National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, Nevs, states in a short press-release today that they now are taking the customer relationships for SAAB-cars a step further on the Swedish market. From end of April, customers will be able to test drive the new SAAB 9-3 Aero on more then twenty locations in Sweden, from northern Norrland to southern Skåne.
Nevs started the sale of 2014 SAAB 9-3 Aero on their website 10 December 2013, and already at that time it was clear that parts and service was provided by SAAB Original Service Centers in Sweden. Customers have been able to test drive the new SAAB at the factory in Trollhättan since January.
Nevs sales and marketing manager, Jonas Hernqvist, says the sales are made as before via Nevs website www.saabcars.com and Nevs will present the locations they can offer test drives from soon.
65 thoughts on “NEVS offer test drives on several Swedish locations”
This is a great move by NEVS. One of the advantages to being small is that you can make your customers feel that they’re getting personalized treatment—-not just being a number, but being a client. Hopefully the 20 locations where these test drives can occur are going to be staffed/trained to act as ambassadors for NEVS and in turn, Saab. I love hearing this news.
Good thing NEVS isn’t based in the USA, otherwise state dealer franchise laws would prevent direct sales (ala Tesla).
Yep, gotta play by the rules or try to change them. In this case, I don’t see Tesla getting some of these states to budge. 48 states have laws on the books already that in some way, interfere with direct sales. Some are stricter than others. In a lot of ways, I think direct sales would benefit the customers, though there are some who believe that the people servicing the cars should be detached from ownership to prevent conflict of interest (less chance of a cover-up if there’s a known defect for example—-though as we see with GM, seems like the dealers just go along with the manufacturer anyway). I think maybe Tesla might want to consider a dealer network. If not, they might have to come to grips that there are large regions where people won’t be able to buy their products.
Can someone explain this thing with the US car dealer laws, in detail? Angelo or someone. I just don’t get it. It is supposedly for consumer protection???
I’ve been to 2 Tesla “galleries” and they can explain the product in detail, but are getting very nervous when I’m asking for the price – “Sorry Sir, we cannot tell you that, we would be breaking the law”…???
Again, I’m not criticizing as I don’t understand the “dealer-only” model, concept or the purpose…
SandySaab: This article explains a lot. My take on it is that there aren’t a lot of good reasons not to allow direct sales—-but that there are a lot of powerful people who don’t want that to happen. Dealership lobbies are extraordinarily well funded and back politicians in both of our major parties. It’s going to be very hard to convince these people to vote to allow direct sales and turn their back on the car dealers and associations. One argument made is that the dealers mean more competition—-while manufacturers would fix prices. Well the fact is, manufacturers do fix prices—-to the dealers—-and then the dealers hike those prices to the customers. Imagine if Tesla had to share profits with dealers, how much more their already expensive cars would cost? Anyway, read the article. Note the part about why there was so much interest in even Hummer—-and why FIAT wanted Chrysler so badly. Setting up a dealer network is expensive and extremely difficult. It’s why I’ve was jumping up and down, screaming last year, for NEVS to rush something to the U.S./Canada—-or at least to reach out to dealers to let them know a plan was in the works and cars would be delivered in 2014—-giving some of these dealers (who I have spoken to) incentive to stay in business through used cars sales and service—-a goal to keep the Saab dealers in business. Now, it’ll be starting over—-a task that I don’t think NEVS will take on, ever (in my opinion). I said there was a window of opportunity that was closing—-and we saw it close. Too bad.
Thanks Angelo for the link and info.
Still, as a EU citizen it seems weird that in the “land of the free, home of the brave” this sort of private enterprise entity protection is accepted. I don’t get it how the car dealership lobby has got that far into the legislative branch. Can’t come much further from “free enterprise”. I can’t see anything in this that protects the consumer, but rather the dealers. That they employ people and their families depend on that structure is obvious, but holds true in ALL business activities. Also, any dealer replacement model would have employees and workers, just not to the same extent, possibly thus being more efficient.
It is what it is and I won’t be buying any car in the USofA anytime, but still seems like a lot of protection going on for this particular special interest group, while it is not accepted in many others…
…and I wish Elon the best of luck in his endeavour taking the matter to the federal level.
Think of it this way. The USA has 50 states, and each state is broken up into political districts at the local, county, state and federal level. Each and every one of these political subdivisions has at least one car dealership, often times dozens. And each dealership owner is a multimillionaire who donates money to the politicians to make sure the laws are kept in place to help them stay multimillionaires. Elon may be rich, but he is nothing compared to the thousands of rich car dealer owners dispersed throughout each and every political subdivision. In the USA, money is everything. Freedom is a distant second.
You make a good point Tombalas—-50 good points actually. There’s no federal clean sweep that Elon Musk can buy—-that would help this situation at all. Heck, even if he got the Supreme Court on board to rule that these dealer laws the states have are unconstitutional (never going to happen, but even if it did…) the appeals process would drag this out for years and years—-we’d be off electric and into fuel cells or something else by that time! And for him to fight one by one to overturn state laws is futile too, in my opinion. The Chicago Tribune reported that 48 of the 50 states have some sort of dealer protection laws in place (some far more crippling than others with regard to manufacturer direct sales). He would spend his profits on lawyers if he tried to fight all of these states. So the idea is probably for him to focus on the richest areas to try to nose his way in. He is fighting hard in New Jersey because that region includes New York—extremely wealthy people and a strong case for EVs in the crowded and polluted metro areas (and for what it’s worth, high gas prices up there). He could key on a few of the most lucrative (potentially) states and go that route. But if he wants to go national, quickly, I think he should just work within the current laws. It’s a tough call. I know he’s like to keep the dealers out of the middle and work directly with customers and as a customer, I’d like that too. But he should also want to sell as many cars as he can, especially when/if that less expensive Tesla is introduced. Right now, I see this as a bigger headache for Tesla than range anxiety. I guess it might be possible to skirt the laws by having customers travel to the factory to buy the Tesla—-making the transaction in a Tesla friendly state—-then having the car shipped to your own state. He would need a strong network (nationally) of Tesla service centers to maintain the cars—-but the sales would only take place in a few states and owners would need to then register the cars in their own state, pay taxes in their own state, etc. Not sure about the legality of this.
This is great News! This is what Saab is all about.
Over time, I truly believe the sales model for cars will eventually change, and move into the modern age. Whether dealerships embrace a new form, or cease to exist, is anyone’s guess. Tesla/Saab are the beginning of the revolution.
Has Saab announced that they are departing from the dealer model? I thought the reason they were selling this way now is just because they aren’t producing enough cars to warrant a dealership network. I figured once they go into full production, they’d be back to traditional dealers. By the way, Tesla might be trying to do something revolutionary, but it’s meeting with mixed results. Some keys states in the U.S. don’t allow for direct sales—-big markets with wealthy potential customers are not participating at this point.
If NEVS eventually gets to the production levels they want and plan to sell lots of cars in Europe (and hopefully North America eventually), I think they will have to go with dealers again at some point. They will not be big enough to do direct sales in every market.
this is old car I love saab but saab must do other 9-3 nevs is nothing but one joke saab is dead all competitor are better
Jeepers, Erion! You’ve only just joined and you’ve kicked off by running Saab down. What is your MO?
Erion: I think the key is pricing. Old platforms can still be successful in the marketplace if the price is right. GM has sold hundreds of thousands of outdated cars (if not millions) by making them value leaders—-dating back to the ’76 Pontiac Grand Prix, later the Oldsmobile Cutlass in the mid ’80s, then the Olds Ciera and Buick Century, which were on ancient platforms. But GM shaved the prices down to a value proposition. If NEVS made the Saab 9-3 a value proposition, they could sell as many as they could make, world wide. But if they price it in the Audi/BMW league, only the most die hard Saab fans will bite. That’s not enough.
The strategy you outline above, utterly failed. Why do you think the Pontiac, and Oldsmobile brands are dead and buried? Buick would be the same, if based on US sales. It’s Chinese sales that kept the Buick brand alive – and I’m sure they weren’t force fed Buick century’s.
Producing crap cars that no one born after about 1960 would be seen dead in , is why those brands have failed: they became reverse aspirational.
Buick is sort of getting there, but it’s taken ages, and they still barely outsell Audi, but at a way less average transaction price. Besides, they are largely Opels with a buick grill these days.
Offering value, and simply decontenting to a price point are not the same thing. The consistent top selling value cars (in the US – Camry, accord, corolla, civic) are re engineered from the ground up every 4 to 6 years. By your matrix, they should just sell the same thing year in, year out and sell it cheaper because the toolings all paid for.
Furthermore, the 9-3 was designed as a premium car for a supposed aspirational brand. Ergo, it’s expensive to make, and I’m not talking about fancy seats.
Finally “all they can make…” Would be around 130000 units. (Whatever the capacity of Trollhattan is). Units wise, in the global car sales picture, that’s pretty low. For example, BMW South Carolina produced 297000 vehicles last year (x3, x5, x6 ). Audi made over 250000 A6’s ( not a cheap car by any means).
So, if you are low volume, you are by definition a niche player. If you are a niche player, you will have to be expensive /aspirational, or your long term business model won’t work.
But why am I telling you… Your the marketing guy.
Scand: Think about it though: Pontiac and Oldsmobile failed AFTER they abandoned that strategy. Oldsmobile totally remade their line and went with a whole new image and new styling and got away from selling value leaders like the Ciera and Eighty-Eight. It’s funny how Volkswagen did so well worldwide with the Beetle, including in the U.S. Then they decided to raise the stakes with the Golf/Rabbit, Scirocco and Dasher and fell flat on their face. They tried the Quantum and that was a bust too. Seems like whenever Volkswagen tries to go upscale, they flop. But pricing their vehicles lower and offering decontented cars always puts them back in the black. Then they get wild ideas again and come up with STOOPID concepts like the Phaeton (and yes, spell check flagged “STOOPID” but it works so well, I left it—-I’m a marketing guy.). I’m not suggesting Saab become the next purveyor of Cierras and Centurys—-only that they work with what they have as a value leader now while they’re developing the new generations—-and even then, offering a lower priced car along with the premium ones. Speaking of strategies that haven’t worked for about 3 decades or more—-look no further than Saab. Time to change their approach.
VW is one of the most successful car manufacturers on the planet, so they must be doing something right. Granted, the phaeton was not successful, however, it’s platform mates, the A8 and the Bentley are.
To label the VW golf as unsuccessful defies logic. They have made over 30 million, it is the second most popular car in the world, they have sold on average 2000 a day for the last 40 years.
Scand :I do agree with you on your point. Saab will need to stay a premium brand for the immediate future.(The current 9-3 is irrelevant.) .. as I will explain.
The margins are greater (premium image) and two, the volume or capacity as of today would not justify a lower price car, even with high volume and low margins.. By the way the current 9-3 won’t sell regardless in the USA or else where… Saabs image has been tarnished globally.. From 2009 to present and in reality prior.
Introducing the current 93 at any price would be catastrophic. In fact at least here in the USA. Its border line of embarrassment from a marketing standpoint. Perception for reintroduction is everything,,
The current model wouldn’t draw new buyers or even the few Saab freaks who are left even at $30,000. The Auto reviews (magazines) would be horrendous and Saab would be mocked,,, just like in 2010-2011.
Just as importantly potential new dealers with what Nevs has on the table right now would never come on board. Anyone who thinks so, is in fatansy.. Many dealers, customers of Saabs got burned in a big way financially.
The average american who is somewhat car savvy thinks Saab is GM or heavy influenced and that is a problem..or in , general, car buyers in the premium segment think Saab is dead and to date really is far as anything new, and most important Nevs is branding itself as an EV company. That said,,, anything beyond today is a fantasy. They have set the plan for the future, If your an EV guy I guess you have something to get excited about.
The direction Nevs is taking is crystal clear for me,, They will mirror the Tesla image,, for the EV market.. Unless there is a 180 degree change in the plan I don;t see Nevs overly concerned about the current state of affairs related to my post.
“…in , general, car buyers in the premium segment think Saab is dead…” Exactly Doug. Premium car buyers are finished with Saab for now. That’s why the name, which still carries some premium clout—-images of upscale European luxury/performance—-is still a tool to reach sub-premium buyers who would flock to a Saab—-even the 9-3, especially with a facelift. The key is price and product positioning. And a new compact vehicle (hot hatch) that could sell near VW Golf/GTI territory would be a nice niche vehicle too and sell in respectable volume carrying the Saab name. The KIA Sedona minivan that’s being sold now as a 2014 looks almost identical to my ’07. In a weird twist, they produced/sold this style through 2012, then discontinued sales for the 2013 model year. They brought it back for 2014, almost unchanged. Far from an embarrassment, it’s selling—-not great, but holding its own and giving KIA dealers a van to sell to at least have a whiff of sales grabbed from the better known players in the segment. I’m not saying Saab would be successful forever trying to sell cut-rate 9-3s—-but as I posted the other day, rebuilding a global dealer network is going to be so costly, I think they’re paralyzed and that’s one reason we won’t see it happen anytime soon. Even if they LOST money on every car they sold for a couple years, but kept dealers in business until a whole new generation of Saabs was ready—-that would have SAVED them money overall if they wanted to sell cars around the world, because they would have kept expensive to start-up dealers humming along. But then again, that speaks to your other point and a theme you’ve shared—-maybe their ambition has nothing at all to do with world wide auto sales. They might be very content working the Chinese market forever, with a token of Swedish/European sales tossed in to fulfill a technicality/formality in what they signed for.
How are you so sure they would save money overall? How much would they lose in total? How much would it cost to build a start-up dealership network? And when you say “start-up dealers” do you imply that all the ex-dealers have stopped operation? Aren’t there still some operating, whether servicing old Saabs or working with other brands (I believe there have been dealers offering multiple brands beside SAAB before the bankruptcy)? So how many are still operating and how many have stopped operation? Do you know?
P.S. Too many question marks on a square centimeter, looks a little weird when you read it, sorry about that.
Aveik: Going by what’s been written in publications such as Forbes and Wall Street Journal regarding why crumbling car lines still have serious interest from suitors—-because of an established dealership network. The reason that some companies showed interest (in the tens of millions or over 100 million dollars) for failing car lines was simply to buy the established dealership networks—-and if you take issue with that, please contact the business publications for them to clarify. I’ll estimate fifty-six million, five hundred and sixty two thousand, three hundred and forty seven dollars and seventy nine cents as an answer to your question. Yes, some of the dealer that sold Saab along-side Cadillac or other lines might still be in business and there would need to be lawyers good and plenty involved (THAT’$ LAWYER$) and new agreements drawn up. My Saab dealer moved into a much smaller, older building in a location that’s not as accessible as where they were before and they’re now servicing all makes and models. There’s no showroom at the new location—-they’d need to break this lea$e and find new real estate if NEVS contacted them now. I suspect they aren’t the only ones. I don’t have the exact numbers you’re looking for and sadly, I suspect NEVS doesn’t either. Why don’t you ask them?
56 562 347.79 $ as an answer to which of my questions? Is it how much they would save? Or how much they would lose? Or is it the cost of establishing a start-up dealership network?
I understand perfectly that an established dealership network can be of an interest for a company that wants to enter the market or enlarge its presence on the market. If you are a company with a developed range of vehicles with which you expect to make money and you spend only a few tens of millions to acquire a dealership network, that is a good deal. That is of very limited relevance to the case of NEVS, though. If we are going to just throw numbers, how about that: if they sell 100 000 cars and lose 5000 $ on each, they would lose 500 million $. And that’s only on the cars alone, there are a lot of other expenses needed to establish presence on a market. But I’m just throwing numbers, I don’t know how much would they lose actually.
So you don’t know how eroded the dealership network is. You don’t know how many have stopped operating and how many are still operating and will continue operating. You say they would need new agreements and contracts to be made. Of course. They would need new agreements with everyone and for everything they will ever make in USA, because they are a new company. So they would need plenty of lawyers and plenty of $ whenever they decide to enter the market – whether it was in 2012, 2014 or 2019. That’s out of question. Contrary to you though, I suspect NEVS know the number of the dealers, back then they were making a list of all the ex SAAB dealers, including in North America. Even without it, they would have a way to find that number, they should have it in some documents there, it’s not top secret. Besides that I suspect they have a lot of other numbers that would show them if entering US market under current circumstances would make sense.
I asked you for numbers, because from what we have heard people at NEVS think it does not make sense to enter US now. From what I know I can see why they think so. You disagree with them, though, and I thought you have something to base this disagreement of yours on. Just to say that a dealership network is a valuable and costly to establish thing is so vague that it is of almost no relevance to the case. (If you don’t understand why it is vague I’ll tell you – we don’t know how many dealers are still operating (and will be operating in 5 years), so we don’t know how much “from scratch” they will have to start. You say people are buying companies for tens of millions and even 100 million for their dealers. The thing is that NEVS did not buy a company with dealers, there was no company, so all the contracts with dealers will have to be remade (and not only contracts with dealers, in some sense they will have to start from scratch no matter what). Something tells me all of this would cost more than 100 million.)
So I still don’t understand why you think they would save money overall.
Sure, because dealers that sold Saabs through the end of 2011 and liquidated unsold inventory during part of 2012 had customers. SAAB customers. Customers buy cars. Dealers sell cars. If NEVS were to re-establish a U.S. presence simultaneous with their efforts in Sweden and China, it would mean Saab was out for about 2 years. A lot of people who bought Saabs in the last 5 years, maybe longer than that—-still have their cars and are potential repeat customers. But if this things drags another 5 years or so, nearly all of these people will be on to other brands, new loyalties. So by “buying the dealers” and reintroducing the cars, NEVS would have also been “buying the customers.” Now? Nah. So in addition to starting over with the dealership agreements/network, they’ll have to throw even more money at advertising to reach new buyers—-some of which will have not even had drivers licenses when Saabs were last sold in the U.S. Enormous expense. Or, they can choose to come back and not invest in that aspect of the operation (ignore the need to advertise) and fail.
This is interesting “As the brand has an unusual image in most markets, Saab owners tend to be correspondingly offbeat: intellectuals and enthusiasts. In his studies of brand communities, Albert Muniz, professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago, found significant characteristics of Saab owners which he called Snaabery. These included ownership of an original, pre-GM Saab; camaraderie with other Saab drivers and contempt for other brands such as BMW. Writer John Crace characterised the typical “Snaab” as a creative advertising executive with large spectacles and an asymmetric hairstyle. Rüdiger Hossiep, a psychologist at Ruhr University Bochum, found that Saab drivers have the highest level of psychological involvement with their cars, being over 10 times more passionate than the average Volkswagen driver. Saab’s main three markets are Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.” Ummmm…no, make that China, Sweden and…well, and…ummm…nowhere.
Angelo, I get all of that, I understand that reestablishing would be costly, I get that reintroducing SAAB now would keep some dealers and customers loyal. What I doubt is that reintroducing now would be less costly than doing it, let’s say, 5 years from now. To me it is not that obvious. I’ll explain why. By reestablishing now NEVS would be buying customers, that’s true, but how many are they? You know, the traditional customer base of SAAB was not enough to make them profitable and far not every SAAB customer is a SAAB fan. But even among SAAB fans not every one would be interested in the 9-3. For some it just would not suit their needs. Sure, there would be some people that would buy the 9-3 just because it is a SAAB, but I doubt they would be enough to even sustain some reasonable number of sales (I’m not even saying anything about profits). So if NEVS would want to have at least some reasonable number of sales they would have to attract new customers (they will need new customers whenever they reintroduce). So they would have to spend money on advertisement no matter what and they would have to lower the prize to a level that would make the car a bargain and attract new people. By doing so they would increase the loss per vehicle and make the overall expense enormous, therefore the loss would be tremendous. So yes, by reintroducing now they would be buying some customers, but for what prize? It would be good to have dealers working and people driving new Saabs, but we have to look at the big picture.
If they reintroduce later in time they will have to find new dealers, that’s true. But we don’t know how many new they will need, we don’t know how many ex-SAAB dealers will be still around. It will be costly to find new dealers but do we know if the money needed for new dealers will be more than the loss needed to keep the old? I don’t think we know. Yes, they will have to attract new customers, but they will have to attract new customers in any case. I’m sure some SAAB fans will be back even after owning an other car (you said it yourself, the passion of SAAB fans for SAAB is stronger than any other passion entertained by car fans). For the SAAB customers that are not fans and are not going to be back there is no guarantee that they will be back for the current 9-3.
So it will be costly in any case. I don’t know which would be more costly. To answer this question we would need a lot of concrete facts and numbers. I just think that it is very far from obvious that the first case will save them money compared to the second.
I would really like to know how many stand alone Saab dealers are still intact and for that matter, if any of the Cadillac dealers have replaced Saab with a different line (unlikely). One interesting aspect of this is that you wanted me to support my opinion by giving you facts about what remains of the dealer network and how much money it would take to stay in business now and retain dealers and customers vs. going on a decade long hiatus and starting over. Of course, I could only guess. But the real point is that I don’t believe NEVS did this sort of evaluation either. If they did, I’ll circle back to my other criticism which is that they leave their stewardship of Saab open to ridicule, speculation and anger by remaining stone silent instead of accessible and vocal. Hey, that’s just me I guess, along with a good many others who have expressed similar frustration. An out front spokesperson who regularly made rounds to the media would shut me up and shut others up—-by being clear and letting us know what’s going on, what’s not going on, what to expect, what not to expect—-and none of this would have to expose trade secrets or jeopardize NEVS’ plans—-it’s what other companies in all walks of industry do (those who sell to end users, like car companies). How many feature articles have you read about Tesla? How many feature articles did you read about Tesla before they produced a single car? I remember hearing about Tesla before there was any significant activity at all—-but they were out front, talking it up. At this point in time, it’s shocking to me that with a redesign supposedly right around the corner, EVs to be sold later this year (if that holds), we haven’t read a blessed thing in the media about Saab’s rebirth, except entries by Tim here. It’s ridiculous—-it truly is.
Avelik: This is interesting reading—-too short, not enough details but still somewhat interesting and on topic of dealers.
Sorry but I don’t understand the connection of the article to the subject. Could you explain?
It was just a quick read that touched on when Mahindra was attempting to enter the U.S. market a few years ago. Incredibly, Mahindra had gone through what I considered the most difficult part of the process—–getting their diesel compact truck certified for sale in the U.S. by our government agencies. They were about to get certified. Then there was the matter of how to sell it (permission to sell it already satisfied). That was the whole “dealer network” part of the equation. Reading between the lines, it appears that Mahindra might have changed their mind and wiggled out of the agreement with the company who was going to help them with the dealership issue. I think Mahindra claimed that the company was changing the terms of the contract—-but the company said Mahindra just wanted out. It’s a shame because I actually think that little truck would have found some buyers here. There’s a healthy little niche for compact pick-up trucks (and the diesel would have even been better). The big makers know they can make far more money selling full sized pick-up trucks. But if Mahindra could have profited selling these things in the low 20s, they would have found a very willing market here—-and still can.
Thanks Angelo, but I got what the article was about. What I failed to undertand was how it related to the discussion we had, apart from having something to do with dealers.
Well, not specifically related but in addition to the dealer connection, it was about Mahindra—-and they were discussed often here on SU when they were in the running to buy the carcass of Saab.
Angelo I guess I was implying as of today… We have a difference of opinion about the current 9-3… I think it would, at this point damage Saabs future more… if we are talking about a revamped face lift exterior and interior,including dash etc., and a complete strategy about the next generation Phoenix maybe at $35,000..the face lift may work, as I have expressed before..
My above post was more on facts as of today.. Far as Nevs losing money currently can’t happen on each Vehicle.. This is a small company and not a public one.. Nevs needs to Sell at premium levels to make the most margin.first.. Only then can they sell higher Volume lower margin Vehicles for Various market segments… Again this is all hypothetical,, This is an EV company who will attempt to cut out a niche in that segment.. with the focus on the Chinese market, and population of people, who by the way, presently are rejecting the EV movement by all accounts. Sounds crazy. As we have already shared..
Doug: Do you think the current 9-3 is damaging Saab’s future in Sweden/Europe and China? I don’t think it is. In the U.S., I don’t think Saab can be more damaged than they are now. Not selling cars for many years, then coming back with an EV would be far worse for their image than quietly peddling the 9-3. Speaking of which, you say that they can’t afford to take a loss and you might be right about that. But how the heck do you sell the 9-3 at premium prices as you say must happen—–when you’re also saying the car is an embarrassment? How do you make “the most margin” selling this car on this platform in the same stratosphere with Acura, Audi, BMW, Lexus, etc.? And yes, I’ve also read articles about how EVs are being soundly rejected in China. I’m wondering if NEVS knows something that everybody else is missing about this formula? Old Saab, engine replaced with battery power, selling at high premium equals big success story. I don’t see that, you don’t see that but apparently NEVS is going to fool us all. I love when the underdog wins—-so I’m pulling hard for NEVS to make a go of this.
Sorry Angelo I wasn’t clear on my statement about the 93 price point… I was referring to the revamped face lift. with interior dash etc, upgrades.
I do Agree Saab is damaged. I just think The Dealer risk of taking on the current 93 would be high risk for them to fail. Essentially that would be really bad… The new facelift done right may work and fill the void until the brand new Phoenix
To be honest Angelo I am lost with Nevs and Saab,, just the truth… I think honestly its China and Electric or bust. This is not a big company with unlimited resources far as I know …
Its seems the European population is sold on Global warming and all. That is with all due respect. My personal opinion is that the powers that be want carbon taxes and will say and do anything to accomplish it.
My point is nevs can’t serve two masters and develop great Electric and gas cars more then likely Again we have beaten the green movement to death before, I don’t want to go there again. I wounder how much funding Nevs is receiving from subsidies with the Chinese government?
I totally agree with an earlier post you made about car makers making money not to interested saving the world. Bottom line, profits.
Just an sideline observation from past times….
As I got one of very few new cars for me, my beloved 900 SE turbo coupe in 1996, collected at the Trollhättan factory, taxfree, driven to Switzerland, my country of residence at the time, I also went to visit Canada. The Toronto Auto Show was on, and to my dismay I saw that ALL cars were massively cheaper, RRP, incl. my Saab, exactly the same model and version. I think it was sold for 23k CAD at the time. It would have been cheaper to actually ship it from Canada than to purchase the car taxfree from the factory (was it now for one thing – EU certification)
Now, I also saw that the Ford Crown Victoria was being sold at a heavy discount, 9,995 CAD (if memory serves me right). That was a lot of heavy metal for the money. Not exactly a tech leader, old school everything, incl pushrod V8, but with that price, I’m sure they sold a boatload. Did this hurt Ford’s reputation? I guess not, maybe it was not good anyways, but you will have to match old school new cars with low prices, whatever the brand…. In Saab’s case, today, with the dealership network gone, it would not make sense to try to sell an ancient 9-3 (facelifted or not) with the extremely low volumes, imho.
“I think honestly its China and Electric or bust. This is not a big company with unlimited resources far as I know …” (Doug)
This rings true in my ears, unfortunately…. Or, great, if I can get an electric convertible this decade….
Ok, enough babbling, over and out….
Guys: The policy makers pushing for electric vehicles instead of ICE cars will not be satisfied…EVER. It’s interesting because the potential buyers who are saying they’re ready to embrace EVs are missing this major point about the people driving this revolution. That point is that the end game isn’t to get us all in electric cars—–the end game is to get us out of cars and onto mass transit. They don’t want us to have the liberty that comes with owning our own transportation, whether that is a gas powered car or EV. But they know that can’t go from sixty to zero in one second—–so they are “weaning us off fossil fuels” by promising that EVs can replace gas and diesel, no sweat (a lie). But at some point, they’re going to talk about how “resources to create the electric” are limited—–and there’s no reason why we can’t get to where we’re going on something far more efficient, like electric buses or trains. They’re doing it gradually, but listen to what they say about light rail. They’re even building billion dollar metro stations in my area and deliberately not putting in parking lots—-so that you can’t drive to the train, you have to ride a bus to the train. It’s not about ICE vs. EV—-it’s about people trying to control our schedules and our lives. Fight them. So to address your post Doug, NEVS can’t serve two masters, but they’re going to be in shock when the master they pick turns on them like a rabid viper and discourages all car sales in favor of tranis/buses or walking/bicycles. Think this is a joke? It’s already happening in U.S. cities—-the rhetoric at least. Fight these ghouls.
Well Angelo Your certainly right about controlling society…
The powers that be will stop at nothing to have control.. Stripping our freedoms,,, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Ndaa,, Nsa, Tsa, Homeland Security. on and on.. The dinosaur Media , Propaganda. Republican Democrat pyrimidine, Left /right ..
To me its about freedom and Liberty It’s a info war,, Seek the truth its out there.
Very serious stuff for all across the Globe
Regarding the Chinese rejecting EV, there are a lot of reasons for that, both objective and subjective. One of them is that there are no attractive offerings on the EV market yet. Most of the offerings are small city cars or mid-size sedans which in their majority are variants of already existing ICE cars. Most of the EVs are based on budget cars, so they don’t offer anything interesting, their major strength – the low prize, diminishes because the EV variant is at least twice the original prize. There are no premium offerings at all. So the Chinese don’t really have a reason to by an EV. By buying an EV in China now you are making very clear compromise, you are not having enough value for the money you are paying. That will probably change with the government pushing for EVs. Most of the big cities in China have very strict limitations for car registrations and are putting special quotas for EV cars. For example, in Beijing there is 30% quota for the new car registrations in the next 5 years (I’m not sure it was 30% exactly, don’t have the numbers in front of me right now, but it was something like that), that is preserved for EVs. So 30 % of the new cars in Beijing within the next 5 years will have to be EVs. If people will reject buying EVs, there will just be 30% less new cars in Beijing. So if there is an attractive offering some people would consider it, registering an EV will be much easier than an ICE car. And that’s only Beijing, other cities have similar regulations. I am not entirely sure, but I think that in Shanghai the registration of an EV is free, gas cars on the other hand, have to bid for a registration plate, so a lot of people end up paying for registration the same money they paid for the car itself (sometimes even more). So if you can make an attractive EV it has chances to sell. If the electric 9-3 has a decent range (the said 200 km should be ok for city driving), decent performance (it is said to be at least as fun to drive as the “normal” 9-3), has a decent level of comfort and is not giga-mega expensive, it could have decent sales numbers (I don’t know what a decent sales number would be, but probably would be more than the number of our fingers and toes). Besides, I don’t think they really expect to have enormous sales with that model, that is at least what I think.
By the way, NEVS are not the only ones aiming at the Premium EV market (which still does not exist). In January (or February, something like that) BAIC announced that they are going to produce a premium electric vehicle in the Audi A6L segment in partnership with the American company Atieva. Atieva is said to be run by ex-Tesla executives and unites specialists who have worked for companies like Tesla and Audi (BAIC has actually bought 25% of Atieva’s stocks). It remains to be seen what will be the result of this cooperation.
There for sure are things we don’t know, we can only guess how decisive for NEVS success will be these things we don’t know. SAAB has always been an underdog, let’s hope it will be a winning underdog now.
I really am not sure what EVs the people have access too..
I know the Government increased the numbers substantially for the license / Reg. lottery contingent they purchased or drive only EVs…
i think its pretty sad for the people. Maybe they should start cleaning their manufacturing pollution up.
Also the EV battery plants are causing some serious air problems. Google it.
As of today the people have rejected it in a grossly profound way… It took the government back.. That said maybe your right the choices as of now aren’t that great.. will see. One way or another they will be forced to comply if they want to drive.
It is absolutely true that the cars are not the only part of the pollution problem in China (I would say not even the biggest). Without addressing the industrial pollution the problem with pollution cannot be solved. The problem with industrial pollution though, is that it would take a lot of time to be solved. The Chinese just cannot afford to make fast improvements in this area because it would directly affect the economy. They just cannot start closing factories or make expensive improvements to them on large scale because it would affect everything down the chain and affect the growth of the economy. The only thing they can do is to address the pollution problem with small steps. That’s the reality.
Decreasing the car pollution in the cities though, can lead to a relatively fast and relatively big improvement to the air quality in the cities. They won’t become green paradises but still will have better air quality. That’s why the authorities are limiting the cars number in the big cities and trying to shift to electric cars. They have to start from somewhere.
The goal for my explanation about the electric cars in China was just to offer another angle from which introducing an electric 9-3 in China now does not seem like a lost cause.
I think cheap runabout EVs affordable to more Chinese drivers would have a much greater impact on air pollution than a near-luxury entry Saab that will be priced out of the reach of many and be in the bitter spot of too expensive for most and not new and nice enough for others who could afford to spend more for a more modern luxury EV from another manufacturer. Since you’re always pressing me for specifics Avelik—-how many Saab 9-3 EVs need to be sold in China to make a “relatively big” improvement to the air quality in their large cities? How many Saab 9-3 EVs will need to be sold in China to make it a “successful business venture” for NEVS? If the Chinese don’t embrace the 9-3 EV and feel it’s overpriced for what it is, will that cause longer term damage to upstart Saab’s reputation in China? Should they jettison the 9-3 and wait to introduce an entirely new, modern EV as the first Saab EV in China? Questions I don’t have hard facts to support—-only opinions.
What I said about the situation with electric vehicles in China was just an attempt to show a different angle which would put the electric 9-3 in different light, I was just offering different perspective for the things. A lot of people have said that it doesn’t make sense to sell an electric 9-3 in China, that it can’t happen. I made a few explanations of the current situation with the regulations and the EV market to show that it could happen (“could” as a key word here). Not that it will happen, just that it is not as impossible as some think. I was not persuading anyone to believe that it will happen or that there is sure success waiting for NEVS in China. I was just giving more details on the actual situation in China, because many here don’t have knowledge of them. I wasn’t making a business case for NEVS. I really wonder why you are under impression that I was doing this. And because I am not making a business case for NEVS I don’t have to give details, number, facts. I don’t have the pretension to tell them how to run the business. I have asked you for facts and numbers in the cases when you actually have told them that they are wrong about something and have to make something differently. I think that is a situation when you have to support yourself with facts. When you say that they have to enter US market now to save money in long term I think you have to base it on facts. You have to give a reason for the things not to be the way they are. When you have the opinion that something they do is wrong you have to prove it. I think that’s natural. I on the other hand, was just presenting a possibility. I have an opinion that selling more than a few hundred electric 9-3 in China could happen. I think it is possible. I think that the facts about the overall situation with EVs in China are enough to support the existence of such an opinion. I don’t have an opinion that they will sell a lot of electric 9-3 in China, I don’t have an opinion that they will have a tremendous success there. That’s why I think that I don’t have to present facts to support an opinion that I don’t have and I cannot possibly have. I don’t know if they will succeed. Do you understand the difference between our cases?
You are right that a model that would have large sales and become widely used will have a bigger impact on the air quality. A cheap EV would be such a car. The thing is that, as I said above, there are still no cheap EVs there. It will change. I recently read about an EV from a Chinese automaker that with the possible subsidies from the government would reach a prize of 120 000 yuan (around 19 000 USD) which would be a normal prize for a car of this segment and level. This car is still not introduced so SAAB won’t be competing with it. Regarding the question about the people that could afford more luxurious EV from other makers, if you had read more carefully what I wrote you would see that I said that there are no premium EVs right now. Any. This year several models are expected to be introduced. The ones that won’t be just cheap cars made electric will be: Tesla Model S which will start from more than 700 000 yuan (more than 110 000 USD), I don’t think the 9-3 will be prized in this area; Zinoro E1 – Zinoro being a sub brand of the BMW – Brilliance joint venture specially established to produce electric vehicles, the E1 model is a BMW X1 with electric drive. That could be an interesting model, it is a BMW after all, but it doesn’t have the advantage of a brand name, it will not be sold as a BMW but as Zinoro (in fact it will be sold as 之诺, because it will be sold in China after all) so its owner wont be able to say: “Hey, look at my Bimmer”, the best he would say is: “Hey, look at my Zinner” (in fact he won’t say any of these, because he is a Chinese). As far as I remember the E1 will start from 400 000 yuan (around 65 000 USD). And the third is the electric 9-3. An old car with electric drive, but still a SAAB. SAAB is not the most well known brand in China and does not have a perfect reputation, but still carries more with its name than a completely new and unknown brand as Zinoro (which probably will use every possible case to emphasize its BMW roots, but still it’s not a BMW). That’s the models I know of that will be something that can be called premium and will be introduced this year. Everyone can make their own conclusions about the competitiveness of the electric 9-3 in such conditions.
Regarding your question about how many electric SAABs will be needed to improve the air in the cities, I will tell you: none. They don’t need electric Saabs to improve the air, they need electric cars. They can be Saabs, they can be other makes. In fact no, they cannot just be, they will have to be from a lot of makes. SAAB can’t possibly solve the problem by themselves. And they are not trying. They just want to be part of the solution. And obviously they think they can make money by being part of the solution. I cannot say if they will be right.
Regarding the risk of damaging their reputation by offering an old car as electric – I don’t know, it is possible. But on the other hand, as I said, most of the EVs in China are based on previous cars, so it won’t be a new thing. But yes, it could harm their reputation, we will see.
Avelik: First, before anything else: I enjoy reading your entries here and try to read all of them—-often more than once. I do appreciate your insight and clarity. Regarding my post that you responded to: I did know what you were saying in your previous response—-and that you were just offering different angles from the EVs in China discussion. I wanted to push it further—-and yes, I do recognize the difference between you not taking a position, just making some conversation—-and me having a strong opinion. And I get that you assert that because you’re not offering a true opinion, you don’t need to back things up with facts. That said—-I do think people can have valid opinions based on conjecture/past experience, without doing almost impossible research to support their opinions. And in fact, there are some cases where there is no answer that anyone knows, regardless of how much research has been done—-and in those cases, opinions are offered without “facts” to support the contentions. Look at the Pontiac Aztek as an example: General Motors had “facts” from customer research groups and surveys that supported their strong opinion that this vehicle would sell in big numbers, be very profitable, reach a new young demographic and breathe life into Pontiac and General Motors—-delivering Generation X/Y buyers to the fold. They researched it to death—-previewed it—-heard what they wanted to hear—-and concluded that they had a homerun on their hands. The vehicle had a back end that could mate to a tent—-making it a “Swiss Army Knife” that could sleep adventurers comfortably on camping trips. They were excited at Pontiac. The ad agency did a tie in with the television series “Survivor” offering a new Aztek as the grand prize of an event. Anyway, we all know what happened: People saw the vehicle and laughed at it. People literally pointed and laughed. Complete armchair executives (like me) saw the first pictures of the car and said, “What?” “Is this a joke?” “Are they serious?” Common, ordinary, everyday people looked at that vehicle and said “This is going to be the biggest bust since the Edsel, what in the world are they thinking?” Yet armed with facts, GM “knew better” than the naysayers like me. Except, they didn’t. It was a complete disaster. The guy who won the vehicle on “Survivor” looked sort of like deer in headlights, and so did everyone else in the studio, when the trotted this eyesore out to show him what he had won. No jubilation, just polite applause and people looking at it—-and looking like they were witnessing an alien abduction, not someone winning a new car. How did we know it would flop in a huge way—-but GM’s top brass thought they had a winner on their hands? Well, all we had was “opinions” but they had the results of customer clinics, control groups, exhaustive research, etc. Sometimes, common sense trumps the numbers. And to bring this full circle, when the Buick Rendezvous was introduced (on the Aztek platform) I think GM was just trying to recoup some of their investment—-expecting the worst. In fact, the record shows that even dealers were surprised that the Rendezvous sold fairly well (relative to expectations)—-many older people buying it for its utility and value. In some ways, I wish you would give your opinions without holding back. If you don’t have “facts and numbers” to try to prove a claim, I still think there’s credibility to what you’re thinking. Obviously, if I say “NEVS will sell 100,000 of these hatchbacks if they price them under $25,000” I’m making a statement that I can’t possibly prove. It’s an opinion, a prediction. And if I say “NEVS should have salvaged as many U.S. dealers in 2012 as possible, by promising new Saabs to sell in 2014” and if I support that by saying “It would be the best move in the long run, they would save money in the long run.” it’s an opinion, not a fact. In fact, if NEVS did all the research you might think they did—-and concluded that “This isn’t the right time to enter the North American market—there’s no business case to be made” that’s an opinion too. Regardless of their research, they have no way of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt if they should have done what I suggested, or should follow their plan, if they have one. Sometimes I think they’re improvising this—-which is why they don’t say more. Now, if they can’t afford to do what I’m suggesting (and many times, I’ve acknowleged that this might be the case—-inability to enter global markets where Saab was sold, not unwillingness) then I go back to what others have said—-they’re underfunded, and if they’re that cash strapped, this doesn’t bode well for them saving Saab.
First of all, I was not holding back on my opinion. I was further explaining my opinion. I have an opinion that there is an EV market emerging in China. I backed this opinion with the information I have on the matter. I have an opinion that the electric 9-3 can have a meaningful place in this market now (this and next year). I backed this opinion with the knowledge of the electric car offerings currently existing there (the ones I know of). When I said I don’t know if they will succeed I did not say it to hold back, so that no one could attack this opinion of mine. I said it because I actually think I don’t have enough knowledge to even guess. I am not entirely sure what would mean for them to succeed, because I don’t know what they are aiming for exactly.
You know, I don’t hurry in forming my opinions, I prefer to stay with not entirely formed opinion until the moment I feel I have enough knowledge to form a solid one (that is when I can afford not to have an opinion). That is a thing I have accepted for myself, but I don’t expect everyone to accept similar thing. I don’t expect people to speak only when they have the truth (what is “truth” is a very disputable question by itself).
You are right that even an opinion based on a lot of facts and numbers is still an opinion, because the world is moving and everything changes. But I think you will agree that an opinion based on facts has bigger chances to be true (I am using “true” in the most ordinary sense of the word) because it has bigger and more direct relation to the reality than an opinion based just on general knowledge. It also can be wrong (like in the case with the Aztec), because there are always facts and parts of the reality that one cannot take into consideration, but the chances for it to be wrong are smaller than for an opinion based on general knowledge (smaller as a percentage figure). I just think that every discussion has its own criteria under which it should be had. If we are discussing car design we will share what we like, we will talk aesthetic principles, we will talk design heritage, we will talk brand DNA and so on. If we are discussing global warming I think we should discuss it the way it was discussed in the article about future fuel preferences. That was (is) a very high level of discussion for a car forum. Very high. It was a SAAB-like discussion, it showed what SAAB people are all about. I think it was a pleasure for people to read and actually was meaningful because it could help people form an opinion (maybe not entirely, but to a degree). When we discuss business cases I think we should do it the way business cases are actually discussed and formed. Of course I know that we cannot possibly do it in the way real business cases are made, otherwise we would just form a consulting firm and would start making money, but I think we should try to look at all the elements we know there are and to put them in real context (as much as it is possible). I think you have misunderstood me in our above discussion. When I asked you all the questions under your statement about the dealers, I did not do it to deny your opinion or your right for opinion. I did not ask you those questions so that I could say: “Ha ha, you don’t know this, shut up about it”. I asked you because you made a very strict statement and you actually emphasized your opinion that they would save money. I asked you the questions because I really wanted to know what makes you think that they would actually save money, because we already had some knowledge that they would lose money by going to the US now. So I wanted to know what made you think the expenses needed now would be less than the needed later. I asked you questions so that we could discuss the question. In the discussion that followed I explained why I think they would lose money. I also did not base it on numbers, because I don’t know how much it costs to build a 9-3, how much it would cost to import it to the US, I don’t know all the other expenses needed. I just don’t think all the sources that claimed that they would lose money are wrong. I can see why people say the 9-3 cannot sell in America, because even here a lot of people did not express excitement about the car and didn’t show willingness to pay a lot of money for it (the needed money to make it profitable). I tried to cover all of the two possibilities and compare them under the conditions of lack of explicit facts about them. So I think we had a discussion on the same level. But in the same time I think that you paid bigger emphasis on the possible gains they would have by keeping the dealers and did not have enough consideration of the other side of the situation – loses they could have. And because we have had enough discussions about the possible profitability of the 9-3 model in the US I thought you could present the situation with the dealers in comparable way. Not necessarily with exact number of the needed money based on contracts and so on but at least something that could form an idea of the situation. The things said about the price and the profitability of the 9-3 have not been exactly explicitly factual (we haven’t heard anyone say: “it will cost this and that”) but it can still form an overall idea. The things we know about the dealership network are not enough to form an overall idea of the situation. That was the goal of my questions and the discussion I started.
So I was not trying to kill every possible discussion by saying “Let’s talk only after we have made a research”. I was trying to put the discussion about the dealers on the level had in previous discussions. I was trying to form a comparable image of the dealer situation (comparable to the image we have about the 9-3’s pricing) so that we could compare it to the situation with the 9-3.
Regarding NEVS – I really think they have made researches. I don’t know how profound these researches have been. I think that they have made them because I think that is a normal thing to do when you do business (I also think they have made them because they have expressed intention of going to the US and have explained to Tim that it would be a hard thing to do, I don’t think they assume it would be hard because they have asked aunty Jane from Albuquerque). I think of them as people that are doing business in a normal way. I don’t think they are geniuses and I don’t think they are morons. When I have limited information about some people I accept that they are on a level normal (average) for the situation they are in. In the case of NEVS, the situation they are in predisposes for relatively high business abilities. So I think of them as people possessing relatively high business abilities. This is my starting point. Every action of theirs increases or decreases my opinion of them. So far none of their actions have caused a serious change in my perception of them.
That said, I also think that a lot of things are not happening the way they expect or want them to happen, so they are improvising (that is probably part of the reason they are that silent). But still I don’t think they are totally lost in what they are doing.
The question with their global presence is a complicated one. It does not relate only to funding, it is also a structural and organizational one. Funding is a basic thing, but is not the only element. It takes time to form a working and healthy organization. Organizations are like living creatures. You can pour a lot of water on a plant and offer it enough irrigation, but it still will take time to grow. I think NEVS are moving relatively fast. They have put the factory to work, they have started selling vehicles (not many but still), they are finishing the first step of building the manufacturing plant in China and are close to introducing their first EV. I think that is not a small accomplishment for a year and a half.
You know, I should have checked the Aztec correct spelling, but Aztek wasn’t caught by the computer I was working on as a misspelled word. I actually wrote it both ways and neither was flagged (old browser?)—and I didn’t bother to check. Anyway, thanks for the response. Unlike others who have expressed negative opinions, I am in total agreement that in a relatively short amount of time, NEVS has accomplished a lot. In less than two years, they’ve managed to do some positive things. Others have speculated that restarting production of the 9-3 should have taken a few weeks or months—-but as Tim explained in detail, just lining up new suppliers took a long time—-it was not easy to establish a supplier chain. I don’t believe I’ve ever stated that I don’t think NEVS leadership are smart people—-they obviously are, and they’ve been achievers in their previous roles. I’ve isolated a slice of what I consider crucially important in re-establishing the brand—-public awareness/public relations/customer outreach and admittedly, my emphasis has been on what it means to North Americans who want to buy another new Saab—and in that context, this has been a disaster. So others “gently” pointed out to me that I was looking at things from a tainted perspective (“Hey Angelo, they don’t care what you think because they have no intention of selling cars in your market—get used to it big guy—it’s China, it’s electric and it’s not USA and it won’t be.”). That pretty much sums it up—-I know that if they have any intention of returning to the U.S. to sell cars in the near future, there’s a serious omission in their efforts—-and I’ve pointed that out. But others pointed out that the omission isn’t really an omission—because they have no interest in coming back here for many, many years, if ever, which would explain why there’s been zero effort to salvage the brand here. Are you buying that logic Avelik? And the other criticisms might seem petty (such as deriding them over their lack of a serious internet website) but I ask you—-what credible company do you know of who would ever, EVER let themselves be represented by a sparse skeleton of a website like that—in the 21st century? Can you give an example? Give me the URL and I’ll check it out. Is this important? Hey, maybe it’s far from the most important thing on their plate, but it should at least be on their plate, and it doesn’t appear to be. Is there a different website for China? Do Chinese consumers use the internet to do product research? If the answer to that is yes, do we seriously think this is going to fly when they’re apparently going to be selling EVs in China later this year? Again, if this sounds like nitpicking, it’s not. Web commerce/web development for things like automobile sales matter—-unless China is way, way different than other parts of the world I’m more familiar with. If you’re right that they’re close to introducing their first EV, can you explain the website disaster? Do we think they’re putting the finishing touches on a totally new website (I won’t say “revised website” because I don’t see how revising that one would even work—needs to be a replacement in all respects)? Maybe.
I think you are right about a lot of the things you say about their public relations strategy. This is definitely not the way every other company is acting. From the point of view of an outsider it definitely looks strange that they are going to introduce a new model in the very near future and there is no enough media outreach for the matter. There have been reports in the Chinese media that SAAB will introduce an electric car this year and will sell the conventional 9-3, but it has been just that, no details, definitely not the way other new models have been presented (not that every new model evokes media frenzy). Kai Johan Jiang is giving interviews to some Chinese media from time to time, but they mainly focus on the company, its goals and so on, not saying a lot about the product (“a lot” meaning something more than what we here know). I don’t know what the reason for that is. It may be because they don’t understand the importance for that, or because they think they can do without it, or maybe they are trying but are failing so miserably in it that it doesn’t even seem that they are trying, or they are not trying at all at the moment. There are a lot of possible reasons, a lot of which I cannot even think of. I haven’t criticized them for that because a lot of criticism on the matter has been said and I just don’t think I have anything more to add. But I try to look at what they do in the context of the things they do. They are going to do something in China and Sweden/Europe this year, but they are not giving details about it (but still I think we all agree that they are going to do something this year). So I find it strange when people say: “They are not coming to America, because they haven’t said that they will”. We all know they don’t say a lot (let’s put aside for a moment the discussion if we think that’s right or not) but until now we should have understood that this does not mean they don’t do things. So in the context of the way NEVS is acting I think that when they have said that they have intentions for presence in the North America I find this enough to show that they actually have such intentions. That is how I think. I know it is frustrating to wait not knowing what you are waiting for. But I think the fans and especially we here at SU are seeing the things differently from everyone else. From the very beginning we are expecting results from NEVS. We have been expecting them to show us things, to keep us part of the things happening there. Some here have acted as if they have bought a company and expected them to put this company to work immediately, explaining what cars they would want (new models) and when they want them (very often this “when” being some months or a year in the future). We all have kept very close look at everything there. But that have been us, not everyone else out there. Not everything NEVS is doing is done with consideration of how it would be seen by the fans at SU. NEVS haven’t bought a company, they bought assets around which they are building a company, so they had (and are still having) a lot of work for building and rebuilding the organization. There have not been that many things to be shown (things interesting for the fans, although I personally would be interested to know the personal story of the guard on the gate at NEVS, if they have one, or all kind of details about the people working there, the engineers, designers, the people building cars on the line, who are they, how they work, what is the atmosphere there and so on, but still the majority is interested more in the products).
That said, I think they could have kept the interest of the fans through some other ways. You have said that they can build brand awareness even without making promises and it think that is right, so that has been a valid criticism from your side. I have a feeling that they are keeping the low profile intentionally, they want to keep the building process out of the eyes of the audience. I suppose it is to keep the pressure inside the company lower and to actually have enough “space” for the need of changes that inevitably will occur during the process. They prefer to keep the family things inside the family. It is their style and if this style is an important part of the way they accomplish things, I accept it. The problem with this decision is that it neglects the fact that there is big group of people that has a vivid interest of everything that happens with SAAB. This group of people is used to being (or at least to feeling like) part of the family. So with the decision to “close the door” (which I find to be a reasonable decision having in mind all that the brand has been through the last few years and the not easy road that NEVS had and is having ahead of them) they kind of “hit in the face” the fans. I think there could be a middle way. There could be a way to keep the attention of the vast audience far enough so that they could work normally and in the same time to keep the fans “busy” and exited. I have thought of what this “middle way” could be but I haven’t really reached to a very satisfactory answer. One thing I have thought of is a special section in their site or an independent website or something like that with the “code name” WhatSAAB. People would come to the WhatSAAB thing and share what is SAAB for them, what SAAB they would like to see in the future and things like that. I haven’t really gone “deep” with it, so I don’t know in what way people would actually share their visions and what features would it have, but the overall idea is this. The WhatSAAB thing could have a natural extension in the form of WhySAAB (place where NEVS would explain why their products have the certain features they have and it would lead to a general conclusion why buying a Saab is worth it) when there is a product. Anyway, that is just an idea, there are a lot of possible ways to do something like that (“the middle way”), they depend a lot on their exact condition which we all are not aware of. I don’t think they don’t care about the fans, I think they showed they do. Just they haven’t showed it in satisfactory enough way. I don’t know why they haven’t sought the middle way.
To conclude, I think both the fans and NEVS have made a perception mistake. The fans have made a mistake by thinking of NEVS as an established company, demanding from it to act as an established company. A lot of the fans have not realized what the actual situation is and what the condition under which NEVS started and has been developing is. NEVS have made a mistake by thinking that they can act entirely as a start-up and not to have an adequate response for the huge interest from the people that care for the brand (I am saying this with the very clear understanding that they may have a very good reason that is stopping them from having an adequate response, but that still does not change the fact).
About the site. I see the website of NEVS not as customer oriented website, but as industry oriented one. If you look at it you can see that its main purposes are to briefly explain what and who they are, what they are doing. Some of the main sections of the site are the “Work with us” section and the “Contact us” section. To me this site is not intended to have a “wow” effect on its visitors. There are a lot of company sites like that. It is there mainly for the people in the industry and other companies. That said, it still does not rank very high in the industry sites quality chart. LeanNova – the company established by ex-SAAB engineers that works very closely with NEVS has a better site than NEVS.
The current form of the NEVS site should change very seriously when they decide to attract customers. They are already selling cars, but they are not attracting customers because they are having very limited offer right now. This will change soon (how soon exactly we still don’t know) so they have to make changes soon.
The Chinese website is the same as the English and the Swedish ones, it’s just in Chinese. You can see it on saabcars.com/zh/. The only difference is that there is a “Become a dealer” section where they invite companies in China to become dealers for SAAB (again the industry orientation I mentioned above).
Chinese do product research in the internet. They go to auto news sites, they read and watch reviews, they visit forums. A company website should be able to become part of the process as I said above.
As I was reading your post, it occurred to me that one little “middle ground” might be to profile a NEVS/SAAB employee—-weekly or monthly (or every two weeks, whatever). An engineer? Sure. The guard at the front gate? Why not? Someone working on assembly? Definitely. You’d go to the website and there would be a section “Who We Are” or something like that. It would be updated regularly, with a new profile. This would be a relatively short blurb—-maybe a photo of the person and a quick paragraph with the person answering a few questions about what it’s like to work at Saab, the excitement of seeing new cars come off the line and restarting the brand, etc. And in fact, even unrelated things—-like what the person does in their spare time—-hobbies they have, their love for cars (if they love cars) maybe even stories about Saabs they’ve owned in the past—-that sort of thing. You know what? I would go to the website regularly to find new entries and I bet a lot of SU readers would do the same thing. Imagine that sort of insight into who is building these cars, who is designing them, who will market them—-and yes, who staffs the factory in other roles like security, administrative work, etc. It would put a human face on this and I think that’s really important. And I would want the NEVS Chinese players (or the Japanese people involved with battery development) included in this group. I think it would be fascinating and actually, really beneficial to hear about how the different cultures are coming together to build a new Saab—-I think it would be a public relations coup for a global company to show their diversity that way. This is also the sort of thing that can be done with a Facebook account, which I would love to see NEVS pursue.
That is a thing I would be very interested to see.
Wow! I agree with Doug, Good post.
Is it known how many new 9-3s have been sold by NEVS so far?
Count your fingers and toes?
I’m polydactyl – it’s good news then…
Next Tuesday you will need more than that to count them all. 😉
What’s happening next Tuesday? Are they giving $500.00 rebates like GM?
No, next Tuesday is April 1st, and the registration figures for March will be published, as they have already registered 20 cars, Even if NEVS has only registered one car you will need more than fingers and toes to count them.
Depends who you are Red—-I’ve heard there are some people with more than 20.
And more than 24?
No, unless they’re all double jointed and you count that as two each.
in Sweden you get statistics on the amount of cars registered but not on sales numbers. In Europe, there is a difference between both as people sign the sale contract but they get their car some months later.
Nevertheless, till the end of February 20 cars have been registered, but keep in mind that NEVS will start the delivery of cars to customers in April, so we will still have to wait a whole month to see the interest of Swedes on the 9-3N.
I’d say about 35-45 cars
35-45 In march? ..or since they started selling on lineup December?
At least 200 to the City of Qingdao. 31 sold in December in Sweden.
Probably a little less in January and February. My guess is around 250 in total.
A dumb question maybe: If you buy an Aero or the facelift 9-3 (when it arrives), who is authorizied to sevice them and handle any possible warranty repairs?
AFAIK, they have a contract with Orio, so you can go to any Saab garage (at least inside Sweden).
That would be excellent news. After all there are customer relationships that can go back decades between Saabers and mechanics at former dealerships.
The link http://saabsunited.saabklubben.se/2014/03/www.saabcars.com, is wrong please correct.
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