The Hybrid Theory

Something about the way the threads were going yesterday didn’t sit well with me when I heard Saab people saying they were done with Saab. People that have loved this brand were actually talking about selling their current Saabs because they couldn’t stomach a Saab that was different then what they have come to know as Saab. People were even writing about how if they build electric and hybrid models, it would be better if they just shut down and died. This prompted me to write this below.

In the world that is Saab, yesterday brought news of a newly formed company in Sweden trying to acquire Saab. This company is called National Electric Vehicle Sweden and has upset some Saab faithful. The name of the company has sent fear that this will be an electric company with no interest in gas. In fairness, what we know of them so far is that they are interested for sure in electric and hybrid technologies and my question to this would be, is this a bad thing?

Forget about electric vehicles for a moment and let’s look at hybrids. The number one selling hybrid is the Toyota Prius (which I personally can’t stand and think is beyond ugly). I can tell you that on a recent trip to Seattle, I was amazed at how many I saw on the roads, I think I counted ten and in that span maybe 4 Saabs. As much as it surprised me to see so many in Seattle, today blew me away. While looking at a webpage called Hybrid Cars I was floored. More than one fifth of new passenger cars sold in Japan are hybrids and leading the pack is the Toyota Prius with 35,875. Even more shocking is that the number is for February 2012. Nearly half of Toyota’s sales in Japan are hybrid vehicles.

For Toyota, the hybrid business is booming so well that the third on the list is the Toyota Aqua sold in the US as a Prius C. They had originally planned on selling 12,000 of these Aqua’s per month and with the February total reaching 21,951 they are not able to keep up with demand. Wouldn’t we love to have this issue at Saab?

The reason I bring this all up is to level the playing field. We heard many people yesterday saying this would be the end of Saab and it was a disaster waiting to happen. If you look at the facts above, you have to at least see that there is a business model for success in there somewhere. We need to open our minds a little and not be quick to judge. I don’t know for sure that this company will only look at electric and hybrids as their way into the market and even if I did, I can’t say that they would be wrong.

Now with all this in mind, is a hybrid so bad? I don’t think so. Will a hybrid Saab be for everyone? Probably not. Is hybrid technology getting better and are hybrids selling? Yes is the simple answer to both. In the month of February 2012, Toyota has sold more hybrids in Japan then Saab did globally in 2011.

I love the old Saab as much as everyone else, but when the alternative is no Saab, to me there is no alternative.

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