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Sunday, June 2, 2013

The future of SAAB according to NEVS

Today at the Saabfestival 2013 Mattias Bergman from NEVS had a presentation about the future plans and strategies with SAAB. The expectations to get to know or see something really new were really high. So while sitting on the ferry from Sweden to Germany I'd like to mention some important points as I understood them.

In front of a fully crowded presentation room at the Saab Museum at the beginning Bergman answered a question circulating in many Saab fans minds - why they are so quiet with a "underpromising and overperforming" communication strategy. Yes it makes sense, however the patience of fans and future customers is under heavy tension.

It will have a minor facelift (against MY2012) and planned are combustion as well as electric engines. However no details were revealed about any of the engines.

Many rumours are circulating about the combustion engines. Basically everything which comes into question in all the recent context was mentioned, but nobody knows for sure.

On the direct question, if these engines will have a turbo, the answer was a clean "yes".

Regarding the electric engines strategy, NEVS was a little bit more open.. Their plans are based around the fact, that 90% of the drivers are driving less than 100 km daily and have / will have a possibility to charge the car either at home or at the office or at a fast charging station. NEVS don't count on the battery-changing stations mainly due not unified standards for batteries.

Again on a direct question of a dutch fan: "when can I buy an EV in Holland" the answer was "2014".

Bergman also explicitely stated that they bought the Phoenix platform and consider it as an important part of their plans but nothing else was told in this context.

NEVS claim an initial "focus on China for its EV products" with a quite long argumentation about it. The arguments were mostly about growth of the chinese car market, which if grows as expected, the demand for oil could together with the rest of the world overtake the whole world's oil production. Than air pollution and planned GDP growth of China where the car industry is one of the pillars. In other words, China has no other choice than to support or force EVs.

However at least to me remains unclear where and when NEVS aims to sell the combustion engine based 9-3, when the initial focus is on EVs.

Other interesting fact was on one of the slides : in 2012 worldwide EV's sales was appx. 113.000 units, more than doubling the 2011 numbers. Sales numbers in China were 16% (18.000 units) which represents the third market worldwide after Japan (28%) and U.S. (24%). Aren't these numbers too low ?

So my speculation : if the chinese numbers are reality and small + the competition doesn't sleep, than the turbocharged 9-3 will come sooner. If in Europe that's a question. Wishful thinking ?

One very symbolic thing happened at the end. Both iconic Saab race drivers - Erik Carlsson and Simo Lampinen were there. After everything Erik Carlsoon stood up, took the microphone and thanked NEVS for the efforts and finished with: "I believe you". Symbolism ? Result of many talks and questions behind the stage ? I don't know. But it was very sympathetic and may have impact.

The presentation was filmed and should appear soon on SaabsUnited.

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