The amount of articles in the Swedish Press originating on the presentation of Mathias Bergman at the Store Bildagen conference hosted by Dagens Industri in Stockholm show that it is still a big interest in Sweden on this further chapter of the car industry in Trollhättan.
After having read some of them, maybe with too much help of Mr. Google, I get the impression that much has been done in Trollhättan in the last months and most of it is done right.
On the other side, by reading the comments here, I would say that the new direction in Trollhättan will not please the majority of the on-line Saab community. Yes, there are lots of Saab drivers outside the net. And while saying this I have to add that none of us has any inherited right to say how the future of the car industry in Trollhättan should look like.
After having read a transcription of the presentation of Mr. Bergman at the Store Bildagen and other articles about that, I must say that they are in the right direction. I’m saying this, because they are thinking in terms of car industry 2.0, rather than the current car industry.
I still have in mind the articles from Swade about the young generation being more interested in their mobile devices than in cars, and he was and is 100%. For the younger generation cars are often a mobility commodity, that gets them from A to B, and has to be able to assist them in their 24/7 on-line way of life. And here is where NEVS wants to have an important role. You don’t have to buy a car to have private personal transport, but you have to have a system that couples many things, so you can have the most appropriate means of transport at any time. And just that is what NEVS mean with Mobility Services.
Yes, big cities are more suited for such future mobility, and those are the places where I think NEVS will concentrate their efforts, so if you live in the countryside like myself, I think you will still have a car in your garage for the next couple of years.
And now back to cars. According to Mr. Bergman on the second half of 2016 the first bodies for the Corporate Sedan will be build in Trollhättan and then sent to the factory in Tianjin where the car will be finished,if they are aimed for the Chinese market or finished in Trollhättan if aimed for the Swedish market.
This car will be based on the current 9-3, will have an electric drive train all the updates needed to ensure legal requirements which means that the exterior will be heavily updated, but it will also be connected. Expect it to be more a way to show that they are alive rather than their first attempt to gain market share.
To gain market share they will present later on (maybe 2018) 4 different cars. All electric and all based on the former called Phoenix platform. If we take a look at the few detail we have, we can see, that two of them are known shapes.
The Active All-rounder is simply the modern moniker for the Saab CC. I expect that this car will replace the Corporate Sedan, and actually is the car we all think about when we think about a Saab car. A car the size of the current 9-3 and the practicability of the former 99 CC, 900 CC or 9-3I. This is also the car Victor Muller thought could save SAAB Automobile. So lets hope this time this car reaches the market, to show its true potential.
The Urban Adventurer looks to me like a modern version of the 9-3X concept. Which actually was the fifth body shape of the 9-3 that GM never allowed to build. Maybe a less corporate car that the prior one, the version for the freelancer kind of people.
Then we have two car shapes that follow the mandate of the market. Many analysts see in the small/midsize SUV the fastest growing sector in the car industry, and I think it would be foolish not to bet on what it looks like a winning horse.
Maybe those are not the most saabish car shapes, but what about the 9-3x (the production car), could this be a the midsize SUV? Then this car would be nothing more but the wagon version of the fastback, but with some plastic to appeal the general demand. Its just what any other brand is doing and by not offering a classic wagon the brand would have a more young and free-minded touch.
So we have till now three shapes of a car (a fastback, a coupé and a rugged wagon) that should be the size of the current 9-3. And this is from my point of view a quite saabish portfolio. It only depends on the designer responsible for the cars will be accepted as saabish cars or not.
And at last we have the Sporty Urban SUV. This car should be seen as the entry level car competing with cars like the X1 or the GLA or the V40 crosscountry. A rugged entry class car for the young professional with a more green view on things.
Have this cars any chance on the market? Well it depends on the pedigree (will they be allowed to wear the SAAB badge?) and the other options on the market.
Regarding the SAAB brand, NEVS is still in talks with SAAB AB, and newspapers like SvD feel that the outcome will be rather positive than otherwise. But don’t expect to hear anything till a deal is done, and remember, as long as you can see the SAAB wording on the NEVS facilities there is no need to think about a NO from SAAB AB.
Currently the EV market has not too many offerings, and either they are on the top of the price segment like Tesla with the S and the X, or they are not inexpensive but rather simple like the Leaf or the Golf EV. In 2018 Tesla may be offering the 3, their mid-size car with a more affordable price tag. NEVS will have to show that their car is better in terms of range than the Tesla with a comparable price tag. On the other side I don’t expect big problems with the current ICE companies. They are still putting a electric drive train below a car designed for an ICE engine.
Concluding, will NEVS be successful with this portfolio? Time will tell, but I think there are more than some possibilities, and if the cars can deliver in terms of performance and looks they could be rapidly seen as a big player in the EV market.
One of the pictures of the new cars is signed by Osnes. It seems like Mr Osnes is a Norwegian designer called Jan Christian Osnes that made a master in transportation design at the Umeå universitet and is not an unknown person here at SaabsUnited. But according to his Linked-In profile he left NEVS in october 2014 and moved to Geely Design Sweden.