Jiang Yu himself spoke in an interview with the Chinese newspaper Auto Business about whether the owner and CEO of Nevs was driven by enthusiasm or calculating why Qingdao was chosen as the Chinese home for the new Saab, what the plans for the company and the city authorities that became co-owners of Saab look like.
As one of the participants in the Saab project, the previously unknown company Qingbo Investment Co. was selected Ltd.. Moreover - it was created on January 7, exactly on the day when the agreement between the Nevs and the city authorities was signed. Is it true that your company received 2 billion yuan from Qingbo Investment in exchange for a 22% stake in Nevs?
- It will not be wrong to say that Qingbo Investment was created specifically for the Saab project. But more important is the fact that this investment fund was formed by the local government of Qingdao and the economic development zone of Huangdao County. In the long term, this project can transform into the creation of various "green" and innovative enterprises in Qingdao. As for the voiced figures, they are accurate. Qingbo acquired a 22% stake in Nevs at an attractive price for us, we did not disclose the exact amount, but it exceeded 2 billion yuan.
In recent years, the Chinese authorities have been trying to limit the number of automakers in China. How does Nevs plan to get permission to build a Saab factory in Qingdao under these conditions ?
- At present, Saab is a foreign company operating in China, and we really do not yet have a production license. Now we are looking for the possibility of creating a joint venture with a local company that is licensed. We have good prospects. Indeed, the new government of China attaches great importance to innovation and improving people's lives. Nevs subsidiary - State Power Group Co. Ltd. Today is one of the largest enterprises in China. Over the past ten years, it has directly and indirectly provided income of 7 billion yuan for the nearly 800 million peasant population of the country.
What Saab models will be built in Qingdao? What is behind the ambitious announcement of plans to produce up to 400 thousand Saab per year?
- Some argue that model 9–3 is outdated. The truth is that since 2005, Saab engineers have continued design development based on Saab 9–3, although for various reasons we do not fully implement their results. So for me, 9–3 is just a code name. In the future, a completely new car will be hidden behind him. We will soon complete the development of the Phoenix platform. Based on this flexible platform, we are going to create a line of new Saab models.
Assembly shop Saab 9–3 EV Assembly shop Saab 9–3 EV Assembly shop Saab 9–3 EV
With regard to the realism of the declared volume of production, now the market in Shandong province alone is ten times larger than the Swedish one. In general, the Chinese market as a whole has much greater potential. With the right marketing approach, the design production capacity will fully meet the requirements of the market. We will try to win public procurement tenders and build cars that meet the standards for organizations involved in the transport sector. In particular, our production will be aimed at producing machines with a traditional internal combustion engine with a volume of 1.8 liters or an electric motor at a price below 180 thousand yuan for the needs of government agencies. We also focus on the supply of cars in taxis in Shandong. Cost, product quality and price are three of the most important factors. Many who are skeptical about the project lose sight of two things. First, high tariffs and taxes were the main reason for the high prices of Saab machines in China. Secondly, Saab previously relied on some small suppliers of components that manufactured products almost exclusively for this brand, and these suppliers often did not sufficiently fund their R&D, and therefore could not update their products in a timely manner and control costs effectively. At the same time, there are companies in China that provide high quality products and services, sometimes doing it better than their foreign competitors … If Saab can revise the list of suppliers and use components of local production to a greater extent, its price tags will be reduced to level when the brand will be able to attract ordinary consumers.
“Nevs will be able to use the Saab name, but not the griffin logo, in accordance with Saab’s acquisition terms. Is Nevs planning a new Saab logo?
- We are in the process of developing a new Saab brand, and maybe, in fact, it will not be so bad to abandon the logo with the griffin. Indeed, even in the history of the brand, this logo appeared rather late … It was born only in 1960, when Scania-Saab AB was created. For Saab, a new visual image and logo will mark a new beginning. Saab will still be Saab. As for the new logo design, it will soon be shown to the public.
When another automaker, China Youngman Auto, tried to buy Saab, General Motors, the previous owner of the brand, objected to the plan to sell Saab to China, citing the need to protect technological assets. Will GM do the same with Nevs?
- I deeply respect GM as a company from which other automakers can learn a lot. So far, I have not had any significant contacts with them, but one thing is certain - GM did not try to stop the Saab deal because they did not want to see how Saab became Chinese. Rather, GM wanted to transfer the Saab brand to the “right” new owners. After all, as its former owner, GM has remained an emotional connection with Saab, and this company does not want to watch how its former brand "rolls downhill." Thus, until now, GM has not yet created any problems for Nevs. We had a green light all the way.