It is not easy to be a Saab blogger these days. There is not much happening, not many news to break. Ever since Mahindra was named as the potentioal new majority owner of NEVS last year things got even more quiet. Meanwhile the next deadline for the reconstruction NEVS is in at the moment comes closer. I’ve already heared some people say that NEVS should move faster to get this whole deal finally done. But then, there is one point that they miss: it is not up to NEVS anymore.
Given what I heared from various sources in and outside Sweden the deal with Mahindra is done in General but – again – the crucial issue is the brand name. Saab is pretty much fed up of reading their name in headlines reporting about financial problems or bankrupcy. While we all know that Saab AB and Saab Automobile are different companies not everybody does. And with Saab AB being a large defense company that is doing business all over the world it is not too helpful if you have to explain that it is another company that is in trouble all the time.
NEVS already had a hard time getting the rights to use the name and now, another debacle later, Saab AB has put up some pretty strong demands for any new owner that wants to use that name Saab for cars. It’s mostly about providing secure funding of NEVS and the development of their products. What they say is, to quote an infamous expression from a recent drama, “show me the money”. But since they learned from said recent drama they do not only want to see it, they also want to take it in their hands and count it to be really sure. While it may be true that without Spyker Saab would have been long gone, their track record before bankrupcy makes it even tougher right now to negotiate agreements. Be it with Saab AB or suppliers.
I have heared about some number that Saab AB came up with. I cannot tell how accurate that is but if the region is true it is not out of range given the investments that will be needed. So it is also a test to see how serious the investor is. Which is good. In all honesty, I don’t want to see another ray of light in Stallbacka that is too soon covered by black financial clouds.
This does not mean that I feel Mahindra is not serious. They have been there for a long time and have more than once tried to get ownershio of Saab which failed for various reasons. But they are still there and they are still willing to walk in. But surely not at any price. As I was always told by people who dealt with them they come with a plan for an investment and they won’t stretch that plan too far. If it does not seem to be profitable in the right time frame they rather let it go. For example as the Administraters insisted on a sale of Saab Automobile and Saab Parts together Mahindra backed out as they were not interested in both. We all know today how that story went on.
To come back to my statement in the beginning of this post, it’s not up to NEVS anymore if this Mahindra deal comes true. It is Mahindra and Saab AB who have to come to an agreement. While I am pretty optimistic that they can work it out since they know each other it is also clear that they don’t want to risk the cooperation they have in the defense sector. There are always two sides to the story and only time will tell if Saab can come back to full life from the enthusiasts brand it is at the moment.
So what is left for NEVS at the moment is doing their homework to stay alive through reconstruction. With the deadline comig close they need to get their paperwork together to explain court and creditors why they should get more time for the reconstruction. And on the other hand they need to get the funding which is why they complete those 100 cars to EU standard. It is only logical to turn to that lot since it can be turned into a dearly needed money.
The good news for all current and future owners of 2014 models is that NEVS and ORIO have come to a warranty agreement for those cars. ORIO will take over full responsibility for all warranty issues and parts supply. This is a good sign, also that from what I can tell ORIO talks to the clubs and listens to the people. Things are not as bleak as they may look at times.