Saab is alive again – it will become an electric car

Photo by Anders Deros

Translation of Peter Kadhammar’s article on Aftonbladet.se:

TROLLHÄTTAN. While Volvo is dismissing 4 400 empleyees, SAAB is employing more people. “It’s on complete different levels, but maybe Saab is a hopeful sign, a signal that Sweden is about to industrialise again. 

That’s what you want to think when you’re walking through the large automobile factory in Trollhättan, guided by Göran Fredriksson, PR manager and Stefan Lövberg., manager general assembly. They are enthusiastic. Both of them worked for the company for 30 years, decades of mostly tough times, and a long excerpt death that ended in bankruptcy. Saab is alive again. It’s becoming an electric car.

Lövberg stands in front of a picture that shows the plant’s capacity. This factory was one of the world’s most modern car company, and probably the smalleest one that had a constantly running production line. It has the capacity to make 42 cars in an hour. The speed of the line is adapted to 28 cars per hour. It is for practicing purpose. Production amounts are now reduced to three cars. Per day. If you listen you hear a buzzing sound from fans and air-conditioning systems, a swish as the silence grows in strength that says: You’re in a huge factory where machines should clatter, where hundreds, thousands, of people should rush around. But the machinery is at a standstill and people are elsewhere. The factory is running without really running. The production line rolls. An empty line without chassis, without car bodies, without engines. The bright floor is recently refinished and shines.
You can go wherever you want. Nevertheless, we must watch out. Suddenly, a truck shows up, coming from nowhere heading on it’s way to nowhere with a pallet. 

 

The factory is 80 000 square meters large. It measures 400 meters from wall to wall. We climb over an empty assemly line that rolls into emptiness and then over another line, and down to the left, way down there, I see a team that assembles a car. One of the fitters is Sara Bokefalk, 24 years old, born in Trollhättan, former summer worker at Saab in 2008 and 2010, then an employee at Ikea in Uddevalla, and now she’s back at Saab. “It’s really fun to build a car,” she said. – We’re hiring former Saab staff and young people to get a mix. Experience and innovation, says Fredriksson. 85 people are currently working in the factory. The time is 10:30, and they’re done for the day. Three cars was mad. A couple pre-built cars stands inside the factory, indoors, protected from the bad weather outside. They stand in here, protected, as a ceremony of love, silver grey and black, the two colors that the customer can choose. No one can touch the finished cars . I’m not allowed to touch them at all. It’s to show respect for the customers, says Fredriksson. He who decides to buy a brand new Saab, that person is assured that his car is as new as it possibly can be. You can only buy your Saab online. It is available in one version and will cost 279 000SEK, plus 10 000SEK for an automatic transmission. When asked how many clicks the buy button Fredriksson responds: We get some orders per week. Deliveries will begin in April. Buyers get the chance to visit the factory, get a tour, visit the Saab Museum, and then receive the keys to their new cars. Of course it is a sustaining activity. When the workmen made the three vehicles per day they go to an adjacent facility and continues to assemble, for practicing purpose. They are waiting to assembly the E-version, the battery powered vehicle with the range of 174 miles. 

 

Saab’s new owner, Kai Johan Jiang, a Chinese entrepreneur who studied in Sweden in the 1990s. In China he has power plant fuelled by biomass. He wants to go all in on green energy in the transporting sector. The Saab brand is owned by the company NEVS, which stands for National Electric Vehicle Sweden. NEVS is part of a network of the companies belonging to Jiang. Göran Fredriksson demonstrates with a picture in the Executive Board’s meeting room of the Consortium. Then he shows other pictures that involves that the world, and in particular China, need cleaner air. Besides, we’ll run out of oil in 2050. Electric cars are the future. “The pleasure of driving is back,” says one of the pictures. – We invest in Sweden and China, and then the rest of the world, step by step. The batteries are manufactured in Beijing. Fredriksson won’t answer how the batteries will be mounted in the 9-3. He won’t reveal what the cars will cost either. The electric Saab will start it’s marketing in China “later in spring”. Late in the fall, or possibly early next year, it will be available for sale in Sweden. All the world’s major car manufacturers and a bunch of new brands are experimenting with solutions for electric and hybrid cars. Why should Saab succeed? Fredriksson is vague, he suggests a competitive price and talks about a humble, long-term investment.

– 100 years ago pharmacies were selling pertol. All new technology must start out somewhere. 

In september 2012, 75 people were working at Saab. Now they are 571 employees, plus 130 consultants on a full-time basis.
“We have the will. We are fused together. We want to change and make history, says Fredriksson.

 

 I turn around and look out over the empty staff car park. Where the journalists used to breed during the recurring crises to interview workers who risked losing the job. Over the years it became increasingly difficult to get the workers to say something. At the end everyone seemed exhausted – the employees, Saab owners, the journalists, the public, the politicians. -If all households with two cars would replace it to one electric vehicle, just imagine what that would do to the environment! says Fredriksson.
I guess that’s what Saab is, a strange, lively optimism.


150 thoughts on “Saab is alive again – it will become an electric car”

    • Kai Johan Jiang stated clearly that Saab will produces ICE cars as long as there is a demand. The best way to keep it this way is to go out and buy one!

    • Gasoline cars will be built together with electric cars on the same production line, but electric cars is the main focus of the company and its primary product.

            • As its been explained many times, the profit margin is just too low compared to the cost of building the cars in Sweden and shipping them to the US. Plus the certification regulations vary from state to state so there is a huge amount of investment that needs to be made on a product that has a very limited lifespan…

              • Tim: It’s been explained many times before. But note that every company selling cars here has the same exact challenges as far as regulations go, and profit margin. Our domestic manufactures face the same state to state headaches. Profit margins? I know China has gained considerable ground economically but seriously, compare their median income to Americans. How are THEY going to be able to afford cars made in Sweden if we can’t? If the problem is enormous labor costs in Sweden, seems to me they can’t build that Chinese factory fast enough. Tim—-everyone from Porsche to Subaru is making money selling cars in America. You make it seem as though there’s no way to turn a profit here. Look at the billions being generated in car sales—-Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Volkswagen and then the smaller Porsche, Subaru…and many, many others. Tesla? Are they selling more cars in other markets than they are here? So what’s the REAL problem with NEVS being able to compete here? Because the reality is that if they are “too small, not well funded enough, etc.” then it will be a disaster for owners in Europe to get on this train again. Either they can be big and successful, or they can’t. An in-between? Maybe an in-between would be to get certified in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S. and begin by selling to people who were Saab’s biggest customers previously—-the snow belt. But even that is questionable as people hesitate to buy a car that can become an orphan if they move for their job—-or not find service if they take their car out west on vacation and have a breakdown.

                • Hey I’ve read Saabs annual reports since 2006, they all point to the same thing, the us business was a negative cash flow business and thats the same thing that people at NEVS are telling me now, which is why its not a priority.

                  Other brands might be making money since they have an established system in place, but rebuilding that system might be too expensive, what do I know?…

                  • Tesla had no system in place a couple years ago. And it wasn’t that long ago that Hyundai/Kia had no system in place either and a negative image, poor reputation. Funny how money and determination can make you go from worst to first if you’re good at what you do. And why can’t NEVS sell cars here again?

                    • I dont have all answers for you Anglo, I just know what they’ve told me… and the answer is “not yet”. Canada will most likely see Saabs before the US will since the certification is easier and the cars are a lot more similar to the EU version.

                • Angelo,, were beating up a dead horse buddy,, we already know whats up.

                  Nothing is going to change it,,, Nevs can’t get it done, not the way we hoped.
                  Sadly a major didn’t buy the Saab brand, Far as different regulations for every state EPA and such,, I am not sure Tim’s answer is correct.. California is certainly crazy,,, the rest of the States not so sure. Either way the excitement of having Saab reborn since 2012 is fastly approaching hey GOOD LUCK,, and Moving on.

                  The simple reality is, gas, modern up to date,,, slick, stunning hi efficient engine Saabs, is over. If you wait maybe 5 6 years you may get a Electric Saab here, Maybe, doubtful.

                  There was one shot and the course Nevs is taking isn’t what we wanted,,, We wanted great new cars with strong value, clever engineering and in the end a great comback.

                  We didn’t get a BMW, AUDI, VOLSWAGON, heck FIAT, Merger. No we get a Consortium, NEVS, an unknown car maker with limited resources.

                  Just the facts.

                  • Doug: I only wish they were an “unknown car maker.” They never built a car. They were/are what you said—a consortium cobbled together—with no history of building cars.

                • Take a look at the Swedish kronor exchange rate for the past 20 years. You will see that currently the dollar is almost it it’s historic low against the kronor for that period.

                  Now factor in the high cost of labor in Sweden. In 2011 the hourly cost of manufacturing in Sweden was $49. In the US and Japan it was $35, Germany $47, UK $30 Korea was $18 and Mexico it was $6.

                  All the other manufacturers you mention either make or plan to make cars in the US or Mexico.

                  The Germans can make cars in Germany and export at a profit, largely because they are high value luxury cars . Vw’s volume US product is built in the US or Mexico. They lose money on the German made imports.

                  At Saabs historical price point, the above is why they lost money in the US market….and why they won’t , based on current economic conditions, re enter it. It’s not a question of volume, if you are losing money on each unit you send over: there is no break even, based on that. Just wider losses.

                  • Great points,,, so the fact is companies adjust,, Cadillac is moving production to China… May get the cost down,,, however bad for American jobs… This globalization,,, Nafta Gatt is destroying economies,

                    Short term gains long term destruction… A word wide depression. The US dollar is in trouble,,, paper fiat printed out of thin air. Once the dollar crumbles,,, hold on.

                    • What will destroy economies as we know them today is the rising cost of energy. Every percent increase in the NGP of a country has a cost in natural resources, primarily oil, gas and coal. Countrys will reach a point where they cannot afford to grow anymore. Other than environmental reasons, this is a very good incentive to start thinking out of the box in order to learn how to live differently.

    • The emphasis is EV’s… Certainly competitive gas cars will never happen….America is out…The focus is China ,all or nothing, or go bust. under the dictation of one Kai Johan Jiang. The gas car is a secondary thought and not the primary focus… Backwards thinking… Cant have your cake and eat it to…The money isn’t available to produce and engineer competitive gas cars and reintroduce a brand that had one shot to comeback at least in America When your emphasis is EV.. … The brand went BK twice and many got burned..

      Sadly the Saab we hoped for at least in America is gone. Gas/ Hybrid, with a focus high efficient engines is and will be the future for long time at least in America, fact. That is exactly what new car makers are doing.. More horse power with higher efficiency. Pure EV technology as of now is a scam.in the long term. its not ready yet..

      • Well, Saab needs to come back to the US, because there are still plenty of customers here who love Saab. GM just never advertised Saab enough. If the owner doesn’t want to bring Saab back to the US, then that’s a very stupid decision sorry to say

        • I wouldn’t call it a stupid decision—-it’s their choice. I think it’s probably an error not to sell Saabs in a market that sold so many of them. But they have their own ideas and their own plan. They haven’t ruled out a return to North America so if things go well for them in China and parts of Europe, they might try to come back to our shores.

      • Doug: I agree with you of course. But very interesting—-JD Power just released a study that shows something very disturbing: Reliability of cars has declined for the first time since the 1990s. Every year, cars have become more reliable—-until this latest study. Why the step backward? They’re saying that the reliability problems are mostly with 4 cylinder engines. My theory is that manufacturers are overtaxing the 4 bangers to try to milk every ounce of power out of them—-trying too much new hocus pocus. How is it that the most reliable 1990s cars were 4 cylinder Toyotas and Hondas (including mid sized Accords and Camrys) but now we can’t make 4 cylinders reliable? Those cars weren’t speed burners, but they certainly had the ability to merge with traffic and travel at highway speeds—–for a couple hundred thousand miles. What’s going on? And for the record, the Chevy Volt EV was considered very reliable. If NEVS can build a very reliable Saab EV (and “reliable” will need to include the electrical system/AC/Heat, power windows, suspension, body hardware, etc.). If they can make a reliable powertrain and get those other things right—-it will be the most trouble-free Saab in history, which would be a great thing.

        • Cost savings cutting corners, materials sharing motors with many,, less individual designs., and power ratio maybe. Bad craftsmanship,,, Synthetic OIl, biggest direct change… Not sure,,, Far as Saab having the right car absolutely. Not really there focus designing. gas.efficient/hybrid innovated engines.

          Nevs focus is Electric and China,,, hard to do it all.

        • Former engine blocks have been heavy, made of cast iron or the like, with thicker walls and more stable designs. Nowadays, weight reduction is everything. So the blocks became lighter, thinner, even made of high-pressure die casted aluminum. I don’t blame them, as I think innovation is necessary and if properly tested for durability, the risks can be controlled very well. Testing, however, is very expensive in the car development business. And this is where OEMs also try to save money… Sad but true.

          • CAFE standards in the U.S. has lead to more breakdowns and massive expenses to car owners than anything else. Beginning with catalytic converters that were not ready to go to market—-and continuing with weight savings that’s compromised engine life and safety—-many of these “advancements” have made cars thousands and thousands of dollars more expensive and more prone to failures. Shaving weight and overburdening small engines—-can result in disaster.

          • No. 9: If this is responding to my post, I beg to differ. I’d say my extrapolation is right on target—-government meddling indeed and frustrations I’ve posted on this site often. They talk about poor shifting—-exactly. We’ve gone from 3 speed automatics to 4 speed automatics—-now what are we at, 22 speed automatics to milk that last tenth of a mile of gas (CAFE standards). They talk about wind noise being a huge complaint: Lighter weight materials around the greenhouse and bizarre attempts at cheating the wind (as well as outside rearview mirrors the size of dinner plates) might be the cause of this. And problems with voice commands and general nonsense with “infotainment systems.” Again, another dud. I’m happy with the stereo in my ’93 BMW and I have a Magellan nav system that moves from car to car and works like a charm. I don’t need “touch screens” and the other junk. Again—-the ligher weight materials and other efforts to milk the gas mileage, like 27 speed automatic transmissions, have caused a cluster of problems and expensive repairs. My ’79 Chevy Monza with a 3 speed automatic appears to be on its first transmission and it’s shifting wonderfully, paired with a V8.

            • My response was aimed at this comment of yours: «They’re saying that the reliability problems are mostly with 4 cylinder engines.» If you read the report it’s also transmissions and electronics. I totally agree that things have gone too far with electronics and gear ratios but I don’t think CAFE standards are evil. Without them, we would be that much closer to running out of oil. And yes, it’s happening whatever you say. As for catalytic converters, they might have been horrible at first but I’m still running my 13 year old 9-5 with the original. And when you say you would chase the fools from Tesla out of your home with a shotgun, well it just shows what kind of fool YOU are.

              • No, in context, if Tesla was trying to get the victim of their fire to sign a release, they should have been chased from the premises, pronto. And I read that report differently than you did. I interpreted it to mean that 4 cylinder cars were the most problematic—-and issues included engine and transmission failures…in other words, that was a combined observation—-higher failure of these components in 4 bangers.

              • The Peak oil hypothesis was put forth a long time ago. When I grew up, we were told in school that Norway would be out of the oil business before long (‘find something else to do within a decade’ was the message).

                Nearly three decades later, it seems we have barely scratched the surface over here. The question now boils down to “should we bother?”.

                As soon as the oil price rises again, the answer to that particular question will be easier. It would surprise me if the same isn’t the case elsewhere as well.

                I’d also like to point out that our previous prime minister is now UN’s “Special Envoy on Climate Change”. The guy was in the newspapers last week, arguing for an electrification of our oil platforms. Rather than burn part of the gas on the platform to cover their own energy needs, he wants to put down cables and feed electricity from the mainland. In his mind, it is better to pump all of the gas to another country, have them generate electricity there so Norway won’t appear as contributing as much CO2 to the atmosphere as we really are.

                Now you know why they call him a *special* envoy. (and it explains why the previous administration did not push for expanding our oil drilling activity)

                As for Nevs, if peak oil is several decades away and battery technology doesn’t soon make a leap (price/performance ratio is still abysmally low, as evidenced by existing products), then they should have a backup plan. EVs are fun and great, etc, but I do not see how their time has come as a mainstream car. Norway can’t be the sole major market for all EV manufacturers. And other countries will suffer greatly if they adopt Norway’s bizarre tax-model (ICEs costs twice as much in Norway as in Sweden).

                • We have plenty of oil on the planet for the foreseeable future. That is by no means an excuse to be wasteful with it, to pollute if there are options that work just as well and for the same or less money to consumers—–but the notion that we’re on the cusp of it running out is insane. We know that. We’ve heard this tired “10 years left” argument since the early 1970s. Also, I’m all for alternatives and I hate the price hikes of big oil—-but the moment we’re off oil and onto something else—-that source will also have “spikes” in price for various reasons. That’s just the way it is.

  1. I lyrically waxed and mused about all things Saab and reading this post really creates mixed emotions in terms of variability and sustainability. For now, I will adopt the ostrich mantra: “Hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil” – all things Saab.

    • I’ve taken a short drive in one, its nice! But the weather in Trollhättan at the moment is not good enough for a fair test-drive, we’ve been told that NEVS wants to wait until spring has arrived and I think thats pretty fair!

      I found out yesterday that they’ve improved the 9-3 on several areas and just with that short drive that I did, I could feel it! We’ll get you a proper testdrive over a few days so that we can accurately measure fuel consumption, different roads with photos, text and video!

  2. looks like the start of a public relations offensive, Mattias Bergman made some comments in the last number of weeks, Frank Smit spoke with dutch radio last week, then this ‘exclusive’ with aftonbladet…

  3. Started to wonder if the site was ‘down’ for some reason. If NEVS are actually doing something then that is good. If we can hear something about it, then that is even better. Don’t leave us out in the cold for too long…or we might leave.

    • Pretty normal… About 50% of Saabs employees and consultants worked with technical development in 2010-2011.

      Nevs is using a lot of outside help which is the normal way of doing things nowadays.

  4. I think freelancers and contractors are included in those 130 consultants. For me it seems that those ladies and gentlemen are the result of some make-or-buy decisions.

  5. That was really great to read. As someone who was once employed in a vehicle production plant many years ago, I can relate to it, and almost get the feeling that the employees must be experiencing. Good luck to Saab and all who sail in her!
    Pete

  6. It is interesting to note that NEVS never takes a step back. The direction is always forward, albeit not at top speed.
    Bottom line is that I honestly believe this is the beginning of something huge and eventually with worldwide implications.
    All the automotive giants are now awakening to hybrid and pure electric drives. SAAB/NEVS has joined the club.
    Good stuff.

  7. Nevs main focus is EV’s ,,, that says it all to me… A company with limited resources with a focus on green electric cars, will never build gas cars to compete. Very sad…. I don’t think electric cars with 175 mile range will ever make it to the masses. Nevs wants to cater to the chinese market and investor ..(.Kai Johan Jiang).

    I don’t know one person personally, who would lay down 20,000 to 25,000 for electric car in America… The years to build infrastructure is a long process. Simply put, and sad to say, Saab is dead from what I had hoped for… America will never see them again…certainly not innovative gas vehicles that will compete… Electric maybe in 10 years.

    Very sad.

    • Yeah you’ve said that now a number of times… perhaps since you are so negative about it all you can visit some other forum in the future, maybe the Volvo forum? Things wont change just because you’re bitching about it online…

      NEVS has the keys to the place, they do what they feel is right, remember they are betting their own and their families futures on this so you might think that they’ve done a bit of homework before getting themselves into this.

      Even Christian Von Koenigsegg said that by 2020, 80% of cars sold in Europe will be electric… he is a guy who usually know what he is talking about 😉

      • Somtimes you have to speek out. Thank you Tim. With your help to stop the negativism. The reason is disappointment from somone who loves the brand. It can be understood, but it may damage. Thank you again 🙂 Let the real fans talk. Real electric cars come fully in Europe now. Look to Norway !! And NEVS still delivers petrol-powered cars. Nice !

        • I’m a real fan Esone. If NEVS set up shop in the U.S. and let me head their marketing efforts (with a little say in product development), we’d be getting somewhere! Anyway, I guess my point is that real fans can have varying opinions. I don’t think being a “real” fan means you can’t be critical of things that you feel are going to lead to more disappointment and eventual failure. Real fans can also speak out on what they think would be a better direction. I think we all want a positive outcome for Saab—-but just going along with whatever NEVS does and being cheerleaders isn’t going to change the world’s reaction when these products are actually going live. If Saab tucks tail again and collapses—-there might not be another chance. Many of us are thinking NEVS has to get this right and we’re just speaking out. But I can assure you that I want NEVS/Saab to succeed as a brand, even if they never move beyond China and Sweden.

      • Sorry Tim my opinion is negative,,,, I never said Nev”s won’t succeed ..One man’s idea of success may be another mans failure.

        That said I own a Saab ok… I love my car.. Nev’s Idea of success may be a far cry from what many hoped for. Will see,, What evidence of anything to date supports Nevs was the best choice? maybe only choice, ok I get it. I live in the USA and speak to many Saab drivers who are moving on or anxious. Electric isn’t main stream.. Maybe in Europe sooner,,, Hardly think 80 percent of drivers will be in electric cars in 5 6 years.. The technology isn’t possible in the real world,,, under long term ownership… Batteries won’t last,, Infrastructure cost etc. If someone told you 80 percent of cars will be electric by 2020 I would say RED FLAG. I would bet everything I have on it not happening.

        Hey that is my opinion.,,

        I would have, liked Nev”s to place an emphasis and resources into high efficient petrol Vehicles and a small emphasis into electric. I am not interested in Electric at all,, mainly because its not ready yet.. Maybe 8- 10 years.. Just like global warming was a scam.

        America and Electric not now,, America Isn’t even on the Radar.

        By the way I do appreciate all you have done on this forum.

        • «Just like global warming was a scam.» You might want to look at this world map (among other documents) before you put your foot in your mouth (again).

          • The idea of human-caused global warming is a scam, as with anything else to understand this follow the money and political power! “Climate change” is a natural phenomenon that has been occurring for millions if not billions of years. It was happening before the human race appeared on the scene and will continue after we are gone. (The idea that we will control the earth’s climate with electric cars, LED light bulbs, etc., is ludicrous on its face.)

            Of course, a properly developed electric car has more to offer the consumer than dubious, over-hyped, alleged environmental benefits. If the battery and infrastructure problems can be solved you’ll have a much simpler, long-lived, virtually maintenance-free drivetrain. Bring it in at a competitive price and you’ll have a winner based on those attributes alone.

            • Sure, part of climate change can be related related to natural cycles but to discard human-caused changes is simply putting one’s head in the sand. IAC, you cannot relate air (and other) pollution (s) to natural cycles and they take more lives with every year that passes. Of course, I imagine you also deny that we have reached our peak of (sustainably accessible) oil reserves.

              http://www.climatehotmap.org/

              • You linked to an advocacy website, so after glancing at it, there was no reason to go on. It’s not unbiased. The thing is—-I’m very environmentally aware. I want my kid to inherit an Earth with clean drinking water available, decent air quality, places that are untouched and naturally beautiful—-and I’m in full agreement that we need to manage our resources in a practical way and also manage our waste in a responsible way. No. 9—-I guarantee you that I behave in a much more responsible way than many people who claim to be “environmentally concerned/aware.” I make a major effort to recycle just about everything I’m discarding that can be recycled. I turn off lights in rooms I’m not in. I have switched to more energy efficient lighting (even though it doesn’t illuminate nearly as well as incandescent bulbs—-I’ve adjusted to it.). I try to combine errands to save gas. I lower my heat in the Winter and raise my AC in the Summer. I get it. But I do this for common sense reasons—-because it’s less wasteful and more efficient. I’m in no way doing it because I think it has even a fractional impact on the climate. Oil reserves? We’re literally loaded with oil. There’s a supply of oil (accessible as you say) that can last for at least the next 60 years and perhaps well beyond that. We also have more natural gas than we can use. There’s still plenty of coal. Nuclear is maybe the very best option for powering homes—a clean way to recharge electric cars. I’m cognizant of the fact that wind and solar are nice boutique power forms for a country the size of the U.S.—-axillary forms that can give a little support to real energy. But they will not come close to meeting our needs, ever. I’m not putting my head in the sand but I’m not buying into a political movement (That’s right—-it’s not science, it’s politics) either. This is a massive effort to extract money from people in the form of carbon taxes. And it’s an effort to be “king makers” to campaign supporters who have green energy start ups. Do some research on it. Should we be responsible? Absolutely. But an established industrialized region like the U.S., parts of Europe, Canada—–why in the world would we consider Draconian measures that punish our people when India, China, Mexico and others are literally contaminating rivers, air, earth—-daily, hourly. They are doing more to pollute the planet that the U.S. has done since the 1960s.

                  • Tim: A lot of that is food production—-do you have any idea how much corn and wheat we GIVE to other countries, not exported for profit but for sustenance for others? Also, carbon dioxide emissions is not the whole picture for pollution,which includes things like pouring acids into rivers and burying industrial waste in the ground in the cheapest ways possible. Oh, and the moment our politicians start living nearly as frugally as they want us to live, I’ll believe that their “push” has anything at all to do with saving the environment. They are driven around in armored cars Tim and fly on Gulfstream jets. They live in 20,000 square foot homes in some cases—-have a couple weekend places in Aspen. They’re pushing for electric cars to help their friends in the green energy sector. Don’t fool yourself.

                    • Well Angelo, you need to read up on your claims… Food production in the US is about half of that compared to the EU and less than 20% of the total food production in China… so you cant blame that for the pollution! Check wikipedia 😉

                    • Depends what food sources are, Tim. Grains and corn take enormous amounts of energy/fossil fuels to grow, harvest and convert to useable/shippable food sources that go all over the world. The processing of wheat is an energy thief. As an example—rice doesn’t require this level of energy use to produce in giant quantities. it’s a great food source, but that’s not the point.

          • Here’s another anomaly. For the first times in decades, Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water in the world, is predicted to freeze over this winter. A sheet of ice will form over the surface of the three-quadrillion-gallon lake. The mean thickness of the ice, reports the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be over 10 inches.
            According to Jay Austin, associate professor at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, Minnesota, the ice will produce an “air conditioning” effect this summer. “Typically, the lake will start warming up in late June, but it will be August before we see that this year,” Austin told CNSNews.com.
            In September, there was a 29 percent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice over the previous year. An unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe stretched from the Canadian islands to the north shores of Russia, The Telegraph reported. The Northwest Passage, the route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, was clogged with ice all last year.
            And then somebody at the IPCC leaked a report last year that had scientists reversing their convictions on global warming. Some now believe we’re in for a period of global cooling, not warming.

            • It’s not about global warming, it’s about climate change. And yes we could be in a cooling cycle which is excellent given the recent increase in temperatures.

              • The temperature increase 1910 to 1940 is roughly the same as the thirty year period leading up to the peak in 1997. For the past 17+ years, the trend lines go flat — despite our best efforts to emit even more CO2.

                IPCC’s claim concerning CO2’s climate forcing effect looks dubious at best. Keep in mind the 30 year period leading up to 1940 — tell me, how much CO2 did we emit back then? Just how much will we have to cut back? Keep in mind that every human being exhales half a ton CO2 merely by existing. Should we cull the herd a bit, in the name of climate change?

                I am not aware of any period of time where the climate has not been changing. That we humans suddenly managed to gain the power to radically change the climate is a very bold claim. It used to be the case in science that bold statements required ample evidence, but for some reason climate science is exempt from this.

                • Rune: Some of my replies to this have not made it to prime time (not approved). But suffice to say, you’re laying out facts that get in the way of the narrative that they are force feeding us (“They” being the radicals who hate progress and industry—-profits and wealth.). Anyway, haven’t we had about 7 ice ages or something near that—-followed by warming trends and then cooling—-long before the first car was built, the first factory made? It’s mass hysteria.

      • I’m one of the engineers formerly employed by Saab Automobile, now working as a consultant at NEVS. I just had to react to what you wrote here, Tim; no matter how optimistic we all are about a bright future with lots of new Saabs on our roads, claiming that six years from now, electric cars will have an 80% market share is just silly. Barring something really drastic, like a union-wide ban of ICE-powered vehicles, you should probably expect sales of electric cars to stay at next-to-none for at least the next couple of decades. There is no point in fooling ourselves into believing otherwise. What WILL increase (a lot) is sales of hybrids, but since we’re talking purely electric here.. 80% in 2020? You’re mad. 80% in 2030? forget about it. 80% in 2040? MAYBE, in some local markets.

        • Hey, I just quoted what Christian von Koenigsegg said. (you can watch the video on saabsunited.se) considering how fast the hybrids are coming, a lot can happen in 6 years… I suspect that you know more than me on the development of battery technology.

          All I know is that 4 years ago nobody talked about electric cars in a serious way, today most manufacturers have launched one.

          • Tim: A lot of that is window dressing and you know it. These manufacturers are doing something symbolic, not anything commercially driven—-well, except for the fact that by saying “We have an electric!” they can appear to be environmentally concerned and doing something about it. Then, the environmentally concerned couple, Buffy and Biff, could buy a big 7 series BMW that burns enough gas to supply power to a small country—-but they can tell their friends how “BMW now has an electric too—-a little small for us but we supported what they’re doing buy getting this car. In the future, we’ll really consider one of their EVs as they grow.” That makes them feel better and gives them something to crow to friends about. But would they get an EV? Sure, but it’s always “my next car, in the future.” Tesla is the company that contradicts what I am saying. But are they “successful” yet? No, not even close. There’s some promising things going on and they have Musk, who is brilliant and determined. But I’m not ready to coronate them yet—-they need to get far more established, sell far more cars to far more people and make far bigger profits, consistently. At that point, electric will have arrived. And NEVS isn’t even a pin-prick compared to Tesla at this point. Please NEVS, save Saab by continuing to spend time and money on ICE Saabs that Saab customers know and love—-want and will buy.

          • What you have to realize is that when it comes to electric cars, there’s a very specific hurdle that other technologies don’t face. Until battery technology evolves to a point where you can build large, luggage-hauling station wagons with a range of at least 700-800 km, and you count the charging time in minutes, not hours, you can’t realistically expect to sell true electric cars to anyone except people who live their entire lives in or around a city and never ever see a reason to go anywhere else (by car). Now, it will take a LONG time before this kind of technology sees the light of day. It’s not even 100% certain that it’s physically possible that it ever will. I haven’t seen the interview with mr. von Koenigsegg, but unless he’s talking about his own brand of cars, he’s not going to see numbers anywhere near the ones you quoted until he’s in the retirement home. If indeed it ever happens.

            • You’re right

              But the way I see it, its also a matter of costs. Right now politicians are making it more and more expensive to own a normal gasoline / diesel car and those costs will increase a lot over the next years. Once its expensive enough people will start looking at options and requirements of fast charging time etc will decrease.

              • Tim: You’re describing something important and also something that’s absolutely disgusting to many of us. They’re picking winners and losers (again) and we’re going to pay an enormous cost for their meddling. And I maintain that this isn’t about saving the Earth—-it’s increasing their own power and paying off favors.

            • You can already cross the US in a large EV sedan and soon in an AWD EV SUV. Who would have believed that just a few years ago? By the end of summer, you will be surprised by the number of Tesla (and others) charging stations in Europe.

          • Tim, battery technology as we know it is almost done in terms of further development and optimisation. The industry is at a point at which very little progress (capacity, range, weight reduction, lifetime, charging speed, etc.) only comes with enormous effort and cost. Plus, you can only improve one of the issues at a time, while at the same time another issue is becoming worse again (example: charging speed vs. range). This is the main problem with EVs. Even though I have nothing against them, I don’t think that they will ever have a market share comparable to todays ICEs. Whatever the future cars may look like – there’s got to be another way around both, batteries and oil. FuelCell? Hell no, I don’t want to drive a bomb on wheels.

            • I don’t think fuel cell cars will be bombs on wheels Christian. Think about it—–the idea of putting 20 gallons of gasoline in one end of your car, with sparks flying to start it and high enough heat to bake a pizza on the other end of your car. I’m sure there was a time when people said “Hell no, I”m not getting on a horse to be cooked inside an exploding car. How can they have all that gasoline and heat and not expect these things to explode? I believe there will come a time when fuel cell vehicles are as safe as any car being made today. And frankly, when I look at the reality of the limitations of EVs—-I think and hope the future is in fuel cells once oil supply becomes a real issue, which we’re not even near at this point. There’s so many metric tons of oil still to even be discovered—-we’re set for many decades if common sense prevails against hysteria. Natural gas is another great option.

          • No, not with hybrids. I work at NEVS, but with other things. I don’t think it takes a whole lot of guts, it’s not like what I’m saying is a secret.. it doesn’t even concern NEVS per se. It’s just a comment on the future of electric cars as a concept; I don’t believe it serves anyones interest to jack up unrealistic expectations. Come 2020, we’ll see who’s right. I for one would be surprised if the market share of electric cars in the European Union 6 years from now turns out to be anything over 5-6%.

            • @Emil so your working on something else but nevs may be working on hybrids? cannot see nevs building a business concentrating on electric cars but they seem assured that success in China is a given? relaunch without some plastic surgery for the old warhorse 9-3 will be a big ask, anyway hoping your enjoying the new job….

              • I honestly don’t know, and even if I did I wouldn’t say. It’s one thing to comment on unrealistic expectations on the future market for electric vehicles, another one completely to spill company secrets 🙂

                That said: yes indeed I am enjoying it. Thank you 🙂

    • I wish I only had to pay 20-25K for a car like this. In my country it is 2-3 times this. I don’t blame NEVS for staying out of North America. They wouldn’t make any money if they did.

        • So its just as well they aren’t bothering with your country yet. Low or no margins, high compliance costs, as you said low sales. American is not always the centre of world. Go where the money is to be made.

          • Philip: It’s interesting how China itself recognizes that the U.S. IS where the money is to be made. Go to any Wal-Mart here and try to find something that isn’t made in China—-they supply us with everything from Apple I-Phones to big screen TVs to shoes and clothes, snow shovels, furniture, kitchen appliances—-you name it. It’s also interesting to note that apparently, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Kia/Hyundai, Toyota, Subaru, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, GM….the list goes on and on—-seem to be making handsome profits selling automobiles and light trucks here. What was your point again? I don’t think that we’re the center of the world. But we do buy an awful lot of stuff. Seems as though everyone with a clue has figured out how to make money here.

            • BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Kia/Hyundai , Toyota, Subaru, Honda , Ford , Chrysler, GM all have factories in the US and Audi is building one in Mexico.

              • Bingo. Yes, smart. Those factories weren’t put there by pixies—-the companies invested hundreds of millions to build them. They wouldn’t be doing that if there wasn’t a whole lot of money to be made. Serious companies get serious about making profits. We’ll find out in due time how serious NEVS is.

                • It’s not that simplistic. You have to have a sales/marketing/distribution system ….and a market large enough to absorb the output of that transplanted car factory. In the US, that is going to mean a market capable of absorbing around 100k units of product annually.

                  It’s not chicken or egg. All those manufacturers you mentioned have annual sales in the US above that figure. Saab never even came close to that.

                  VW invested $1 billion in their Chattanooga factory, and there were various state subsities and tax breaks of a further $500 million.

                  If you think that would be a wise investment for NEVS to make….then, please, do make your business case.

                  • Scand: Tim might have actual numbers, but I’m thinking Saab’s best year in the U.S. might have been 40.000 or 50,000 cars—-and worldwide, their best year might have been sales of 130,000 or so cars. That is not a bad percentage of overall sales for the U.S. if my numbers are close. And I never said this is simplistic or simple. It takes a lot of money and a lot of work, but Scand, it’s being done by dozens of companies. In the U.S., Saab rarely offered a full product line and for the longest time, they never offered an affordable, entry level car that would sell in high volume. They rebranded a Subaru for a couple years and that might have given them more traction if the plug wasn’t pulled on that partnership. But seriously—-if they had a smaller, less expensive car as a foundation, a couple other car lines and one or two SUVs (and a lot of this could be derived from the same platform), they would have and could sell a lot more cars in America. Their advertising was horrible too. If you don’t sell the right product and don’t know how to promote what you do sell—-and you still manage to sell 40,000 units—-I don’t consider that hopeless. Do they need a factory in the U.S.? Maybe not. Not if they can get made in China Saabs certified to sell here. They’d bring those in at a competitive price at least, not a laughable high price, trying to go head to head with cars that the vast majority of people perceive as being “above” Saab. There are ways to do this—-ways to make a bundle of money doing business here. It takes a company with money, vision and most of all intelligence to understand why it’s critical to compete “here” for credibility “there.” If they don’t show the initiative and ability to be a global car manufacturer, I wouldn’t buy one in the markets where they do end up reappearing. That’s way too risky. If they are creeping along at a snails pace, mute silent and afraid to mix it up in competitive markets—-don’t cry when they fold up like the Muller incarnation of Saab—-leaving people with worthless warranties and orphaned cars with shaky parts availability.

              • I think you missed my point. If they know they can make money in china then surely they must go there. For a long time Saab has not made any money in the USA. For that reason it can’t be a priority as margins are too low and as we all know Saab is not a high volume manufacturer. Its business after all. Why did Suzuki pull out of America? They are still in my small country and make money here. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-06/suzuki-pulls-out-of-u-s-car-market-after-almost-three-decades.html. Businesses need to invest where they think they will succeed. Its that simple.

                • Phillip: I understand your point. And if NEVS version of Saab is going to be as hapless a Suzuki, Saab lovers are in real trouble. I was hoping for something a lot more dynamic, organized, orderly, systematic, successful for the new Saab—-than to compare them with Suzuki, who peaked in the 1980s with the Samurai and it was all down hill from there. Saab was mismanaged in the United States. Other companies have had slow sales/failure in the U.S., followed by reorganization, better products, better promotion and success. It’s a big car market and there’s money to be made. That was my only point. And while the U.S. might not be a “priority” they should at least be in a serious discussion from NEVS, with a foundation perhaps being put in place for the future. We heard that Peugeot was pulling out of North America to “better focus” on Europe and their other markets. Yeah, being “unshackled” here was going to make them a juggernaut. They left here over 20 years ago. How has that worked out for them?

  8. Slow but steady; need to get accustomed to this.
    main thing however is that the Saab cars will survive.
    The pockets of Kai Johan Jiang must be very very deep to be able to do this over such a long period of time.

    • One has to define deep pockets… To reintroduce a failed brand and rediscover itself, takes serious monies with little room for error.. Secondly if your true intent is a global presence., More like Billions of dollars. There has never been any indication Nevs has that kind of monie.. . Goes quick… Nevs focus for the most part is the EV market and China or bust. Electric cars are very limited and a niche at best, Technology is far from perfected for long term value and dependability.

      Gas in there own words is secondary, and EV’S primary focus. That to me doesn’t sound to good as I have posted

      • I’ve been to China quite a few times. It is a fast changing country and the middle class is growing significantly. If China had the same number of cars as the USA pro-rated then there would not be enough petrol in the world to run the cars. Maybe NEVS will make most of its money in China and that would be a good thing in my view. After all it is going to become the largest economy in the world at some point in the future.

        • And our economies (U.S./China) are intertwined and will be for decades and decades. We owe them trillions. But they need our consumers to prop up their own (suddenly somewhat fragile growth) economy. They want our economy to be healthy for their own lifeblood.

          • I think one thing thats scaring the Chinese is that Europeans, all 730 Million who generally has a substantial buying power is more and more avoiding Chinese products. The financial crisis has sparked a form of patriotism not seen for a long time in Europe. Many companies are moving production back into Europe, more and tougher import rules are being placed on chinese products and transportation making shipping from China not so cheap anymore.

            The EU has placed high environmental constraints on asian ships traveling from China with products forcing them to upgrade their ships heavily which is very expensive. Same goes for aviation where carbon trading is now in force, this had a reaction by the Chinese to cancel several orders from the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

            • Good. Although, the Chinese really aren’t the ones to blame. I wish people in the West would start going after CEOs and corporate boards that care about nothing except maximizing short-term profits. What they are creating is worldwide instability which will eventually lead to chaos. I hope their gates and walls are tall enough and electrified. I don’t see this ending well.

                • Sadly, the Rupert Murdochs of the world seem to be master brainwashers of the masses. Deflecting attention from the REAL problems and rallying people around flags, guns, and alleged “freedom.” The masses have been made so stupid over the years that they care more about this than the fact that they have all been sold out so some shareholders and CEOs can have their fat pay days. The Occupy people were on to it, unfortunately, the messengers weren’t trusted. I hope the pope stays with this.

                  Meanwhile, I’m looking for new tires for my NG 9-5 XWD, anyone have good experiences with Nokian WRG3s?

                  • Regarding tyres, Nokian is about the best tyres you can find. They are one of very few stand-alone car tyre manufacturers, a Finnish company with production in Finland and Russia. I haven’t tried the WRG3 specifically, but personally I would avoid all-season tyres regardless of brand. In some climates they might work, though.

                    • I concur. Nokians are the best winter tires I ever had. All-seasons are NOT for real winters. They are not allowed in the winter here in Québec.

                • Tim, I’m a practicing Catholic. The Pope needs to keep his nose out of politics and talk about faith in Christ. He’s getting on a lot of our nerves.

  9. They seem to feel very confident with their EV technology. Good luck in bringing the thing up and running. And meanwhile I would like to drive a gasoline/hybrid powered Saab. 😉

  10. One more thing I really don’ t think Nevs bought the Saab name for value as much as the plant for little money. The Saab brand was part of it a bonus but the plant was the bigger value for them in the big picture. . If the cars sell in China rest assured they will be made there over time. The real property (the sweeden plant) ,,, can be sold later. Nevs could sell it and get good sum of the investment back when the time is right. Even at 70 percent of its original selling price. They would make that back producing Vehicles in China Quickly, in slave labor savings. The plant in sweden made sense to begin the experiment.

  11. In my book, Tesla is SAAB 2.0. I haven’t driven one yet but I sure am enjoying monitoring their fulgurating growth and unique corporate culture. I had zero interest in pure EVs but they have managed to change my perception. Like SAAB did for the turbo I guess. For sure, Elon Musk was right in aiming to produce the best possible EV and make it an exciting car to drive. A SAAB with a Leaf powertrain won’t cut it here (America and Europe). Good luck nevertheless to NEVS.

    • I reacted to your statement “A SAAB with a Leaf powertrain won’t cut it here (America and Europe).”

      It might be different in the US and the rest of the world, but in Sweden most Saabs were sold with relatively simple powertrains. The absolute majority of all the sold the 99/900/9000s were non-turbocharged, I believe, and with newer 9-3s and 9-5s the lower-end low-pressure turbo engines were very, very common.

      • In NA, even little econobox have more power than most SAABs you are referring to. I’m sure things have evolved upwards in Europe also but maybe not to the same extent.

  12. Here in upstate New York, last night on national TV, I saw a commercial for the new electric BMW. Hmmmmm. One electric Saab and one gas-powered one would fit our lifestyle just fine. Hoping that we see something in the US in the reasonable future.

  13. NEVS has been at the wheel for over a year now – at some point they need to make a compelling case at a MAJOR auto show (Geneva and NYC are coming up). Where is the product?!?

        • Wait. Haven’t we been led all along to expect a spring 2014 facelift? Now it’s just a “technology upgrade” (which probably won’t be anything more than a new radio unit).

          • Thats what I’m hearing now, that they’re working on getting tech back into the car that used to be there, such as auto-dimming rearview mirrors, nav-unit etc…

            • I believe it’s a mistake to spend too much time/money/effort in working hard to get auto dimming mirrors back in the car instead of plowing ahead with things that are far more noticeable to drivers—-like a facelift.

            • Seems like an unacceptably long time to get something as low-tech as an auto-dimming mirror into a car. They’ve been around for a few decades now. I can go on Amazon and buy one for $71.

              • Very true Patrik. If I had to decide which thing is more impactful to buyers, it would be fresh sheet metal over auto dimming mirrors. But you raise a valid point—-why in the world can’t it be both?

          • I had a chance to drive the car tuesday and the seats are a big upgrade to the old ones… but yeah, I sure hope that they get rid of some of the plastic in the dash…

            • The seats are vital. If they got that right, it’s a big deal—-important. That matters a lot more to me than high tech stuff. Comfortable seats for a long drive can’t be beat.

    • Yes, they’ve been “at the wheel” since mid 2012, right? That’s going on two years actually. But why show their cars in places where they won’t sell them for years? Doesn’t Beijing have a big show?

    • Right now they dont have to, because they are looking at selling cars in terms of fleets. They have a lot of contacts with big buyers who buy several hundred cars or more, thats where they need to sell cars in the beginning to make a lot of cash and to bring the company forward. Later on in the autumn electric cars will be introduced to the swedish market and we’ll see by then how individual sales are going.

      • No carmaker ever made money selling to fleets. The bigger the buyer: the bigger the discount they demand.

        Furthermore, fleet sales kill resale, because the second hand demand is out of whack with the amount of used fleet cars that come on the market, and private buyers are suspicious that the cars are abused.

        For example, used rental cars, such as mundane GM or Chrysler product that didn’t sell well enough new, to private buyers, thus had to sell to fleets.

        • But if fleet sales can jump start NEVS—-it’s something worth doing. If fleet sales in China can fund the operation—and grow new models and entry into other markets, they’re doing the right thing.

  14. I have been away for a couple of months. It’s sad that the debate over EV-car-this ICE-cars-that still rages. In my opinion, I believe the only hope for NEVS is to come to market (QUICKLY) with a hybrid AND ICE cars as well as their beloved EV cars for select markets where they make sense. What the hell is the sense having a factory capable of producing large volumes sitting around for sooooo long only to build a handful of cars per day? I can’t imagine a facility of that magnitude is easy or affordable to keep running for so long and for staff not being at their potential for that period. Surely the facility has been tested by now…get ON with it.

  15. Mark,, I agree ,, IF THAT PLANT isn’t at 30 percent capacity at a certain point,, sooner than later it will suck huge amounts of start up money.. Ev’s will not make that happen .or a old 9-3 design. So since we know that EV’s is the main focus what happens? What is the short and long term goals in Nevs business plan?. One thing we do know is that gas/hybrid models isn’t Nevs priority.

    So how can they survive? Or at that very least maintain a plant of its size in Sweden? According to Nev’s they want to sell 120,000 Vehicles annually within a few years from production start up.

  16. Thanks for this well-researched post which tells us a few things. For one, I thought that using an EV powered by a coal-fired plant would have zero environmental gain. Not as bad as I thought. Better than tar sands oil for sure! Another thing it tells me is that the Leaf is as lame an attempt as I thought. I won’t go into the loan grants debate because I don’t have all the facts but suffice to say that our governments, believe or not, also subsidize oil companies big-time. «That requires heavy investment in green research and development.» I couldn’t agree more. I don’t see battery powered EV’s as the future but a transition from the ICE powered cars because battery production will sooner rather than latter show it’s limits. I think we should look closer at Nicolas Tesla’s findings on electricity for one thing and pursue such promising avenues as this: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1090407_compressed-air-hybrid-tech-peugeot-to-offer-in-2016-on-subcompacts Have a nice weekend all 🙂

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