case to be made in Australia, lots of northern European expatiates missing their Saabs, unemployment 5.4%, decent wages, vast distances and car loving, people moving on from their Hyundai/KIA etc to mainstream European brands, VW making a killing with their GTI, just need to do it right as the previous Saab Australia just kept shafting loyal customers via outrageous parts pricing and allowing dealers to charge $300 for an oil and filter change….

  5. Interesting news today in New York City regarding “electric Cars”. The City Mayor announced that New York City would install curbside vehicle chargers that would let drivers recharge in 30 minutes and that his administration would work with the City Council to change the city’s building code so that up to 20 percent of new public parking spaces are wired for electric cars, with the goal of creating 10,000 spaces for electric cars over the next seven years. It appears that an electric SAAB would do well in New York City.

  6. So, if NEVS does decide to restart production of the 9-3 and offer it in Europe, would that mean they would produce both right and left hand interiors? You would need both in Europe, correct? And if so, then the left hand models could potentially come to North America at some point.

  7. NEVS have stated that the profitability margin is to produce 130,000 to 150,000 cars per year. If that is in fact the case than it would most certainly include sales in the United States. In order to make a profit this day in age they will need to produce cars cheaply and many of them in order to maintain solvency. I would guess that we will see Saab’s again in the U.S. by Spring 2014. And yes there are plenty of business’s that will want Saab’s especially up here in the Northeast!!

    • I can’t imagine Spring 2014 for NEVS Saabs in the U.S. That would be a dream scenario—-fantastic. But more likely, if they ever return to the U.S., I would think Fall of 2015 (2-16 model) is the best possible case—-perhaps mid 2016 as a 2017 is also possible. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get the cars approved for sale—-and then there’s the dealer situation. But if they would just decide their intentions and announce them—-dealers would at least have a reason to have some hope and motivation to keep going.

  8. You know it is unfortuate to hear all the GM dealer trash talking, as a general reaction to anything GM, when in fact some of the best and most loyal Saab dealers where in fact, also GM dealers. Today in certain US cities these dealers are still holding together the Saab community as it still exists. These dealers have been approved by Saab Parts North America and continue to keep Saabs on the road. They are not the enemy. The stand- alones are almost all gone. I agree with Angelo, Saab will return to North America and they will build cars in China for that market. Like it or not, it is the most likely outcome. Some of these dealers sell every possible car make in the world, and GM has not moved against them for doing so. If money is to be made, it will happen.

    • I doubt the US will get Chinese assembled Saabs, even though there will be many Chinese made parts in them. But I do agree with you that some of the best Saab dealers were owned by GM franchises. I have no doubt that when Saab returns to North America, many of the dealers will have some GMs on the lot.

      • Jeff: And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Made In China cars coming to the U.S. Now, it is possible that they won’t be from NEVS—-at least not the first wave. That’s because NEVS doesn’t already have a presence here, and they are owned by a Chinese company. But I could easily see an established company contracting for assembly in China, then exporting to the U.S., as that would be an effective way to be cost competitive. I think once the ice is broken, NEVS could follow. It’s a pity—-because I think it would be good for America to get the type of desirable, affordable car that Saab could build in China. It would be good for consumers—-and if that car were to be an EV—-it would be good in other ways too.

  9. Regarding to the question , what does “selected” mean to NEVS?

    Have you already asked your Saab dealer if he has been approached by NEVS? I have, and I know that my Saab dealer has got a letter from NEVS, and that he has a positive attitude towards this new development from NEVS.

  10. My understanding: The “Saab dealers” have a contract with Saab Parts and not with NEVS.”If” Nevs will roll out 93s again and sell them to selected Saab dealers what about after sales (parts, support, software updates, warranty and Saab training? This business is (in some areas) driven by Saab Parts.
    Is NEVS ready to launch production with a GM free 93 (they do need a partnership with a powertrain supllier as a major milestone, do homologation stuff for the selected countries/ sales areas) and do they can handle after sales? That could become a nightmare without Saab parts and other partners.
    Just my 2 cent.

    • I agree with you that NEVS will need the network that Saab Parts have set up, but Saab Parts is still a very small business, handling a very big task, with a very limited budget…

      But dont underestimate NEVS capabilities, they are gearing up with some VERY bright guys and have at this moment close to 200 employees already who really know their stuff. I’m pretty sure they will work things out, remember that the re-start will be a process taking place in several phases and each phase has certain key-tasks which need to be achieved. They’ll work them out one at a time =)

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