Ren glädje!

Earlier this week I had the privilege to visit Trollhättan, together with a delegation from the SAAB-club Stockholm.  We had been planning for this trip for quite some time (since 2011 to be exact!) and the expectations were quite high when we were heading for “SAAB city”. With an agenda consisting of visits to NEVS, the SAAB museum and Orio, the trip could only be nothing short of ren glädje (“pure joy”)…

The SAAB-club Stockholm delegation with their cars in front of the SAAB museum in Trollhättan
The SAAB-club Stockholm delegation with their cars in front of the SAAB museum in Trollhättan

Total makeover at Orio
We hit the road early on Tuesday morning. Traffic was light and before I knew it we had reached Nyköping, the home of Orio.

The new look & feel of the Orio HQ in Nyköping
The new look & feel of the Orio HQ in Nyköping
Past glory on the facade of the Orio facilities in Nyköping
Past glory on the facade of the Orio facilities in Nyköping

We took a quick detour to swing by their offices to take a few pictures. It had been about a year and a half ago since we visited SAAB Parts (as Orio was still called at the time) and I was curious to find out whether there were any visible changes. Well, there were: the Orio logo was prominently present but unfortunately all the SAAB logo’s had disappeared. Although having sad that, the bus stop outside of the main gate still carries the SAAB name!

Trollhättan
Being back in Trollhättan some 4,5 hours later really gave a coming home feeling. The trip had been problem-free and while the outside of my 9-4X wasn’t as clean anymore as it had been leaving Stockholm, it still looked pretty photogenic in front of the factory front gate!

My crystal red 9-4X Aero at the factory main gate.
My crystal red 9-4X Aero at the factory main gate. Made in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico but still at home!

One of the things I always find fascinating is the enormous number of SAABs of all ages and standings that can be spotted in and around the city, like the 9-3 taxi’s we saw parked in front of the railway station…

Only in Trollhättan: three 9-3 taxi's in a row!
Only in Trollhättan: three 9-3 taxi’s in a row!

NEVS: Well above expectations
While our first appointment at NEVS would not be before 09:00, our Wednesday started even earlier than the day before with a joint breakfast at 07:30. Everyone was really excited about the busy SAAB-day ahead of us and in good Swedish fashion we left well in time to arrive at the NEVS main gate at Saabvägen 5.

Eagerly awaiting the start of the program at NEVS.
Eagerly awaiting the start of the program at NEVS.

We were welcomed warmly by Mikael Östlund (Director Communications and Public Affairs) and Hans-Martin Düringhof (Director Powertrain Integration & Chassis) for a very insightful presentation about the current and future state at NEVS (I covered this in more detail in an earlier post).

The "SAAB today and tomorrow" presentation turned out to be a dry-run for the NEVS creditors meeting the day after.
The “SAAB today and tomorrow” presentation turned out to be a dry-run for the NEVS creditors meeting the day after.

We were then invited to take a seat in one of the MY14 9-3’s that were standing ready take our group for a factory tour, or more specifically, across to the press and body shop.

Welcome at the factory body shop
Welcome at the factory press and body shop
Inside the NEVS body shop
Inside the NEVS body shop
One of the many presses in the body shop.
One of the many presses in the body shop.
Ever wondered how the motor hood of the 9-3 got its shape?
Ever wondered how the motor hood of the 9-3 got its shape?
A 9-3 SportSedan body on the assembly line
A 9-3 SportSedan body on the assembly line

I had been in another part of the factory before, but this facility was even more impressive, especially given its gigantic proportions. The press and body shop had been in operation just the days before and staff were packing the different parts that were produced in boxes to be shipped to Orio, the customer for this batch. As a side note, we were told that NEVS had actually been producing for several different customers recently, including a vehicle manufacturer from Gothenburg…

Ren glädje on the SAAB test track!
During the planning phase of this trip, we had discussed several options for the program at NEVS and witnessing the Electric Vehicle (EV) developments in real life was high on our agenda. So when we got confirmed that we would indeed be able to see one of the 9-3EV’s following our factory tour, we were all really excited. The adrenaline levels actually skyrocketed when we realised that we weren’t just going to have a look, but that we were taken to the normally very closed and secretive factory test track and were going to be able to drive one ourselves!

Heading for the factory test track!
Heading for the factory test track!
IMG_2793
Two 9-3EV’s (the ones on the left in the picture) and a crew from NEVS were waiting for us.

We were guided into a small meeting room where we were given safety instructions about how to drive on the the test track itself,which may sound unnecessary but was quite helpful anyway given its special shape and the speeds (120 km/h) involved.

Essential instructions about the factory test track before hitting the road
Essential safety instructions
Unique sight under the hood of this 9-3EV prototype.
Unique sight under the hood of this 9-3EV prototype.
The inside of the SAAB 9-3EV prototype
The inside of the SAAB 9-3EV prototype

We could then take the cars for a spin ourselves… Getting into the car, it very much felt like a 9-3 we all know and love, with some notable differences including the transmission buttons, the upgraded entertainment system, and the different meters on the instrument panel, clearly hinting that this was a different kind of animal…
I turned on the car and I heard nothing. No engine noise- nothing. OK, a few clicks here and there, but no roaring turbo and no exhaust noises, just a gentle confirmation from the car that it was ready to go. I got my foot on the “gas” pedal, pushed it and pushed it harder to reach the cruising speed of (at least) 120 km/h very rapidly. I had driven one of the EV’s manufactured by a well known competitor from San Francisco before, and while that one is faster and has more bells and whistles, it was hard not to get impressed with the acceleration, smoothness and overall road handling of the 9-3EV.

The SAAB 9-3EV on the factory test track
The SAAB 9-3EV on the factory test track
Screenshot from an article on the NEVS intranet covering our visit
Screenshot from an article on the NEVS intranet covering our visit

Another positive surprise was the fact that I wasn’t the only person planning to cover this visit with an online article: NEVS had their own internal PR person on site as well! In fact, I received a screen shot from their intranet later in the day already with a quote from Mikael Östlund I wanted to share here: “Even in these current challenging and uncertain times where we’re working really hard ourselves to find solutions to our situation, are we still meeting a strong interest from SAAB-enthusiasts around us. And not just in Sweden. We are continuously receiving both questions and good luck wishes for the future. And it’s fun to be able to give our fans some extra attention here on site in Trollhättan.

Ren glädje” is the tagline NEVS is using to describe their EV’s and I can only confirm that this “pure joy” is indeed an unprecedented combination of zero CO2 emissions and fun!

SAAB Museum going strong
After a very quick lunch break we rushed over to the SAAB Museum, a real must see for anyone visiting Trollhättan. Most of us had been at the museum before, but this time we got an extra special touch as we were guided by the museum’s director Peter Bäckström.

Peter Bäckström welcoming the SAAB-club Stockholm delegation at the museum
Peter Bäckström welcoming the SAAB-club Stockholm delegation at the museum
UrSaaben, the center piece in the SAAB Museum
UrSaaben, the center piece in the SAAB Museum
Inside the SAAB Museum
Inside the SAAB Museum


SAAB Academy

The cherry on the cake for the day was the presentation from Orio’s Pontus Lundin who took us through the education program for SAAB authorized service centers, SAAB Academy (see also my earlier post about Orio).

Orio's Pontus Lundin presenting SAAB Academy
Orio’s Pontus Lundin presenting SAAB Academy
Orio's Pontus Lundin presenting SAAB Academy
Orio’s Pontus Lundin presenting SAAB Academy

We’ll be back!
What an amazing visit it had been. I know I can speak on behalf of all the attending SAAB-club Stockholm members that we have been overwhelmed with the hospitality, the openness, the innovations but most of all the passion for SAAB. This really was pure joy / ren glädje!
A big thank you to all at NEVS, the SAAB Museum and Orio who were involved this week and we got the opportunity to meet. I’m sure we’ll be back… if anything for the SAAB festival in early June, but something tells me I’ll be back in Trollhättan even sooner than that 🙂

10 Gedanken zu „Ren glädje!

  • 1. März 2015 um 12:34 PM
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    Great writing, great pictures again! Thx Michèl!

  • 1. März 2015 um 5:09 PM
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    You might have heard something you can’t wright I guess.
    But if the reconstruction laywer is right, you “need” to go to thn in mid april, right?

    • 1. März 2015 um 5:53 PM
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      Well, that could indeed also be a very good reason to head back to Trollhättan, but that wasn’t what I had in mind with the comment. It’s more a personal thing, but stay tuned for more details 🙂

    • 1. März 2015 um 7:25 PM
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      Looking at the different time frames that were discussed, April would indeed sound logical in that scenario but many things can still happen, either to slow the process down or even to speed it up. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close ear to the ground.

  • 2. März 2015 um 9:09 AM
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    Thanks Michél for a great article. It gives us hope for the future.
    /Edwin

  • 2. März 2015 um 12:45 PM
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    Thanks! The EV looks quite better with the built in nav system…
    Am i wrong or should we here something today? Any big news…

    • 2. März 2015 um 1:00 PM
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      The display in the 9-3EV does indeed make the car look more up to date!
      As for an update on the NEVS reorganisation process: the deadline for the creditors to respond to the composition proposal is today. So there could be more news about what % has agreed, but it could also be later in the week. The actual decision from the court about a possible additional 3 months extension is probably following shortly after that.

  • 2. März 2015 um 2:00 PM
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    Thanks a lot for this article and the discription for what happens.
    The las time I did not have any believe in NEVS doing constructives.
    i think I have to ask for apology.
    I am in positive mood in constructive work, whatever is coming out.

  • 3. März 2015 um 2:09 PM
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    THX!
    Great reportage!
    Did you see any Other models than 9-3 in the production line?
    They will realease 4 new models in the future!

    • 3. März 2015 um 6:33 PM
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      Thanks very much. I am afraid I haven’t seen other models than the 9-3. NEVS has indeed indicated that they have the ambition to release four different models in the future. The Phoenix platform is said to be the basis for this new line, but as I understand it the actual development of the different additional models is in an embryonic stage.

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