Is the Saab fan NEVS worst enemy?

Today I’ve joined a Volvo-Saab event in Hamburg. It was nice to see both brands on a nice location, as the whole thing has taken place in a petrol station of the ’50s.


My car was by far the newest of all cars that I’ve seen there, but this is not what made me angry, or should I say sad?

Many times I’ve read on the net, that people like more this or that Saab model, or that some people think that only certain Saab models are true Saab cars. But this is on the net. In real life people was always more or less open to anything Saab, best example for that are the different international meetings I’ve joined in the last years. In those meetings you could see two-strokers side by side to a 9-5 II and nobody said anything wrong about the other.

But the sentence I’ve heard today, from somebody that is rather active in the german Saab world made me sad, and I don’t understand why he said that. For him the real Saab is dead, the true Saab spirit is only alive in the Saab young-timers that you can see on the streets, and if NEVS produce any cars it would only be some Chinese crap.

Maybe he is misinformed, or maybe I misunderstood him, but this is the first time a sentence of a Saab fan has forced me to write a post about it, so something was in that sentence.

NEVS still has to show us their version of Saab, shouldn’t we all wait till NEVS shows the world their vision of a Saab car and then judge them?

I really don’t understand those guys that glorify a certain Saab model and criticise anything different. Sorry, but this is my way of thinking about it. It makes me feel good every time I see something with a Saab badge on it, and because the cars with a Saab badge can be so different, I always search for the special feature of that model and not the flaws.

53 thoughts on “Is the Saab fan NEVS worst enemy?”

  1. Well said…we should at least give NEVS and the good people of Trollhattan the chance to show us what they can do. I find it hard to believe that anything with a SAAB badge can ever be dull and ordinary. Just look at how the bean-counters at GM were stunned and outwitted when what they thought was their obedient Scandinavian outpost insisted on much, much higher quality than the miserable mediocrity they had decreed.

  2. As in so many aspects of life there are people with conservative and liberal opinion. Saab fan community is not an exception. Some fans will wait what NEVS shows, some not. Imho the most important is, that the opposite sides don’t hate each other but can communicate. If someone can’t, let them be.Luckily, we all have freedom in this choice and nobody dictates you anything, just expresses opinions. It’s normal.

  3. Red J: I have found this attitude is almost universal in the ” Car Club” world. Unfortunately this tends to be true when people age. I would guess this guy is on the far side of 30. Here is the funny thing, 30 years from now, if these guys are still alive, they will love your car. In order words, don’t worry to much, car snobs are

  4. I was in attendance at the North American roll out of the 9-5. It was at the Saab Owners Convention in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. There were a great many of the original SAAB 2 stroke aficionados in attendance. At that time SAAB was owned 50% by GM. Well I never heard bad mouthing of GM as much as I heard that weekend. We all have our own opinions of what SAAB is and was. NEVS is just another chapter and we should not let one persons opinion change what our thoughts are. The best of luck to NEVS with the new SAAB cars!!!

  5. This might surprise many regulars here who have seen my rants against what we’ve seen so far during the NEVS era: My frustration began with the name—-the “Electric” part of the name and the original reports that this new owner of Saab would only produce electric cars. My criticism continued (and continues) because the new owner is silent about their plans to the point of being destructive to any effort of bringing the brand back strongly (in my opinion). But here’s what might be surprising to some of you: Ultimately, I believe NEVS is going to build really good Saabs. I think NEVS is going to make the Saab community proud of the product again. I think NEVS might have strong ideas—-but that they are also going to be flexible and responsive to the market, something that GM wasn’t and Muller never had the chance to be—-because of other problems/failures with his stewardship of Saab. I think NEVS is moving more slowly than I want—slower than most of us would like to see maybe—-but that like building a house brick by brick—carefully—-instead of just throwing things together quickly—the foundation will be much, much stronger than what we saw in 2010-2011. I believe NEVS is going to be strong enough financially to weather storms—-something the last regime most definitely couldn’t achieve. And in an ironic twist—-I believe this Chinese/Japanese/Swedish “hybrid” (no pun intended) is going to actually have a sensitivity to what will work for Saab in different parts of the world—-and a willingness perhaps, to do some things differently to get more people in Saabs. Undoubtedly, some Saab purists are going to complain about “that lousy looking new front end, it’s just not Saab” or the wrong color lighting in an interior component—-wheels that aren’t styled to their liking—everything from the spare tire being in the wrong place to radio controls that “just don’t feel right.” Some people complain about little details non-stop—and some have an axe to grind against Chinese expansion. For these people, NEVS just can’t deliver, no matter what they deliver! It’ll never be enough. But if we have an open mind, I do think the products are going to be good. Safety. Reliability. Value. Performance. Maybe it should be in that order, too. I’m upset with NEVS for various reasons—-in how they are implementing this effort. But I sincerely hope they get around to offering Saabs in the U.S. and Canada. And as far as their products go, I’m going into the NEVS era with a very open mind. I think they can do some things right with Saab that the last couple owners have gotten very wrong…and as Saab enthusiasts, I feel we owe it to NEVS to not only hope for the best, but expect it.

  6. Nothing is written in stone, not even that guy’s opinion. If Nevs produce a worthwhile car he is free to turn around. Nevs’ main market will be in China and in a sense Saab fans are free to feel disappointed that a Chinese company took over the brand and are able to do what they want with it. I’m at a point where I don’t expect to see an interesting model from Saab enter my home market… Ever again. If I’m wrong, great… but I’m not getting caught up in any anticipation either. Let Nevs win me over if they’re up for it. It’s going to be a long uphill climb for sure.

  7. Well, I’m going to reply on behalf of my grandfather:

    Some of those guys might have been around back in 1947 when Saab started. They remember a small firm building cars, but from an entirely different thinking – a thinking based on their experience building aircraft – something to do after the war. Perhaps they were just little boys, teenagers or even adults, but *that* is why they admired Saab and the funny little cars they made. Their imaginations had been captured.

    As the years went on and some compromises were made to those funny little cars, of course some of those little boys, teenagers and adults were lost with them. For example, some hated adopting to a standard engine arrangement. But many of the old fans remained as Saab still had a unique way about going about things, like safety and the introduction of turbo chargers. The connection to the aircraft remained.

    When the 9000 came along, some of the old guard couldn’t understand it and asked: What has become of our funny little car? At least it was still designed and built in Sweden – even had a strange hatchback when sedan was the norm – and, anyway, the 900 was still almost a real Saab. Old fans left; new ones arrived – and the convertible was a hit, wasn’t it?

    Then GM came along, they took their beloved old 900 and turned it into something else: they GM’ised it. By the end of it all, you had a Saab which is based on a floorpan of a different car, has engines, a plethora of parts from GM and, worst of all to some, even looks ‘normal.’ Everything designed to a compromise – nothing different. Just the same as any other car. A pathetic ‘night panel’ a lacklustre nod to the past. And now some guys from China are going to call the shots.

    Everything that the Saab was is gone. Everything that Saab was founded on had been lost. Of course, the march of time is responsible for some of this – but not all. One must ask himself, what does the company that builds ‘Saabs’ today have in common with an aircraft manufacturer back in 1947. Ask those young boys, teenagers and adults from way back when, and don’t be surprised by their answer.

    A name. But little else, sadly.

    Cheers to/for/from my grandfather.

    • Your Grandfather’s evaluation is right on in many ways. The original mission—-unique cars with surprising function—-at a value price—-was hijacked BEFORE GM stepped in though. They abandoned the lower end of the market to try to be a luxury marque before GM even owned them. And actually, I think the GM era 9-5 was a very nice looking car, especially the sedan—-even if it wasn’t as unique as the past. But I think the key phrase in your post is about time marching on. Time has marched on for all of us. The spirit of the gang of 1947 didn’t carry Saab beyond 50 years—-there’s a reason GM was able to get in the door—-and that’s because the company wasn’t making it. Time marched on and some bad decisions were made at Saab—-and they faced debt they couldn’t overcome. Maybe Saab compromised too much—-and then maybe they didn’t compromise enough. The fact that there’s so much working capital in China now, and good battery technology in Japan—-that shouldn’t turn us against Saab, against NEVS. They still have Swedish guidance on the engineering. They still have a state of the art factory and can bring back expert labor to screw these cars together. The 9-3 is a good model to start with as modern ones are developed. I’m worried about their overall business plan and their ability to market their products—-but time will tell on that. For now, let’s see if the strengths of the alliance can overcome the differences. If NEVS can usher in a cohesive, cooperative corporate culture with the various parties involved, I think we’re going to see unique cars again and with any luck, some really good ones. I hope I have the chance to test drive and buy one in America some day soon.

      • I recently got a 9-5, I like it a lot.

        I just don’t understand the point of the original post. Of course there are going to be people like my grandfather who remember the ‘golden days’. As sure as the sun will rise, there will be such people. But it’s got nothing to do with NEVS or Saab’s future….unless NEVS is relying on these people to buy their cars. Which I hope they aren’t.

        With Tim saying not so long ago that the only ‘real’ fans of Saab are those who bought new Saabs in the last few years, and now this – which says those living in the golden days era are essentially wrong – I’m struggling with this site. I guess I’m supposed to keep saying ‘Go NEVS! etc. etc.’

  8. NEVS has already stated tbat in order for the to be a profitable car company they will need to sell 130000 to 150000 cars per year. I dont see how they could achieve that number without offering sales globaly including the united states. Time will tell, and even though I am eager to see the new Saab I will reserve judgement until we see the final product.

  9. “NEVS Saabs not being true Saabs” is just a sad continuation of the “GM Saabs are not true Saabs” nonsense. People, the name of the site is SaabsUnited and if you cannot accept that, then I am not sure if Saab is the brand for you. I have yet to meet a Saab that I have not liked. Some people are just plain grumpy.

      • Aero: Have you been in either of those vehicles? I’ve been in both of them. They are Saabs. Platform sharing is a reality of the automotive times in which live. In the future, it wouldn’t surprise me if NEVS must partner with another manufacturer to make a go of this venture. The 9-2 was a good car—in fact, rated higher than any other Saab of its era for reliability (Consumer Reports). It was a trouble-free little car that was quick, handled well, went in snow, was safe for its size, etc. A Saab. The 9-7 was the best of the GM sport utes built off that platform. Saab engineers made it feel tighter/more responsive than the others and Saab designers made it look better too. I would be happy to own either one of those Saabs.

  10. I’ve had Saabs for 30 years and read all of the issues of NINES, the US newsletter, since the early 70s. When the 96 V4 replaced the strokers, die-hards hollered “not a REAL Saab!”, and the same happened when the 99 came along, the C900 (now referred to as classic btw!), the 9000, etc. We seem to want to cling on the heritage and unusual features of a Saab, but we have to let the brand progress and improve, so I for one am not going to have a fit over “who owns Saab”, but I may draw the line if it comes to be made in an Asian country… then again, who knows. We have to adapt to change and relish the fact that Saab still has some life in it, hopefully for a long time to come!

  11. I think we should keep an open mind about future NEVS Saabs; let’s just wait and see…
    But I do understand the critical attitude of long-time Saab owners; they’ve seen the slow but steady decline under GM:
    Opel switchgear, mediocre GM stereos, Opel-based engines, declining quality, lower grade interior materials etc.
    Coming from a 9000 Aero one might be truly dissappointed with a GM 9-3, for example.
    What we hope to see again soon is the return of the true Saab Spirit; high quality materials, superb aviation inspired ergonomics, intelligent engineering etc.
    So lets all just wait and see if NEVS is able to provide all that….

    • But think about it—-a 9000 Aero, in modern dollars/euros, would be far, far more expensive than a GM 9-3. That is really an unfair comparison. It’s not comparing apples to apples. A closer comparison would be the 9-5. Was the 9000 better in many ways? Probably so, but not as dramatic as 9000 vs. 9-3. And if you are a hatchback fan—-GM screwed up there. But I still believe GM had some good Saab products available. As for that really high quality, superb materials, etc.—-they can offer the best of the best. If they don’t have a starter car to bring people to the brand though, it’s not going to matter. They won’t sell enough of what you describe, at the price they would need to charge—-to stay in business. You mention the 9000. When they ditched lower priced 900 models and had nothing smaller, less expensive available—-it was THAT point in time, even with the great 9000, that they started bleeding. GM purchased a company with a very unhealthy balance sheet. If NEVS returns to that way of thinking, the same thing will happen again, only faster.

      • But think about it—-a 9000 Aero, in modern dollars/euros, would be far, far more expensive than a GM 9-3.

        Yes — in 1997 the 9000 Aero retailed for about $41,500 US. The equivalent today would be over $60,000.

        • And there just aren’t enough people who can afford 60K on a new car who are willing to buy a Saab with that money. I guess anything can be debated—-but I see no evidence at all that there is enough demand around the world for a 60K Saab to make that the bread and butter of the company. Meanwhile, I see plenty of evidence that a Saab that offered pricey high end cars and nothing at the entry level—-couldn’t compete. Hopefully, NEVS is looking backward as they look forward. You can learn a lot of valuable lessons from history. NEVS has the advantage of looking at other peoples mistakes and subsequent failures to shape their own amibtions with Saab. NEVS can also look at successful business models from a few potential competitors and gain an understanding of what CAN work. Repeating the mistakes others made with Saab will not change the outcome for NEVS—-and that goes for doing business in China and/or focusing on electric cars. Where you do business and the means of propulsion mean a lot to us—-but some basic business and marketing principles remain the same, regardless of what NEVS introduces, and where.

  12. It will be interesting to see what group of traditional SAAB buyers NEVS will target with its initial ICE offering. Will it be the affordable car many feel is essential or a return to the higher quality others desire? It will be quite an accomplishment if NEVS can satisfy both with the one basic model they will be offering, especially at the relatively low volume they will be producing.

    • Ultimately, they can’t do it with one, or even two model lines. I think starting with the 9-3 gives them some flexibility to have a lower priced trim level and a performance model that costs a lot more—-with creature comforts and even styling that the lower model might not have. That can carry them for a little while. Eventually though, I think the way Saab can come all the way back is probably if they manufacture cars in China AND Sweden—-possibly even partnering with others to make this a broader line of cars. We will be giving up some pure Saab DNA in exchange for keeping the company in business. I think that’s a fair trade. The days of “keep it pure, must be the best of the best, price doesn’t matter” are over. That failed.

      • @ Angelo V… Absolutely right, I don’t mind admitting that whilst I love SAAB and would love to have several different ones or perhaps a newer one as-well the reality is I CAN’T… Not everyone who loves this marque is made of money.
        So if cars are priced out of “Mr Average’s” budget then they won’t sell, that said they still need to have a reasonable level of trim and comfort to set them apart.

  13. Well said… Unfortunately, the world is full of opinionated people and most of them don’t have a clue what they are talking about. The “Newer Saabs are not true Saabs” is a nonsense.

  14. I totally agree it is not fair to pass judgment on NEVS without first seeing and studying what they have to offer. However, personally, it takes a whole lot more than simply putting a “SAAB” badge on “something” to win me over. I am much more demanding than that. Even though BAIC’s Senova D series is derived from a SAAB 9-5 platform and engine technology, I would not simply jump on the bandwagon because of this.

    If we all, as lovers and enthusiasts of SAAB, do not expect and demand more from NEVS—we are simply doing a disservice to NEVS and all the fans of SAAB.

    As to why some glorify a certain era of SAABs and are critical of another, as opposed to those who love everything SAAB—-I think that just comes down to a personal preference. I own both classic and new, but I prefer the classics. I was never a fan of GM, yet SAAB could not have made it financially without help—not to mention the positive technological good that was a result of their collaboration.

    When it comes to business, the informed know, there are both pros and cons with any given situation.

    • Allan,
      a BAIC Senova D or whatever they called it, is not and never will be a Saab. Nobody here considers a Buick LaCrosse a Saab, although it may have more in common with the 9-5 II than the BAIC with the 9-5 I.

      • Red J:

        Excellent point.

        The title of your article and the article itself is good. If used correctly, I would hope the SAAB fans are one of NEVS greatest assets.

  15. I, for one, would never buy a Chinese car ina billion years. They are ok at putting together iPhones but actually designing something and building it are two totally dfferent things.

    • great wall motors entered the aussie market a few years ago with single and dual cab ute’s. by doing this they avoided the aussie crash test regime as commercial vehicles are excluded. later on they were found to have asbestos in certain components and there is talk of a class action from mechanics, a panel beater i spoke with said that when they are in a minor crash just about every panel appears to move and realignment is near on impossible. i have seen a few that had rolled in accidents and they provide a very soft safety cell. i guess i’d rather drive a 1999 saab 9-5 than a new chinese car.

      • The cars that will come off the assembly line late this year or perhaps early next year, won’t be “Chinese” cars. I’m not accusing you of this—-but I think some people are so anti-China, they are going to grasp at anything to see that this fails. I’m really disturbed by that. This next car is going to be a 9-3—-a car developed long before China had anything to do with Saab. The refinements/modifications of the car are a collaborative effort and there are still Swedes involved in the engineering and I’m sure the styling too. I’m giving NEVS the benefit of the doubt on the car itself—until they give me reason to be critical. The fact that the money to launch this is out of China doesn’t bother me at all, when it comes to what the product might be like.

  16. If Nevs let Saabs strategic -technical development be run / managed by the engineers in Trollhättan, with a secure chinese cash flow for the next 8-10 years, there might be à possibility that Saab might stop being àn neglected Scania / GM business unit..,, and finally have the chance in to design cars ‘the saab-way’. Saab might be more Saab now than any saab has been over the last 30 years.

    If half the production or batterypack manufacturing is based in china, it won’t change Saab to the worse, it might free up resources to make more intelligent cars, with better materials, with an attractive price. Everyhing we the consumers, fans and drivers have wished for many years,

    • I tried to say this in a couple comments above—-but you just said if far better. This is an irony that is being lost on a lot of people—-this might end up giving us at least SOME new Saabs that are more like Saab than the ones we have been able to buy the last couple decades. Later, there might be some models that lack “pure Saabness” but I think those are going to be critical to the mission to restore profitability/positive cash flow to the company. Some “compromises” might have to exist in order to save Saab and continue production at the higher end, of cars many Saab enthusiasts love and are willing to pay a ransom for.

  17. The simple fact is that we love our cars. We really do.
    Some ‘other brands’ do not have the same sense of soul or expectation. But we do.
    As MB said very clearly in his few press releases, ‘we won’t be making announcements and promises before we do anything’, or something to that effect. Which means to the outsider that things seem to be silent and nothing is going on, as the wheels turn behind closed doors. If they made a major announcement right now, the Automotive world will not even blink. But they would be sceptical and possibly derisive. Expectations cannot be satisfied yet, and should not be promised. This is NOT what SAAB, or its fans need. Sure, some are getting edgy and want something to hang onto. Just something. But another 6 months will not make any difference to that side of the equation in all reality. The fans will still be fans regardless.
    Think of it this way. If the 9-3 that eventually appears is considered to be a ‘real Saaby Saab’ by the auto press, then you can hit the turbo big time. If it is deemed to be ‘rubbish’ and should never have been re-birthed, then that is IT!! certain death. There is no second chance with this re-launch. Seriously.
    I would rather wait and get the best possible car to market that ticks all the boxes, and be prepared to trust MB implicitly. Let them do their thing….and do it well…. and if it turns out that the car is as decent and ‘Saaby’ as possible…then fantastic. Job Done. If not….then start looking at a new badge people. Patience is what is needed now.

    • I agree with much of what you say—-but six months, or longer—-don’t assume that won’t erode support. And I don’t mean that we can’t wait six months for them to get things in order—-but if they aren’t saying a word and also aren’t producing cars, six months SEEMS like an eternity and people move on. People who might very well wait six months for a new Saab—–will buy something else if there’s stone silence and no messages that products are on the way. That’s the short term affect. The long term effect is that fans of the brand feel disconnected. Part of the allure of a smaller player is the connection to what is going on. Take that away—-and they might as well be a massive behemoth with no soul. I get what you’re saying, I really do—-and I agree—-six months or even another nine months to get this right makes more sense then rushing to market with garbage. But a little communication—-just a little bit of official PR—-would serve them well.

  18. I’ve just totted up – I’m on my 12th Saab in 32 yrs and have had 7 different models: 2×99, 2×900 classic, 2x900gm, 1×9000, 1x1st9-3, 3×9-5 and the current 9-3. I’ve loved every one. I too cannot understand the die-hards that bemoan Saab’s fate yet boldly state that model “x” was the last “real” Saab. Spyker/VM should open a law suite against all so-called Saab aficionados who said all modern Saabs are rubbish! 😉 VM wore his heart on his sleeve and shared too much, NEVS may be the opposite extreme, but along with AngeloV I think NEVS will do Saab proud. With most others here, I say “Good luck to NEVS – hope to see you in a showroom near me soon!”.

  19. I think many of the readers could have a bit overlooked the real underlying problem, this message carried.
    Because the problem’s not with the liberty of opinions, the problem lies with the fact that many Saab fans and most importantly, some of the good old club-functionaries and advocates have significantly lost interest or enthusiasm in Saab as a living brand.
    Red J, you’re not the only enthusiast facing with and having been saddened by this phenomenon. It’s been around for quite a few years now, most of which evolved in the wake of Saab losing the momentum by the second half of 2000’s.
    While this in a way could be a ‘normal’ human behaviour which is trying to back-out once the praised idol have lost potential, maybe as a reckless escape from facing a failure, a loss, one might misperceive as which would be a personal defeat.
    Myself have witnessed multiple times a Saab club founder or a long-time follower proclaim that there’s in no way a future for the brand, or voices denying the class and honour of the brand, or even worse, direct outrage towards Saab. So this is something absolutely not uncommon for the initiated eye, it’s also too easy to remember the flurry of hatred comments that shook these columns, during the recent years of obscurity around Saab.
    But also, it’s normal to have leavers and newcomers to any organization, just as the humans’ cells die but many stay and there are also a great number of them taking a new lease on life… 🙂

  20. Every one knows that the REAL Saab died with the end of the two-stroke. What is a four-stroke engine?
    Or was it when they came out with the 99. And certainly when they started “cheating” by using a turbo. No…, I think it was when they came out with the 900 without a two-stroke engine. No…., it was with the 9000 that did not have the key in the right place. No, wait, it was when that new 900 came out that was not even the same as the old 900. Etc. Etc. It is progress. And I hope to be able to buy a new Saab soon.

    • Back in the mid-1980s when the 9000 first came out a lot of C900 drivers (myself included) looked at the transverse engine, strut suspension, bolt-on front fenders, nearly flat windscreen (compared to the 900), key next to the steering wheel, etc., and wondered, “is this really a Saab?”

      At the time there was an independent Saab service shop in Lititz, PA here in the US called Parrformance run by one Rick Parr. These guys were true Saab fanatics and I used to take my 900 there to be serviced for work I didn’t do myself. To make a long story short, I voiced my doubts to Rick Parr who happened to have a new 9000; he said “let’s go for a ride.” There ensued a thrilling/terrifying high-speed ride through the Pennsylvania countryside’s winding roads. I’m certain we got airborne on at least a couple of occasions.

      When we got back to the shop, I shakily stepped out of the 9000 and said, “Yep, it’s a Saab!”

  21. It’s a common psychological reaction. These people are longing for their youth. When they were young, music was better, girls were prettier, candy was sweeter, etc, etc.

    It’s difficult to look beyond the social/cultural conditioning that you receive in your formative years. We all have some part of us that wants to be 18 again, with unlimited possibilities. We associate that feeling with the music of that era, the cars, fashion, even the video games.

  22. Well…The girls weren’t prettier. The candy wasn’t sweeter. But Bernard, seriously—-the music REALLY WAS better!!! I have worked with a lot of 20-somethings and even they hate a lot of today’s “sounds” that are being passed off as music. Some of the younger people I know listen to classic rock stations—-one of the biggest Beatles fans I know is in his 20s.

    • One of the big reasons for that is the fact that “classic rock” is only a tiny part of what was popular. We’ve selectively edited-out most of the crap that we (as a society) used to listen to.

      Nobody fondly remembers Donny and Marie, MOR radio, “me too” Disco, and all that dreadful stuff that was popular back in the day. I bet you that today’s music will seem pretty good when we look back at it in 2040. It won’t sound anything like what most are listening to now, but it will be pretty good.

      • But take Chic for example—-they were popular disco—-and I’d take them over most of what we’re hearing now. Yes, every era has clunkers that somehow get popular—-but I’d say we’re packed with that stuff today, the rule rather than the exception!

  23. In the mid 90’s, I was meant to buy a new 900. It looked like a Saab, but after testing it for a couple of days, I delivered it back to the dealer. It doesn’t matters what you say, there are some Saabs that don’t give you the “Saab feeling”.

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