31 private owners of Saab 9-3N cars in Sweden 2014

According to the national statistics in Sweden NEVS registered 264 cars 2014. Out of the 264 cars just 31 are now registered to private individuals/owners. The sales was horrible to put it mildly. The estimated 1000 cars sold from NEVS management fell short. Where are the remaining 233 cars? Some might be operated by companies as fleet cars, some might be at dealerships around Sweden.
Link to Swedish Car Statistics for 2014: http://www.bilsweden.se/storage/cms/07cbea545c654cc5bd2059b29c755d17/dc1e5fa5cd3c419da3af2109e3592f3e/PDF/-8/topplistandec14prel.PDF?MediaArchive_ForceDownload=true&PropertyName=File1&ValueIndex=0

So why did it go so bad? Here some of my conclusions.
1. Way to expensive should have been 33% lower price to make it competitive
2. Plain and simply an old car that we have had on our roads for more than 10 years
3. Big Saab used car market to compete with. Many companies with leasing fleets etc. went to other brands.
4. Lack of colors, just black and silver does not cut it for many customers.
5. Some technology same more or less just glued on to the dash and holes drilled for letting cords through (Parrot Hands-Free)
6. Value on mildly old 9-3, 9-5 and 9-5 NG falling dramatically
7. Some parts are still hard to come by through ORIO and salvage.

The car in the pictures VIN#YTNFD4AZ4E1100075 was parked in a NO-Parking zone (and stood there for a couple of hours) in central Stockholm and is owned by NEVS in Trollhättan and possibly on loan the Racing Team PWR they sponsored. I wonder where the parking tickets are sent? Besides it is really bad publicity for NEVS and the other sponsors featured on the car. I would not have liked to have my name on a car “committing” i crime. Myself living in central Stockholm really dislike the poor attitude among the people who can not conform to the easiest of rules.

88 thoughts on “31 private owners of Saab 9-3N cars in Sweden 2014”

  1. NEVS never wanted to build the gasoline version of the car at all, that matter was forced by their partner in Qingdao. This forced the company in to a situation where they had to make a lot of compromises, as it turned out, this path wasn’t a good one.

    Considering this, I hope that the last 9-3 of that model has been built, so that NEVS can focus all of its power on creating something new. We don’t need a rebuild of some old Saab, we need a brand new revolutionary car that can bring the brand back! If it takes 10 years, then so be it… I don’t care… but until they can deliver something truly great without compromise, don’t deliver at all!

    • I have to agree. I hadn’t actually driven this generation of 9-3 until a few weeks ago… and I can see why Saab went bust. :/ Given that the VW group own the Scania truck side (am I correct on that?), I’m hoping that somehow something can be acquired from the VW group as a base for a new vehicle – I’ve often thought the Skoda Octavia would be an excellent starting point. The choices of gearboxes (the DSG would be a natural Saab fit) and powertrains would fit nicely as well.

      • Sadly Scania and Saab has nothing to do with each other anymore and yes, the skoda make nice vehicles, they drive very well =)

        Having driven other brands for a few months now and gotten the first of the two new cars we’ve ordered I’m realizing more and more how far behind Saab was already in 2011. And now, 4 years later the distance Saab needs to catch up has increased a lot. BMW and Mercedes have moved beyond LED headlights into the world of laser lights which holds amazing potential to actively measure everything ahead of the car, giving the car amazing capability to quickly react to animals, kids or other objects that might appear in the path of the car… Even brands such as Huyndai have moved from the Xenon world into the world of active LED’s…

        8-12 speed automatic gearboxes are far superior to anything I’ve ever driven in a Saab an being able to produce 250 hp in a two liter twin-turbo engine with a gasoline consumption of just 5,8 liters / 100 km with four-wheel drive is astonishing.

        But also the Hydrogen fuel-cell systems that Mercedes will bring to market within 2 years, not just in an auto show but actually to the dealers, make one realize that if Saab brings just another standard gasoline car without techs such as fuel-cells, super efficient engines, head-up-displays, in-car-app-store, etc etc etc will be just another car that competes with the asian models… and to me thats not what a Saab is supposed to be…

        • I’m only too painfully aware that the Scania and Saab bits don’t have anything to do with each other any more (*sob*), but I’m hoping the simple association by name will be enough for the VW group to take notice of proceedings and maybe have a proposition of some sort.

          The mid-2000s 9-3 I drove was a horrid vehicle that made me genuinely angry. Although first glance at the cabin (as long the interior isn’t specced in grey) makes you think, “oooh, that looks nice”, a few minutes driving the car made my teeth grind. The seats were hard and punishing, and gave me back ache after 15 minutes no matter how I adjusted it; the air vents and every other bit of plastic trim was thin, cheap, and flimsy. The leather seats were only about 10 years old, but they were already cracked nastily. The key was needlessly complicated, whilst also being annoying in its operation and ugly to look at (why waste money engineering that, when we could have had a normal key and nicer trim?), and the gearbox was dimwitted. And what on earth is the deal with that strip of plastic feaux-chrome going around the cabin? I’m probably going to annoy people with that summary, but I felt the only reason someone would have bought that model is because it had a Saab badge. :/

          So if we won’t have a return to something without genuine depth, then I don’t think a relaunch will be successful…. unless the styling and cabin are gorgeous, with orgasmic seats! I’ve been thinking a re-launched Saab should maybe go with something like a Subaru angle, where every model is AWD (BRZ excepted), using the same Haldex system as everyone else. Any maybe something like the super-capacitor system used on this Jay Leno vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9vZLYMoTCQ

          Could maybe give the cars a newly perceived angle without having to re-invent the wheel and spend a squillion dollars?

  2. I’ve been a tad silent for over a year just deliberating on the plight of SAAB.

    I don’t think that it helped the matter to restrict the revamped 9-3 to only LHD when the demand in the UK would have helped with numbers etc. although I fully understand why this did not happen due to approvals etc.

    Anyway today is a gloomy one for me (not only the crap weather). My wives leased 9-3TtiD is in for service and is due for handing back to the lease company ALD Automotive on 15th March. I have in the past negotiated a good deal via a 3rd party (family member) to purchase previous leased cars but it looks like the law has since changed here in the UK and they will neither extend the lease or allow purchase unless sold to a dealership then purchased from them. With only 29,000 miles done on the car, it is highly unlikely that this will prove to be a realistic option.

    So that leaves me with the 2012 NG9-5 Aero, old 1985 SAAB90 and my sons 9-3 Vector. Think I will find a bridge or high branch on a tree.

  3. I am the terrible guy, who according to you, is a local criminal! It is on your picture parked in a loading zone, across the street from the Grand Hotel, where on occasion I do have business. I like to read your page, but this was a low mark, more off a tabloid paper article, sad to se that! I pay for any parking ticket that I might receive while using this car that I have on loan from NEVS.
    I have to say that I do not feel like a criminal when on occasion for some reason, I park in the wrong space, and do not hinder any one. If one looks at the fee for a wrongly parked car, one could feel like one, since it is so expensive!
    I hope you will have a good day, and a Happy New Year!
    Best regards

    • Well Peter, you obviously were in a hurry to arrive and “business” at a hotel is often tabloid material so perhaps you got off easy on this one. On the other hand, all of this leads one to wonder if those who never park illegally are having much fun in life.

    • Peter, thanks for the Happy New Year greetings! Great to read Your comments, but do You have any comments on the poor sales of 9-3N? The parking of the loaner is correctly Your business, if it is parked in no-parking zone or more than 30 cm from the curb (out into the traffic). It just happens to be a shining example on how many drivers in Stockholm disobey the common rules we need to share. You as the president of the Royal Swedish Automobile Club should be aware that people take notice of low marks in the traffic. Good luck with the racing seasons on the Swedish Tracks. Next season the Volvo Polestar Team will be gone, will that be the end of Swedish STCC Racing Series?

      • Kanske läge för en pudel…???
        Peter W, KAK’s president “criminally” parking in central Stockholm – on the KAK homepage a link to “Attitydförändring” or change of attitude – suggest a Hero for a safer traffic ?!!
        Probably not mr PW himself, but at least he can afford to pay for the fines… 🙂
        …and there is always at least one reason for No Parking Zone, like access, visibility, etc.
        Not so safe for nearby road users.

        Still, most Saab drivers are nice people, using their indicators, showing respect and care in traffic, AND parking in legal parking spaces!

        As a footnote, public parking is VERY expensive in central Stockholm – 15 sek (2 USD) /10 minutes, 90 (12) / hour. Unless you have en EV…

        • theSandySaab.
          Whatever one does on life on has to be a good decent raw model. That is especially important when one runs an organization to promote high values and virtues in traffic. The US saying “Talk the Talk, and Walk the Walk” I find appropriate.
          Unfortunately I see every day much more luxurious and grandeur automobiles parked not according to the Stockholm City regulations. But it seams like the price on time is much higher for the important meeting and not having to look around for a free parking place, compared to the possible parking ticket.

  4. At what point can we stop calling them NEVS? Is that coming soon (I pray)? Why did it fail? It wasn’t available in most traditional Saab markets, it was overpriced, interior bits were crude and it was not promoted. As well, the parent company had a website that looked like it was developed by an elementary school class using free educational software. That doesn’t instill much confidence, I’d say. The 9-3 failed, that’s true—–but the bigger story is that company, NEVS, failed—-and failed badly. Their failure was due only in very small part to the 9-3 they “introduced.” The stench of their collapse extends way beyond that. Let us hope that in 2015, the slate can be erased clean one more time and a new owner installed, again—-and the fewer remnants of NEVS that are here, the better chance any new Saab will achieve something positive. Get rid of the name already. The new owner, if there ever is one—–needs to bury this last horrific episode. Let’s pretend the last 3 years never happened—-like it was only a bad nightmare—-lost in a time warp—-and let any new Saab begin without being weighed down by the nonsense of 2012-2014.

      • The car, no, the website, yes. The car—-photos showing how an appendage was added to the dashboard likely looked better in the photos than it did in person—-and it looked horrible in the photos so I can only imagine how it looked in person—-like what a teenager in the 1970s might do to add an 8 track tape player to their Pinto—-hanging it under the dashboard—but at least those teenagers had the good sense to hide the wires.

  5. “1. Way to expensive should have been 33% lower price to make it competitive”

    If these cars could be built and sold at a profit for 33% less SAAB would still be in business.

    • 3cyl I agree with You. At times I wonder how many of the decisions where handled within the company. So much value in the brand name SAAB that SAAB AB and Scania had given them. When speaking with engineers and developers they where happy about the progression. But what happened at the end just how far had the work come. Where they as advanced as Tesla or BMW on electrical propulsion? From what BMW does right now I have a feel that a few hundred dedicated engineers would have a hard time making everything needed like the 25000 people strong force in Munich.

      • Yes Trued, over the last few decades BMW has become very strong. It has been said that Alfa Romeo could have been BMW as Alfa had nice sport sedans and coupes (not to mention a North American dealer network) earlier than BMW, but BMW has managed their business much better than Alfa and look at the difference today. Competing with the strong companies like BMW now is more of a challenge than it was in earlier times beacuse the cost of complying with regulations makes economy of scale an even greater advantage than it used to be.

  6. First in your list, way before “1. Way to expensive should have been 33% lower price to make it competitive” should it be the fact that very few people buy a car from an economically instable producer. This is a fact that seems to be forgotten when speaking sales figures.
    I don’t think it should be 33% cheaper but of course more people would buy if it cost right below 250kkr instead of right below 300kkr. Maybe they shouldn’t built this version at all but all of us Saab-fans screamed for cars and they reacted to this. Poorly us Saab-fans didn’t show them the money…

    • Roger, You are right on the 0.5 point that should been mentioned before 1.
      The key issue is that the high screaming so called Saab-Fans do not buy NEW Saab cars. That has been the troublesome issue for the last 5 years. SU having rallies around the world, Saab parades etc. etc. but the “FANS” still enjoy their old 900 cars and never give any thoughts that the Saab Car production can only survive on selling NEW cars. I stretch out my neck and take the chance of getting my head cut off and say: “People where not loyal buying the products ( such a company has no place in a market economy), the buyers voted with their feet and went for other brands simple as that. Buying a new premium car is a big economic issue for most families.”

      • SAAB built a lot of momentum with the classic 900 and managed to squander it . SAAB could not afford to do that. I suspect that the typical loyal SAAB owner could have predicted that the new 900 was not going to build on what the classic version had accomplished. How could management not have realized that? It could be argued that the original 9-5 was more a successor to the classic 900 than the replacement 900 was, but the 9-5 needed to be priced in a more expensive market segment replacing the 9000.

  7. WTF?

    I came here simply to write ‘another positive post by Trued’ with obvious sarcasm intended. Also wanted to defend the driver. Thankfully, the driver of the car, Peter, has already arrived and explained the situation. Why he had to do this? I have no idea. Trued, time to call it a day and bow out from this site. Go away and follow whatever rules you like. Remember, they were invented by people – not some deities – and worse than that, people who work in planning offices and county councils. Who, in my experience, don’t know anything about anything. But, hey, what’s that got to do with Saab? Absolutely nothing.

    Peter, from the rest of the normal people here, sorry that someone on this site essentially tried to ‘name and shame’ you.

  8. I am one of the 31 private owners, but I don’t agree with you, Jörgen, that the car is way too expensive and plain. Well, I didn’t pay full price (SEK289 000), I paid under SEK250 000, but I am satisfied and happy with what I got for that money. The Parrot hands-free thing looks terrible on the dashboard, but for me the car is well equipped, it has nearly all equipment I want.
    But, of course, I am a Saab-fan, and look at these cars through colored glasses, but a I am a Saab fan who really buy new Saab cars. Beside this 2014 9-3, I also bought one of the last convertibles, the 2012 Independence Edition.

    • Johnny, Saab should have had more loyal buyers of new cars like you and me. True supporters buying new cars on a regular basis. You are a hero taking on a 9-3N.

      • Yes, I guess that I also have coloured glasses concerning SAAB.
        But I have driven Both the manuel and automatic versions and,yes I liked them as they are!

    • Nice to read that there are some enthusiasts in Sweden that have bought a 2014 Saab 9-3!
      Do you know if there are still unsold New cars at the factory in Trollhättan, or are all the produced 9-3’s sold?

      • I am sure there are still a number of unsold cars at the factory, NEVS has produced totally ~400 cars. Here in Sweden you can still order a new car at NEVS’ home page, nothing has changed there.

        • Sorry they are all china spec meaning no ESP and other regulatory equipment. The only cars that can be bought are out at the dealers. Many of them are owned by “pawned by Nevs” through Solid AB to free up cash.

    • I agree with you. It’s a good and confortable car. It was not too expensive, an equivalent AUDI or BMW would have cost me at least 10000 € more (the car is Hirsch tuned)! It will log tonight 23000 k and runs like a swiss-clock). For me it was a bargain. By the way it’s one of the rare one NEVS 9-3 not to be registered in Sweden (maybe the only one).
      I just wonder how many people are so-called SAAB fans but don’t buy SAABS.
      BUYING a NEVS 9-3 was the only way to help them, NOT WRITING about them.

  9. On another note::: If Mahindra truly buys in,,, NO WAY NO HOW will they be out of the market 8 ,, 7, 6 , 5, 4, years.

    I can’t imagine anything greater than 3 years max to produce new Saabs . I suspect a whole lot of things are happening as we speak if in fact they are buying in.

    They are looking at platform sharing, engines,, and designs along with vendors for parts interiors etc Another words negotiations are happening to have a quality cars quick as possible…. Not sure who the sources maybe for platforms ,engines etc.
    If the above becomes to complicated I suspect our beloved Saab will die..I believe that is why this process has taken so long. Again anyone who thinks some company buying Saab will absorb losses for 5 plus years in development before one Vehicle sold is grossly mistaken in my opinion.

    • Right on Doug. I’m thinking 4 years max—-but we’re pretty close. The notion that it’ll be 8 years—-or even 10 years—-makes very little business sense. That isn’t a fast enough return on investment for anyone who buys into this—-Mahindra or anyone else. Platform sharing is a reality, and likely a certainty, not a possibility. Rebranding is also possible or something in between. If Mahindra takes over, I do believe Saabs will be sold in Western markets again, perhaps sooner than many think. I also believe Saabs will have gas engines and turbos available—not just EVs. Again, it’s a return on investment theme—-if Mahindra tries to create a Saab line-up that is 100% EV, they will either fail—-or they will fail to turn a profit for so many years, it simply won’t make sense for them to buy in. These are very intelligent people and they’re not impulsive as NEVS management seemed to be. One reason they didn’t get a crack at Saab in 2012 is probably because they didn’t like what they were hearing—and the acquisition didn’t pass the smell test. That’s one reason the Saab bundle ended up in NEVS lap, and it soon fell on the floor anyway. Now is Mahindra back to pick up the mess and try to sort it out? We hope so. I think we’ll need to be patient because they aren’t going to act irrationally and slap things together—-but I do think they’ll move efficiently and effectively to bring something decent to market faster than many believe possible. Time will tell.

      • I agree with you, Angelo V, that the new owners will have to produce a conventional gas engine to start with, though EVs could be developed eventually. I don’t know about Europe, where the price of gas is higher largely because of taxes, but in the US gas prices have fallen off a cliff. Its a true global price war, with the low-cost (relative to others) producers trying to damage their higher-cost competitors (like shale oil). Gas is an unbelievable $1.75/gallon in my neck of the woods, and below $2 a gallon in most of the US. This party is too good to last long-term, obviously, but is already having an impact on vehicle sales in US. It just seems to me that this is not a good time for anyone to delve into EV production who has not built up that capacity and know-how over the past several years. NEVS definitely couldn’t handle it, and Mahindra is not in that position, either.

        With regard to the other comments about how the Saab faithful largely did not support the brand in terms of buying new vehicles, I am definitely an offender, as I have never bought a new Saab, and I have had 12. But, there is something to be said for those of us who have supported the Saab resale market as resale value plays into decisions about buying new cars. The Saab resale values have also fallen off a cliff is a large reason for the poor sales. I recently saw one of the new 9-5s in my neighborhood, and its only one of two I have ever seen on the road. I thought, cool, it would be fun to have one of those, but then I thought, hey, what about getting parts for maintenance, and equally worrisome would be what would happen if I had a fender-bender and needed a headlight or taillight cluster or rear quarter-panel or various trim pieces. How much fun would it be to have the car in the shop for a couple months while parts trickle in.

        That is the sort of thing that has killed Saab. I don’t know how many of my friends thought Saab was long dead, even during the Muller and NEVS chapters. They had zero presence in what had been their largest market, and were only a footnote in any others. Long gone are the days when someone can fashion body panels by hand for a prototype using a buck sitting against a manure pile to provide just the right rebound (this is how the initial Saab prototype was partly fashioned, btw). Long gone are the days when an independent, tiny player can survive in the marketplace making cars that us mere mortals can afford. Even in its heyday, for a maker of affordable cars, Saab was tiny. Look around at the other niche players, even the ones that build very expensive cars. How many of them are independent? If Mahindra can make something of Saab, then that is the best we can expect. How Swedish will it really be-time will tell.

        • I want to see the nameplate live to fight another day. If that means early efforts from Mahindra that fall short of what the faithful are looking for—so be it. The faithful weren’t enough to support the brand anyway. So it might be time to move on to a new demographic perhaps.

  10. Angelo sourcing top components, platforms and engines etc. isn’t a bad thing with a heavy does of Sweden influence can produce very nice Vehicles. You can end up with the best of the best. By the way it isn’t uncommon.

    If this deal goes down rest assured Mahindra has been working on this for a while now. They may be a lot further along than what we think. They may be getting confirmation (deals pending etc.)…

    • You bet! The SOLID yellow line is not there by chance. All markings on the streets and roads are backed up in Federal regulations and laws. In Sweden it is called “Vägtrafikkungörelsen”. Saab drivers as well as other drivers have to obey to all laws in the traffic. No excuses. Some countries like Finland has a system of parking fees and speeding ticked liked to your taxed income. That is a truly fair way I think. A ticket should be just as painful if You are a bluecollar worker or high ranked aristocrat.

      • I think the problem is using the word “crime”, not that he broke the law. In the USA, we have several categories for breaking the law. Things like parking, not removing snow from the sidewalk in front of your store, speeding (except perhaps if drunk which is more serious), are considered “violations” or “infractions” and you generally pay a fine. More serious law breaking are considered “crimes” and they are divided into “misdemeanors” and “felonies.” A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony and is often defined as a crime where the prison sentence is less than a year, and often people are given probation or community service hours,

        • Merriam Webster defines crime as, “an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government”. An infraction is, “an act that breaks a rule or law”. So while you are correct, there are infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies, they are all crimes. Crime is *not* the wrong word to use, although I can see the chap who did the crime is quite displeased to be called out for doing it. I find that quite amusing, that he would take offense to breaking the law like it was his right to do so. Strange, maybe he was an American at some point, or in a previous life even. 😛

  11. 8. No dealers! Direct-only sales might work in the long run, but it takes a lot to bring the customers to the web site, and the site has to be a lot more sophisticated than what we saw from NEVS. Even among the hard core, only Swedish nationals were “eligible”. I’m surprised they sold more than ten cars at all, that way.

    • “…and the site has to be a lot more sophisticated than what we saw from NEVS.” You’re being very polite with that comment. Certainly—-it might be possible for a company to move to a direct sales model, but NEVS/Saab was not that company. In the U.S., Tesla is trying this approach. They are well funded, well known, well organized—-politically connected—-and even they are getting push-back for not having a traditional dealer set-up (to be clear, push-back by the other car companies stuck with the dealer model and by some politicians who might be owned by car dealers and manufacturers). I think the public would respond positively to a direct sales approach. That said—NEVS didn’t have the muscle to do anything like that. Their reason for selling direct was probably strictly financial, not strategic—-and they didn’t know what they were doing. Clearly, they didn’t know what they were doing.

      • Personally, I like the direct sales approach….but in the US, there’s more than “push-back by the other car companies stuck with the dealer model and by some politicians who might be owned by car dealers and manufacturers.” Telsa is actually banned from selling in 26 states……that’s all because of dealer pressure. Unless someone can convince 26 legislatures to change their laws, or bring a successful federal lawsuit (perhaps on the basis of interfering with interstate commerce), it looks pretty problematic to me to have internet sales. Apparently, Volvo is trying an online sales model in the US though.

        • There’s also huge reluctance on the part of the buying public. Remember when the idea of buying clothing online was a joke? You couldn’t try it on! Well, we caught up with that eventually. But a car is big-ticket. It’s more like a house than a t-shirt. The test-drive will continue to have major importance, and who’s going to keep inventory distributed everywhere for that purpose? Also, the relationship with the dealer (or someone) is important to establish, if only because most of your interaction will be post-sales service. I don’t like the dealers (or anyone) blocking innovation just to protect their own interests, but it’s not completely one-sided. Not yet.

          • I think the idea would be for manufacturer direct sales through their own outlets. It wouldn’t have to be strictly internet sales—-but instead of having the dealer as the middle-man, the manufacturer themselves would own the rights to sell their car—-they would own or lease the buildings where the cars were warehoused and sold. There could still be traditional car lots—with service centers—-but owned by the manufacturer, not a franchised dealer. Hugh—-that is exactly the push-back I was talking about. Tesla tried to skirt those laws and found real teeth in the laws—-dealer groups and the manufacturers they sell for lobbied politicians on all levels—local, state, federal—-even though it’s mostly a state by state issue. They are working overtime to prevent Tesla from selling direct and not having traditional franchised dealerships owned by an independent operator. General Motors was one of the companies fighting to make sure Tesla can’t get around these rules.

          • Sorry for referring to just a fraction of your thoughts. I actually stopped buying clothing online, after 15 years. Why? Prices have grown up to near store-levels, while you still can’t try it on, which takes up to 50% to the dump. I have a very big box of brand new, upscale brand garments sitting around for years, because they didn’t fit, and I grew tired of it.

  12. Firstly, the _no dealers_ would convert any brand to a still-born, this is a no brainer… Also, I agree that the price levels were a bit far-fetched.

    However the 2014 9-3 seemed to me a very decent and desirable car, really not something to go dumping on. The lack of engine-color-etc choice was again a clear showstopper. But I’m already starting to get tired of reading the general bashing of the car and brand over and over again. The future hi-tech mania is a bit overdrew here, principally because the 9-3 NEVS was never meant to be the magic bullet for Saab’s next 5 to 10 years. While, people are living the present time and my friend, owner of an international business enterprise in Dubai, provided with the extensively wide range of choice for his car needs consisting of Range Rovers, Maseratis, Porsches, which he is often reviewing in the showrooms, he is a happy and proud owner of a 2010 9-3 cabriolet and feels not ashamed but happy and feels it appropriate for himself, despite he could afford any of those afore mentioned. Bashing Saab from behind the wheel of a “supa dupa bimmer” is just not right, nor objective. Neither is a Saab fan’s view, but then it is pretty much adequate. Please highly respected authors, I didn’t mean this as a taunt but rather as shedding light on another important aspect.

    • I agree with you that the last generation 9-3 was a competent car. I also agree with you that many, many drivers do not want or need their car jammed up with high tech gadgets that eventually break or need software updates that cost hundreds of dollars, etc. I believe there is still a big market for a fun to drive car—safe, reliable, well built—-like the 9-3. But again, the trade off needs to be fewer high tech gadgets, less features, old platform with tooling that’s been paid for over and over and over—-and that should save enough money for this car to be sold for thousands of dollars less than NEVS was asking for it. That’s the trade-off—-we’ll accept less but the car has to cost less. Hopefully Saab’s new owner will make it possible to get into a Saab for less money than the last couple owners have.

      • Yes, agreed it should have been sold for much less, and I think doing so would’ve been a much better strategy by NEVS (or the only appropriate strategy?). This wasn’t the thing to make NEVS profitable, afterall. More sales, more fresh cash in, and more publicity could have paid off more eventually. Opel (and others) tended to call the late model “Classic” and sold for an attractive price. NEVS should have done the same, but probably without the “classic” wording.

        • The combination of low volume (which would have been the case even if NEVS had sold 100 times the cars it did) and selling at a loss does not create positive cash flow. The concept that SAAB’s owner should sell cars at a loss for years to build volume is a very expensive business model that would not have changed the ultimate outcome for NEVS.

          • I didn’t mean it as a busines model, rather just a short to mid term strategy to sell a few cars to keep the brand and it’s presence afloat, while the electric cars arrive with the facelifted 9-3 outfit. I think this should have make sense.

            • Perhaps you’re right, but this bunch at NEVs never were going to bring a competent EV to market……and facelift?….that was a bad joke. How hard would it been to have a freshened up and modestly facelifted 9-3N rather than the 2011 model they released with a kludged up navigation system,

              • Hugh, let’s agree: This bunch at NEVS never were going to do anything competent. The fact that they could tie their shoes and figured out which end the food goes in and which end it comes out is a small miracle.

    • I totally agree with you. And I don’t think the main reason for the sales failure had to do with the car and price. Selling a Sedan in Sweden is hard enough and especially so if it comes from a not trustworthy or questioned company (Nevs).

  13. I think much of the discussion of why NEVS failed is largely beside the point. The real problem with NEVS was not that the car was priced to high, or it had limited colors, or was a design that was long in the tooth. The real problem was simply a lack of capital. Whatever production that NEVS was able to literally screw together on the fly was just a stop-gap measure till it could get a fully-developed product and full production up and running, which would have taken a couple of years at the very least. In the meantime, there was no way on earth they could have paid the bills without the investors pumping in money. When they pulled the plug prematurely, NEVS was history.

    Yes, there were a lot of options that could have eventually saved the day–upgrading the 9-3 to make it more competitive, provide more engine choices, etc. But that would have taken time, and meanwhile NEVS needed ongoing capital infusions. So, I think the primary blame lies with the behavior of the investors. Yes, you could make a good argument that the investor deal seemed pretty shaky from the outset, and maybe the NEVS management could have done better, but without critical capital, there was nothing that could be done.

    I bring this up because the only salvation for Saab is a really, really deep pocket like Mahindra. Someone willing to make what is initially a money-losing investment with an eye for the long term and the resources to see it through long term. Fingers crossed.

    • That is the problem. Any investor will have to approach this venture with “fingers crossed”. Hopefully there is more money out there to pour into this hole, but it would be interesting to see on what basis an investor concluded that it is the best use of corporate cash.

  14. I have also visited Trollhattan and tested the 9-3 at the factory, and I liked it! I liked the good old manual handbrake, and the analog instruments. The Aero spec is good, and it felt quick with the 220bhp engine. And I think it’s still a good looking car!

    • It’s definitely still a good looking car and so is the wagon version and so is the convertible. I know that a lot of people don’t want to hear this—-but I’ll say it anyway—-there’s still life left in this line if Mahindra wants to get something to market quickly. It’ll take a big investment—-big in plain terms but relatively small in comparative terms, to modify the line to meet new government requirements. But if they could sell these “veteran” cars at competitive prices—-with the right marketing push, they could and would still sell in respectable numbers, at least I feel that way about the U.S.

      • I like the look of the exterior, but I’ll be buggered if I’ll ever buy one with that woeful interior, which to me just doesn’t seem to adhere to Saab values in the past, which had build quality that bordered on the astonishing. If the interior were revamped (especially that tedious dash and cheap vent controls) and the hard seats eschewed, I’d have no problem with it.

          • I’d agree it was a bit fiddly in there, and I have no problem with elegant simplicity. Just makes the plastics nice to the touch for one thing. Get in the first gen 9-3 or the 900 that preceded it, and the cabin is a lovely place to sit, and everything is tactile. The 2nd gen 9-3 is very cheap feeling, especially around the auto’s shifter, and that handle (or whatever it is) that is so obviously a leftover from the RHD and LHD conversion process is just yuck. The 2nd gen lacks *class*, and that’s my chief gripe with it. If it had an interior like the first gen 9-3, it would be okay in my book.

  15. Agere with you Angelo. I think there are a future for the 9-3, especially if they get back the sc, and xwd. It will take some time for Mahindra to get new models on the line. And i think it will be good for the Saab brand to have some production and cars for sale in the period when we are waiting for the new models. It’s not good with a long “silent” period. So the best they can do in the short time is to let the 9-3 live…. . Then Saab exist in peoples mind.

    • Do you think it may help if they went exclusively xwd, drive-train wise? Expensive, but could be a good image for the brand. I’m looking at buying a 2001 9-5, with the only bit of “shame” being that it’s FWD. As far as chats down the pub go, I’d be much more comfortable saying my car was All Wheel Drive! 😉

      • John: No. Not everyone wants or needs XWD and it’s going to be critical to have some cars that are affordable to more people than the old Saab. If anything, I’d offer a base model that has less—-textile instead of leather, even manual seat adjusts instead of power, less expensive tires/wheels. Find ways to trim the price to put out a base model that is thousands of dollars less than what people were paying. Of course, offer a top of the line AERO or XWD too. Also, other companies (Subaru) already sewed up that image—-Saab doesn’t need to copy it. A well designed/well balanced FWD car (which the 9-3 is) is very capable in all but the worst weather.

        • Fair point, BUT…. why would someone buy one? If that’s the angle you’re going form then sorry… I’m going to buy a Skoda Octavia, because I know from all of the satisfied customers that it’ll be good, and do all the things you just mentioned. Why would I want to buy a Saab without a unique selling point? (AWD isn’t unique, but FWD on a large car is very boring in comparison).

          I mentioned it above, so apologies to others who have already read it and seen it, but given the price premium for this technology was only around $1100, do you think it would be a good fit for Saabs? (Fitted to the Saab 2.3, I think it could be almost brutal). If I were a new car buyer, it’d tempt me.

          • Well maybe—-but on the other hand, why not just make it an affordable option package? I still think $1100.00 cheaper and FWD only brings more people to the brand. And they could make the AWD version something special and sell it as such and you could still have that car. Truth be told, sometimes, people prefer a simpler system that costs less to begin with, has less to go wrong with it and might eek out better fuel economy—and still fits their needs. In a good many places, there simply isn’t a compelling need for all four wheels to drive the car. Would it be a good fit? Sure. But unless you envision a future where all Saabs are AWD, why not just offer both?

            • Yeah, I can see that. But you’ll need something that genuinely draws people, like in the Eighties with the [much more desirable] 900, people will have asked, “ooohh, is it a turbo?”. Whether it’s the higher-performance P1 style of hybrid or AWD, you’ll need large enough numbers of something desirable to draw customers and their association to the brand to breathe new life into Saab. If the main package is a boring FWD car without any distinguishing features, it’s just not going to sell.

              I originally didn’t get Saabs at all, because my first experience was a mid-2000s 9-3, and I just found it incredibly dull, and had no idea what the appeal was. It was only when I got in my current 900 and looked around at the original 900s, 99s, etc., did I get why people liked Saabs. They were different, they were quirky, and *supremely* comfortable. That generation of 9-3 isn’t.

    • Yes, and that is why I said it would take a big investment, but comparatively a small one. In other words, yes it would take a lot of money for any such facelift to meet the ludicrous pedestrian regulations in those places unfortunate enough to have been swindled into passing those laws. But still—-compared to a whole new platform or new model, it would be a relatively small cost and it would get cars in showrooms faster.

      • You could keep the floorpan, etc., but the external appearance is going to change by necessity. Why do you think newer versions of cars like the Suzuki Swift and the Mini are so munting? 🙁 It’s going to be a significant bit of re-styling, certainly enough in Saab terms to look like another generation.

        • Yes, but looking like a new generation doesn’t make a car a new generation. If they keep the platform (is it Epsilon?) and go with a lot of the same interior bits, drive train, etc., it’s just a restyled 9-3. Would it have to change from the “A” pillar back? Or would only the front bumper, grill and hood change, along with the front fenders?

          • No idea what would be entailed in the change, but you said something key there: “Yes, but looking like a new generation doesn’t make a car a new generation….it’s just a restyled 9-3”. Don’t you think that might be a reason consumers wouldn’t buy it?

            • Depends how they price it and where they sell it. For some developing markets, it would serve the purpose of a luxury nameplate European sport sedan/wagon/convertible. For established markets like the U.S., if the car was priced right, Saab purists would still buy it. I’m not saying it would set any sales records or make a lot of money for Mahindra, but it would get the game started.

              • Priced right in this case means giving them away. Even before the GM shutdown, the 9-3 sold at huge discounts. Now it is an even older design that needs investment to meet regulations. Producing this model will involve putting money in to bring it into compliance and then selling it for some time in low volume for less than it costs to build. If this is a strategy that a new owner embraces to get things started they will be a worthy partner with NEVS.

                • A lot of manufacturers and upstarts lose money for a while to get established. Give us a good alternative? Nobody wants to hear my ideas about using existing Mahindra/Ssangyong platforms and vehicles. Nobody wants the 9-3 production to resume—-it seems everyone wants to wait 8 years for something from Phoenix—-or to start fresh with a brand new Swedish supercar. yeah, right—a $75,000 Saab, and maybe it’ll even come with a sunroof this time. That’s going to do REAL well. The world is impatient, waiting for a Saab that’s more expensive than a comparable Mercedes or Audi—-just what we need.

                  • A long wait is most likely the way things will go. SAAB is somewhat like another iconic brand, Indian Motorcycles. The Indian Company went bust in the 50’s. Over the decades there were revivals by various new owners all of which failed after absorbing owner/investor funds. Recently Indian production began again, apparently with some success this time.

                    SAAB has already embarked on this path as the last three owners have run into financial difficulties and stopped production. Hopefully it won’t take 60 years for SAAB to successfully reemerge. Compared to that, eight years is a relatively fast turnaround…

                    • Looking at Mahindra’s continued interest in Saab, and applying my admittedly stereotypical but positive image of an Indian approach to business, my guess is that Mahindra wouldn’t mind playing the long game. A long wait may be on the cards, but maybe that doesn’t scare them.

                    • The waiting game is one issue—-if they’re going to wait 8 years to bring the name back, why even bother? Go with a new name without the baggage. But okay, assuming an 8 year wait is okay with people who want to buy a new Saab—-the next question becomes, what will this 8 years in the making new Saab be? Will it be another overpriced Saab that not enough people want or can afford? Not enough people could justify spending $55K on a Mullermobile. News flash: Not enough people will justify spending that much on a Mahindra Saab either.

                • I think we need to be careful about thinking that Mahindra will come in and revive Saab as we have known it. They could care less about the Saab faithful because, let’s face it, there are not enough of us to matter. What they really want is a brand to use for getting into international markets and developing global volumes that are profitable. Again, I think it is helpful to look at the recent announcements concerning Volvo vehicles to see what will likely be the future of Saab if Mahindra decides to move forward. Volvo is planning on being the first major automaker to export Chinese-made vehicles to the US starting later this year. There are Volvo production facilities in Sweden and Belgium still, but its pretty clear that Geely wants to further develop its production capacity in China. And Volvo, frankly, is a pretty good vehicle (pun intended) for that since it has an established dealer network and great brand recognition, so its not like Geely is trying to enter the US market with the Geely brand. Its actually pretty clever, and something that I bet Mahindra is thinking about as well. Start selling “Saabs” again because it’s a recognized brand. The difference, clearly, is that there is no Saab dealer network, and really nothing left of Saab but bits and pieces, so its a much, much bigger challenge.

                  Against this backdrop, figuring out how to best utilize the 9-3 platform is almost the easiest part. With Mahindra resources, they will have much more leverage and leeway in getting the suppliers they want and restoring the elements of the 9-3 that were watered down (interior) because NEVS had incredibly limited options. But imagine trying to get a dealer network re-established, at least in the U.S., basically from scratch. A lot of the small Saab dealers that were independent are history, and for multi-brand dealerships, it remains to be seen if they want to take on a revised brand that will initially sell in small volumes. And for those dealerships, they had better see a promising product given how stiff competition is nowadays in the near-luxury sedan arena. Mahindra has its work cut out for it, certainly. Here is hoping for the best.

                  • Positive thoughts and I would love to see Mahindra/Saab pursue some of this. As for the dealers—-yes, it would be difficult to put together U.S./North American distribution again. But some of these old Saab indies are still around, selling used cars and servicing Saabs and other makes. Multi-Line large dealers might take a stab at it if they think it’ll be a good addition for them—-and won’t compete directly with what they’re selling already. One tip for Saab is to carve out a niche so that they AREN’T directly competing—-and more dealers will be likely to take on the franchise. Slot the prices between VW and Volvo??? If “near luxury” is saturated, drop down a little, but with a luxury name (at least one from decades past), Mahindra would carve out some interest with “Saabs for less than you’d expect to pay.” A couple years ago, when NEVS took over, my biggest concern was that they were going to stumble around and the dealership network would dissolve. Pretty much, that’s exactly what happened. They didn’t lift a finger to keep any pulse on that—-to try to salvage a dealership network that costs millions of dollars to reestablish. I knew from the outset that NEVS would fail—-didn’t know how long it would take, but figured they’d be gone right after finishing off whatever good things Saab had left. If a serious car maker had taken over in early 2012, perhaps they could have stopped the bleeding at the dealer level with real communications, visits, support—-to try to hold things together long enough for reintroducing the 9-3 the right way, then eventually coming in with new cars, new lines, new energy. I think we heard that NEVS sent a letter to some former dealers. That was it. A letter. Might as well have saved the postage on that—-or maybe they e-mailed it. And God forbid any of the dealers clicked on the link to see their NEVS/Saab website—-which would have given them pain in their side from laughing, followed by “delete” and no interest in carrying any product connected to these people. Too bad Mahindra couldn’t pull the trigger in 2012. We’d be talking about new cars at this point, and not another bankruptcy.

  16. Reply to Angelo:
    Because a name means an awful lot, and more than rationality can account for (the badge alone was a major point for NEVS, for instance). Not many people will even know who Mahindra are, so Saab will unlikely be associated with them buy the majority of the public. People were initially scared by Tata’s ownership of Jaguar-Land Rover, but they’ve gone from strength to strength, and no one’s saying, “haha, you’re driving a Tata!”.

    • Well the same can probably be said of Geely/Volvo too. But while I understand your point, I’m not sure I know how it applies here. The fact of the matter is that Saab’s name has been dragged through the mud for a long time now. They got bad press when GM was going to wind them down—-before GM figured out that dumping Saab on Muller was better for GM—-they were able to get out from under the expense of winding down the brand (cost them millions with Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, etc.) and conversely, they got paid for dumping Saab. But make no mistake, Saab had been in the news with negative press “The End Of Saab.” Then we had two years of Muller Saab—-some very nice cars, but a good 6 or 8 months of bad financial news “Saab teetering on the brink.” “Saab financial woes.” “Saab headed for bankruptcy?” “The End of Saab.” Of course, then we had NEVS come in to take over. The NEVS era was basically no news, which I guess is better than bad news. But it’s been a few years of dilly-dally with virtually no results and now bad financial news again, back to “Saab is dead.” So in this case, I don’t think the worry is that Mahindra taking over is a bad thing for Saab (as people worried about Tata and Geely absorbing functional car lines). In this case, if anything, the worry should be if Saab is going to drag down Mahindra, who by all accounts, has been a successful and profitable business.

      • Call me optimistic, but looking at Mahindra’s continued pursuit of Saab, I get the feeling that Saab may be an object of affection for Mahindra’s manager. I think if it were a more cynical exercise, Mahindra would have given up long ago.

        Call me crazy, but maybe Saab should look at sports cars again, and given the size of original Saabs, surely they should look at hatch backs (as in Golf shaped, not like my NG900). I don’t know about the styling, but a Saab hatchback would probably be a pretty formidable piece of machinery.

        • John: If Mahindra can develop a Golf sized hatchback with a rounded shape, harkening back to old Saabs, I believe we’d have a relative hit for Mahindra/Saab. Make it a purposeful style—-something quirky and nostalgic even—-but also functional and timeless/tasteful. That could be the bread and butter entry level car I’ve been asking for from Saab—-forever. Yes, that suggestion is a good one and if Saab reads your post, they should definitely look at finding a way to make that happen.

              • I’d definitely buy that car. Not sure about the front styling (even if it does reference the old Saab), but it’s pretty cool all the same.

                I’ve left a proposition on the forum under Off-Topic, but I still think the fastest way to re-establish the brand would be to make a re-bodied, re-badged supercar at Tollhattan, such as a Koenigsegg if they’re still interested. Something low volume, high margin, that would fall under the ’boutique’ low volume threshold that would get around certain EU restrictions, etc. I don’t think anyone would object to a Saab supercar.

                Big claim I know, but I was hoping for a bit of a debate. If you’re interested, please argue with me about on the forum, haha! 🙂

                • Certainly, they can license the name Saab for a low volume supercar. Heck, Elon Musk could have bought Saab and instead of creating Tesla, Saab would now be the electric leader. But yes, they could go the hand-built supercar route and perhaps they would even be successful in their own right. They would only have to build a handful of those a year with a huge price tag—to be considered successful in some way. But I’d rather see them go back to basics and really try to compete with a mass production vehicle. I know that super car might be a Saab that most of us would be proud of—-but only a very tiny fraction of us would ever own one. I’d rather see them build a car that MOST of us could afford and would be interested in owning.

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