Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Perhaps it has been a blessing to be in the midst of the invariable turmoil which we have experienced as we have moved Charles River Saab to cohabitate with Boston Volvo Village at the same moment that NEVS has claimed their place in Trollhattan. With such distraction, I just haven’t had the time to give the NEVS situation much deliberate thought.

With respect to our move, in all it has gone much better than anticipated. We’ve all adapted quickly to the changes in protocol here, and most of the communication challenges (internal) have been met. We’ve figured out the flow of paper, how to process customer and warranty payments, and most customers will find the experience of servicing here to be every bit as efficient as what they’ve come to expect from Charles River Saab.

The biggest difference Jim and I have noted is the bustle here at BVV. If we had moved here ten or fifteen years ago, we wouldn’t have noticed a thing. Given, though, that in recent years we’d gotten smaller and thus quieter in Watertown, all this activity swirling around us is a big change indeed! It must be said—and I am not being gratuitous in the least—that the willingness to help and general kindness of the Boston Volvo employees, all of them, has made all the difference in our achieving a successful transition without undue headache or heartache. To a person they have been generous with their time and patient in the extreme.

What, though, of all of this news of NEVS? I honestly don’t know what to think. While we had known that such a consortium existed and was bidding on Saab (and if you are not familiar with that story saabsunited or lifewithsaab both chronicle this well), I think I stood with the majority in thinking that a company seeking to build only electro-Saabs would not emerge, and I was rooting for Mahindra & Mahindra over Youngman Lotus. In the end, the option I gave no thought to, NEVS, emerged as the latest owner of Saab’s manufacturing facility and technology.

Many have expressed their misgivings about whether Saab (we don’t yet know what the new company can or will be called but I’ll refer to it still as Saab) can be an internal combustion-free manufacturer. I can absolutely imagine that cars which feature the “brand pillars” of Saab and are, at the same time, propelled by electrons. I know that such a car wouldn’t work for me, but I know many former Saab owners who now drive hybrids and might happily seek out an all electric option. In fact, “when is Saab going to sell a hybrid” was a question we heard quite often, and I think there was a distinct demographic who would have liked a “green” car that was not based on an econo-box chassis. Are there enough green-Saab customers, especially for all-electric cars, though, to sustain a franchise in Boston? That I am not sure of at all.

Despite my skepticism, I am not pessimistic. I am not optimistic, just terribly unsure. Because the latest Saab affair dragged on for oh so long, I am emotionally inured to the machinations of our favorite car company. I read the news, but remain just curious. If Saab does come back and succeed with electric propulsion, terrific. If it doesn’t, that will be sad but far from tragic. I do hope for success of the venture for the folk who really need and live for Saab—the employees and their dependents in Trollhattan. I do hope that before I leave this life that I will have visited there, and I can’t imagine the place could be the same without a robust auto manufacturing plant.

I invite all to come and visit us in our new home here in Boston. We may feel like squatters, but it’s like we’re squatting with a rich relative: it’s all very nice here. I wish the very best to the NEVS and the good people of Trollhattan, and am very curious to see what the future brings.

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